Meme in G

Jan. 4th, 2017 09:38 am
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
[personal profile] marmota_b
Picked up from [personal profile] heliopausa : you ask for a letter and then think of five fictional characters whose name begins with that letter, and write your comments and ideas on them.

When I asked her for a letter, I feared I would end up with one that Czech names don't usually begin with. Of course I was given G which is exactly one such letter. Over half of the following characters' names don't involve it in Czech.

But, surprisingly, once I got started, the rest flowed very quickly.

Gordon Urquhart (I hope I spelled it correctly...), from Local Hero – is frankly a mystery to me; but that’s actually part of what makes Local Hero fun. He’s a shrewd, smooth businessman in a community where everyone has to hold several jobs; as the story progresses, one begins to think simutaneously that he’s wasted there, that he’s exactly the man this community needs, and that he'd gleefully drive it to ground for money (but then, so would the rest of the community...). And he’s played by Dennis Lawson, so you believe it all. The interplay between him and Mac, Gordon trying to butter up Mac and drive a hard bargain and Mac swiftly not giving a damn (I’m at a loss at how to describe "not giving a damn" progressively?) – that’s an integral part of the core of the story in Local Hero, and a lot of fun to watch. So Gordon has to be smooth and therefore a bit faceless; but as I said, as played by Dennis Lawson, he is all that and still very memorable. (Which is best exemplified by the fact that he was the first fictional character with a name beginning with G I could think of that I could imagine myself writing about and wasn’t my own :D). Hm, I should watch more films with Dennis Lawson. He does seem to have an inate ability to make characters memorable.


Goldberry – from The Fellowship of the Ring. Doesn’t get much space in the books, but she does make a deep and lasting impression, feeding right into stories of water fairies, to put into English the way I think of it in Czech. Which, of course, doesn’t make much sense with the way fairies are usually perceived in English these days. That was, I believe, precisely Tolkien’s point in writing about such characters.

She’s actually not dangerous like Slavic water fairies are (at least not in this story), but she certainly radiates power, in a bit of foreshadowing for the way Galadriel is portrayed later in the book. Why did I think of Goldberry before Galadriel? Probably precisely because she’s a category of character I was already familiar with when first reading the books, so she rests somewhere more firmly in my subconscious. Even though her name doesn’t begin with G in Czech. (It’s ZlatÄ›nka in Czech.)

The impression I have of her is hugely visual. I'm not sure if it's just because I'm so visual myself, or because that's really mostly what we get. But what I get from that about her as a character is that she has a knack for making an impression. That would go a long way towards explaining how she made an impression on Tom Bombadil, who, if anything, is characterised by being above (?) things. And her hospitality shows that she's not just that.


Gimli
– and now that I’ve thought of Tolkien, there’s actually a wide choice of G characters to pick from. I chose to go with Gimli, because of Gimli and Legolas, who demonstrate one of my favourite literary moments... motifs... something; namely, the way two characters are stronger together, not just in the universe of the book (although that’s certainly also true), but even more so, for the reader.

Gimli, on his own, is mostly the token dwarf in the Fellowship (pretty much literally). He has his moments, but were it not for his friendship with Legolas – even though we actually never learn how exactly that happened! – his gradual character development would probably be passing and somewhat unmemorable. Even his devotion to Galadriel would probably be a lot less impactful, were it the only connection to the Elves he formed; but now that he springs to her defence in front of Éomer and Legolas springs to Gimli’s defence against the Riders in the same scene, the shift in Gimli’s attitude is firm and unshakable. His friendship with Legolas seals the deal, and also makes it absolutely clear that this is one of the good guys who are going to save the world and who are worthy of saving the world. (A lesson a lot of the “saving the world” genre could take a few pages from.)

Plus, Gimli’s description of the Glittering Caves is, in my personal opinion, one of the most beautiful things Tolkien’s ever written. It’s probably insulting to Dwarves to say that one passage completely humanises Dwarves, but my human readers will know what I mean.


Magrat Garlick
from Discworld – surnames count, don’t they?

Whoo, Magrat. She’s like someone I know, except I don’t really know anyone quite like her. I love that Pratchett’s able to do that. I have my problems with him, but I love that he’s able to do that.

