Character Analysis: Heroes Part 2

After taking a look at heroes I didn’t like, the next step is to take a look at those I did like. Much like with heroines, when I first started this post, I thought the heroes I liked would be the exact opposite of what I didn’t like.

It turned out a little more complex than that.

I have to have the basics: no brooding, no jerks, and a character doing something. But as with the heroine, when I think through what I about the characters I like, there’s more to it.

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The Bride – The hero is a powerful Scotsman, who may be considered barbaric, but he takes care of his people and protects his wife. He is physically capable and a good leader.

The Highwayman – While I didn’t like him because the author took it too far, his cold, rational and eminently practical persona is appealing.

Finders Keepers – I loved the hero. Yes, he was a powerful captain in the Imperial “star fleet”. But he was smart, extremely capable, and a demanding commander. He had a touch of the cold and aloof, but he also didn’t spite himself when he realized he loved the heroine.

The Study of SeductionWhile I hated the heroine, I liked the hero. He was practical, not willing to be swayed by the whimsy of other people’s opinions, and he was actively trying to help and then protect the heroine. He was smart, well-educated, and could build metronomes.

A Gentleman’s Honor – This hero is one of those “perfect” types, but perfect for a reason. He is the alpha male without ever being a jerk. He protects the heroine from the beginning. Yes he’s attracted to her, but there’s more than that as well. There’s his honor. And what’s right. He is intelligent, physically perfect, and acquainted with the rougher things in life. He firmly believes in his obligations to take care of the people on his lands and his duty to serve because of his birth-rites.

 

So, what does it take for me to actually like a hero?

Competence – I like characters that are actively out there doing something and being good at it. I do not find bumbling or indecision endearing. Intelligent characters, especially, seem to be my favorites. Part of this competence is accepting their feelings, even if they don’t like them, and dealing with them. In the romance genre, the hero has to be believably in love by the end of the story.

Need to Protect – I am actually surprised at myself by this one, but there it is. I strongly favor heroes who protect rather than exploit. They are the “good guys” although bad-boy characters can be fun, they’re fun when they use their bad-boy skills to be the protector the heroine needs. Yeah, I know. Not exactly the feminist ideals I hold myself to, but there it is.

Honorable Leader – The ability to command respect is important in a hero, but so is the ability to turn his back on society’s opinion and do what’s right. A strong moral fiber to keep the hero on the high road rather than becoming a villain.

 

 

9 thoughts on “Character Analysis: Heroes Part 2

  1. Two things. While I’m not sure that liking a hero who wants to protect is inherently unfeminist, I do think that really critical examination of literature and self is very feminist and reflective. We don’t live outside the world we exist in, so enjoying things that might be problematic in some ways is ok.

    Second. What flaws are acceptable in a hero? Because you painted a picture of a completely flawless hero, which while common enough means either the heroine has to be more flawed, the situation has to be more flawed, the villain needs to be exceedingly evil and competent. I may be missing something?

    1. You make a really good point. What flaws are allowed…I have to think more on this. Thinking through all the books I’ve read over the past few months, I’m having trouble thinking of any flawed hero that wasn’t either brooding or a jerk. I don’t like brooding, but I think that’s an age and personality thing.

      1. I don’t mind brooding. I’m writing someone now who is brooding. But I think brooding in books at least needs a balance and a reason. So the brooding is laced with puns and damn good reasons.

  2. Interesting. Way better than “woe is me”. I liked that much more as a teen. Now, I sorta roll my eyes. Like Batman. Loved him as a teen and young adult. Less thrilled now as I think through how many people lose loved ones and consider all he could do to address the root cause of evil in Gotham rather than fight individual criminals.

  3. Finders Keepers sounds interesting….. you had me at ‘star fleet’!!! As for the rest, I agree with you. And sometimes what we want in real life does NOT match our reading pleasures. While I love a good damsel in distress, in real life that crap would get real old real fast.

    1. I can’t tell you how glad I am to hear that!! it makes me feel disingenuous sometimes. Seriously, if people acted in real life like they do in some books, I’d HATE them even if I find them awesome in the book.

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