Heroism is undoubtedly the most common character trope in writing. Though we often refer to this character as the protagonist, we really do tend to think of them as our champion, someone we feel we can relate to, and cheer on in their endeavours. While a myriad of hero tropes exist, there are several heroes I find to be most engaging:
The reluctant hero’s friend:
I find the ‘reluctant hero’ to be the most obnoxious. The Harry Potter’s, Katniss Everdeens, and Frodo Baggins’ of the world can be whiny and irksome. Far more compelling are the Hermione Granger’s, the Peeta Melark’s, and the Samwyse Gamgee’s, written in as sidekicks, stalwart companions, but though they often bear much the same burden as their ‘heroic’ friends, they do considerably less whining about it. They are often, in my opinion, the true heroes – those who rise to the challenge when their more lauded, but less stalwart ‘hero’ companions, fail.
This too is a common trope, particularly popular during the ‘noir’ era, and again in the 60’s, and it seems to have made a bit of a resurgence in the dystopia genre that is quite popular these days. The anti-hero is a character who often thinks that the end justifies the means, and thus doesn’t always act as a true ‘hero’ does. One of my favourite examples is the djinn character Bartimaeus in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy. Acerbically witty, and apathetic about almost everything, Bartimaeus is the perfect anti-hero, because he’s really just looking out for himself, and only acts heroically in service of his own goals.
The redeemed hero:
I discussed this in my post about redemption a few weeks ago, but I find a hero who perhaps masquerades as a villain for a while, to be very intriguing. When that redeemed hero is finally shown as their true selves, I always feel a great sense of catharsis, in their redemption. Severus Snape from Harry Potter is a good examples of this, as is Sirius Black in Book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban.
What are your favourite hero tropes? Tell me in the comments below!
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