Six Great Literary Dads
For Father's Day, Aine recalls some of the best dads ever, in some of the best books ever.
Obviously, my dad is the best dad, but I thought I would take some time to consider some of the dad’s in literature to whom my dad has introduced me.
The first three dads (/father figures) in my list come from either children’s or Young Adult books, as these books shape children’s expectations of what a dad is. The last three are all more conventionally adult books and have, in my opinions, interesting and complicated representations of father figures. Anyone who hasn’t read these books, this list may contain spoilers, so tread with care!
Horton, of Horton Hatches the Egg
The first “dad” I have chosen is Horton, who comes from Dr Seuss’s picture book, Horton Hatches the Egg. When an egg is abandoned by its bird mother, Horton the elephant steps up and adopts the egg, gently sitting on it to keep it warm. Horton learns that being a father takes making a lot of sacrifices and dedication, for which he is rewarded with an elephant-bird baby.
Dr Montgomery Montgomery, of A Series of Unfortunate Events
The second “dad” I have chosen comes from the thirteen-part book series, Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, which centres around the lives of three siblings, recently orphaned. Dr. Montgomery Montgomery is the children’s second guardian. Their first guardian, the series’ villain, Count Olaf, reeks havoc on the children’s lives, trying to steal their fortune. Montgomery has an important role in the Series of Unfortunate Events, he shows them that even after their parent’s deaths and being mistreated by Olaf, it is possible to be loved and trust again. Montgomery is an enthusiastic and eccentric guardian, who truly understands the children’s struggle and dies because he is too trusting.
Arthur Weasley, of Harry Potter
The third dad in this list is perhaps the most famous, coming from J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Arthur Weasly is a father to seven children, six boys and one girl, as well as taking on a father-figure role to Harry. Arthur is kind and generous, and the family share the little they have with anyone who needs it. Arthur is less of an authoritarian figure than he perhaps should be, for example when Fred, George and Ron steal his car to go and rescue Harry from his Aunt and Uncle, he just wants to know how it went. As his wife is very authoritative, this isn’t much of a problem, and Arthur, in my opinion, is still one of the Great Dads.
Ned Stark, of A Game of Thrones
The fourth dad I have chosen comes from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Series, more specifically the first book, A Game of Thrones. If you don’t know the series, it’s a fictional-medieval world in which several houses all war for the Iron Throne, I think that’s the best summary I can do without another 1000 words! Edward Stark (Ned), head of the Stark House in Winterfell. Ned dies in the first book but inspires many well into the fifth. As well as raising his own five children, Ned raised Jon Snow, a boy who (SPOILER) he claimed, for Jon’s protection, was his bastard but was in fact his sister’s son. This lost Ned respect and caused hurt to his wife, but he kept his secret, to protect Jon, and to keep his word to his sister. Ned was also an encouraging father to all his children, teaching Arya, his youngest daughter to fight when she showed him she wanted to learn, this is why Arya survives. He is a man of his word, an encouraging father and inspires his children to be like him.
Mr Emerson, of A Room with a View
The fifth dad I have chosen comes from E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. Mr Emerson is honest and progressive (for the time), he teaches his son George to be free and about equality. Mr Emerson is the catalyst to Lucy and George’s love story, he can see that they love each other and that Lucy won’t admit it. He basically just wants them to be happy and I’ve always loved Mr Emerson, especially Denholm Elliott’s portrayal of him in the 1958 film.
Mr Bennet, of Pride and Prejudice
The sixth dad on my list comes from the Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a tale about love and marriage, and whether the two should in fact coincide. The heroine, Elizabeth Bennet is proposed to three times in the course of the book. The first proposal comes from her cousin, Mr Collins, who she despises. Her mother tells her she has to marry him if she is to ever speak to her again. Mr Bennet contradicts this by telling her if she does marry him, he’ll never speak to her again. Mr Bennet is a terrible husband, constantly winding up his already nervous wife and leaving her open to ridicule, but he is a good father. He sees what Elizabeth wants and wants her to have it
by Aine Casey