Posts Tagged ‘hero characters’

So what is very encouraging about part one of this post, is that the friend that requested it, said that I got the first two fellas spot-on! That’s fantastic, because I don’t know Bonanza well. I’m gleaning stuff about the characters from a page she linked me to, and from the Wikipedia article I found. Using that, and The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes I was able, she said, to pretty much peg Ben Cartwright and his son, Adam. So today I’m taking on the other two Cartwrights just so show you how amazing this book really is! Ready? All right here we go!

  • Hoss Cartwright:
  • The middle brother of the family, Hoss, is kind and gentle despite his size and strength. Always ready to help a neighbor (even if he does get it totally backwards) and ready for fun,  I marked him as the BEST FRIEND archetype. The BEST FRIEND is easy to get along with and a gentleman. He’s  the one who is:
  • Stable
  • Supportive
  • Tolerant
  • He’s the one who is the team player and can be counted on when things are going horribly terribly wrong. When others are getting frustrated and upset he keeps his head and keeps his eye on the solution. Feeling down? The BEST FRIEND will build you back up without flattery, and tell you the truth without malice.   He does have weaknesses though, he can be:
  • Complacent
  • Myopic
  • Unassertive

  • Now, several people on several different pages have pointed out that  Hoss isn’t complacent, he tends to throw Little Joe around  and slam other people into non-moving things when they’ve set him up or taken the mick with him. While that’s true, an archetype is a CORE of the character and you are suppose to layer things around it. I’m going to stick with keeping Hoss as the BEST FRIEND because of his compassion and his loyalty
  • Little Joe Cartwright:
    • Little Joe Cartwright is the youngest son/brother of the Cartwright family. With his wide smile and twinkling eyes he’s easily the one  that falls into the category of  THE CHARMER. He’s fun, he is generous with his family and friends, showing his appreciation of them with gifts both large and small. He can get the birds to come down out of the trees, and always has a tale to tell, a story to spin. His strengths are that he is:
    • Creative
    • Witty
    • Smooth
      • He makes friends easily, and everyone has a good time when they are with him. He continually injects “fun” into others lives, even making them the target of pranks or jokes but there’s no malice in him.  He’ll laugh just as hard if the joke is on him.  With his search for fun comes his desire to have life go his way and that’s where his character often hitches. He can be:

      • Manipulative
      • Irresponsible
      • Elusive

    Now,  that concludes my look at the boys of Bonanza.  Hopefully, this little demonstration has made you decide to put  The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines:  Sixteen Master Archetypes on your ‘must buy’ list.  If it hasn’t, maybe the fact that there are more than just archetypes listed and explained in the book, will. In addition, the authors go through how archetypes interact, how to layer archetypes, and the differences between static and evolving archetypes.  There’s so much meat in here for writers at any stage of the game, it really should be on each and every scribe’s book shelf.

    Tomorrow, I’ll let you peak at two more resources you should have on your shelf if you’re a writer. Until then, encourage one another Scribes!

Let me begin this part, by first defining the roles of  the Hero, the  Reluctant Hero/Unlikely Hero, and  the Anti-Hero. I think part of the problem we Scribes were having talking about this topic is  that there some confusion between an anti-hero and a reluctant hero. Hopefully this will help  to clarify before we go any further.

The Hero:

In Greek literature, a Hero was a character who was “dead” for only the dead could carry out the impossible. Some characters were literally dead, others went through the realm of the dead to get a talisman that gave them super(or above) human strength.  They were either demigods or beloved of the gods for the most part, though most at this point had a fatal weakness. This vanished from their character roughly in the time of the Middle Ages in Europe and the Hero became more what we see and understand them to be today when he entered the realm of the faerie tale.

Traditionally, Heroes are more handsome, stronger, and more noble than the “everyman” hearing or reading the tale. In faerie tales as well as pulp fiction and early comic books, the hero is the one that upholds the moral absolute and is able to over come the villain(s) and obstacles in his path through despite the handicap of not being able to “sink to their level”.

Characters like this today are referred to rather disparagingly as “white hats”  because  of the high moral standard they keep and the righteous way that they move throughout the story are seemingly unattainable by the reader.  A look back through fiction and history shows this is nothing new, heroes have always been above and a challenge to, the everyman reading the story. They have either no flaws, or very small flaws, and often are seen as a two-dimensional version of the Reluctant or Unlikely Hero.

Characters that fit into this category are:  Prince Charming (or any Prince usually from a faerie tale), Clark Kent,  The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Nancy Drew, Billy Bud*, Rose from “Rose in Bloom”, Rachel from “Ivanhoe”, The Hardy Boys,  and Dick Tracy to name a few.

* Might also be considered the Christ character

The Reluctant Hero/Unlikely  Hero:

A character that is not one that wants to get involved in a conflict.   They tend to be more on the plain side, and they also tend to have  no real formal training in the art of hero-ing. They keep their head down and go on about their business, until. With a reluctant hero/unlikely hero, there’s always an ‘until’ which is what takes this ‘everyman’ from a regular character into the hero category.  It’s this ‘until’ moment that gives them their reason for getting involved in the larger story arch.  Their reason for battling the antagonist is  personal.

While the Hero would stand up against the villain because what the villain is doing is morally perceived as wrong or cruel, the Unlikely Hero stands up against the antagonist  because   they are protecting their family, protecting their land, or protecting their planet. Reluctant heroes or unlikely heroes  are more common than any other hero on the market today, in fact I’d go as far to say that they make up more than 70% of the current market.  They have more grit, and greater flaws than the Hero, and are more likely to do things that the hero wouldn’t do, like harm someone to get information or steal when they are in need. They don’t have the same moral center that the hero has, right and wrong are more blurred for them but they are still definitely there.

Characters that fit into this category are: Indiana Jones, Iron Man, Mara Jade, Han Solo,  Shasta from “The Horse and His Boy”, Marian from BBC’s “Robin Hood”  Dustfingers, Frodo,  and Wesley from “The Princess Bride”.

The Anti-Hero :

A character that is not classically handsome, does not hold the sterling values of a traditional hero, and is motivated to stand against the antagonist for reasons of self-gain.  At times, the anti-hero can be a more sympathetic villain, working against the hero  and the antagonist, for their own reasons which are understandable and even acceptable to the reader. The usually have no qualms in doing things that the regular hero would find unacceptable like killing, maiming, and destroying to get what they want.

There are degrees of anti-hero, from the disillusioned hero(Sherlock Holmes) who finds that their value isn’t recognized by the world at large, to the one that the system of justice has failed (Punisher) to the  villain with a soul (ex-murder and brawler Riddick who fights because his life is threatened) and   in the dark morass of this field it takes a careful footing not to push too far. The degree between anti-hero and villain is at times  very small.

Characters that fit into this role are: Dirty Harry, Cat Woman, Riddick,  The entire crew of Serenity (Firefly), Scarlet O’Hara,  Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade, Batman,  Katniss,   Dexter,  Punisher, and The Shadow.

It’s interesting to note, that there are nearly no real heroes in King Lear type fiction. I’ve yet to find one. They just don’t fit. The heroes in Lear fiction are  Reluctant Heroes and Anti-Heroes.

Which brings me to ask, where have all the real heroes gone? And why aren’t we Scribes writing them any more? Have we gotten sucked into the slip-stream of the latest trend and abandoned them? Or have we as a people outgrown the need for sterling doers of good deeds? What do you think?

Encourage one another Scribes.