Antihero

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This article is about the character type. For the 1999 action film, see Anti-hero (film). For the punk band, see Anti-Heros. For the Marlon Roudette song, see Anti Hero (Brave New World).

An antihero or antiheroine is a leading character in a story who, unlike a traditional hero, acts in an unheroic manner and lacks conventional heroic qualities such as idealism, courage and morality.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

History[edit]

The antihero archetype can be traced back at least as far as Homer's Thersites.[9] The concept has also been identified in classical Greek drama,[6] Roman satire, and Renaissance literature[9] such as Don Quixote[5][6] and the picaresque rogue.[10]

The term antihero is dated as early as 1714,[1] emerging in works such as Rameau's Nephew in the 18th century,[11] and is also used more broadly to cover Byronic heroes as well.[12]

Literary Romanticism in the 19th century helped popularize the antihero in ways such as the Gothic double.[citation needed] The antihero eventually became an established form of social criticism, a phenomenon often associated with the unnamed protagonist in Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground.[13]

The antihero emerged as a foil to the traditional hero archetype, a process that Northrop Frye called the fictional "centre of gravity."[14] This movement indicated a literary change in heroic ethos from feudal aristocrat to urban democrat, as was the shift from epic to ironic narratives.[14]

While the classic hero is larger than life, antiheroes may be inferior to the reader in intelligence, dynamism, or social purpose,[14] giving rise to what Robbe-Grillet called “these heroes without naturalness as without identity.”[15]

The antihero became prominent in early 20th century existentialist works such as Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (1915),[16] Jean-Paul Sartre's La Nausée (1938) (French for: Nausea),[citation needed] and Albert Camus' L'Étranger (1942) (French for: The Stranger).[citation needed] The protagonist in these works is an indecisive central character who drifts through his life and is marked by ennui, angst, and alienation.[17]

The antihero entered American literature in the 1950s and up to the mid-1960s was portrayed as an alienated figure, unable to communicate.[18] The American antihero of the 1950s and 1960s (as seen in the works of Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, et al.) was typically more proactive than his French counterpart; with characters such as Kerouac's Dean Moriarty famously taking to the road to vanquish his ennui.[19] The British version of the antihero emerged in the works of the "angry young men" of the fifties.[6][20]

The collective protests of Sixties counterculture saw the solitary antihero gradually eclipsed from fictional prominence,[21] though not without subsequent revivals in literary and cinematic form.[22]

In sports fiction, the sporting antihero is not a team player, challenges officialdom and seeks financial gain over club loyalty; yet still acquires a large fan following[23] by way of his/her actualization of the rebel archetype.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Antihero - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  2. ^ "American Heritage Dictionary Entry: antihero". Ahdictionary.com. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  3. ^ "anti-hero - definition of anti-hero by Macmillan Dictionary". Macmillandictionary.com. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  4. ^ "Antiheroine - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  5. ^ a b "Literary Terms and Definitions A". Web.cn.edu. Retrieved 2013-10-03. 
  6. ^ a b c d "antihero (literature) - Encyclopedia Britannica". Britannica.com. 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  7. ^ "anti-hero: definition of anti-hero in Oxford dictionary (British & World English)". Oxforddictionaries.com. Retrieved 2014-09-06. 
  8. ^ Gioia, Dana (editor). "Definition of antihero | Collins American English Dictionary". Collinsdictionary.com. Retrieved 2014-09-06. 
  9. ^ a b Steiner, George (2013). Tolstoy Or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism. New York: Open Road. pp. 197–198. ISBN 9781480411913. 
  10. ^ Halliwell, Martin (2007). American Culture in the 1950s (Transferred to Digital Print 2012 ed.). Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780748618859. 
  11. ^ Steiner, George (2013). Tolstoy Or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism. New York: Open Road. pp. 199–200. ISBN 9781480411913. 
  12. ^ "Literary Terms and Definitions B". Web.cn.edu. Retrieved 2014-09-06. 
  13. ^ Steiner, George (2013). Tolstoy Or Dostoevsky: An Essay in the Old Criticism. New York: Open Road. pp. 201–207. ISBN 9781480411913. 
  14. ^ a b c Frye, Northrop (2002). Anatomy of Criticism. London: Penguin. p. 34. ISBN 9780141187099. 
  15. ^ Ermarth, Elizabeth Deeds (1992). Sequel to History: Postmodernism and the Crisis of Representational Time. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. p. 71. ISBN 9780691015170. 
  16. ^ Barnhart, Joe E. (2005). Dostoevsky's Polyphonic Talent. Lanham: University Press of America. p. 151. ISBN 9780761830979. 
  17. ^ Brereton, Geoffery (1968). A Short History of French Literature. Penguin Books. pp. 254–255. 
  18. ^ Hardt, Michael; Weeks, Kathi (2000). The Jameson Reader (Repr. ed.). Oxford, UK ; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. pp. 294–295. ISBN 9780631202707. 
  19. ^ Edelstein, Alan (1996). Everybody is Sitting on the Curb: How and why America's Heroes Disappeared. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. p. 18. ISBN 9780275953645. 
  20. ^ Ousby, Ian (1996). The Cambridge Paperback Guide to Literature in English. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780521436274. 
  21. ^ Edelstein, Alan (1996). Everybody is Sitting on the Curb: How and why America's Heroes Disappeared. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. p. 1. ISBN 9780275953645. 
  22. ^ Hardt, Michael; Weeks, Kathi (2000). The Jameson Reader (Repr. ed.). Oxford, UK ; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. p. 295. ISBN 9780631202707. 
  23. ^ Delaney, Tim; Madigan, Tim (2009). The Sociology of Sports: An Introduction. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 72 & 284. ISBN 0786441690. 
  24. ^ Handelsman, Bud (2009). Families And How To Survive Them. London: Random House Ebooks. pp. 202–203. ISBN 1407011030. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Simmons, David (2008). The Anti-Hero in the American Novel: From Heller to Vonnegut. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-230-60323-8. 

External links[edit]