I started this on Mother’s Day.
At first, I wanted to write about wonderful mothers in stories. Then I thought about how often the main character doesn’t have a mother. It’s not all that surprising…if you want to give your character a tragic backstory, few things are more traumatic than the loss of someone who loved you unconditionally.
Besides, think of the ways the story might have changed if the character did have a mother:
There aren’t many mothers in fairy tales…or Disney movies. After all, if there’s going to be a wicked stepmother, the mother has to go.
While there are many exception–killing off parental figures is a common plot device, but not a compulsory one–these are four that spring to mind:
Miss Honey from Matilda. Even though the teacher wasn’t the gifted title character’s mother at first, she adopted her. It’s a beautiful example of a “found family.”
Look how happy they are at the end of the 1996 movie version!
While many of Austen’s other stories also featured mothers–Sense & Sensibility and Northanger Abbey spring to mind–it’s Pride& Prejudice‘s meddling Mrs. Bennet most people think of at first.
Mr. Bennet reacts to her in the BBC version here like most people do today.
While her attacks of “nerves” and her constant attempts to foist husbands on her (5!) daughters can be grating, she comes from a place of love. She wants her daughters to have secure futures. Perhaps an updated version would have her pushing them to get advanced degrees or go into the tech field. (Or maybe it wouldn’t be very different at all.)
A whole new level of “Dog Mom”
Dany–Mother of Dragons–from the A Song of Ice and Fire series (AKA Game of Thrones). She totally has a favorite.
I don’t see anyone complaining about it though…for long.
I will admit I enjoyed Anne McCaffrey’s version of this much more.
The One To Rule Them All
Sorry, Dany; Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter series is my winner.
The mother of the red-headed Weasley clan, she opens up her heart and home to Harry. Purveyor of Christmas sweaters, doses of terror when you’ve misbehaved, and delicious meals, Mrs. Weasley is fabulous.
(The most famous orphan in the wizarding world, Harry lost his own mother at a young age and keenly feels the loss. It’s his mother he wants walking closest to him as he goes to face Voldemort.)
While Harry would have loved to have his own mother, Mrs. Weasley is an excellent surrogate. I’d argue that Harry wants to marry Ginny at least partly so that he can be a part of the Weasley family forever.
If you’re lucky enough to have a mother–biological, surrogate, adopted, or otherwise–I hope you go and give her a call. Unlike many of their fictional counterparts, mothers in real life let you go and have adventures. ❤
What do you think of my (hardly exhaustive) list? Do you have a favorite (or least favorite) fictional mother?