Characters – Bethany

Bethany is eleven years old. She is still a child. Her mother doesn’t let her wear make-up, though Bethany would like to – some of her schoolmates probably do.

Bethany is meant to be typically English in complexion and colouring – blue eyes, fair hair, rosy cheeks, etc, to serve as a contrast to Carys’s dark colouring, so typically Welsh.

All the characters in the story are placed somewhere on the spiritual belief graph. The ‘x’ axis represents degree of belief, from extreme gullibity to total scepticism; and the ‘y’ axis represents the orthodoxy of belief, from biblical Christianity to a belief in magic. Bethany is a clergyman’s daughter, so she has been raised in a church background, albeit a liberal tradition, not a fundamentalist one. By nature she is rather gullible and ready to believe anything, including magic and ghosts. She interprets miraculous events in the bible as a form of magic.

Bethany loves silly jokes, of the Doctor-Doctor and Knock-Knock variety. She wears her emotions on her sleeve, swinging between laughter and tears with ease.

Bethany is emotionally intelligent. By this I mean that she is sensitive to others’ joy, pain, and struggles. But I also mean that she is capable of solving problems by saying how she feels rather than what she’s thinking – or maybe it’s that these often coincide, feelings and thoughts mingling in one intense bout of reaction. As Zach puts it, ‘She says silly things which turn out to be brilliant – or do I mean the other way round?’ The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Bethany is an only child. She exhibits a child’s natural selfishness, but her capacity for empathy (see above) soon causes her to see the others’ viewpoint and prompts her to acts of altruism and even bravery. She becomes the trio’s ‘secret weapon’ because she puts 100% into everything she does and can be trusted to do it.

As a character she is a favourite amongst young girl readers, perhaps naturally so, and for some adults she offers light relief from some of the story’s heavier themes. But other adults find her just a bit too ‘childish’ for their taste, with the odd few even detecting inappropriate echoes of The Famous Five in her character – the very idea!

 What do you think of Bethany?

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