Kallie wrote: Good point, Roland. In fact, I like to get into character's head when he or she is NOT like me, or like I want to be, and try to see their world from their perspective. I think characterization usually suffers when a writer tries to make a character he or she identifies with as admirable. The character becomes a puppet rather than a complex character with a life of his or her own.
I agree totally! That is the genius of the classics and all good literature. I think that is the essence of being "well read." Getting inside the mind of a character in a book helps us understand ourselves and others. What comes to mind right now is The Picture of Dorina Gray. Essentially, Dorian does all kinds of despicable things without seeming to change in any way. He doesn't suffer for any of his actions. He is a complete sociopath and the reader is able to get into his mind and during most of the book we see the damage he causes others. At the end though the reader is able to see the damages he does to himself.
After finishing the book, the reader comes to understand that there are consequences to that kind of life. One book won't put the breaks on a sociopath, but after reading Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby (Daisy), Vanity Fair (Becky Sharp), A Christmas Carol (Scrooge), David Copperfield (Steerforth) Persuasion (Mr. Elliot)even a sociopath can see the consequences of that life, and the rest of the readers understand that there are people who have no conscience and to be wary of them.
immersed in and learn from.
To me, classics gain that title because they are incredibly successful in creating characters and situations which are a different reality from the reader, but which the reader can be