Antihero

Last updated
Revisionist Western films commonly feature antiheroes as lead characters whose actions are morally ambiguous. Clint Eastwood, pictured here in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), portrayed the archetypal antihero called the "Man with No Name" in the Italian Dollars Trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns. Clint Eastwood - 1960s.JPG
Revisionist Western films commonly feature antiheroes as lead characters whose actions are morally ambiguous. Clint Eastwood, pictured here in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), portrayed the archetypal antihero called the "Man with No Name" in the Italian Dollars Trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns.

An antihero (sometimes spelled as anti-hero) [1] or antiheroine is a main character in a story who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes, such as idealism, courage, and morality. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Although antiheroes may sometimes perform actions that are morally correct, it is not always for the right reasons, often acting primarily out of self-interest or in ways that defy conventional ethical codes. [6]

Contents

History

U.S. writer Jack Kerouac and other figures of the "Beat Generation" created reflective, critical protagonists who influenced the antiheroes of many later works Kerouac by Palumbo.jpg
U.S. writer Jack Kerouac and other figures of the "Beat Generation" created reflective, critical protagonists who influenced the antiheroes of many later works

An early antihero is Homer's Thersites. [7] :197–198 The concept has also been identified in classical Greek drama, [8] Roman satire, and Renaissance literature [7] :197–198 such as Don Quixote [8] [9] and the picaresque rogue. [10]

The term antihero was first used as early as 1714, [5] emerging in works such as Rameau's Nephew in the 18th century, [7] :199–200 and is also used more broadly to cover Byronic heroes as well, created by the English poet Lord Byron. [11]

Literary Romanticism in the 19th century helped popularize new forms of the antihero, [12] [13] such as the Gothic double. [14] The antihero eventually became an established form of social criticism, a phenomenon often associated with the unnamed protagonist in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground. [7] :201–207 The antihero emerged as a foil to the traditional hero archetype, a process that Northrop Frye called the fictional "center of gravity". [15] This movement indicated a literary change in heroic ethos from feudal aristocrat to urban democrat, as was the shift from epic to ironic narratives. [15]

Huckleberry Finn (1884) has been called "the first antihero in the American nursery". [16] Charlotte Mullen of Somerville and Ross' The Real Charlotte (1894) has been described as an antiheroine. [17] [18] [19]

The antihero became prominent in early 20th century existentialist works such as Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (1915), [20] Jean-Paul Sartre's La Nausée (1938) (French for 'Nausea'), [21] and Albert Camus' L'Étranger (1942) (French for 'The Stranger'). [22] The protagonist in these works is an indecisive central character who drifts through his life and is marked by ennui, angst, and alienation. [23] [ ISBN missing ]

The antihero entered American literature in the 1950s and up to the mid-1960s as an alienated figure, unable to communicate. [24] :294–295 The American antihero of the 1950s and 1960s was typically more proactive than his French counterpart. [25] :18 The British version of the antihero emerged in the works of the "angry young men" of the 1950s. [8] [26] The collective protests of Sixties counterculture saw the solitary antihero gradually eclipsed from fictional prominence, [25] :1 though not without subsequent revivals in literary and cinematic form. [24] :295

See also

Related Research Articles

In literary criticism, a Bildungsroman is a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, in which character change is important. The term comes from the German words Bildung ("education") and Roman ("novel").

Fyodor Dostoevsky Russian author (1821-1881)

Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky, sometimes transliterated as Dostoyevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, and journalist. Dostoevsky's literary works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmospheres of 19th-century Russia, and engage with a variety of philosophical and religious themes. His most acclaimed novels include Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1869), Demons (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880). Dostoevsky's body of works consists of 12 novels, four novellas, 16 short stories, and numerous other works. Many literary critics rate him as one of the greatest novelists in all of world literature, as multiple of his works are considered highly influential masterpieces. His 1864 novella Notes from Underground is considered to be one of the first works of existentialist literature.

<i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn</i> 1885 novel by Mark Twain

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel by American author Mark Twain, which was first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885.

