A Great Anti-hero
In the universe, light cannot exist without darkness. And in fiction, the anti-hero is also needed. But on the surface, even children can grasp the idea of what exactly is a villain. It seems an easy and universal concept. The villain, also known as the bad guy, is the protagonist who causes suffering.
He is responsible of other characters’ woes and struggles. And he is the good guy’s motivation as well. He causes the hero to go through extreme challenges and feats. But life can be complex, and literature can be complex as well. So not all anti-heroes are created equal. And yes, they can even be the main protagonist of a work of literature. This article will explain how an anti-hero can be the main character of a work of fiction and what makes him compelling.
The Anti-Hero Causes Attention and Indifference
One of the most universal bad guys in classic literature is Don Juan. This evil character, one of the most famous in the 19th century, was a source of inspiration for writers like Lord Byron and José Zorrilla. This character was known not only known for being a womanizer, but he was also known for his charms and his epic adventures. But most importantly, he was also known for being shameless. He lies, manipulates and humiliates. And in the case of his victims, the women he courted, he broke their hearts out of pleasure. These characteristics can cause readers a sense of judgment or dismay. This is why a reader can dislike or even hate Don Juan. And in the beginning of a work of fiction, a reader can feel indifference towards the main evil character. And this is a key.
Other Characters Are the Focus of Empathy in the Beginning of the Story
In "The Student of Salamanca”, an epic poem, which also revolves around the universal character of Don Juan, Félix de Montemar, a student who mocks and questions what society considers sacred, courts a young woman named Elvira. But he abandoned her once he was able to obtain her love. Why did he do that? He did it because it was fun for him. Elvira, with her heart broker, commits suicide by drowning herself. In this epic poem, Espronceda’s descriptions of Elvira’s depression and emotional distress can cause empathy in readers. Not only that, but Montemar, the villain, even gambles the only picture he had of her. And when friends questioned his actions towards her, after finding out about the story, he laughed at her suffering and death. This causes readers to dislike him even more.
The Anti-hero Needs to Be Compelling
In any work of fiction, in order for the anti-hero to be the main center of attention, he needs to face consequences or redemption. In Zorrillas “Don Juan Tenorio,“ years after Don Juan, the main evil character, had killed men in duels and caused the death of Doña Inéz, his main conquest, he ends up in front of her grave weeping. He had not only caused the death of a noble and virtuous woman, but he had caused the death of the only woman he had ever truly loved. Does he deserve forgiveness? Whether he deserves a chance or not, in the story he can cause empathy in readers through his solemn pleas. And this is what makes the anti-hero the main center of attention in a story. It is about causing emotions in readers. It is about witnessing a character’s transformation and consequences for his actions throughout a story.