The protagonist, the hero, and the main character all move the plot along and are all essential components of storytelling, from Shakespeare to high-budget action movies. But each one serves a different purpose in a screenwriter's toolbox.
What Is A Protagonist?
In Ancient Greek drama, the term "protagonist" originally referred to "the player of the first part or the prominent actor."
The protagonist in modern movies is the primary character who drives the story's plot, tries to accomplish its main goal, and typically develops or evolves during the movie. A protagonist has a goal when they start the movie, and by the end of the movie, they have either accomplished that goal or not. The pursuit of that objective shapes the character arc of the protagonist.
The following are typical instances of movie protagonists:
1. Luke Skywalker, an aspiring Jedi mind-controller and young moisture farmer.
2. Harry Potter, a destitute orphan who develops into a strong wizard.
3. Cher Horowitz, a nave young woman from the valley who comes to value the people in her life.
There are three different categories of protagonists, which are heroes, anti-heroes, and villains.
1. A hero is someone we can all identify with, and when he is defeated, we feel sympathy and terror. The "good man" is the protagonist whom the audience supports and wants to succeed—the hero.
2. An anti-hero is an improbable protagonist who, while not necessarily possessing virtues or vices, is capable of acting heroically when the situation calls for it.
3. The antagonist protagonist serves as the plot's main character and is undoubtedly the "bad guy."
What Distinguishes a Hero From a Protagonist?
Although the two terms are frequently confused, a hero is a particular kind of protagonist. There must be a protagonist in every story, but not every story needs a hero.
Who Is The Main Character?
A primary character is another type of protagonist that might appear in a movie. We see the story through the eyes of the main character, who serves as a surrogate for the audience. The story's main character takes part in it, engages with the supporting cast, and is affected directly by the plot's central struggle. Frequently, but not always, the protagonist and main character are the same person.
What Distinguishes a Protagonist from a Main Character?
Both the protagonist and the main character—also known as the "primary character"—are crucial to the story, but the protagonist advances the storyline while the main character is affected by it.
Three Ways to Move Your Plot with a Separate Main Character and Protagonist
There are various reasons to distinguish between the protagonist and main character in your novel.
1. Unrelatable Protagonist: If the protagonist is difficult for the audience to identify with, the primary character may serve as a better starting point for the narrative. Willy Wonka is the main character and the plot's driver in Tim Burton's adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but he is also misanthropic and too eccentric to be accessible to the audience. The audience is represented by Charlie, the main character.
2. Point of View A plot device can be a main character who reveals deeper facts about your protagonist. For instance, through Nick Carraway, the main character in The Great Gatsby, we are able to perceive Jay Gatsby as a flawed and dishonest guy more clearly.
3. Addition of irony. A different main character makes irony or juxtaposition possible. The main character in To Kill a Mockingbird, a rape trial story with mature themes, is Atticus, an adult lawyer. Scout, Atticus's little daughter, is the main character, and she narrates the tale through her eyes. The moral flaws in society and the grownups around Scout are exposed by their naivety.
Is the narrator the protagonist or the main character?
A character who delivers the story in their own voice is known as a narrator. The protagonist or main character doesn't have to fulfill any requirements in order to be the narrator, and a movie need not have a narrator. In The Princess Bride, the grandfather serves as the primary narrator and serves as a framing device to tell his reluctant grandson the tale of a struggling farmhand.
However, like in the case of The Great Gatsby, the narrator may also serve as the protagonist. The protagonist of the story isn't Nick Carraway; he's only the main character and the storyteller.
Oct 10, 2022