Creature Comforts and Comfort Characters

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I think that books are a beautiful reflection of our lives, who we are, and who we want to be. We search for ourselves in the pages of our favorite stories and find inspiration in the imperfect people we idolize. This practice has been a big part of my love of literature and, as a result, is what has contributed to my development as a human being. I can live a thousand lives and learn from a thousand mistakes without leaving the coziness of my couch corner. 

This is where the concept of the comfort character comes in. Whether or not you knew about them before, I am positive you’ve had that one character you grew attached to more quickly than the others or thought about consistently after you closed the novel. Sometimes, they remind you of good friends or family members you value or miss. At times, they resemble someone we hope to find or meet one day. At others, they reflect something we see in ourselves. 

I’ve personally found comfort in many characters over the years, but the ones that stand out to me now are those that felt most like versions of me. Looking back, I realize that these particular characters fit a very specific type of people—perfectionists with a penchant for reading and staying up late in pursuit of great academic achievements. They’re hard on themselves and surround themselves with friends they love to chase after adventure with. They feel things deeply, are anxious, and focus on what matters most. They’re your Annabeth Chases, Hermione Grangers, and Jo Marches of the world. Most recently, Rory Gilmore has joined that list (even though she isn’t a book character, she is a massive bookworm as well as a writer, so I think she should count). It’s human nature to feel like we are the only ones in the world with our particular problems, emotions, and world views. Even though we aren’t, there is something special about identifying with our comfort characters and feeling like we have a friend who can understand us. 

Understanding is just one part of the equation. I also feel that these characters give me something to aspire to. When I see their names on the page, I see people stronger and braver than I could hope to be. Book characters are role models without the rose colored sheen, written to be quirky, unique, and relatable. 

If you’re like me and can’t sever your heartfelt attachments to the characters that have lived in your head since you met them in chapter one, you’re not alone. They help us learn more about ourselves and grow into who we will become. Your very own Hermione, Rory, Annabeth, and Jo will always be there to lend a word and their company.