Picaresque novel Genre of prose fiction

The picaresque novel is a genre of prose fiction. It depicts the adventures of a roguish, but "appealing hero", usually of low social class, who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. Picaresque novels typically adopt a realistic style. There are often some elements of comedy and satire. While the term "picaresque novel" was only coined in 1810, the picaresque novel originated in Spain during the Spanish Golden Age in 1554. Early contributors included Mateo Alemán and Francisco de Quevedo and flourished throughout Europe for more than 200 years. It continues to influence modern literature.

Protagonist Main character of a creative work

A protagonist is the main character of a story. The protagonist makes key decisions that affect the plot, primarily influencing the story and propelling it forward and is often the character who faces the most significant obstacles. If a story contains a subplot, or is a narrative made up of several stories, then each subplot may have its own protagonist.

Plot (narrative) Cause-and-effect sequence of events in a narrative

In a literary work, film, or other narrative, the plot is the sequence of events where each affects the next one through the principle of cause-and-effect. The causal events of a plot can be thought of as a series of events linked by the connector "and so". Plots can vary from the simple—such as in a traditional ballad—to forming complex interwoven structures, with each part sometimes referred to as a subplot or imbroglio.

Mark Twain American author and humorist (1835–1910)

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. He was lauded as the "greatest humorist the United States has produced," and William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature". His novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), the latter often called "The Great American Novel".

Villain Evil character or person

A villain is a stock character, whether based on a historical narrative or one of literary fiction. Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines such a character as "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot". The antonym of a villain is a hero.

The genre of Menippean satire is a form of satire, usually in prose, that is characterized by attacking mental attitudes rather than specific individuals or entities. It has been broadly described as a mixture of allegory, picaresque narrative, and satirical commentary. Other features found in Menippean satire are different forms of parody and mythological burlesque, a critique of the myths inherited from traditional culture, a rhapsodic nature, a fragmented narrative, the combination of many different targets, and the rapid moving between styles and points of view.

Antagonist Character of a work actively opposing the protagonist

An antagonist is a character in a story who is presented as the chief foe of the protagonist.

<i>Anatomy of Criticism</i> Literary criticism book by Northrop Frye

Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays is a book by Canadian literary critic and theorist Northrop Frye that attempts to formulate an overall view of the scope, theory, principles, and techniques of literary criticism derived exclusively from literature. Frye consciously omits all specific and practical criticism, instead offering classically inspired theories of modes, symbols, myths and genres, in what he termed "an interconnected group of suggestions." The literary approach proposed by Frye in Anatomy was highly influential in the decades before deconstructivist criticism and other expressions of postmodernism came to prominence in American academia circa 1980s.

John Robert Colombo

John Robert Colombo, CM is a Canadian author, editor, and poet. He has published over 200 titles, including major anthologies and reference works.

The Romantic hero is a literary archetype referring to a character that rejects established norms and conventions, has been rejected by society, and has themselves at the center of their own existence. The Romantic hero is often the protagonist in a literary work, and the primary focus is on the character's thoughts rather than their actions.

Imre Salusinszky is an Australian journalist, political adviser and English literature academic who is currently media adviser to Australian Government Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher.

<i>Europe a Prophecy</i>

Europe a Prophecy is a 1794 prophetic book by the British poet and illustrator William Blake. It is engraved on 18 plates, and survives in just nine known copies. It followed America a Prophecy of 1793.

Finn Rock, Oregon Unincorporated community in Oregon, United States

Finn Rock is an unincorporated community in Lane County, Oregon, United States. It is located on Oregon Route 126 and the McKenzie River, between the communities of Nimrod and Blue River, in the Willamette National Forest.

Huckleberry Berry and plant

Huckleberry is a name used in North America for several plants in the family Ericaceae, in two closely related genera: Vaccinium and Gaylussacia. The huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho.

Pelham Edgar

Oscar Pelham Edgar was a Canadian teacher. He was a full professor and head of the Department of English at the Victoria College, Toronto from 1910 to 1938. He wrote many articles and several monographs on English literature. He had a talent for identifying and encouraging promising new authors. He was an active member of various literary societies, and was the force behind the establishment of the Canadian Writers’ Foundation to help needy authors.

