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Famous Fathers in Literature
All fathers live in novels
Dear old dad...
All type of fathers exist in the many novels written throughout time. At first we only think of the fairy tale parents that really needed parenting lessons. For example, Snow White, the King missed his wife and therefore married again but was she a kind woman who loved his little daughter Snow White? No! She spent her days in front of her mirror asking, "who is the fairest in the land?" Alright she may not be nurturing, but then she learns that Snow White is far more beautiful than her. Does she buy some aging cream to cut down on the wrinkles? No she has her huntsman take Snow White into the forest and kill her. Where is Snow White's father in all this? Completely absent. I suppose the King spent his days training with the knights or hunting. Who knows.
The King from Snow White is not the only type of father in literature. Some fathers are actually worse while other fathers are actually kind and considerate men. This list is split between Bad Dads and Fair Fathers. This range of Dads are taken from mostly western literature. Shakespeare, children and adult literature. Frankly the entire hub could be about the fathers in Shakespeare's literature. Though I think the list would almost be weighted with bad dads, but there are a few exceptions of fair fathers in Shakespeare as you'll see below. The fair fathers are not necessarily infallible fathers, but they do seem to want the best for their children, which of course is the most redeeming quality of all.
King Learfather of three daughters King Lear
Through all his actions and words King Lear is the worst father in Shakespeare's works. Now most lovers of Shakespeare would disagree and say that the worst father is either Hamlet's father or Signore Capulet and Montague. I cannot disagree that they are all rotten fathers and did not realize their mistakes until after their children died, however King Lear actually expects his daughters to flatter his vanity in return for control of his kingdom. A father may want compliments but purposely raising children to falsely flatter is not good parenting. His only daughter to display strength of character, Cordelia, is given nothing in return for telling King Lear the truth. Her sisters Regan and Goneril are given equal control of the kingdom but their greed is awakened and soon plot the death of King Lear, Cordelia, and eventually each other. Yes, King Lear can be proud of these two princesses. Like the fathers in Romeo and Juliet, King Lear does not repent his actions until it is too late and Cordelia, the only daughter who truly loved him, dies due to his vanity.
Archibald Craven father of Colin Craven in The Secret Garden
Naturally the death of a spouse is quite painful but to leave your infant son in the care of servants especially Mrs. Medlock, is more than a little neglectful. Mr. Craven lets his pain control his life, which allows his son to believe that his father hates him because he cannot walk and is supposedly a hunchback. Mr. Craven spends most of his time traveling throughout England and the continent. Whenever he comes back to Misthistlewaite Manor, he only visits Colin at night when he is asleep. It is only Mr. Craven's niece Mary whose interest in gardens actually reawakens the Manor, it's gardens, and especially Mr. Craven. In the end Mr. Craven is not a bully but he certainly is not initially the most dutiful father.
Pap Finnfather or Huckleberry Finn
There is a reason why Huck runs away to sail down the Mississippi with Jim. And it all begins with Pap Finn, a mean drunk. Fathers could in the 1800s physically discipline their children, but there were bad dads then as well as now who went bring a new meaning to horrible human beings. Huck is an adventurous kid anyway but his dad's behavior does not induce Huck to stick around.
Father of Beauty from Beauty and the Beast
In the original story of Beauty and Beauty, the father has three daughters. Two are spoiled and selfish, while Beauty is kind and responsible. While traveling the father asks what he can bring back for his daughters. Two of them want new gowns and jewelry, while Beauty wants a rose. While on the journey home the father views a garden from the road and picks a rose for Beauty. The Beast immediately rushes at the father saying that picking that rose cost him his life. The father in a panic essentially blames his action on his daughter. To which the story follows that the Beast ordered the father to send Beauty to live with him forever. Now forgetting Beauty and the the Beast's romance, what father would leave make his daughter stay with a beast? A cowardly, and weak bad dad.
Lord Alexander (Flyte) Marchmain father of Marchmain children in Brideshead Revisited
Mr. Marchmain is a difficult man to dissect. His religious fanatic wife may not have been easy to live with, but his actions essentially tear the family apart, leaving his family and settling in Venice to live with his mistress, Cara. In the beginning Lord Marchmain converted to Catholicism in order to marry Theresa (Lady Marchmain). It is only before the World War II when Lord Marchmain returns to Brideshead to die, that the reader sees another side to Lord Marchmain. Before his death Lord Marchmain also receives the Catholic sacraments. His return to faith changes the attitude of his daughter, Julia who too resented her mother's Catholic morality. So Lord Marchmain begins as bad dad, but his actions are so as clear cut as the previous examples. Lord Marchmain represents a real man more so than the other fictitious characters because no human being is perfect and actions are not always so easily explained.
Kind hearted man
Mr. Bennetfather of Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice
Some may critique the choice to place Mr. Bennet in the fair father section, but in this judgement I view Mr. Bennet's behavior as benign compared to Pap Finn or King Lear. None of Mr. Bennet's behavior causes the death of his daughters. He also is not physically abusive to his daughters, though one deserves a lot of discipline. Mr. Bennet's fault is that he simply doesn't care about his wife or three of his daughters. His main goal in life is to be left alone to his study with his books. Jane and Elizabeth are the only family members that he can stand. So Mr. Bennet is not a bad dad but simply a fair father.
Prosperofather of Miranda The Tempest
Prospero has great cause to revenge upon Antonio, his brother for exiling him to an island and usurping his title, Duke of Milan. In truth Prospero did wait twelve years to perfect his magic and cause a tempest to wreck the ship upon which his brother, King of Naples, Alsonso, Alonso's brother Sebastien, and Alonso's son Ferdinand are sailing back from Tunis. Prospero is a good father because he allows his daughter, Mirando to love and marry Ferdinand, the son of a man who exiled him from Milan. Prospero also protects Miranda from Caliban a strange island creature. Prospero seems to want his daughter to be happy, which is a nice thing coming from a Shakespeare father.
Mr. Darling father of Darling children Peter Pan
Who could ever forget that it was Mr. Darling who tries to force his daughter Wendy to grow up? Though Mr. Darling in the play also becomes Captain Hook, none of Mr. Darling's actions can be judged quite so harshly. He simply wants his daughter to prepare for real life. In the Victorian era, children were meant to act like mini-adults which did not provide for much 'playtime.' I don't see Mr. Darling's actions as mean or horrible but trying to guide his daughter in the right direction. What many parents forget is that most children find their way in their own time.
Baptista father of Katerina and Bianca Taming of the Shrew
It is clear that Baptista favors Bianca, but I think that's because she makes it easy to be close to her. Katerina closes herself off to most emotions except for pride and scorn. She shows her desire to be tough and not taken advantage of. Baptista's redeeming quality is that he will not allow Bianca to wed until Katerina is married. So many who sympathize with Bianca would find that harsh but Katerina has such fire that it is hard not to like her. From all appearances Baptista wants Katerina to find happiness with her husband. He even objects to Petruchio's initial harsh treatment of her, but Baptista also realizes that Petruchio is the only one that makes Katerina listen to reason. So even though Baptista cannot guide his daughter, he knows when to let go of the reins.
Mr. O'Hara father of Scarlett O'Hara Gone With The Wind
Mr. Gerald O'Hara, the father of Scarlett O'Hara, need I say more? He loved his wife, Ellen, dearly and went insane after her death, which is highly romantic. He also taught his daughter to love home, Tara. Not to mention how many fathers could handle a daughter like Scarlett? Not many, I warrant.
So in closing I would like to say Happy Father's Day to all of the father's throughout literature who create happy, sad, tearful, comical, and shocking moments throughout fiction!