A Place in the World

What do Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, Jane Eyre, Anne Shirley, and Harry Potter have in common?

The answer is rather an easy one.  They are all orphans.

It’s a theme that’s been used over and over again in storytelling, from fairy tales and classic literature to fantasy and comic books.  The child whose parents have died or perhaps disappeared.  The child who often feels all alone in the world.  The child who finds friends or a calling to see him or her through the roughest of times.

There are many reasons why the orphan has been the hero of so many stories.  Maybe to present a character who is at his most vulnerable and show him overcoming adversity.  Maybe it’s to speak to that part of the reader who has often felt alone and finds a character to identify with.  Or perhaps it’s just to give the character the freedom to pursue her own path in life without constraints of what is expected of her. Sometimes they may not even be the hero.  But one recurring theme is how each character must find his or her place in the world.

Like most people, I have my favorite orphaned characters.  Harry Potter probably tops the list.  But Jane Eyre was a favorite book during my teen years.  And most recently Rey from Star Wars: the Force Awakens has captured my attention, being a courageous young woman beginning the adventure of a lifetime.

Among the lists below are well-known orphans of classic literature and popular culture as they are featured on film and TV.  You’re sure to find at least one who captures your interest as you follow their story. 


Comic Book/Graphic Novel Superheroes

Bruce Wayne/Batman
Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing
Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman
Kara Zor-El/Linda Lee Danvers/Supergirl
Logan (James) Howlett/Wolverine
Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Natasha Romanova/Black Widow
Ororo Munroe/Storm
Peter Parker/Spider-man
Selina Kyle/Catwoman


Classic, Modern, and Fantasy Stories

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)
David Copperfield
Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz)
Finn (Star Wars: the Force Awakens)
Harry Potter
Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights)
Hugo Cabret (The Invention of Hugo Cabret)
James Bond
Jane Eyre
John Clayton/Tarzan
Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden)
Oliver Twist
Philip ‘Pip’ Pirrip (Great Expectations)
Polly, Petrova, and Posy Fossil (Ballet Shoes)
Pollyanna Whittier (Pollyanna)
Rey (Star Wars: the Force Awakens)
Richard Sharpe
Tom Sawyer