Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Heroes in 4 Categories


I looked up the word archetype the other day. I thought the word just referred to broad types of characters in literature. Boy did I have a few surprises. Seriously, some of what I read bored the tar out of me. I didn’t care about the ways that some of the heroes were developed, and I didn’t need to delve too deeply into the life and times of the philosophers who created the categories. But I loved the psychology behind the project.

Knight and MaidenFour Main Categories of Heroes

Classical – special background, fantastic abilities, focused on his task, external battles – usually tragic, character unbalanced toward perfection with one fatal flaw, seldom changes through the story.

Romantic – every man, engaged in community, focused on those around him, more internal than external battles – seldom tragic, balanced character with realistic flaws and positive attributes, active character arc with growth during the story.

Modern – anti-hero, isolated, focused on himself, both internal and external battles – often tragic, character unbalanced toward negative attributes, active character arc but not always with positive growth during the story.

Medieval – can be noble or not, isolated or grouped, with honor-bound external battles – some internal battles and a balance between tragic and victorious elements, character unbalanced on the surface with pure and righteous attributes.

I have to tell you, just learning about these main categories stimulates my imagination. I can identify heroes of each of these types in the books I read and movies I watch. So I have a little quiz. What category of hero is each of these?

  1. The men of Oceans 11
  2. Tom Hanks character in Saving Private Ryan
  3. Fitzwilliam Darcy
  4. Prince Charming
  5. Luke Skywalker
  6. Captain Ahab
  7. King Arthur
  8. Forrest Gump

Okay, here are the answers I came up with:

Your turn! Reveal my take. Are yours different?

Highlight this line for the answers: modern.medieval.romantic.classical.classical.modern.medieval.romantic|

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

5 thoughts on “Heroes in 4 Categories

  1. Marji, thanks for sharing this breakdown of character types. I am going to save it for future reference. I’m working on which category Mr. Darcy would fit into!


  2. Morning Marji,
    My caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet. Let me try two.
    (I always get test anxiety.)
    Luke Sykwalker–is he a classical hero? He’s seems intent on saving Princes Leah.
    Oceans Eleven–I love those movies–are they modern heroes?
    Have a great day. I can’t wait to hear the answers.