While we like things to be happy we must admit, there is something about the sad, the devastating, there is something about the depressing that draws us in at times. Maybe we need a good cry, or maybe we need something in which to compare our own lives so we realize it isn’t so bad. Who knows what attracts us to sad characters and, in many of their cases, sad stories?
Yet, we do love them, in their own depressing way, and we would like to dedicate this blog post to the most pitiful and depressing characters in theatrical history.
PS: the cover of this post has a photograph of the Brazilian drama The Day Sam Died.
We thought we would come into this list with a bang to start, and there is no character more depressing to us, than Fantine in Les Misérables. This girl was seduced by a man she loved and had his child out of wedlock. He abandons her to fend for herself and their child, not to mention the punishment she may have received for having a child without being married.
So Fantine ships her daughter off to live with an inn keeper and his family, who treat their ward as a slave, all the time, taking money from Fantine to house her daughter. Fantine works in a factory and the supervisor keep making advances toward her, which drives the other women to jealousy. They learn of her child, tell the supervisor, and she is kicked out on her ear.
With no way of earning money for her daughter, Fantine sells her jewelry, then sells her hair, she sells her teeth, and finally she sells her dignity. All the stress, and the tuberculosis she caught from living on the street, kills this woman by the age of twenty-eight.
When listening to Fantine sing “I Dreamed a Dream” at the height of her low we are always driven to tears.
2. Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West
A very sad women indeed, this crone is so miserable she finds her pressure in torturing people mentally. Instead of letting little Toto romp around in her garden, she chases him to the point where he feels so threatened he bites her. Well, not many people have sympathy for a dog that bites so she gets a court order to take Toto away from Dorothy to “have him destroyed.”
Well, who can blame Dorothy for running away? Of course, as the movie insinuates, the character of Miss Gulch is one portion of a binary person that is aligned with the Wicked Witch of the West, who is equally as sad and depressing. There have been many accounts of why the Witch was so Wicked, and we are sure that someone hurt her very badly to make her that mean, yet her nastiness is as sad as it comes. Part of us wants to introduce meditation into her life.
Still, even though no one mentions her past, we are equally as sure Miss Gulch’s life up until the point when she wants to kill a little dog was no poppy field. Some people are mean because hurt people hurt, as they say. But being mean is sad, and that is why these two make our list.
3. Maria and Tony/Romeo and Juliet
It’s the same story told in two different ways, with a slight alteration at the end. Tony and Maria are associated with opposite gangs that rule their New York neighborhood. Despite all the rumbles with jazz hands and fights with graceful kicking, these two youngsters find love with each other. Yet, as the world has proven time and time again, nothing brings a story greater conflict than a good opposition, their love is cut short in the most violent of ways.
Romeo and Juliet are also star crossed lovers, who are barely fifteen. They are not members of opposing gangs, they are children of feuding families at a time when duels and sword fights were the norm. Of course, they must run away because not even young love will unite the Montagues and the Capulets. This young love also ends too soon, but by an unfortunate and not very well thought out plan.
All four of these characters are very depressing for their own reasons, may it be for loss of one’s love due to gang violence, or because two preteens didn’t have enough maturity to know that suicide isn’t the answer. Any way you look at it, this group of characters is woefully sad.
4. Aida and Radames
This opera is a story about an Ethiopian princess who is being held captive by the Egyptians. Yet, they think she is a slave and are unaware of her royal ties. While on the ship headed back to Egypt, Aida falls in love with Radames, an Egyptian warrior and he falls for her but he is promised to Amneris, the daughter of the King of Egypt. Amneris learns of the slave’s love for her man and interferes.
Radames goes off to fight in her homeland of Ethiopia and she is torn between her feelings for her love and her country. When he returns, Aida learns they have captured her father, the king. She convinces Radames to help her rescue him but when Amneris learns of this plan she turns them in.
As punishment Radames is set to be buried alive, and he goes to his tomb feeling like his love, Aida, has forgotten him and his sacrifice. When he gets into his tomb, Radames finds Aida there waiting for him. She would rather die with him than live without him. Come on. That’s sad.
This waitress in a bar in 1830s London finds herself in love with Bill Sikes and friends with thieves and pickpockets. Yet, either she doesn’t realize the trouble she is in getting mixed up with the likes of Sikes, a brutish man who seems to have no conscience. Yet, she’s poor, and Bill excites and protects her, so she goes with it.
Yet, when little Oliver wins her heart, and she realizes that he is in danger from Bill, she risks everything to put Oliver back with the family that will give him a real chance in life, which turns out to be his real family. Bill finds out that she betrays him and punishes her with the ultimate price, her life.
Karma is difficult to elude though, and good ole Bill gets his from the mob that hunts him down after they find Nancy’s poor little beaten body. Too bad she didn’t learn to get out of abusive relationships early.
6. Frank N. Furter
While this character isn’t depressing in the sense of having a hard life, this guy is sad because his huge ego is what brings about his ultimate demise. Frank wants to rule his cronies from his planet while taking on any sexual exploit he desires, even seducing a couple to cheat on each other. Yet, the saddest thing about him is, this isn’t enough.
Frank needs the perfect specimen of human so he creates Rocky, a blonde boy who is sweet, innocent, and green. Yet, Frank’s ego drives him to murder Eddie, whom Columbia loves, and she leads a rebellion against the leader. As much as we love to hate the sweetest transvestite from transsexual Transylvania, he is a sad sad soul.