Where Have All the Depressed Protagonists Gone?

Books are filled with characters who know exactly what they need to do.  They have a defining moment and understand the truth of their situation and respond without hesitation.

Is that how life’s supposed to work?  Then, my hero sense must be broken.

Why isn’t there a story with a protagonist who is, um, not wishy-washy, but undecided.  Someone who wavers between what is right and what is easy (because it wouldn’t make a good story?)?  The story about hard decisions and agonizing, crippling doubt?

The depressed hero.  That’s who I want to read about.   …Er, on second thought, that might be a little too emo for me.

Maybe someone who struggles with their identity and beliefs.  Someone who isn’t self-assured or confident.  Or do those only work as side characters and comic relief?  Yet, we don’t even have mothers forbidding their children from entering Jurassic Park or fathers staring at a Hogwarts acceptance letter and asking, “Have you tried no being a wizard?”  [To be fair, however, nothing anyone said would keep me from them either.]

If life imitates art, shouldn’t more people be confident and know the right answer the moment they need it?  Shouldn’t we instinctively know the right course?  (Maybe we do.)

If art imitates life, where are all the hand-wringing, nervously sweating, lip chewing heroes?  Would Superman rush into a burning building to save Lois’ cat, if he knew Kryptonite waiting inside (probably)?  Would Captain America save the life of a stranger, if he knew that same person worked for Hydra (again, yes)?

I suppose, every writer can’t be Emily Dickinson…it’d be too depressing.

Or maybe, I’m just not reading the right books or watching the right movies.

About bkreuch

I like to read, I like to write, and I like to make people laugh.
This entry was posted in Humor, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Where Have All the Depressed Protagonists Gone?

  1. All great characters have flaws. It is what makes them memorable. The Magic (in the story) Is In Believing. What the mind can conceive the body can achieve.

    Always believe in yourself.

  2. Hong-Anh Nguyen says:

    I like your question. I have recently noticed that the main characters in some of my favourite books always know exactly what they want. And now I’m wondering if it is my wishy-washy tendency that has drawn me to liking these books/characters.

    Back to your question. Perhaps they all go to poetry??

  3. Leeta Dore says:

    You really should read The Sundering series by Jacqueline Carey. It’s only two books and around 600 pages each so you should be able to fly through them considering the massiveness I’ve seen you into recently. In one sense, the characters are entirely typical (the whole story is written purposely to follow high fantasy tropes) but it’s written more from the perspective of the “bad” side with the intention to make neither side seem all good or all bad. Because of that the character I’d say is the main one has the sort of issues you’re looking for and manages to effect others with doubt as well. Some of the other important characters are similar. And because of the perspective of the story, even if the characters do seem confident and don’t question their path, YOU might question them and theirs.

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