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Literary Dads who Deserve a Father’s Day (and some that don’t)

19th June, 2016

Here are some much loved literary father figures, both the conventional and the unconventional ones. And three detestable bookish dads who do not deserve Father’s Day wishes at all.

Literary fathers list

This is the time of year for celebrating the great men in our life – fathers, father figures and the like. Here is a list of some of my favourite fathers in literature. And also a few of the unloved ones  in books.


1. Mr. BENNET (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

Mr. Bennet  is one of my favourite father figures. His humour is impeccable. Being in a house with five unmarried girls and a wife who dramatizes every conversation with her nerves is no small thing, and Mr. Bennet does it with style.

My most memorable scene is Mr. Bennet taking Elizabeth’s side when she disagrees to marry Mr. Collins. Patient, intelligent and a reader, Mr. Bennet is sure to steal your heart.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

2. ARTHUR WEASLEY (Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling)

Arthur Weasley is the “fun-dad”. He sure is well loved in his huge family of six sons – Bill, Charlie, Percy, twins Fred and George, and Ron, and daughter, Ginny. I see Mr. Weasley as a dad you can count on, someone to whom you can talk about any of your problems. Whether it be standing up for his children or welcoming their friends as part of the family or being strong willed in what he thinks is right or meddling with Muggle stuff, Arthur Weasley is the man!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone by J. K. Rowling

3. GERALD O’ HARA (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)

Gerald is a passionately loyal Confederate who immigrated to America from Ireland as a young man. Scarlett is so unlady like in her temperament in the beginning of the book and I really love how her father is able to understand her nature. Later on in life Scarlett realizes that she takes after her father in her personality. It is from her father that Scarlett gets her fighting spirit, her quick wit, her nasty temper and the love for the plantation at Tara.

I adore the scene in the movie where the father and the daughter stand under the tree and talk. Gerald is no doubt one of the most understanding fathers in literature.

gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell

4. ATTICUS FINCH (To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

Atticus Finch is a story in himself. One of the fathers in literature that one can look upto as a role model. Raising Scout and  Jem as a single father  is no small task. What makes him stand out is the way he teaches virtues of acceptance and open mindedness to his children while bringing them up in a region heavily scarred by racism.

I have not read the sequel Go Set A Watchman and I have heard many readers severely disagreeing about the book. Maybe my admiration for him would change when I read it, but till then, Cheers to Atticus Finch!

to kill a mockingbird by harper lee

5. ASHOKE GANGULI (The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri)

Ashoke Ganguli is an example of a detached yet loving father. Though The Namesake is the story of Gogol, there is an underlying current in the story that tells the story of his father Ashoke Ganguli. I adore the fact that he is a dad who doesn’t force his views or culture on his children who are growing up in America. He lets them grow, in whichever direction they want. I love the occasional conversations he has with his son.

Favourite part – Him gifting a book by the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol to his son, but his son unaware of the importance of his namesake tosses it aside and busies himself with his other gifts. Particularly heartbreaking is the scene where he picks up the book again, after many years.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

6. OTTO FRANK (Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank)

There are no words to describe how good a father Otto Frank was. Here is a father who encourages his daughters in every way possible, who inspires his children and who gives hope to a family  hiding for the safety of their lives.

Anne Frank is one of my favourite books. I have read it several times and have been close to tears every single time. I am indebted to Otto Frank for striving to get his daughter’s diary published and thus making her dream of being a writer come true even though it was after her death.

The diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank


Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

7. MATHEW CUTHBERT (Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery)

Though not Anne’s biological father, the dynamics between Mathew and Anne are a pleasure to read. Here is a man who has no prior experience with children, yet adores the little girl who was mistakenly adopted by him and Marilla. I love what a great listener Mathew is.

Favourite scene – Mathew buying puffed sleeves for Anne. He definitely is a ‘kindred spirit’.

silas marner by George Eliot

8. SILAS MARNER (Silas Marner by George Eliot)

Another much loved adopted father figure. I love how the entry of the golden haired Eppie brings about so many positive changes in Silas Marner’s life inspite of the fact that her biological father, Godfrey, refuses to accept the child as his own and shirks from  all responsibilities.

Favourite scene – Well, difficult to pick one. But maybe the time he had to punish Eppie.

tiger's wife by Tea Obreht

9. GRANDFATHER (The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht)

Unconventional father figure in literature because it is Natalia, the heroine’s grandfather. They share a close bond and when he meets with an untimely death, Natalia embarks on a journey into the dangerous war ravaged lands of Balkans to find out the truth.

Favourite part – The countless stories narrated by the grandfather to Natalia, each mystical in its own way.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

10. SIRIUS BLACK (Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling)

Technically not father, but godfather. But he is the closest to a father figure in Harry Potter’s life. And a cool dad too. Come to think of it, I really wish I could have included Severus Snape in the list.


