Sunday 15 June 2008

Happy Fathers Day!

For the apostrophe-minded, Fathers Day is a minefield. As you see, I have decided for an apostropheless celebration - I think it's a day of fathers, rather than belonging to one (Father's) or many (Fathers')...

Anyway - for Our Vicar, and all the other fathers reading, have a great day!

To celebrate the occasion - whom do you think is the best father in literature? I don't really mean the one I enjoy reading about the most, but rather the character who is the best father to his child/ren. If it were the former, I'd plump for Mr. Woodhouse from Emma, but he couldn't be described as a good parent... nor, indeed, could many of Austen's literary parents.

So, have a think. I'm going to ponder on it, and see what I think...

Or just comment on fathers in literature as you wish!


  1. I haven't read either of these in a long time, but I recall the father in both Little Women and Cheaper by the Dozen being very good fathers.

  2. Mr Bennett, undoubtedly, for this reason:

    When Lizzie Bennet turns down the obsequious Mr Collins's offer for her hand in marriage (a match that would keep the Bennet house in the family but that Lizzie cannot make because she does not love Mr Collins) Mr Bennet says:

    'Well, Lizzie, from this day henceforth it seems you must be a stranger to one of your parents.' (He looks at her while she nervously awaits his decision. He keeps her waiting ... .) Then he says: 'Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins ... and I will never see you again if you do.'

    Mr Bennet's deep love for his favourite daughter, his amused, and sometimes not-so-amused tolerance of his desperate-to-marry-off-their-daughters wife, his asking of the right questions of his daughters at crucial times and his understanding of them (for instance, when Jane becomes engaged to Mr Bingley it is Mr Bennet who understands why they will never quarrel - because they can only see good in each other) - all thse things make him the father of literary fathers.

    And I also feel this because my own too-long-dead father loved Mr Bennet himself, and sometimes thought himself in a similar position - with four daughters of his own.

  3. Surely "who do you think is the best father in literature".

    And I'll plump for Atticus Finch.

  4. Surely THE good father in literature is Atticus Finch! Other prominent and positive fathers that spring to mind are the just deceased one in James Agee's A Death in the family and many from children's literature- eg The Railway Children, A Little Princess and The Famous Five books.

  5. How about Moominpapa? Dark Puss

  6. You know, on reading this the only Father that sprang to mind was Mr Miniver .... but of course, I'd have to agree with Atticus Finch. And perhaps Scarlett's father in Gone with the Wind, because really, he is the only one who can handle his daughter and put up with her - until he loses his mind when his wife dies!

  7. I love Mr Bennet for the same reasons Angela mentions. I would also agree that Atticus is a truely good, good father, though his willingness to see Jem potentially tried for a death in self defence is a scrupple too far perhaps. Neither a good man, nor a pleasant read is Paul Dombey in Dombey and Son, but I think he is a fascinating character nonetheless and much of what Dickens wrote about him has stayed with me in the years since I read the book. Widening it to father figures rather than real father fathers I also think Mr Dick in David Copperfield is lovely, and in is childishness often gives David the right advice at the timely momen, and again a father figure rather than a dad Joe Gargery is surely the most uncomplicatedly good portrait of a father anywhere.

    A lovely post this Simon, I've really enjoyed thinking about literary fathers!

  8. How about Orlando the Marmalade Cat? I'm sure I remember him having kittens!


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