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Character Types

The word "character" seems like such an ordinary one that most people may have trouble defining it without using the word itself in the definition. Characters are mainly people within books, plays or other literary works.

Term Definition

The term "antagonist" seems a little intimidating at first. But in truth, it is just a big word that refers to a fairly simple concept. To put the matter as simply as possible: the term antagonist can be more or less translated as "bad guy". It is one of many character types that authors use when writing stories.

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Synonyms - antagonist

An archetype essentially refers to an original model that finds manifestation in various later forms.  

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When a person (fictional or nonfictional) is found in a work of art, that person is a character. By analogy, we also use the term character for people in life.

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Synonyms - character

The meaning of the term hero changes subtly depending on whether it is used in a broad or a narrow sense. In the broad sense, a hero is simply synonymous with protagonist. In the narrow sense, though, a hero is a character who exemplifies the traits that his own people and culture find admirable and/or morally good. This narrow use is especially relevant in genres such as tragic drama and epic poetry. The female equivalent of a hero is a heroine.

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The meaning of the term heroine is relatively self-evident, simply being a conjugation of the term hero into a feminine form. The term, though, may have relatively recent origins, due to the historical fact that until the time of modernism, most literary works have tended to focus on male protagonists. As such, the term heroine would not have become a meaningful one until it became common for women to be protagonists.  

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Synonyms - heroine

Over time, and especially with modernism, a muse has come to refer to any source of creative inspiration for an artist. In ancient Greek literature, epic poems and stories were generally introduced by a muse on behalf of the author.

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A protagonist is always a main character in a narrative: in order to identify the protagonist, all one has to do is to figure out who the narrative is about. The protagonist generally drives the plot of the narrative forward, since the narrative tends to follow the narrative over the course of his life. More specifically, the protagonist usually comes up against an antagonist, and their conflict tends to drive the story.

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A pseudonym is a name the author uses to sign his works that is different from his legal name. There are generally three main reasons why an artist may choose to do this. The first is that the material contained in the works may be controversial and potentially get the artist in trouble; the second is that it may help the works sell; and the third is that it may be aesthetically significant for the works themselves.

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