1. HUMBERT (Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov)

I have not read Lolita yet, inspite of it being a great work in literature. Humbert is the reason why!

The gist of it – He falls in love with “Lolita” , the 12-year-old daughter of his landlady, Charlotte; he marries Charlotte in order to become closer to her daughter. Then controls her life and freedom after (and before) her mother’s death. A deeply disturbing father figure indeed.

Definitely not someone to wish on Father’s Day.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov

2. EUGENE ACHIKE  (Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

Eugene – the abusive father, highly respected in the village and church but a terrifying figure in the household because of his strict rules and severe punishments towards his children and wife. I winced in pain while reading of some of the punishments he inflicted. The story follows the lives of Kambili and her brother, Chukwuka who love in constant fear of their father . I love the narration of how Kambili loves her father dearly but is not able to see through his abusive nature while her brother slowly begins to question their mutual love and respect for the dad.

One of my much loved reads, but not a likeable father figure.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

3.HARRY WORMWOOD (Matilda by Roald Dahl)

After the two dads above, Harry Wormwood does seem like an angel. Here is a dad who hoards money through shady means and prides himself in educating his children on how to earn by crooked means, who encourage his dunce of a son but completely ignores his prodigy of a daughter.

Wormwood must be the only dad who encourages watching television and disapproves reading books. Thank fully Matilda takes after neither of her parents. This is one of my favourite Dahl novels.

matilda by Roald Dahl

Let's discuss

Do you have any favourite father figures in books? Or any villains in the role of a father? Have you read the books in the list above?

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This Post Has 42 Comments
    1. I heard so many negative reviews about Go Set A Watchman. I am curious about it. Yet skeptical to pick it up. Another reason is me being lazy to re read To kill a mockingbird before reading the sequel. I have forgotten so many parts of it that I cannot dive into the second book without a re read. Glad you are playing safe and not reading Book 2.

  1. This is such a great idea for a post! The only books I’ve read on this list are the Harry Potter ones and To Kill A Mockingbird, but those are both great dads, and that’s sweet that you included Sirius, and all the other dads sound fantastic as well! I’ve seen the movie version of Matilda though, and I definitely agree that he is a terrible father. I also love that you included unconventional dads since father figures, those people who are like a father even if not by blood, are just as important!

    1. Thanks Kristen. Yep, Matilda’s father was terrible. I have laughed so hard at the pranks she plays on him, both in the book and the movie. I think there are so many great father figures in Harry Potter, not just Mr. Weasley and Sirius. Hagrid, Dumbledore etc were like fathers to Harry Potter. If only the list could be longer.

  2. Matilda’s dad was the worst! >:{ Definitely not as bad as others, but I’ve always hated him.
    I agree about Atticus Finch and Arthur Weasley. I wish I had father figures like them when I was younger.
    I will be reading Purple Hibiscus this summer and already dread meeting Eugene. :/

    1. Glad you feel the same about Harry Wormwood. And yes, it is great to have such representation of family bonds in literature. I am sure as readers great characters will be close to our heart even when life in reality has a lack of them.

      So glad to know you will be reading Purple Hibiscus soon. It is a book I haven’t put a review of for the fear that I will not be able to do justice to the book. It is brilliantly written. We, as readers, know the pain Kambili and her family go through because of the dad. BUT she is very attached to her father and does not realise that it is an unfair treatment to her. Many times I felt like shouting out to her to escape. It is shocking. The end was too abrupt, but still an excellent debut.

  3. Arthur Weasley is my favorite. I’m torn when considering Mr. Bennett as a great dad, though. I like that he allows his girls to be who they are and allows them some freedom, but I didn’t like that he’s not as concerned about their futures. It didn’t seem so to me but maybe that’s because Mrs. Bennett overcompensates in that department since all she thinks about it marriages.

    1. Come to think of it, yeah, he doesn’t seem very concerned about their future. Maybe he believes that the girls would make right choices – a belief that horribly went wrong when he allowed Lydia to go alone away alone inspite of Elizabeth’s warning. Or maybe he doesn’t want them to get married fast because he would miss them. And anyhow Mrs. Bennet over compensates his lack of interest.

  4. Love this! I agree with you about Mr. Bennet– he certainly has his flaws, but I think he’s a great character nonetheless. He could probably benefit from spending a bit more time with his family rather than in his study, but he’s there for them when it really matters, and that’s what counts. Awesome post! 🙂

  5. This is a nice idea for a post. I just read a book about fathers and sons, and, come to think of it, it would have made a good Father’s Day post. Oh, well – too late now… However, if anyone wants a recommendation for Father’s Day, Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese is wonderful!

