From cud­dly and car­ing dads to cool and aloof paters, the pa­tri­arch has al­ways been a pow­er­ful mo­tif in lit­er­a­ture. This Fa­ther’s Day, June 16, Tabitha Barda looks at a few of the most fa­mous in fic­tion – from the in­spir­ing to the in­fu­ri­at­ing

Friday - - Contents -

10 fa­mous fic­tional fa­thers – from the in­spir­ing to the in­fu­ri­at­ing and ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

The witty pop

Mr Bennet in Pride and Prej­u­dice by Jane Austen The long-suf­fer­ing hus­band of Mrs Bennet and the fa­ther of five un­mar­ried daugh­ters, Mr Bennet uses his sar­casm and wry hu­mour to cope with the do­mes­tic dra­mas that un­fold on a daily ba­sis in the Bennet house­hold. Of­ten play­ing the part of the be­mused by­stander, he’s as re­served as his wife is lo­qua­cious, but is al­ways ready with a pithy re­mark to pierce the ten­sion when times are tough. We see his au­thor­i­tar­ian side when his youngest, Ly­dia, elopes, but he’s pa­ter­nally ten­der to all of his daugh­ters, par­tic­u­larly El­iz­a­beth, and sup­ports both her and Jane in their de­ci­sions to marry for love over money. In an 18th-cen­tury con­text, that makes him one cool pa.

The gruff fa­ther

Mr Banks in Mary Pop­pins by PL Travers The typ­i­cal mid­dle-class pa­tri­arch, city banker Ge­orge Banks is por­trayed as a dis­tant fa­ther in the Pop­pins se­ries of books, al­though gruffly loving of his wife Don­ald Suther­land plays Mr Bennet, fa­ther of El­iz­a­beth (Keira Knight­ley) in the 2005 film ver­sion of Pride and Prej­u­dice and chil­dren. In the iconic 1964 film ver­sion the char­ac­ter, played by David Tom­lin­son, is given a big­ger spot­light and goes through a trans­for­ma­tion: from up­tight worka­holic he’s charmed by nanny Mary and chim­ney sweep Bert into be­com­ing a re­laxed, hand­son dad by the clos­ing cred­its.

The vain old man

King Lear in King Lear by Wil­liam Shake­speare De­cid­ing to re­tire as monarch of Eng­land, Lear’s de­ci­sion to hold a ‘love test’ for his daugh­ters to de­ter­mine the size of their in­her­i­tance is the be­gin­ning of his end. He openly favours his youngest, Cordelia, but throws a tantrum when she re­fuses to play the lu­di­crous ego-mas­sag­ing game to his rules. Mean­while his other daugh­ters, Goneril and Rea­gan, are happy to flat­ter for the spoils and, af­ter win­ning the land ac­cord­ingly, plot his down­fall. By the end of the play Lear is a piti­ful fig­ure and his fa­tal pa­ter­nal flaw makes for one of the Bard’s great­est tragedies.

The gen­er­ous guardian

Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre by Char­lotte Bronte He’s usu­ally por­trayed solely as a ro­man­tic fig­ure, so it’s easy to for­get

that the whole rea­son Jane and Mr Rochester ever meet is be­cause she’s the gov­erness for his young ward, Adele. It’s un­clear whether he is her bi­o­log­i­cal par­ent – Adele has been aban­doned by her French mother and her fa­ther’s iden­tity is in doubt – but he takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for the lit­tle girl and she wants for noth­ing, be­ing pam­pered and spoilt by the ser­vants. Just like Jane, Adele has been re­jected by the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for rais­ing her, but her kind treat­ment at the hands of the gen­er­ous Mr Rochester makes her the ebul­lient, free-spir­ited child that Jane never had the chance to be.

The in­spir­ing hero

At­ti­cus Finch in To Kill a Mock­ing­bird by Harper Lee Fair, kind and no­ble, At­ti­cus Finch is not only an in­spi­ra­tion to his own chil­dren, Jem and Scout, but the fic­tional char­ac­ter has ac­quired a leg­endary sta­tus in real-life le­gal cir­cles, with the Michi­gan Law Re­view even go­ing so far as to say, “No real-life lawyer has done more for the self­im­age or pub­lic per­cep­tion of the le­gal pro­fes­sion.” A paragon of virtue and a moral hero, Lee is said to have based the char­ac­ter on her own fa­ther, Amasa Cole­man Lee, an Alabama lawyer who, like his fic­tional coun­ter­part, rep­re­sented black de­fen­dants in a highly pub­li­cised crim­i­nal trial. Gre­gory Peck won an Acad­emy Award for his por­trayal of Finch in the film adap­ta­tion, and the char­ac­ter was voted the great­est hero in Amer­i­can film by the Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute, beat­ing block­buster con­tenders such as In­di­ana Jones and Rocky Bal­boa.

The cud­dly daddy

Mr Lan­caster in The Fault in our Stars by John Green The fa­ther of thy­roid can­cer pa­tient Hazel Grace Lan­caster in this bittersweet book is a small char­ac­ter but a hugely im­por­tant in­flu­ence on Hazel’s world view. Her off­beat, quirky hu­mour means that at first she mocks her dad for his ten­dency to dis­play emo­tions and cry dur­ing dif­fi­cult times. But she soon comes to re­alise that her fa­ther is the wis­est guide she has in life, con­clud­ing, “My old man. He al­ways knew just what to say.”

The bad dad

Pap Finn in The Ad­ven­tures of Huck­le­berry Finn by Mark Twain There’s a rea­son Huck sets off in a lit­tle boat across the Mis­sis­sippi, and his fa­ther, the ne’er-do-well ‘Pap’ Finn, is it. Un­couth, abu­sive and a slave to ad­dic­tion, the wil­fully ig­no­rant Pap is jeal­ous of his son’s suc­cess and does his best to ruin it. Luck­ily Huck is canny enough to es­cape such de­struc­tive par­ent­ing and sets off on great ad­ven­tures.

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