Antihero: “A central character, or protagonist, who lacks traditional heroic qualities and virtues (such as idealism, courage, and steadfastness). An antihero may be comic, antisocial, inept, or even pathetic, while retaining the sympathy of the reader. Antiheroes are typically in conflict with a world they cannot control or whose values they reject,” – The NTC’s Dictionary of Literary Terms
My Take on The Antihero
Honestly, this is my favorite type of character. They fall under other archetypes like tricksters, desperados, lone wolf, and the like. Ostracized, brooding, angsty, mischievous, chaotic, and neutral only when they want to be. These characters are near and dear to my heart probably because I’m the antihero of my own life. As I write my novel, I have several characters that fit this mold. I just love them.
I think what’s most important about this definition is the very last sentence: “Antiheroes are typically in conflict with a world they cannot control or whose values they reject.” The most prominent attribute of the antihero is conflict. This comes from their ambiguous alignment (not always lawful, chaotic, good, or evil), their “many shades of gray” point of view, and their autonomy. They conflict with many elements of the story because of their independence and resourcefulness. It’s them against the world, no matter if they have a few allies or not. Although these traits can be admirable, there is a lot of stress that comes with it, which is probably why they gain sympathy from the audience. Freedom isn’t free and you always have to watch your back. Antihero’s often come off as hardened, distant, or mistrusting. The conflicting circumstances they run into simultaneously reinforce the skills they have sharpened from their independent nature and challenge the morale they have for their lifestyle with ethical questions. I love watching a character who does their best to be neutral struggle with their ethics because it really is relatable; it’s how you establish your own personal philosophy.
Have you designed an antihero before, fellow writers? Do you favor this archetype more than others?
On my welcome page, I wrote that my novel takes priority. It certainly does. It’s everything. Sometimes life circumstances try to convince you that your everything is nothing, that there are more important things to address than your fantastical ideas. Art is such a battle, though I truly believe it’s such a glorious, introspective experience where I can take the time to understand myself and be relieved from all the life circumstances that convince me to censor myself. Those circumstances that implore that ignoring them is too great of a risk, that I should be safe.
Because art is a battle, it isn’t safe and never will be. Art is pure vulnerability, which can transform into terror or freedom depending on how powerful your fear is. There’s that 50/50 tug-of-war going on: The first fifty says “What if you share your work and this happens?” and the other fifty says “What if you never share your work and this happens?” Circumstance. Consequence. Chaos. I am so torn by risk, but I am so thrilled by the challenge. I’m in a position where I must bet on myself or bet on a system that may or may not take care of me. I know for a fact that if the system doesn’t have art or doesn’t let me create art, I’ll die. I’ve idealized death too many times to go there again. That was another risk. Another circumstance. Another chaotic instance of thrill and torment, but at least in art that torment tears me to pieces that I can reassemble and make into a new creation. Art provides rebirth beyond death or circumstance or consequence. Art is one of those immortal mediums that I’ve chosen to surrender to, so why shouldn’t I just fall and see if my masterpieces catch me or blow wind under me so I can fly as high as possible, see the big picture, and remember what I’m living for?
Risk as a writer is a dive into first-person narration where your perception is limited, but choices must be made. What I should take from my current risks as a writer, as an artist, is remembering that any choice I make will make me reborn. The chaos is beyond my control, but during the rebirth the least I can do is dance in the storm since all this experience I’ve gained has made me strong enough to brace myself for the storm’s blow or flow with its currents and absorb the unknown. This is what art has taught me. It’s not a “no risk, no reward” situation; the risk is the reward.