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Classical analysis of character

In the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory, Poetics (c. 335 BCE), the Greek philosopher Aristotle deduces that character (ethos) is one of six qualitative parts of Athenian tragedy and one of the three objects that it represents. Aristotle defines the six qualitative elements of tragedy: the three objects are plot (mythos), character (ethos), and reasoning (dianoia). He understands character not to denote a fictional person, but the quality of the person acting in the story and reacting to its situations; ethos - or, equivalently, its plural ethe - is not a matter of individuality or of intention, but of "generic qualities. He defines character as "Character is that which reveals choice [prohairesis], shows what sort of thing a man chooses or avoids in circumstances where the choice is not obvious, so those speeches convey no character in which there is nothing whatever which the speaker chooses or avoids. It is possible, therefore, to have tragedies that do not contain "character" in Aristotle's sense of the word, since character makes the ethical dispositions of those performing the action of the story clear. Aristotle argues for the primacy of plot (mythos) over character (ethos). He writes: “The most important of these is the arrangement of the incidents, for tragedy is not a representation of men but of a piece of action, of life, of happiness and unhappiness, which come under the head of action, and the end aimed at is the representation not of qualities of character but of some action; and while character makes men what they are, it's their actions and experiences that make them happy or the opposite. They do not therefore act to represent character, but character-study is included for the sake of the action."

In the Tractatus coislinianus (which may or may not be by Aristotle), comedy is defined as involving three types of characters: the buffoon (bômolochus), the ironist (eirôn) and the imposter or boaster (alazôn). All three are central to Aristophanes' "Old comedy."

Character was used to define dramatic genre; this is attested in the works of the Roman playwright Plautus, who was almost certainly working from Greek sources. His Amphitryon begins with a prologue that discusses the play's genre—since the play contains kings and gods, the speaker Mercury claims, it can't be a comedy and must be a tragicomedy. Like much Roman comedy, it is probably translated from an earlier Greek original, most commonly held to be Philemon's Long Night, or Rhinthon's Amphitryon, both now lost.

 

Types of characters

Characters may be classified by various criteria:

· Protagonist,

· Hero,

· Anti-Hero

· Main character

· Antagonist, villain, opponent

· Minor character

· Foil character

A protagonist (from the Greek πρωταγωνιστής protagonistes, "one who plays the first part, chief actor") is the main character (the central or primary personal figure) of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, video game, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to share the most empathy. In the theatre of Ancient Greece, three actors played all of the main dramatic roles in a tragedy; the leading role was played by the protagonist, while the other roles were played by deuteragonist and the tritagonistprotagonist can be some who saves some one like a super hero in a book or movie.



The terms protagonist, main character and hero are variously defined and, depending on the source, may denote different concepts. In fiction, the story of the protagonist may be told from the perspective of a different character (who may also, but not necessarily, be the narrator). An example would be a narrator who relates the fate of several protagonists, perhaps as prominent figures recalled in a biographical perspective. Often, the protagonist in a narrative is also the same person as the focal character, though the two terms are distinct. Excitement and intrigue alone is what the audience feels toward a focal character, while a sense of empathy about his/her objectives and emotions is what the audience feels toward the protagonist. He/she is often referred to as the "good guy." However, it is entirely possible for a story's protagonist to clearly be the villain of the piece, as is evident with characters like Vic Mackey (from The Shield) and Tony Soprano (The Sopranos).

The principal opponent of the protagonist is a character known as the antagonist, who represents or creates obstacles that the protagonist(s) must overcome. As with protagonists, there may be more than one antagonist in a story. Also the antagonist can sometimes actually be the hero, such as The Shield's Internal Affairs officers, and FBI agents and police officers from The Sopranos.

An antagonist (from Greek ἀνταγωνιστής - antagonistes, "opponent, competitor, rival") is a character, group of characters, or an institution, who represents the opposition against which the protagonist(s) must contend. In other words, 'A person, or a group of people who oppose the main character, or the main characters.' In the classic style of story where in the action consists of a hero fighting a villain, the two can be regarded as protagonist and antagonist, respectively.