<i>The Adventures of Tom Sawyer</i> 1876 novel by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is an 1876 novel by Mark Twain about a boy growing up along the Mississippi River. It is set in the 1840s in the town of St. Petersburg, which is based on Hannibal, Missouri, where Twain lived as a boy. In the novel, Tom Sawyer has several adventures, often with his friend Huckleberry Finn. Originally a commercial failure, the book ended up being the best selling of any of Twain's works during his lifetime.

References

  1. 1 2 "Anti-Hero". Lexico . Oxford University Press . Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  2. "antihero". American Heritage Dictionary. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  3. "anti-hero". Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  4. "Antiheroine". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  5. 1 2 "Antihero". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  6. Laham, Nicholas (2009). Currents of Comedy on the American Screen: How Film and Television Deliver Different Laughs for Changing Times. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co. p. 51. ISBN   9780786442645.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Steiner, George (2013). Tolstoy Or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism. New York: Open Road. ISBN   9781480411913.
  8. 1 2 3 "antihero". Encyclopædia Britannica. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  9. Wheeler, L. Lip. "Literary Terms and Definitions A". Dr. Wheeler's Website. Carson-Newman University . Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  10. Halliwell, Martin (2007). American Culture in the 1950s . Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p.  60. ISBN   9780748618859.
  11. Wheeler, L. Lip. "Literary Terms and Definitions B". Dr. Wheeler's Website. Carson-Newman University. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  12. Alsen, Eberhard (2014). The New Romanticism: A Collection of Critical Essays. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. p. 72. ISBN   9781317776000 . Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  13. Simmons, David (2008). The Anti-Hero in the American Novel: From Joseph Heller to Kurt Vonnegut (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 5. ISBN   9780230612525 . Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  14. Lutz, Deborah (2006). The Dangerous Lover: Gothic Villains, Byronism, and the Nineteenth-century Seduction Narrative. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. p. 82. ISBN   9780814210345 . Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  15. 1 2 Frye, Northrop (2002). Anatomy of Criticism. London: Penguin. p. 34. ISBN   9780141187099.
  16. Hearn, Michael Patrick (2001). The Annotated Huckleberry Finn: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's Comrade) (1st ed.). New York: Norton. p. xvci. ISBN   0393020398.
  17. Ehnenn, Jill R. (2008). Women's Literary Collaboration, Queerness, and Late-Victorian Culture. Ashgate Publishing. p. 159. ISBN   9780754652946 . Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  18. Cooke, Rachel (27 February 2011). "The 10 best Neglected literary classics - in pictures". The Guardian . Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  19. Woodcock, George (1 April 1983). Twentieth Century Fiction. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. p. 628. ISBN   9781349170661 . Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  20. Barnhart, Joe E. (2005). Dostoevsky's Polyphonic Talent. Lanham: University Press of America. p. 151. ISBN   9780761830979.
  21. Asong, Linus T. (2012). Psychological Constructs and the Craft of African Fiction of Yesteryears: Six Studies. Mankon: Langaa Research & Publishing CIG. p. 76. ISBN   9789956727667.
  22. Gargett, Graham (2004). Heroism and Passion in Literature: Studies in Honour of Moya Longstaffe. Amsterdam: Rodopi. p. 198. ISBN   9789042016927.
  23. Brereton, Geoffery (1968). A Short History of French Literature. Penguin Books. pp. 254–255.
  24. 1 2 Hardt, Michael; Weeks, Kathi (2000). The Jameson Reader (Reprint ed.). Oxford, UK ; Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell. ISBN   9780631202707.
  25. 1 2 Edelstein, Alan (1996). Everybody is Sitting on the Curb: How and why America's Heroes Disappeared. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. ISBN   9780275953645.
  26. Ousby, Ian (1996). The Cambridge Paperback Guide to Literature in English. New York: Cambridge University Press. p.  27. ISBN   9780521436274.