Picking out the protagonist isn't always as easy as recognizing that the thing flying in the sky with a big "S" on its chest isn't actually a bird or a plane. Want tips for spotting a protagonist in the wild? If so, this video's for you.
Despite their diversity, most of these characters can be filtered into a variety of tried-and-true
The most popular role, by far, is the protagonist... although the antagonist might have something
to say about that…
So, how do you identify the protagonist of a novel?
Picking the protagonist out of a lineup isn’t as easy as identifying the heroic-looking
guy in shining armor with a singing sword.
Depending on the novel’s P-O-V, that guy could be the villain.
The protagonist is the guy… or gal… that you root for to triumph in the novel’s main
They’re basically your favorite person on your favorite sports team…
Until they get traded to the rival team, then they become the antagonist.
Many times the protagonist’s name is in the title. Jane Eyre. Huck Finn. Gilgamesh.
The Time Traveler’s Wife… whatever her name is.
But not Moby Dick. Or the Mockingbird from To Kill a Mockingbird. Although we’re sure
if the mockingbird had a story, it would be riveting.
More often than not, if a book is told from the first-person perspective, the protagonist
is the narrator of the story.
Bella Swan… protagonist. Katniss Everdeen… protagonist.
However, just because Nick Carroway is the narrator of The Great Gatsby, it doesn’t
make him the protagonist. Whose name is on the cover of that book?
Now, just because a character is the protagonist doesn’t necessarily make them the hero of
the story, or even all that heroic. We’re looking at you, Bella…
A protagonist can also be an anti-hero. They’re not performing wild feats of derring-do, but
you’re still rooting for them.
Here are a few confessions: We kind of love to hate Scarlett O’Hara. Holden Caulfield
isn’t exactly a role model you’d bring home to dinner.
And we admit to adoring the most anti- of all anti-heroes… Satan in Paradise Lost.
So, when you’re trying to pick out the protagonist, remember these things…
The protagonist is most often the character you’re rooting for.
They’re usually the narrator or focal point of the story.
However, just because they’re the protagonist doesn’t mean they’re a saint.
Protagonists can have complex personalities and faults. Protagonists are people, too!