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In fiction, sometimes it’s difficult to categorize the various character types, especially when the characters’ morality cannot be easily defined.
An anti-hero is a protagonist who is as flawed or more flawed than most characters; he is someone who disturbs the reader with his weaknesses yet is sympathetically portrayed, and who magnifies the frailties of humanity.
In days of old, especially in the eighteenth century, protagonists were often heroes and antagonists were usually villains, and they were often depicted in stories as either good or evil, clearly delineated as black and white.
My hope is that this chapter, and the book as a whole, will prove that, as in real life, characters come in many shades and types.
An anti-hero is a protagonist who typically lacks the traditional traits and qualities of a hero, such as trustworthiness, courage, and honesty. Often, an anti-hero is unorthodox and might flaunt laws or act in ways contrary to society’s standards.
As we’ve just discussed, an anti-hero is a character that the reader roots for, despite his flaws and the bad things he’s done or how he justifies these misdeeds.
Sometimes the anti-hero is able to toe the line between good and evil, but often he’s a danger to himself and others.
In fact, and this is important, an anti-hero often reflects society’s confusion and ambivalence about morality, and thus he can be used for social or political comment.
While an anti-hero cannot slip into a white hat, he will always: —slightly scruffy and worn, sometimes moral, but sometimes not.
Sometimes an anti-hero also has remarkable ability to compartmentalize.
Perhaps he kills an enemy or a bad guy, then in the next scene shows up at a kid’s birthday party, apparently unruffled by his recent grisly task.