Page: Finding our character in fiction
Albany Times Union
Aristotle said that the function of drama is to evoke pity and fear in the audience. So we need strong, complicated and disagreeable characters to keep us reading, keep us watching. When we encounter these fictional people in the pages of books or in movies, a part of what we do is identify with them, in spite of ourselves. I mean, Dostoyevsky couldn't have come up with a character as morbidly sympathetic as Raskolnikov in "Crime and Punishment" if he didn't, on some level, know that it's a reliable warp in human nature that tempts some people to believe that murder is admissible — at least for an extraordinary person, such as Raskolnikov fancies himself he might be.