What is an anti-hero, anyway?  

Denver_Obsidian 43M
38 posts
5/26/2005 11:53 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

What is an anti-hero, anyway?

anti-hero n.: A main character in a dramatic or narrative work who is characterized by a lack of traditional heroic qualities, such as idealism
or courage.

I prefer the more intuitive definition from Wikipedia.org, which states:

"In literature and film, an anti-hero is a central or supporting character that has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains but nonetheless also has enough heroic qualities or intentions to gain the sympathy of readers or viewers."

The concept isn't foreign to any of us. Throughout our lives, we've all been fascinated by those characters from stories that were cut from this mold. In school, we read about characters like the Count of Monte Cristo and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. We marveled at comic books about the vigilante cat-Woman, and an awkward youth getting arachnid super powers and becoming Spiderman. We watched a greedy, self-centered pilot named Han Solo help save the galaxy, and an aged Darth Vader eventually regain his soul and risk his life to save his son. The key is that an anti-hero is not always a villain, but someone that lacks the traditional qualities we attribute to the heroic type. Flawed men and woman doing what better people wouldn't; the extraordinary actions of the ordinary.

But that's fiction. In a fantasy world, everything eventually works out to the benefit of those that believe, and people are just characters that can be fit into polar classifications. So the question is: what is an anti-hero in real life? As incredible as it sounds, not much different than in fiction. They're people with just as many quirks, short-comings, shady pasts, and screwed up behaviors as the rest of us. But at some point in their lives, they become more than what they were born to be. These are people like Stan "Tooky" Williams, the man with the most disreputable distinction of being cofounder of the infamous L.A. Crips gang; a man that found redemption while on death row, and went on to win the Noble Prize in Literature for writing world-famous children's books discouraging gangs and violence. Anti-heroes are people who, by their very nature, defy societies expectations of them. They're women like Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc), a peasant girl who, by no more than faith, lead an Army against the English even as her own countrymen laughed at her for being some crazy bitch that talks to God. Flawed men and woman doing what better people wouldn't; the extraordinary actions of the ordinary. But in real life, anti-heroes inspire us more because of their flaws. They remind us of ourselves, and, in doing so, remind us of what we're all capable.

I don't write all this as a literary lesson. Truthfully, English lit was never my best subject. I write these things to emphasize that we are all capable of being more than what we think we are, despite the frailties, faults, and skeletons in our closets. I write these things to point out that there are people all around us, everyday, defying screwed-up physical traits and emotional traumas to do what better people wouldn't; teaming masses of the ordinary being extraordinary.

Barbiebunny69 - I know what you've gone through, and what you were meant to be. As far as anti-heroes go, you're just as good as any in my book. Keep putting on that tattered, dingy cape and wear it with pride. It looks good on you, girl.

Barbiebunny69 43F

5/29/2005 12:00 am

D-Thanks...always xo

Denver_Obsidian 43M
43 posts
6/1/2005 5:22 am

Barbiebunny69 - No thanks required, hun. It needed to be said. I've spent a great deal of my life - in some way or another - defending those that couldn't defend themselves. Hopefully, it makes up for the fact that I was once an unspeakable prick on his way to hell in a handbasket. Anyway, I respect people that stick up for others.

sexyfitwoman - I love that quote from Margaret Mead. I used to hang it in my cubical at my last company to remind myself and my project team of what we could accomplish, not be numbers, but through diligence. Another one I'm found of is by Henry David Thoreau, which goes, "The hero is commonly the obscurest of men."

mzhunyhole - thank you for reading. I consider it a compliment. I've always thought that you can learn alot about someone by reflecting on the people they admire. Mae West, Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker... women that could put themselves out there in front of the world and turn there nose up as if to say, "take it or leave it boys, but we both know you want it!"

keithcancook 60M
17718 posts
6/2/2005 8:39 am

I am here because my friend barbiebunny advised us to check out your blog in a post over at her place. She is quite right about your writing talents and this essay proves it.

The former mayor of NYC, Rudy Guiliani seems to fit this description of the anti-hero in light of recent events. I know many anti-heros personally, but their names are unknown as far as global fame goes.

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