  6. The moment I saw the title of this post, I thought of Atticus. I haven’t read Go Set A Watchman yet either. It was a surprise to see Sirius on here, but I totally agree.
    I don’t think we were supposed to like Matilda’s father. 😉

  7. I. Love. Your. Website! The layout is sooooo beautiful 🙂 LOVE IT! Also this list, I haven’t read most of these books sadly 🙁 BUT Atticus was a wonderful father in To Kill a Mockingbird, he was a great character! I’ve never read Harry Potter but I saw the movies, I really like Sirius Black! But this is such a cute list, and a great idea for a Father’s Day post 🙂 also love it!

    1. Awww. Thank you so much. That really made me smile. I am glad you agree about Atticus and Sirius Black. Both were very inspiring and much loved figures, as a father and as a god father respectively.

    1. Thank you very much. It is funny to note that while I could think of many mother-daughter relationships, the number of child-father relationships were very scarce. Of course there are many that focus on the dynamics between the parent (both mother and father) and the child but not the father as a standalone and his child. Either such relationships are explored in a lesser detail in literature or my reading severely lacks books with such themes.

  8. Arthur Weasley is by far my favourite fictional father figure, he’s the coolest! But well, I think I could say the same of Molly Weasley. 😉 I love when authors feature big families in books, because the dynamics between the characters are so amazing, and it’s definitely the case with the Weasley. I have three little brothers so I can relate so much to bigger families, but I don’t have enough of them in fiction, sadly. Oh and yes, Matilda’s father was just the worst… But well, we weren’t expected to like her family, right? This post was such a good idea for Father’s Day, I loved it! 🙂

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words. I agree with you- large families have a lot of family dynamics for us readers to gorge on. And mist good dads come with a good mom too. I wonder if there are books that have only one nice parent? Can’t think of any now. Ecept Room by Donoghue. And Matilda! SHe always makes me so nostalgic

    1. Thank you! Finch and Cuthbert are two of my favourite dads. And reading about Eugene was terrifying and sad. We would think a man as that you is so well respected in the society would have a happy life at home, which was not the case.

  9. This was such a great list and I especially loved that incorporated a lots of classics which, as a major in English literature, I absolutely appreciate. My all time favourite from this list is probably Arthur Weasley because… he’s just such a complex character and an amazing dad. Some people can see him as this weird wizzard who tinkers with muggle stuff but can we appreciate the amount of power it takes for him to stay true to himself and not change because of what others think. I hope I make sense. 😀
    I would also add fathers of Aristotle and Dante from the novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe because both Aristotle and Dante have hard time growing up and those men stand by them the whole time and they support and love them no matter what. Those men just warm my heart and are incredible fathers. 🙂

    1. Thank you for visiting. I love Arthur Weasly as a dad. He is my kind of ‘cool dad’ type. And he is a very approachable dad too which makes it even better.
      I have not read Aristotle and Dante and I am glad you pointed out the strong dad bond in the book. Such books are very necessary. It helps us to have a literary strong figure to turn to even if reality doesn’t offer us one.

    1. I love that scene. How Mathew goes to Mrs. Lynde and asks for help even though he was a shy man and then finally buys it for Anne. It is one of the best scenes in the book. Then again, I love Anne Shirley.

  10. What a great post! I always immediately think of Arthur Weasley when it comes to great fathers. I actually think he’s the closest thing Harry has to a parent, no matter how much I love Sirius (but I loved Harry and Sirius’ relationship). ♥

  11. Matthew in Anne of Green Gables!!! I got the biggest smile on my face when I saw his name pop up on your list! I’m a big Atticus fan too. I read Go Set Watchman and it definitely changed how I see him, but it wasn’t terrible. In one respect the book makes him a stronger character because the reader gets to see his flaws as well as his strengths, whereas in Mockingbird he’s almost too good. Watchmen is an interesting read. The writing is much more uneven (it reads as a draft) but in some ways it’s a much more mature book because it’s about that shift that occurs between child and adulthood where your worldview shifts and you start to see the world and people more complexly. Scout spends her childhood idolising Atticus and uses him to set her moral compass, and in someways Watchman is about her learning that she needs to determine her own course rather than relying on her father to do it for her. It’s not a perfect book, and it’s really different in tone to Mockingbird, but I wouldn’t write it off completely.

    1. Thank you for telling me about Go set the watchmen. Now I know what to expect. I think that is a good message to convey. That we need to decide for ourselves what we should be and what we want. It definitely lessened my aversion to the book. Hope I get to read it soon.

  12. This was a very interesting post, and it’s made me consider my own collection and books that I’ve read to realise that fatherhood doesn’t really seem to be a major theme in literature (at least, not in the sorts of books I read). Having scanned my shelves, only two really come to mind on top of your rather excellent list: Silas from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is a guardian, not a father, but he fulfils the same sort of role as your other unconventional fathers; and Sam Vimes becomes a father in the later Discworld books, something which is explored in some of them.

    1. Thats true. Mostly it is the mother daughter relationship that is emphasized in books. The father child relationship is very rare. Yes, Silas is a good guardian. I havent read any Pratchett yet so I am clueless about the Discworld books. Thank you so much for visiting. 🙂

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