Friday, March 27, 2015

Antiheroes, heroes, and Superman


I've never been a huge fan of antiheroes in literature. My favorite example of an antihero is Scarlett O'Hara. She's awful. Her inner voice makes all the good things she does selfish and duty-bound to the image of goodness. House, M.D. is another story with an antihero. Since he's modeled after Sherlock Holmes, we could include him in this category. It's all about the game, not necessarily the lives in jeopardy.

We all tend to love the reluctant hero, but the antihero is different. He isn't just reluctant at first, before he finally responds to the call of duty and honor. He's resentful of the duty all the way through. He has his own reasons for doing what he does, and they have nothing to do with the traditional heroic mind.

Captain America is a hero. He sacrifices willingly for a cause he perceives to be greater than himself. A reluctant hero who stays resentful of the people he must help and the cause he must serve becomes an antihero.

It's tricky to write an antihero successfully and keep people engaged. It can grate on the nerves, especially if there's no perceptible arc or growth in the character.

On the opposite side is the flawless hero. That's Superman. His only weakness is a rock from his home planet, not any kind of relatable human frailty. Just as important as being good and dependable is the necessary human foible or two that make a person relatable. Han Solo is not an antihero because he truly does care about causes and friends, though he prides himself on being tough and detached.

So go ahead and knock your heroes off their pedestals! Just don't knock them too hard. :)

Who is your favorite hero? Favorite antihero?

1 comment:

  1. This is a good examination of the different types of heroes. I also find it hard to relate to the true antiheroes (too negative and often whiny for my taste), and a real superhero with no actual weaknesses leaves little room for tension. A reluctant hero, though - that's someone you can love and root for. And I automatically followed the link with the Dr. Who picture to read about the lonely hero - the Doctor is one of my all-time favorite heroes.

    Hello from another fan of Her Sharkiness, Janet Reid.


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