3 stars · Analysis · Opinions · Reflection · Writing

Does a protagonist need to be a hero?

This had been on my mind for quite a while, seeing as a lot of books I rated low often happened to favour heroism over character. And books that did not favoured was vice versa.

I liked being able to relate to the characters, for all their flaws, the strengths, their quirks, rather than their deeds, the admiration others have for them. I relate to them through the emotions and experiences they have went through.

Which brings me to this? Does our protagonist needs to be a hero? I say no, I have seen villains. But to me, I prefer them human first before I even decide their allegiance. Even then, I still let the character work out their own back stories and moral compasses on their own.

My characters are principled, rarely good but never fully evil. They can be a villain as much as they are a hero, they can play a role that heroes rarely do. And I embrace their human side, their quirks and let their deeds be choices they made at the end, and mistakes to be the same.

For fantasy, especially epic there is a lot which favours heroism over character. Which is a major issue why I eventually read lesser of it, because I’m rather tired of the same old, same old. Rather, I wanted to explore the human mind and emotions, which was why I might have favoured historical fiction for their ability to do character study, controversial characters by nature, and kings who have both good and evil.

A protagonist that has both inner conflict and outer conflict. Where their circumstances force them to be who they are and at the same time it is also their nature which affects them. Because I have a strong belief that circumstances and personality form the most of us, shaped by experiences, but having a certain temperament from birth.

People can have common experiences but turn out so different, and vice versa. Which is why I weigh this two together and thus is where I get most of my characters from.

Perhaps it’s just me, but my characters are always human first and heroes at times not always.

What about you? What do you think about protagonists having to be heroes?


3 thoughts on “Does a protagonist need to be a hero?

  1. I agree. I think the way you put it, “heroism vs character,” is very apt. There are some stories where the character just does everything perfectly. I recently got some peer feedback on a project that said much the same thing, though in my defense I was purposefully making my hero perfect. It was supposed to be a myth. But I changed it for the reasons you state, perfect heroes are just not interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, in certain cases I do think that this can work if it is a parody of some sort. But they really aren’t interesting on hindsight, and will always struggle with getting me to sympathize with them.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s