*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
The every man or the every woman has been used as the emotional skeleton of a character by any number of writers over the centuries for a reason. He or she has a universal quality that any audience member or reader can relate to. In Fiddler On The Roof, Tevye is not only the main character, but an every man.
Married with five daughters, Tevye earns a meager living as a dairyman in early 20th century Russia. Like any good father and husband, he is doing the best he can to provide for his family. He is also a stubborn man who is clinging to his beliefs in an era when things are changing. But while he can be insanely stubborn at times, he can also be progressive and is willing to let his children live their own lives as they see fit. Even, if that means going against the spoken and unspoken rules of his society and era.
To sum it up: The reason that Tevye speaks to so many of us is that he is just an average Joe. The audience does not have to be Jewish or have roots in Eastern Europe to understand Tevye or the reasons for his actions. He speaks to all of us because he is trying to do the best he can while balancing a changing world and his own foibles. If a writer can create this character, they are likely too succeed because of the universality of the character and the audience’s ability to relate to that character.