There are various standards to evaluate a character whether it is the best or the worst, some characters have common character traits which make them stand out among the rest. It also depends on the sketch of the character that the authors present in their works. Some of the characters impact millions, while others just a few thousands. Depending on the criteria of physical description, dialogue, conversation, thoughts, and actions, the best ten characters from literature are as follows.
Hamlet from Hamlet by William Shakespeare
As the best character, Hamlet ranks as one of the best and at the top of this list for his popularity, strength of character, actions, thoughts, and dialogues. He is the main character of the play, Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, and has become an icon in playwriting. Depressed over the death of his father, Hamlet suspects his uncle, verifies it through the appearance of the Ghost, upbraids his mother, and even disenchants his beloved, Ophelia. During the course of action, he also fights with Laertes and kills his father, Polonius, yet his thoughts encapsulated in his soliloquies mesmerize the audience. His final words also stay with the readers and the audiences alike. That is why he is also considered one of the best characters of all time.
Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jay is one of the best characters known for his reticence, his self-made portrait, and his down-to-earn simple conversation. Reaching the Long Island elite class is not such a mean feat if somebody has a very humble origin like that of Jay Gatsby. Although his all actions seem driven by his love, he does not seem obsessed with other objects. Interestingly, he succeeds in achieving his dream, yet his efforts face the bitter realities of the social fabric of those times. That is why he is considered an interesting character in American literature.
Tess from Tess of d’Urberville by Thomas Hardy
The central character of Hardy’s popular novel, Tess of d’Urberville, Tess Durbeyfield is also one of the best character in our ranking of the best characters in English Literature. She is a highly attractive girl and raw beauty of the rural Wessex, but her fate throws her into an untoward situation where she faces a brutal rape and an estranged abandonment by her sincere lover, who later marries her sister after she is hanged for killing Alec. Her lineage, chances, and her own ideals play a significant role in her tragic end, and her beauty stays in the minds of the readers for good.
Santiago from The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Because of his aphoristic sayings and undaunted struggle against the fish, the marline, the Cuban angler, Santiago, is included in this list. As the central character of the Old Man and the Sea, the tour de force of Hemingway, Santiago is an old man with wrinkles on his face and body but steely determination. He turns his bad luck into fortune, but it never comes to fruition as sharks eat up his entire prize when he tries to return to the mainland. His endurance, strength, and bodily struggle, despite his weak physical structure, stay in the minds of the readers.
Gregor Samsa from The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Gregor Samsa, the central character of The Metamorphosis of Franz Kafka, is one of our best characters in literature due to his personality being a highly reflective and responsible character. He transforms into vermin at the very beginning of the novel and stays until he becomes an outcast and dies. Yet, he continues feeling and thinking about his responsibilities, his family, his friends, and his job. Despite knowing that he has transformed into a vermin, he continues to think of a way to perform his duties. These thoughts bring him to the forefront among the best characters in literature.
Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Caulfield is certainly of the best and bold characters in literature. He appears in The Catcher in The Rye by J. D. Salinger and occupies the novel from the first to the last page. His true qualities lie in his being identified by the readers as one among them. His vivid expression about himself, his background, his failure in school, his hospitalization, meeting with his teacher, and psychoanalytic checkup, and above all his traumatic background make him stand as a strong character. Most of his peculiarities are not explained within the text and become dilemmatic for the readers, which is the main reason for his being the best character of J. D. Salinger.
Sherlock Holmes from The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes appears in many short and long fiction by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in such a way that most people think of him as a living character. This impression of the readers lies in the character descriptions of Sir Arthur. His appearance in The Hound of the Baskervilles, however, is interesting in that he comes alive before the eyes of the readers through his physical appearance, his actions, and his conversation with Dr. Watson. The art of Conan Doyle becomes alive by presenting him having an ego as well as his common wit. However, the main dexterity of the character lies in oscillating between friends and foes.
Aureliano Buendia from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Known with the name of Aureliano Buendia is the greatest fatherly soldier figure in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Marquez. He is included in this list of the best characters for his physically matchless and artistic accomplishments. However, one more thing that makes him unique is that he is inexperienced in having deep emotions. He thinks that no sorrow could impact his persona. That is why he experiences sufferings from the war, family feuds, and tribal saga with a stiff upper lip. A poetic soul, he tries to live in the present, understanding the cycles of time with memories. That is why he is considered the best character in translated literature.
Mrs. Ramsay from To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Ramsay’s description and also her conversation with the depiction of nature have won him the place in the list of the best characters in literature. She is kind, tolerant, and protective toward others. Her concern for her sibling and understanding of her husband shows that she is not disillusioned about such relations. She is a down-to-earth realist and feels that she must protect her family as well as women. Despite her uncompromising manners, her tact in handling her husband wins the hearts of her readers.
The Little Prince from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
From some other planet, the little prince meets the narrator when his aircraft crashes in the Sahara Desert. Although he is put in contrast with childlike characters of this earth, his innocent but seductive questions raise the eyebrows of the readers. He proves a hard nut to crack for the narrator who feels chagrined after he finds himself in a tight spot over his questions. His search for an answer drives him on this earth until the end when he leaves the earth but wins the heart of his readers due to which we have him among our best characters in literature.