Thursday Quotables is a weekly book meme hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies, showcasing your favourite book quote of the week. This week, I’ve chosen a quote from new release, The Gentleman by Forrest Leo:
[…] they will have to grapple with what the literary world has been grappling with since Chrétien, which is that Arthur Pendragon himself is by nature boring because he is an exemplar of virtue; whereas Lancelot (or Gawain or Yvain or Tristan or Perceval or Gareth or really anyone else for that matter except perhaps Galahad) is by nature interesting because his is a tale of virtue gone awry. When a great writer tackles Arthur himself directly, something quite interesting may result, if he proves equal to the task — how is virtue made compelling?
Three – In Which My Wife Throws a Party & I Entertain a Mysterious Gentleman with Whom I Discuss Poetry, Friendship, & Marriage
So this quote completely blew me away since it’s something I’ve always thought about as well. Some of the most interesting characters ARE interesting because they have both the good and the bad, they are not just perfect creations. It’s also why, if there is a central “good” character, so many people might gravitate instead towards a side character or even a villain. Is it because virtue is so boring? Or perhaps it is because when a character has reached the pinnacle of virtue, and will not engage in a fall, then their arc and growth has ended. Whereas an imperfect character has room to grow, change, evolve — even villains.
What do you think? Are completely virtuous/good characters boring? Is there a way to make them interesting?