Writers have also created more complex situations. In some instances, a story is told from the villain's point of view, and any hero trying to stop the villain can be regarded as an antagonist. In the film K-19: The Widowmaker, an American film about a Soviet Cold War submarine crew, the crew, enemies of the United States, are depicted as protagonists, creating something of a paradox — as very often the American film industry tends to depict the forces of the United States as the people that fight for "good" and "justice", in opposition to Russia (especially the former Soviet Union) being the antagonists, who often have been portrayed to have maniacal and/or malicious intentions (e.g. world domination) by the media. Such antagonists are usually police officers, or other law enforcement officials. Similarly, Ken Follet's thrillers "Eye of the Needle" and "The Key to Rebecca" both have WWII German spies as their protagonists, making the British intelligence services into the story's antagonists.

Sometimes, antagonists and protagonists may overlap, depending on what their ultimate objectives are considered to be.

Sometimes, a work will offer a particular character as the protagonist, only to dispose of that character unexpectedly, as a dramatic device. Such a character is called a false protagonist. Marion in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is a famous example.

When the work contains subplots, these may have different protagonists from the main plot. In some novels, the protagonists may be impossible to identify, because multiple plots in the novel do not permit clear identification of one as the main plot, such as in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, depicting a variety of characters imprisoned and living in a gulag camp, or in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, depicting 15 major characters involved in or affected by a war.

In psychodrama, the "protagonist" is the person (group member, patient or client) who decides to enact some significant aspect of his life, experiences or relationships on stage with the help of the psychodrama director and other group members, taking supplementary roles as auxiliary egos.

Sometimes, antagonists and protagonists may overlap, depending on what their ultimate objectives are considered to be

A hero (hera or heroine in female) (Ancient Greek: ἥρως, hḗrōs), in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion. Later, hero (male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice – that is, heroism – for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.

Stories of heroism may serve as moral examples. In classical antiquity, hero cults – veneration of deified heroes such as Heracles, Perseus, and Achilles – played an important role in Ancient Greek religion. Politicians, ancient and modern, have employed hero worship for their own apotheosis (i.e., cult of personality).

Vladimir Propp, in his analysis of the Russian fairy tale, concluded that a fairy tale had only eight dramatis personæ, of which one was the hero, and his analysis has been widely applied to non-Russian folklore. The actions that fall into a such hero's sphere include:

1. Departure on a quest

2. Reacting to the test of a donor

3. Marrying a princess (or similar figure)

He distinguished between seekers and victim-heroes. A villain could initiate the issue by kidnapping the hero or driving him out; these were victim-heroes. On the other hand, a villain could rob the hero, or kidnap someone close to him, or, without the villain's intervention, the hero could realize that he lacked something and set out to find it; these heroes are seekers. Victims may appear in tales with seeker heroes, but the tale does not follow them both.

The modern fictional hero

Hero or heroine is sometimes used to simply describe the protagonist of a story, or the love interest, a usage which can conflict with the superhuman expectations of heroism. William Makepeace Thackeray gave Vanity Fair the subtitle A Novel without a Hero. The larger-than-life hero is a more common feature of fantasy (particularly sword and sorcery and epic fantasy) than more realist works.

In modern movies, the hero is often simply an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances, who, despite the odds being stacked against him or her, typically prevails in the end. In some movies (especially action movies), a hero may exhibit characteristics such as superhuman strength and endurance that sometimes makes him nearly invincible. Often a hero in these situations has a foil, the villain, typically a charismatic evildoer who represents, leads, or himself embodies the struggle the hero is up against. Post-modern fictional works have fomented the increased popularity of the antihero, who does not follow common conceptions of heroism.

In fiction, an antihero (sometimes 'antiheroine' as feminine) is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character is at least in some regards conspicuously contrary to that of the archetypal hero, and is in some instances its antithesis. Some consider the word's meaning to be sufficiently broad as to additionally encompass the antagonist who (in contrast to the archetypal villain) elicits considerable sympathy and/or admiration. The term dates to 1714, although literary criticism identifies the trope in earlier literature.

The Byronic Hero is a rebellious Anti-Hero who is sympathetic despite his rejection of virtue.

A Tragic Hero has a single, major fatal flaw, but this single large flaw does not outweigh his many heroic qualities, while an Anti-Hero's flaws are less glaring, but make up for lack of prominence in their quantity, which outweights their heroic qualities. Anti-Heroes are not necesserily doomed to a tragic end as the Tragic Hero is, either.