She’s insecure and has odd beliefs (I mean, even among the witches in the books) and half the time you roll your eyes at her ideas, and you still root for her, her success against the villains, her progress in the world and her awkward romance. I'm unable to dissect this the way I was able to dissect Gimli, but I think part of the trick is seeing into her head in her Crowning Moments of Awesome. It makes her both relatable and kind of aspirational. We don't usually get this with Granny Weatherwax in her Crowning Moments of Awesome, only in what leads up to them, which makes Granny both seem even more awesome but also more distant. Granny's the shining leader (with lots of faults), Magrat is the underdog you root for.

Also, a group (Eh... what exactly is the terminology here? “Voluntary association”, as provided by Wikipedia, sounds weird.) for free time activities in my hometown, founded largely by women (including two of my art teachers), was named after her ("Magráta"). I wasn’t familiar with Magrat yet when it happened. Now that I am, I wholeheartedly approve of that choice of name. It’s exactly the sort of pursuit she would approve of.


Glimfeather
– my take on Glimfeather can be summed up thusly:

“You can't trust mammals to know a thing about Birds, tu-whoo. But you do know that female Owls are bigger than males, don’t you?”

A huge part of the reason I insist on keeping female Glimfeather is precisely because it doesn't matter whether Glimfeather as a character is male or female (aside from my hobby-horse fact above: it would presumably be even easier for a female Owl to carry a human child). Glimfeather is default; Lewis defaulted to male and the translator defaulted to female. There's a sad shortage of default female animal characters, even in books originally written in Czech (like, more tomcats than female cats in popular Czech children's books, even though cat is default female). Jill, for example, isn't as default as that. For one thing, she plays up her femininity when it suits her; the surrounding characters do treat her differently. Glimfeather, being a Bird and an Owl in particular, can be either and we mammals would be none the wiser (which is also my headcanon for why Lewis treats her as default male).

Glimfeather's obviously following the "wise owl" trope, which apparently isn't true in Real Life. But this is Narnia, so who cares. What I like is that she's shrewd and common-sense: her wisdom is practical, active (unlike the completely satirical Owl-Wol in Winnie-the-Pooh or the Owl in the Czech Little Mole cartoons, who's learned but rather out of touch as a result).

And I like that she's one of the Beasts who are very obviously Beasts.



So... if you want, and haven't done this yet (or maybe even if you have), you can ask me for a letter, too.

Also: happy new year!

Date: 2017-01-07 12:15 pm (UTC)
heliopausa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heliopausa
:D I'm glad you found so many Gs, despite their poor showing in Czech! Yes, lots of Gs in Tolkien - I'm glad you chose Goldberry! She's such an interesting creation - as you say, Tom Bombadil does seem to be "above (?)" such things as personal relationships, so what is Goldberry, that he has remade himself to the extent of being united with her? Fascinating! So much more than the visual. What I get from both of them (individually and together, ie as a couple) is their unshakeable confidence in who they are. (By the way, what's the etymology of Zlatěnka?)

I like your point about Gimli being/becoming worthy of saving the world - great thought! (And yes, a bit of a token Dwarf. :( )

Glimfeather - I like your take on her gender. (I'm not entirely persuaded, but adopt the feminine in deference to my host's conviction. ;) ) In support, I offer that Lewis himself doesn't ever use a male pronoun for her, so leaving it (inadvertently, I expect) an open question: For example:
"I do believe it's Glimfeather!" [says Jill.]

"True, true," whirred the Owl, lifting its head out from under its wing and opening one eye.

It's true that Trumpkin calls her "Master Glimfeather" but then what would a Dwarf know, any more than Humans, of Birdish ways? And Trumpkin has been known to get things wrong before this!
(Lewis doesn't ever give Sallowpad a gender-specific pronoun, either, so she might as well be female as male, too.)
Yes, definitely about being "one of the Beasts who are very obviously Beasts", showing Owlishness in being nocturnal for example (as well as inconveniently snapping at passing bats).

I don't know Magrat Garlick - but based on your description, I should! She sounds a character worth getting to know. :)

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