Jump to content

Your Favorite Hero Archetype


Recommended Posts

There seems to varying sets of hero types, but I recently came across this list (by Masterclass) that I boils it down to six:

 

6 Common Hero Archetypes in Literature.

 

Quote

6 Types of Heroes in Literature


Heroes can come in all shapes and sizes. Here are the six most common types of heroes found in literature:

 

Everyman hero: Everyman heroes are ordinary people without any apparent heroic qualities or characteristics. They are underdogs placed in extraordinary circumstances that force them to act heroically. Though lacking inherent heroic qualities, everyman character types often have a strong moral compass and act with extreme selflessness. Readers can easily relate to these types of heroes due to their ordinary nature. In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit—the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy—Bilbo Baggins is a common hobbit without extraordinary abilities who nonetheless finds himself on an adventure to obtain the treasure guarded by Smaug the dragon.


Classical hero: A classical hero is a character who possesses a great talent or ability that separates them from the rest of their contemporaries. This could be a skill, such as the ability to fight, or it could be an internal quality such as bravery or cleverness. Usually, this hero type appears normal on the surface until their powers begin to reveal themselves, such as when Harry Potter learns he is a wizard with magical powers. This hero archetype is present in Star Wars when the seemingly normal Luke Skywalker begins to wield the extraordinary power of the Force.


Epic hero: Popular in Greek mythology, epic heroes possess otherworldly heroic qualities. These main characters usually come from noble birth and are viewed as legendary due to their seemingly superhuman capabilities and heroic deeds. Examples of heroes in this tradition date back as far as The Epic of Gilgamesh from 1800 BC. Other epic heroes include Achilles (from Homer’s The Iliad), Odysseus, Beowulf, King Arthur, and superheroes like Superman.


Tragic hero: A tragic hero is a hero who possesses a fatal flaw or makes an error in judgment that ultimately leads to their downfall. Tragic heroes evoke a feeling of fear or pity in the audience as they witness their protagonist’s ultimate demise. Perhaps the most well-known example of a tragic hero is Oedipus, whose tragic flaw is his excessive pride, which leads him to unwittingly kill his father and marry his mother. In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Romeo’s fatal flaw is his unrestrained passion and emotional impulsiveness, which leads to his own death and the death of Juliet. Brutus, from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is able to be manipulated into killing Caesar because of his overwhelming loyalty to his country.


Anti-hero: Anti-heroes do not possess traditionally heroic qualities. In fact, they have qualities that seem more befitting of a villain, such as dishonesty, greed, or general immorality. The anti-hero’s struggle to overcome or reconcile these morally dubious qualities makes them relatable to an audience, emphasizing the very human conflict between right and wrong that we all experience. The Great Gatsby has an iconic anti-hero in Jay Gatsby, whose rise from poverty was accomplished through involvement in organized crime and theft. In Star Wars, Han Solo is an arrogant, roguish smuggler who eventually overcomes his own self-interest to help the Rebel Alliance.


Byronic hero: The Byronic hero—an archetype codified by English romantic poet Lord Byron—is known for being prickly, sullen and inscrutable on the outside, while possessing a rich inner life under the surface. These heroes are often profoundly flawed and wounded, but nonetheless possess strong morals and passions. They commonly question the beliefs and conventions of normal society, leading to their own social alienation. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy is a Byronic hero and an outcast who is driven by his passion for Elizabeth.

 

 So which type of hero do you like to write about?

 

One of my favorites is an Everyman Hero, or to be more specific, something I'd term as a Reluctant Hero. This character has all the characteristics of the Everyday Hero, but is thrust into a situation that lends an opportunity to be a hero, but does everything possible to avoid it. But in the end rises to the challenge. 

  • Like 8
Link to post
Share on other sites

    I am about halfway through posting chapters of my old novel "A Gatored Community" here on christianwriters.com.  The story contains a certain main character who fits the definition of anti-hero.  Having "...qualities that seem more befitting of a villain, such as dishonesty, greed, and general immorality."

    However, In the end, this character is the one who saves everyone, and is praised by all. 

    I hope I haven't said too much.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

My favorite hero archetype to both read and to write is the Everyman hero. Men like Deputy Clay Cameron, Ailean MacLachlainn, Johnny Peyton, Donovan Pfarr, Cotton Chastain... women like Fallon McKniere, Lacey Cochran, Mùirne MacGriogair. As one reviewer wrote in an Amazon review of High on a Mountain:

 

"The hero is not an unbelievably handsome and all-around champion-of-everything being, but a simple, very human man. He has plenty of flaws, he gets beaten up by the villain, he faces death, poverty, misery and everything in between. The heroine loves him not because he is rich, powerful, experienced and seductive, but because he is him. She is also flawed, also human. Their marriage is not a perfect happily ever after, but a work in progress."

(MODERATORS: is it ok to quote part of a review from Amazon or should it be removed?)

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Tommie Lyn said:

My favorite hero archetype to both read and to write is the Everyman hero. Men like Deputy Clay Cameron, Ailean MacLachlainn, Johnny Peyton, Donovan Pfarr, Cotton Chastain... women like Fallon McKniere, Lacey Cochran, Mùirne MacGriogair. As one reviewer wrote in an Amazon review of High on a Mountain:

 

"The hero is not an unbelievably handsome and all-around champion-of-everything being, but a simple, very human man. He has plenty of flaws, he gets beaten up by the villain, he faces death, poverty, misery and everything in between. The heroine loves him not because he is rich, powerful, experienced and seductive, but because he is him. She is also flawed, also human. Their marriage is not a perfect happily ever after, but a work in progress."

(MODERATORS: is it ok to quote part of a review from Amazon or should it be removed?)

I agree, Tommie! They are the most relatable. I love reading about your Everyman heroes. 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@InkwellandQuill and @Grey_Skies, it's very possible to combine archetypes. Also, these are the six most common, so in theory the creator of the list was accounting for other possibilities as well. I would say my favorite is a combination of the everyman and the classical hero. Not a full-blown "chosen one", but a normal person who discovers they have the grit and can grow the skills necessary to survive and succeed in their adventure (or misadventure, as the case may be) - and was maybe even led to go on that adventure for a Greater reason and purpose.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, InkwellandQuill said:

Is it strange that I can't seem to classify any of the characters I write about into any one of those archetypes?

 

As @PenNamementioned, a hero could be a combination of these. There are also several "lists" out there, and some are more comprehensive, so please don't take this as the de facto definition. I chose it because I thought it was most concise.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm like you, if I go for the hero kind of story. I prefer the reluctant/everyday hero.

 

But heroes are like antagonists to me. I won't say no to either in a story, but I prefer stories without heroes or antagonists. I prefer survivalists stories. Okay, I prefer stories where the antagonist is the land, weather or time.

 

To this day, some of my favorite "heroes" are Wilbur the pig, (Charlotte's Web) Winnie the Pooh, Sam Gribley, (My Side of the Mountain), Huck Finn, Jo March, (Little Women), Cole, (Ghetto Cowboy). and Laura Ingle Wilder. None of them were out to be a hero or did anything heroic. They lived their lives, and sometimes that's cool enough.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.