WARNING: Inception Spoiler
Today in class I was talking about Needs versus Wants in characters and their character arcs, and about how ironic it is when a character achieves what they think they want, only to discover it isn't what they want at all.
In the Lord of the Rings movie, Frodo actually says that he wants an adventure like Bilbo. He is first presented sitting in a field reading a book, daydreaming about adventure.
By the end of the movie he has had his adventure and 'saved the world' and returned home, but he can't remain in the Shire because of what's happened to him (the wound he took on Weathertop still hurts). He has to leave the Shire and ends up going into the West with the Elves.
So he gets his adventure like Bilbo and, like Bilbo, he has to leave Middle Earth, when he would really rather live a normal life. He sails off into legend, into the dream that he longed for, only now he no longer wants it.
I was also thinking about how characters lie to themselves, or don't really know themselves and how this influences what they do. In the movie Inception, when you first see Cobb speak to his children, it is after he spins the top and it falls over. (The top is the totem, if it falls over it means this isn't a dream). So int he real world, he can't be with his children, but it is the thing he wants above all else. At the end of the movie, he spins the top, but doesn't wait to see if it stops spinning, and goes out to be with his children. By the end of the movie, it is more important to him, for him to be with his children, than to be sure this is not a dream. If you accept that the final reality is another dream then his need for his children over-rode his need for reality.
You have to ask yourself, would you have waited to see if the top stopped spinning?
I like irony in character arcs. I enjoy going on a journey with a character and discovering things about them, as they discover things about themselves. The more a character suffers, the more interesting they become for me. And I can forgive them a lot of they are motivated by pure (if misguided) sentiment.
Is the journey that the character takes important for you? Are there certain authors who deliver, whose characters linger in your mind after you've finished the book?