The protagonist never really had a chance

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I chose to write my entry on the protagonist.  Because even though they are supposed to be the good guys, more than often, I think they can share the title of the antagonist as well.

I've been reading Shakespeare and other playwrights for a little over five years now, and I'm starting to see a pattern in their writing.  The protagonists... yeah they never have a chance.  They either always start out with a troubling characteristic, such as pride or vanity, or end up with one.

My favorite example is Oedipus.  His inability to listen to others advice and moral perception ultimately lead to his suffering. He wasn't a bad guy persay, but his tragic flaw eventually caught up with him.  The only good thing that ever seems to come out of the protagonist is the revelation of his flaw and a good lesson for the readers.  Now obviously this isn't always the case, but I've noticed, especially in Elizabethean plays, that the protagonists typically live a rough life.


"In tragedy, the tone is serious, and often somber; the effect is to involve and strongly move the audience; and the outcome is disastrous for the protagonist and, often, also for those associated with him or her (Hamilton 4)."


click here.


Angelica Guzzo said:

I have never read Oedipus, but I can understand your point. I too have read Shakespeare all through high school and can say I agree with you and yes, most of the main characters have a tradgic flaw.

Angela Palumbo said:

I completely agree Steph. The protagonist, especially in Elizabethan plays, always seems to lead a rough life. When I read your comment, my mind automatically made me think of, in my opinion, one of Shakespeare's most tragic characters, Othello. When I read this play over the summer of my senior year, I was really troubled by Othello's character. He loved his wife, Desdemona, so deeply but he allowed himself to be tricked into believing she was cheating. This is all because of his tragic flaw, gullibility. He trusted Iago more than he should have. Desdemona was caught in the cross-hairs of Othello's insecurities and not only does she parish, so does he. Only is Hamlet more tragic, of all the Shakespearean tragedies that I have read. I think that the incorporation of a flaw does make the protagonist seem more real. I know everyone has their weaknesses and insecurities, it only takes the right person to take them down. The NY Giants found the Patriot's Achilles heel by not giving Brady the time sit back and wait for someone to get open and that, coupled with the fact that they wanted it more, was why they beat the seemingly undefeatable.

Juliana Cox said:

Stephanie, you brought up a good point! I agree that the protagonist never gets a chance and Shakespeare displays this in his writing. But it is also important to remember that Shakespeare writes tragedies; therefore, the protagonist did not a chance before his character even made it to be acted out or written. The protagonist usually brings about the lesson for the audience/reader to learn.

Ally Hall said:

I think there's a point in the protagonist not always being completely good. I think that when an author makes the conscious choice to make the protagonist multi-faceted, it's to identify, I think, with the readers. No one is completely "good" or completely "bad". More often than not, I see characters learn through their mistakes, and when the character does learn and begins to grow from those decisions, that makes the difference between the protagonist and the antagonist.

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