The only things that make a novel and fictional character really noticeable are the nuances of human emotions and the complexities with which they act. Toxic relationships and dysfunctional families are common in literature and somehow, it always seem to create interest in the readers. The less than perfect parents who manipulate, abuse and disappoint their own children are as much real as the picture perfect ending of a love story.
Here are some dysfunctional families which are beautifully written and deserve acknowledgement.
Dursley family from Harry Potter by J K Rowling
Harry Potter made us fall in love with the world of wizardry and magic. It painted such a vivid picture in the reader’s mind that it became difficult to admire humans or ‘Muggle’ (as they are referred to in the book), with the Dursley’s adding to the dislike. The family of Harry’s maternal aunt, with whom he used to stay as a child, treated him badly. However, it was no secret that the family itself was undergoing turmoil. Thanks to Harry’s jealous aunt Petunia and the ever whining and greedy brother Dudley, things were never right for the family, and of course, Harry. Petunia envies Harry’s dead mother because she was a great magician, and Dudley couldn’t stand the attention Harry received from the world.
Cost: Paperback for Rs 2,754 on Amazon
Charlotte Haze from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Charlotte Haze is another literary mother who didn’t quite paint a very positive picture in the reader’s minds. Charlotte fancied herself to become a lady of European sophistication and elegance, while her husband and daughter Lolita, were dealing with their own set of problems. Charlotte’s relationship with Lolita is strained throughout the novel, but worships her husband Humbert (who in fact secretly admires Lolita).
Cost: Paperback for Rs 328 on Amazon
The Lannister family from Game of Thrones by George R R Martin
The Lannister family in George R R Martin’s book left most readers confused. Right from Cersei carrying his brother Jamie’s children, to Tyrion killing his father Tywin because he never loved his son because of his appearance – the whole family was followed no social norms and was ready to even take each other’s lives for the much-proclaimed iron throne.
Cost: Paperback for Rs 2,192 on Amazon
Stepfather Murdstone in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield’s mother marries Edward Murdstone while he was sent away at the coast to avoid any problems. But his stepfather abused him as a child, was cruel, dominating and even controlled his mother. He was everything but a father figure to the boy.
Cost: Paperback for Rs 156 on Amazon
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Strout explores the nuances of family relationships in her story which pans over the five-days when an estranged mother visits her daughter, Lucy, in a hospital. As the story unfolds, we get to know about Lucy’s disturbing childhood, financial hardship, paternal rage, and the absence of hope in the family and the tangled complexities of a mother-daughter relationship.
Cost: Paperback for Rs 410 on Amazon