The most important aspect of a great fictional character is how much the reader cares about him. Some characters are lovable (Wilbur the pig, Bilbo Baggins, Anne Shirley), some are heroic (Odysseus, Paul Bunyan, Superman), some are tragic (Hamlet, Willy Loman, John Henry), and some are just plain evil (Iago, Saruman, The Wicked Witch of the West). The point is, we feel strongly about them one way or another.
I read this sentence recently in an editorial on Obamacare: “…Obama then finds himself hoist by his own petard.”
So, what’s a petard and what does it mean to be hoisted by it?