Heroes and antiheroes in literature
Perhaps everyone has their favorite movie or novel characters, and now you probably can remember one of your favorite heroes and antiheroes like Thor and Loki, Batman and Joker, Harry Potter and Voldemort, Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, Peter Pan and Captain Hook, but what makes them so appealing?
Why do we like heroes? It is a known fact that no one likes know-it-alls or these Marry-Sew characters: sugary misters Right and Perfect. There is a secret: every character that you may like has his flaws. A perfect hero has four things: treasure, aim, secret and… a flaw.
For instance: Spiderman’s treasure is his powers, his aim is not saving the world, no, his aim is just getting a girl to like him. His secret is obvious and his flaw is – he is only human, with his human fears and worries. Every writer knows that readers subconsciously associate themselves with a main character whether they want it or not, and if a hero has a human flaw, it is easier for readers to associate themselves with that hero. Same with antiheroes: if a character is pure evil, he / she won’t be appealing. To create an antihero that readers will like, an author has to give him something: draw a path to redemption or explain why he is the way he is. For instance, in The Vampire Diaries one antihero tells the other: “If you want to be bad, be bad with purpose. Otherwise you are just not worth forgiving.”
In Harry Potter the redeemed character is Severus Snape as even though he has always been the least favorite professor, he’s always been helping Harry. And Voldemort is the kind of antihero that can’t be loved or redeemed since we see that there is nothing human left in him: no mercy, no love, no friendship. In part 5 we see that all those human feelings are so strange to him that they actually startle him and make take a step back. Meanwhile, Harry Potter is the perfect hero as he is not perfect. Harry potter is a noble boy, but he is not overwhelmed with his own kindness as some other heroes: he is the kind of person who can take out his anger on his friends, he is not strange to trolling: in the beginning of the book 5 he begins to annoy his cousin trying to pick a fight. I am not saying Dudley didn’t deserve it, but a Marry-Sew character would never try to pick a fight. This is where we see that Harry Potter is just a boy whose flaws are familiar to many and he is still a hero.
So we only like good characters unless there is something bad about them, and we only admire darkness of antiheroes if there is a light. Like in literature, like in life.