I’ve read this a lot.
Flawed characters. We’re all about flawed characters these days. We want them flawed, filleted and flaming.
But what’s “flawed”?
Honest to goodness I’mnotmakingthisup, I read the equation of fat and/or old = flawed. Rly? Gee whiz. Being >;Size 6 is not flawed. Jeezus, people. Eating children and torturing animals? Yeah, now that’s flawed.
When we’re still selling (or not) books by their dumb and misrepresenting cover art, flaws in characters has come to be anything but fashion-magazine cover “normal”.
A protagonist who is conflicted, undecided, growing, changing. Is this flawed?
A protagonist who is larger than a Size 6 or older than 35. Is this flawed?
A protagonist who curses, embarrasses themselves, or is petty. Flawed?
If these characteristics describe a flawed person, then …wait. I’m flawed.
The Perfect Hero character is boring. We can all agree on that nowadays, yes? We’ve torn down that pedestal and replaced it with something a bit more down to earth, something a little more, ummm…like you or me, no?
We’ve gone from “Golly, I sure wish I were more like this character, bad-ass fighter, seventeen, and a smart-ass,” to “Hey. I totally can’t identify with this weird person in this book. I sure wish there were more characters that were a little bit more like me.”
One of the roles of literature in culture is to hold up that mirror so we can inspect ourselves. I think that by cataloguing these normal, real-person characteristics as flaws, we also equate them with cruelty and evil, which are by no means the same.
Are we still viewing normal character aspects as bizarre enough to be dubbed as flawed? Hummm…
What’s that mirror showing us?