Modern-day heroes have enjoyed an increased moral complexity. Mid-20th century playwrights such as Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard showcased anti-heroic protagonists recognizable by their lack of identity and determination. Pulp fiction and noir detective stories of the mid-20th century saw characters such as Sam Spade, who lacked the glorious appeal of previous heroic figures, become popular. Influenced by the pulps, early comic books featured anti-heroic characters such as Batman (whose shadowy nature contrasted with their openly "heroic" peers like Superman) and Sub-Mariner (who would just as soon conquer humanity as try to save it). Marvel's most prolific anti-hero is perhaps The Punisher, who is more than willing to kill those who he views as deserving of death. Sergio Leone's "spaghetti westerns" showcased a wandering vigilante (the "Man with No Name" played by Clint Eastwood) whose gruff demeanor clashed with other heroic characteristics.

Many modern antiheroes possess, or even encapsulate, the postmodern rejection of traditional values symptomatic of Modernist literature in general, as well as the disillusion felt after World War II and the Nuclear Age. The continuing popularity of the antihero in modern literature and popular culture may be based on the recognition that a person is fraught with human frailties, unlike the archetypes of the white-hatted cowboy and the noble warrior, and is therefore more accessible to readers and viewers. This popularity may also be symptomatic of the rejection by the avant-garde of traditional values after the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s.

In the postmodern era, traditionally defined heroic qualities, akin to the classic "knight in shining armor" type, have given way to the "gritty truth" of life, and authority in general is being questioned. The brooding vigilante or "noble criminal" archetype, seen in characters like Batman or Dirty Harry, is slowly becoming part of the popular conception of heroic valor rather than being characteristics that are deemed un-heroic

A villain (also known in film and literature as the "bad guy", "black hat", or "heavy") is an "evil" character in a story, whether a historical narrative or, especially, a work of fiction. The villain usually is the antagonist, the character who tends to have a negative effect on other characters. A female villain is sometimes called a villainess (often to differentiate her from a male villain). Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines villain as "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot"

Vladimir Propp, in his analysis of the Russian fairy tales, concluded that a fairy tale had only eight dramatis personae, of which one was the villain, and his analysis has been widely applied to non-Russian tales. The actions that fell into a villain's sphere were:

· a story-initiating villainy, where the villain caused harm to the hero or his family

· a conflict between the hero and the villain, either a fight or other competition

· pursuing the hero after he has succeeded in winning the fight or obtaining something from the villain

None of these acts necessarily occurs in a fairy tale, but when any of them do, the character that performs the act was the villain. The villain therefore could appear twice: once in the opening of the story, and a second time as the person sought out by the hero.

When a character performed only these acts, the character was a pure villain. Various villains also perform other functions in a fairy tale; a witch who fought the hero and ran away, and who lets the hero follow her, is also performing the task of "guidance" and thus acting as a helper.

The functions could also be spread out among several characters. If a dragon acted as the villain, but was killed by the hero, another character (such as the dragon's sisters) might take on the role of the villain and pursue the hero.

Two other characters could appear in roles that are villainous in the more general sense. One is the false hero: this character is always villainous, presenting a false claim to be the hero that must be rebutted for the happy ending. Among these characters are Cinderella's stepsisters, chopping off parts of their feet to fit on the shoe. Another character, the dispatcher, sends a hero on his quest. This might be an innocent request, to fulfill a legitimate need, but the dispatcher might also, villainously, lie to send a character on a quest in hopes of being rid of him.

A supervillain or supervillainess is a variant of the villain character type, commonly found in comic books, action movies and science fiction in various mediums.

They are often used as foils to superheroes and other fictional heroes. Whereas superheroes often wield fantastic powers, the supervillain possesses commensurate powers and abilities so that he can present a daunting challenge to the hero. Even without actual magical or superhuman powers, the supervillain often possesses a genius intellect that allows him to draft complex schemes or create fantastic devices. Many supervillains share some typical characteristics of real world dictators, mobsters, and terrorists and often have aspirations of world domination or universal leadership.

Superheroes and supervillains often mirror each other in their powers, abilities, or origins. Often the only difference between the two is that the hero uses his extraordinary powers to help others, while the villain uses his powers for selfish purposes.

A foil is a person who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight various features of the main character's personality: to throw the character of the protagonist into sharper focus.

