Defining the Antihero
As a Villain
These characters are those relatable villains. Villains were normal people who suffered some type of tragic conflict or upbringing in their backstory which changed them. These changes generally made them harder and more willing to make unsavory decisions. These are the thieves, assassins, and corrupt politicians that create problems for other people. Villains have a lot of flaws and give in to many of their desires. When you look at their actions, antiheroes are villains filled with greed, violence, and selfishness. But there is usually more than meets the eye here.
As a Hero
There is a reason an individual stoops to darker means. Nobody truly believes they are evil, even if they purposefully fill a villain’s role. Antiheroes are often good people at heart who are only trying to survive. This allows an author to take a villain, who has given in to their baser needs and place them into a hero’s role. This antihero may or may not change as the story-line goes on.
In short, an antihero is a villain who was asked to solve a problem normally given to a hero. Normally no one would have asked the villain to do this, but because of circumstances or secret feelings, the villain has taken on this heroic task. You could define an antihero as an individual solving problems worse than their own. And then there are antiheroes who truly believe that the end justifies the means and commit atrocious deeds. Since you read the story from their viewpoint you can accept some of their reasonings. Antiheroes are just doing their best with the skills they have learned.
Antiheroes create some really interesting plots. Their character is a mix of likability and horror, which makes them seem more real. There is often more action here as antiheroes aren’t afraid to use more brutish means. The idea isn’t as common, and if written well, draws a lot of interest for readers looking for something newer within their genre.
Antiheroes make you think and wonder what morals really are. Some people like to play the “what would you do” game using chilling scenarios. “What would you do if you were starving with your best friend on a deserted island?” It is hard to imagine what you would do until you are in that position. Books on antiheroes give us a story where they make those decisions that we worry we wouldn’t be able to make. I think reading about their trials makes us feel better about our shortcomings in a much simpler world by comparison.
Photo by Rahul Pariharacodu