THE CONCEPT OF ANTI HERO
|Dr. Hareshwar Roy|
WHAT IS AN ANTI HERO?
Throughout history, storytellers, playwrights and writers of all kinds have woven tales of terrible deeds, tragedies, courage and conquering. In each case the story has a main character. When the main character is deeply flawed, he appears as the anti-hero. Thus an anti hero is a protagonist in a dramatic or narrative work. He lacks the traditional heroic virtues as idealism, courage, nobility and magnanimity, honesty and grace. He might be selfish, addicted, corrupt and sullen. He should not be confused with the antagonist or the villain. He has some of the personality flaws and ultimate fortune traditionally assigned to villains. An Anti-hero is always flawed or failed hero. But still that character is the main and popular. Today these characters are very popular among the readers and audience. The reason behind this is that people find these characters closer to reality. The conventional heroes seem to be the super-humans who have nothing to do with the lives of common man.
TYPES AND CHARACTERISTICS:
The most popular type of anti-hero is the vigilante. Usually, these are individuals with the same goals as a traditional hero, but for whom “the ends justify the means ".A second type of anti-hero is one who starts off possessing unlikable traits such as prejudice, immaturity and cockiness. A third type of anti-hero is one who feels helpless and distrusts conventional values. He is often unable to commit to any ideals but accepts their status as an outsider. Sometimes, an anti-hero is an ordinary man or woman who completely lacks any particular heroic aspects. He suffers from large degree of greed, selfishness, cowardice or laziness. They lack any of the classical heroic traits such as bravery or self-sacrifice. Another type of anti-hero is a character who constantly moves from one disappointment in his life to the next.HISTORY OF THE CONCEPT:
The concept of the anti-hero is as old as literature itself. There is no definitive moment when the antihero came into existence as a literary trope. But there are few evidences which show that the anti-hero existed in the world’s oldest literatures. The character of Anti-Hero changed with the passage of time as the society’s inspirations of the heroic qualities changed as well. Marlowe’s Faustus and Shakespeare’s Falstaff, give clear examples of the anti-hero characters. In the 19th century, Victorian Literature also showed few examples of anti-hero and it demonstrated that the idea is highly appreciated by the public as well. The Byronic hero also sets a literary precedent for the modern concept of anti heroism. In the recent times; the figure of anti-hero has evolved in a sense that it is completely changed now. The reason behind the popularity of the idea of anti-hero is sometimes related to the revolutions that are taking place in the world. Mid-20th century playwrights such as Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard showcased anti-heroic protagonists recognizable by their lack of identity and determination.IMPORTANT ANTI HEROES:
This type of character has appeared in literature since the time of the Greek dramatists and can be found in the literary works of all nations. Literary characters that can be considered anti-heroes are: Cervantes's Don Quixote, Flaubert's Emma Bovary, Marlowe’s Mephistopheles, Shakespeare’s Shylock and Hamlet, Milton’s Satan, Goethe’s Mephistopheles, Thackeray’s Redmond Barry and Becky Sharp, Henry Fielding’s James Joyce’s Leopold Bloom and Dedalus, Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, Greene’s Pinkie Brown, Orwell’s Winston Smith, Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, Arthur Miller's Willy Loman, Rowling’s Severus Snape and Lindsay’s Morgan. Each of these examples has been identified by a critic as an anti-hero, although the classification is somewhat subjective. Some examples of the postwar anti hero include John Braine’s Joe Lampton, and Alan Sillitoe’s Arthur Seaton.CONCLUSION:
The concept of the anti-hero has grown from a tendency of modern authors to present villains as complex, even sympathetic, characters whose motivations are not inherently evil and sometimes even good. The line, therefore, between an anti-hero and a villain is sometimes not clear.