Title role

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The title role in the performing arts is the performance part that gives the title to the piece, as in Aida, Giselle, Michael Collins,[1] or Othello. The actor, singer, or dancer who performs that part is also said to have the title role.

The performer playing the title role is not always the lead and the title role may or may not be the protagonist. In the television miniseries Shogun, for example, Toshirō Mifune had the title role, but the lead was played by Richard Chamberlain. In the James Bond film and novel The Man with the Golden Gun, the title character is the primary antagonist. The title role and the lead can be different genders; for example, in the 2003 revival of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Whoopi Goldberg had the title role, but the lead was Charles S. Dutton.[2]

Title character[edit]

The title character in fiction is a character who is named or referred to in the title, such as Harry Potter in the series of novels and films,[3] Romeo and Juliet in the Shakespeare play[4] or Annie Oakley in the musical Annie Get Your Gun[5]

Although the term title character is only used in fiction or Semi fiction, the character itself need not be fictional, such as Erin Brockovich in the film of that name[6] or Thomas More in the play A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt.[7]

The title character need not be named in the title, but may be referred to, such as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit[8] or Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.[9] A title character may only be indirectly described in the title, as in An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde, where the 'ideal husband' (the title role) is the apparently perfect Sir Robert Chiltern.[10]

The title character need not be the subject of the whole title in a strict grammatical sense: Uncle Tom is the title character of Uncle Tom's Cabin[11] and Lee Marvin is often attributed with playing the title character in the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as his character (Liberty Valance) is named in the title, even though the subject of the title is the person who shot him.[12]

A title characeter may be the main antagonist, for example, Sauron in The Lord of the Rings[13] or Bram Stoker's Dracula.[14] In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz the wizard is the title character but Dorothy Gale is the main character.[15] In the video game The Legend of Zelda, the title character, Princess Zelda, is the damsel in distress, but the protagonist is Link.[16] The title character may be unseen, for example Godot in Waiting for Godot[17] or Jason Bourne in the 2012 film The Bourne Legacy.[18]

Title character has been attributed to objects, for example the bus in the film and musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.[19]

Titular[edit]

The phrase "title character" can be replaced with a more descriptive one, identifying what type of character it is. For example, the title character of Dracula can be referred to as "the titular vampire",[20] or the title character of Hamlet can be called "the titular prince of Denmark".[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walshe, Shane (2009). Irish English as Represented in Film. Peter Lang. p. 258. 
  2. ^ Hill, Anthony D (September 2, 2009). The A to Z of African American Theater. Scarecrow Press. p. xxxiv. 
  3. ^ Bell, Christoper E (July 30, 2012). Hermione Granger Saves the World: Essays on the Feminist Heroine of Hogwarts. McFarland. p. 21. 
  4. ^ "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet". Richmond Shakespeare Festival. 
  5. ^ Hoffman, Warren (February 18, 2014). The Great White Way: Race and the Broadway Musical. Rutgers University Press. p. 57. 
  6. ^ Hammer, Tonya R (April 2008). Myths, Stereotypes, and Controlling Images in Film: A Feminist Content Analysis of Hollywood's Portrayal of Women's Career Choices. p. 58. ISBN 9781243451705. 
  7. ^ The Best Test Preparation for the Advanced Placement Examination in English Literature & Composition. Research and Education Assocn. 1990. p. 83. 
  8. ^ "The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien, Analysis of major characters". SparkNotes. 
  9. ^ Taylor, Paul C (July 29, 2009). "The Last King of Scotland or the Last N----r on Earth? The Ethics of Race on Film". Contemporary Aesthetics. 
  10. ^ Rice, Randy (November 14, 2008). "Review: ‘An Ideal Husband at The Gamm". Wisdom Digital Media. 
  11. ^ Sharma, Raja (2012). Ready Reference Treatise: Uncle Tom’s Cabin. 
  12. ^ Casillo, Robert (2006). Gangster Priest: The Italian American Cinema of Martin Scorsese. University of Toronto Press. p. 153. ISBN 9780802091130. 
  13. ^ Skogemann, Pia (2009). Where the Shadows Lie: A Jungian Interpretation of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Chiron Publications. p. 145. 
  14. ^ Constanzo, William V (November 18, 2013). World Cinema through Global Genres. John Wiley & sons. p. 211. 
  15. ^ "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum: Summary & Characters". Education Portal. 
  16. ^ Lambie, Ryan (23 November 2011). "The Legend Of Zelda: why Link is one of the most enduring characters in videogaming". 
  17. ^ Sharma, Raja (2012). Ready Reference Treatise: Waiting for Godot. 
  18. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (August 9, 2012). "The Bourne Legacy – review". The Guardian. 
  19. ^ Tavener, Simon (February 28, 2013). "Priscilla - Queen of the Desert (Tour - Oxford)". What's on Stage: Theatre News. 
  20. ^ Robinson, Sara Libby (2008). Blood Will Tell: Blood and Vampires as Metaphors in the Political and Popular Cultures of Great Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, 1870--1914. Proquest. p. 131. 
  21. ^ Saxon, Theresa (October 11, 2011). American Theatre: History, Context, Form. Oxford University Press. 

See also[edit]