Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

Sway

by Kat Spears

Protagonists

Sometimes the protagonist can be tough to spot. Check out this 60second Recap about the protagonist of The Great Gatsby..

Sometimes the protagonist can be tough to spot. Check out this 60second Recap about the protagonist of The Great Gatsby

Here's a quick way to spot the protagonist in just about any story. First, open your book. Then, ask yourself: Does the book use the word "I" a lot? In other words, is the story told by someone telling you about him or herself?

Protagonist Rule #1

If the answer is "yes": You're done! There's your protagonist! In this case, he or she is the narrator, showing you how his or her actions move the story along.

And if you don't find an "I"?

Protagonist Rule #2

Look for the person whose name is mentioned the most—perhaps whose name is even in the title.

Seriously—it's almost always that obvious. (Yes, there are exceptions: Check out this exception to the protagonist rules.

Tragic Hero in literature

A protagonist with a destructive character flaw is called a "tragic hero." The phrase was coined by Aristotle, who cited Oedipus the King  as his model of the type.

So what exactly is a protagonist? The answer lies with the Greek roots of the word itself: prōtos ‘first in importance’ + agōnistēs ‘actor.’ Yes, the protagonist is the most important character in the story. But, more than that, the protagonist is the focus of the story. To put it another way, the story is about the protagonist. So if you trying to see what a story is about, the first step is to find that story's protagonist.

Now that you know who the protagonist is, think of him or her as your traveling companion. You're going to go on a journey with this character. Sometimes it's from one physical location to another, and sometimes it's from some emotional place to another. Whatever the journey, you're going to watch that character change. And that's because of this last thing—you might call it the most important point about a book's protagonist.

To really understand that main character, you need to understand what he or she wants. What's the protagonist's problem or issue and how are they going to solve it. The protagonist's motivation is what gets the journey going—and hopefully will motivate you to read that book.

Next: Satire in Literature.


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Motifs in Literature: Literary Analysis 101. 60second Recap

Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms Motifs in Literature

Find the complete eight video guide to literary terms here.

Satire in Literature: Literary Analysis 101. 60second Recap

Literary Analysis 101: Dictionary of Terms Satire in Literature

Also at Recap Resource: 

Essay Writing Guide:

Get Psyched
Get a Thesis Statement
Get Organized
Get Smart
So What?
Get an Ending
Make it Sing!
Thesis Statements: Four Steps


Make-Your-Own-Recap Tutorial: 

Pick your topic
Focus your presentation
Write your script
Edit yourself
Choose your props
Create your graphics
What to do once you're done