The first character I really related to was Matilda from the eponymous book by Roald Dahl. I was about five or six, not much older than her. I think I fell in love with Dahl’s writing partially because here was someone like me. Matilda is a child prodigy whose family ignores her. I wasn’t a prodigy but I was quite smart for a little kid and the other kids at school made fun of me for that. At the time I also don’t think I knew any other kids besides this fictional character who loved to read as much as I did (and still do).
I reread Matilda and was struck by how much I still relate to her. Matilda develops a kind of magical power where she can control objects with her brain. At the end of the book this disappears and her teacher theorizes that it was due to not being challenged but now it’s gone because she needs her brainpower for other things. (She was smart enough to be with kids twice her age but the nasty Headmistress wouldn’t let her, so Matilda used her powers to get rid of her.) This is what I feel about my intelligence. When I was little I was just so far ahead of most other kids. Now things have evened out. My skills/knowledge in language arts probably still surpass that of most kids and I’m several years ahead in math (only because I do it during the summer so I don’t forget), but now I have to work to do well. The sense of everything being magically easy is gone and I struggle with it a bit because that’s not how things used to be.
I think most people would expect me to see myself in Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, and I think I did for a time. On the surface we’re very alike. We wear and say weird things, are unafraid to speak our minds, and are intelligent oddballs. But I don’t feel much like Luna deep down. Pottermore Sorted me into Ravenclaw, same as her, and I was disappointed.
I feel like a Slytherin. Ravenclaws and Slytherins are two sides of the same coin – intelligence. Ravenclaws are the eccentric side that collects knowledge while Slytherins are the ambitious side that puts it to practical use. I think having knowledge is important, but using it is more important. So despite my oddness, I’m not a Luna. If we’re sticking strictly to female Slytherins, there’s Pansy Parkinson (too nasty), Narcissa Malfoy (an awesome character, but a huge part of her character is her struggles as a mother and I obviously can’t relate to that) and Bellatrix Lestrange (too ruthless). I don’t know that there’s really any character in Harry Potter I see myself as.
For a while there wasn’t any character I really identified with, but now there’s Peregrin Took from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. Go ahead and laugh all you want. I think not caring if you find me funny is proof that I’m like him. Pippin is the youngest and least experienced member of the Fellowship. He’s something of a fool. I’m not the youngest in my family but among my friends I usually am. Furthermore, the rest of my family is left-brained while I’m very right-brained so I often feel like the stupid one. And I’m kind of a fool; you already knew that. I wouldn’t be surprised if people describe me as the “goofy, jokey, dorky one” who is rarely taken seriously.
At first I couldn’t understand how anyone could like Pippin (or his cousin Merry) because all he did was tag along and get stoned on hobbit-weed! And then in the third book he became awesome. When he goes to Gondor with Gandalf he’s still foolish, first screwing up the wizard’s plans by letting slip to Denethor that his son was dead and then becoming loyal to him which is the stupidest idea in the world because Denethor’s insane. But Pippin makes up for that by becoming incredibly brave, trying to persuade Denethor to lead Gondor and not kill himself, and helping to rescue Faramir from being burnt alive. I think his is the best character development in the trilogy; he goes from being carefree and rather stupid to surviving the scariest adventure out of those of all the hobbits. Pippin reassures me. I hope that maybe someday I could be as brave as he is and show that I’m not just a fool!