When I was little, my sister and I watched a fair few Disney films. Now you’re probably thinking that this is a strange introduction to a blog post seemingly about fathers in literature but there is a point I promise!
The picture above is of me when I was little with my Daddy. When I was growing up he often wore suits, worked in London with something to do with money, took my sister and I kite flying and (to a little girl who watched a lot of Disney films) didn’t look dissimilar to David Tomlinson. And so, as a result of all those things, I was absolutely convinced that he was Mr Banks from Mary Poppins!
So, in honour of my Daddy and to celebrate Fathers Day, here are my favourite fathers found in fiction.
Bob Cratchit – Dedicated Father
A poor man with a large family, Bob is the exasperated but loyal employee of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. Ever the eternal optimist Bob commands his family with nothing but love, working tirelessly and without complaint so that they don’t go without, especially for Christmas. The most iconic image of Bob is him carrying Tiny Tim on his shoulders on their way home from church and it is this display of unconditional fatherly love that kick starts the change in the miserly Scrooge.
William Champion – Father of imagination
William Champion is just the most extraordinary father – a widower and mechanic who makes his son and their way of life absolutely everything. He makes up stories for Danny, teaches him how to drive and fix motorcars, and stands his ground against bullies like Victor Hazel. Danny the Champion of the World is one of my favourite Roald Dahl stories mainly due to William and the amazing relationship he has with his son (that, and the fact he always reminds me of my Grandad – another country boy called William with a twinkle in his eye!)
Mr Bennet – Exasperated Father
Being the only man in a family made up of 5 daughters and a Mrs Bennet, you can understand why Mr Bennet chooses to spend a vast majority of his time locked in the library. Patriarch of the Bennet household but limited both financially and in patience, his dry wit and relationship with Lizzie makes him a very likeable character but rather ineffectual, on the whole, as a father to the girls of Pride and Prejudice.
Atticus Finch – Moral Compass
Respect is the word that comes to mind when thinking of the extraordinary father in To Kill A Mockingbird. He commands it and gives it in abundance. Atticus is the absolute epitome of teaching his children by example. He is honest, calm and loving – living his life and bringing up his children in a way where he says what he means and lives by what he thinks. Based on Harper Lee’s own father, Atticus represents the injustices in his community and fights for what he feels is right, even if it alienates him from society.
Dexter Mayhew – Dad In-Training
Not all dads take to fatherhood like a duck to water. Dexter in One Day struggles with accepting the fact that he now has someone more important than himself, his daughter Jasmine. Nicholls’s portrayal of Dexter’s trials and tribulations about fatherhood is incredibly endearing and both realistically and beautifully portrayed. Despite fatherhood being a subplot to the much bigger storyline I still believe that it plays an important part in Dexter’s transformation from a narcissistic twenty-something to a more rounded, loveable adult.
Arthur Weasley – Family Man
First introduced in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Arthur Weasley soon makes his mark as the muggle-obsessed, loveable head of the Weasley household. Despite being considered eccentric by his brood, the love his 7 children and others have for him is profound. Far from being a push over, Arthur is a staunch advocate of equality in magic, fighting alongside the Order of the Phoenix to bring Voldemort down as well as doing just about anything to keep his family together and safe. His brush with death in The Order of the Phoenix was originally intended to be fatal but J.K. Rowling just couldn’t bring herself to kill off one of the best-loved fathers in the series.
Matthew Cuthbert– the Father Figure I
The soft touch to Marilla’s hard, Matthew Cuthbert is nothing short of a complete sweetheart. Every single time I read Anne of Green Gables or watch the 1985 version he makes me cry. Every. Single. Time. I genuinely believe that Anne wouldn’t have been such an amazing character if she hadn’t experienced the unconditional love and kindness that she gets from her ‘kindred spirit’ Matthew.
Tom Oakley – the Father Figure II
The developing relationship found in Goodnight Mr Tom – one between a scared little boy, evacuated from his home in London to a strange village in the countryside, and a lonely old man who has isolated himself from society – is undeniably moving. This is a humble but fantastically told story about two unlikely characters finding solace in each other and finally being able to come home. Absolutely beautiful.
Mr March – Absentee Father
Robert March is largely represented by his letters in the beginning of Little Women and it is his absence which forces and allows each of the March girls to grow and develop. Despite constantly wishing that ‘father were here’, they use his obvious influence as guidance for their actions, demonstrating how loved and well thought of his is.
Prospero – Traditionalist
Usurped by his brother and exiled to a distant island, Prospero retains his authority over his only human subject and one remaining treasure – his daughter, Miranda. As the strong-willed and over protective protagonist in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Prospero intimidates his daughter’s suitor upon first encounter – even laying down the law about their marriage bed!
I’ve loved racking my brains for my favourite dads in literature but are there any more who you think should have made the shortlist?
Happy Fathers Day!