Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My 10 Most Desirable Ladies of Page and Screen

**This is an excerpt from a guest post I contributed to the Seeing Sepia blog, maintained by The Supreme Arbitress of Taste.  It serves as a companion piece to the Supreme Arbitress' earlier post, "My Top 10 Fictional Boyfriends of Page and Screen" (available here).**

The greatest challenge about this post was not writing each entry; it was selecting the ten ladies to be memorialized. Those characters who enjoy "happily ever after" endings are often so one-dimensional that it is hard to view them as real or compelling. On the other hand, those who are compelling are so often laden with baggage that life with them would be exceedingly difficult, and not something I would jump into lightly. Each choice thus came down to balancing between these two qualities.

10. Yvaine, Stardust

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, but he does not create many characters with whom I would willingly spend a life. His books seem to contain every emotion but joy, while his characters are more likely to "live in interesting times" than "happily ever after." In Stardust, Yvaine is an evening star, thrown from the heavens by a collision with the royal gemstone. She is an archetypal damsel in distress, but demonstrates her mettle and loyalty to her friends over the course of the novel. Yvaine is played in the film adaptation of Stardust by Claire Danes, one of my favorite actresses, who captures both her independence and affectionate nature. She maintains a constant stream of insults at Tristan Thorn (the poor man), but they only cover for the subtle movements of her perception of him, from disgust to genuine affection. The best insults are always the ones that mask true love.

9. Suzanne, The Marriage of Figaro

The Marriage of Figaro is the second in a trilogy of plays by Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, a watchmaker-spy-playwright of the court of Louis XV. The play was an instant classic: Napoleon later said that the first public performance of The Marriage of Figaro marked the true beginning of the French Revolution. Suzanne is the beloved bride of Figaro and confidante of her lady the Countess, even while her favors are sought by the unfaithful Count. Figaro may be fleet of foot and word, but Suzanne has captured his heart with a wit and vivacity of her own. She even tricks Figaro in the course of the play -- the only one in the trilogy to trick the charming trickster himself. Suzanne is loyal to her love and to her mistress, and one of the most delightful female characters in French literature.

Check out the Seeing Sepia blog if you'd like to read the rest of this article.

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