A foil's complementary role may be emphasized by physical characteristics. A foil is usually the antagonist. For example in Cervantes' Don Quixote, the dreamy and impractical Quixote is thin in contrast to his companion, the realistic and practical Sancho Panza, who is fat. Another popular fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, is tall and lean; his right-hand man Doctor Watson, meanwhile, is often described as "middle-sized, strongly built". The "straight man" in a comedy duo is a comic foil. While the straight man portrays a reasonable and serious character, the other portrays a funny, dumb, or simply unorthodox one.

In some cases, a subplot can be used as a foil to the main plot. This is especially true in the case of metafiction and the "story within a story" motif.

 

Vladimir Propp extended the Russian Formalist approach to the study of narrative structure. In the Formalist approach, sentence structures were broken down into analyzable elements, or morphemes, and Propp used this method by analogy to analyze Russian fairy tales. By breaking down a large number of Russian folk tales into their smallest narrative units, or narratemes, Propp was able to arrive at a typology of narrative structures. He also concluded that all the characters could be resolved into only 7 broad character types in the 100 tales he analyzed:

 

1. The villain — struggles against the hero.

2. The donor — prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object.

3. The (magical) helper — helps the hero in the quest.

4. The princess and her father — gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, marries the hero, often sought for during the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, the princess and the father can not be clearly distinguished.

5. The dispatcher — character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off.

6. The hero or victim/seeker hero — reacts to the donor, weds the princess.

7. False hero — takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess.

These roles could sometimes be distributed among various characters, as the hero kills the villain dragon, and the dragon's sisters take on the villainous role of chasing him. Conversely, one character could engage in acts as more than one role, as a father could send his son on the quest and give him a sword, acting as both dispatcher and donor.

 

"I shall present you at Court. You will soon see that the Prince, in whose honor the ball is being held, will be enchanted by your loveliness. But remember! You must leave the ball at midnight and come home. For that is when the spell ends. Your coach will turn back into a pumpkin, the horses will become mice again and the coachman will turn back into a mouse... and you will be dressed again in rags and wearing clogs instead of these dainty little slippers! Do you understand?"

 

"I shall present you at Court. You will soon see that the Prince, in whose honor the ball is being held, will be enchanted by your loveliness. But remember! You must leave the ball at midnight and come home. For that is when the spell ends. Your coach will turn back into a pumpkin, the horses will become mice again and the coachman will turn back into a mouse... and you will be dressed again in rags and wearing clogs instead of these dainty little slippers! Do you understand?"

 

"I shall present you at Court. You will soon see that the Prince, in whose honor the ball is being held, will be enchanted by your loveliness. But remember! You must leave the ball at midnight and come home. For that is when the spell ends. Your coach will turn back into a pumpkin, the horses will become mice again and the coachman will turn back into a mouse... and you will be dressed again in rags and wearing clogs instead of these dainty little slippers! Do you understand?"

 

"I shall present you at Court. You will soon see that the Prince, in whose honor the ball is being held, will be enchanted by your loveliness. But remember! You must leave the ball at midnight and come home. For that is when the spell ends. Your coach will turn back into a pumpkin, the horses will become mice again and the coachman will turn back into a mouse... and you will be dressed again in rags and wearing clogs instead of these dainty little slippers! Do you understand?"

 

 

"We shall have a visitor soon," said the field-mouse one day; "my neighbor pays me a visit once a week. He is better off than I am; he has large rooms, and wears a beautiful black velvet coat. If you could only have him for a husband, you would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you must tell him some of your prettiest stories.

 

"We shall have a visitor soon," said the field-mouse one day; "my neighbor pays me a visit once a week. He is better off than I am; he has large rooms, and wears a beautiful black velvet coat. If you could only have him for a husband, you would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you must tell him some of your prettiest stories.

 

"We shall have a visitor soon," said the field-mouse one day; "my neighbor pays me a visit once a week. He is better off than I am; he has large rooms, and wears a beautiful black velvet coat. If you could only have him for a husband, you would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you must tell him some of your prettiest stories.

 

 

"We shall have a visitor soon," said the field-mouse one day; "my neighbor pays me a visit once a week. He is better off than I am; he has large rooms, and wears a beautiful black velvet coat. If you could only have him for a husband, you would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you must tell him some of your prettiest stories.

 

 


Date: 2015-02-28; view: 988


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