” I try to make the readers feel they’ve lived the events of the book. Just as you grieve if a friend is killed, you should grieve if a fictional character is killed. You should care. If somebody dies and you just go get more popcorn, it’s a superficial experience isn’t it?”
I remember as a child reading the classic novel “Little Women” which is still one of my favorites. I always got choked up when dear, quiet, loving little Beth dies. Beth, with her gentle nature and love for playing the piano, reminded me of one of my older sisters, so it was doubly painful. Why, I asked myself, did favorite characters–especially characters as nice and good as Beth–have to die??
Of course, I later realized if nothing dramatic happened in stories–no unexpected plot twists, no angst-filled characters, no opportunities for the surviving people within the stories to grieve, rage, seek revenge, to grow from their tragic experiences–we’d find such books and films and television shows considerably less compelling, wouldn’t we?
Still. It hurts. Especially if and when we feel the writers do not play fair with the characters.
I am not here to discuss the perceived bad choices and rather preposterous storylines given us by some of the writers for RA’s projects–I believe most of you know where I stand on that subject and that’s really for another post.
This post is to say that it’s perfectly OK to feel shock, horror, anger, grief over the death of a character you have come to love and feel a distinct connection to, be it in a novel or film or television show.
You’re not crazy, actually. You are reacting to the writing and to how the actor has crafted his role. When someone like Louisa May Alcott writes so delightfully of four sisters with distinct personalities and their faults and foibles, characters to whom you find yourself relating on various levels, it would be very difficult not to care and to invest yourself emotionally in their wellbeing.
When an actor such as Richard Armitage puts his heart and soul, along with his keen intelligence, into creating a character, flawed and very much human, yet still someone we can love and admire and respect–how can we not feel moved at the very thought of losing them, never mind watching it unfold onscreen before us ? Yes, our hearts break a bit. We are sad. We cry. We’re human, too.
And while I admit I don’t even want to contemplate it, I know the screen death of yet another character is going to take place. And I really do dread it. Even thought it’s a year-and-a-half away, I dread it.
I know I will grieve, that my grief will be shared by many around the world. And I know that it’s OK, no matter what some might say.
As Martin says, “You should grieve. You should care.”
And if you’re like me, you know they really haven’t died. No, they’ve been Loved Into Being, just like that velveteen rabbit in the children’s story, gaining So Not Dead status and going on to further adventures and greater glories. Living on in our fanfiction, fanvids, fanart, on our forums, in our blogs–and most of all, in our hearts.
Even so, it’s still perfectly OK to shed a few tears–or a lot of them–to go through Kleenexes and curl up in bed and have a good old crying jag, if you must. In a way, it’s a true homage to the writers and actors who gave us these characters in the first place.
Long live the So Not Dead Present and Future–may they continue to bring joy and pleasure, beauty and laughter and heady adventure into our lives.
Sometimes, they even end up hanging out in your den eating brownies and getting milk mustaches. I swear . . .