What a wonderful discussion. If anyone has students who are truly motivated, this would make a great assignment: kids love to tell you why if they don't have to provide "the right" answer.
So many of you have touched on my own heroes as well.
My first love was Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre.
As I've "grown up," I have found myself drawn to Hamlet; so admire Atticus—what a grounded man and father-figure. As I have learned to find my way in the world as a woman, characters like Nora in A Doll's House and Louise Mallard in "The Story of an Hour" have intrigued me. Nora is such a child: and at one point I am thankful to say I was an innocent, naive child-woman in my early twenties when things seemed more black and white, and I still believed in the Mr. Rochesters of the world. (Married to a "hippie," I think Rochester might be too hard to live with in the real world: perhaps too dark and haunted...) Louise Mallard is admirable in the growth she experiences: which speaks to my own "awakening" (a Chopin novel I did not particularly enjoy).
And if Scott can admire graphic novels and their characters (and yes, literature comes in all forms and speaks to us in a variety of ways, thank God!), I must admit to great (repeated) admiration of Elizabeth Middleton Bonner in the Into the Wilderness series, and Claire Fraser in the Outlander series, both historical fiction: both strong, intellectual women.
As Thomas Jefferson so succinctly put it, "I cannot live without books." Thanks for an excellent topic of discussion.
Oh, but wait—there has to be someone else I can add to my list...ah, the joy of literature: the love affair that never ends!!