Continued from “Main Characters, Protagonists, and Heroes.”

Since many works have the hero, the protagonist, and the main character rolled together, I wanted to talk a little about how they might be separated within the context of a story. This should probably go without saying, but you’ll need more than one character to split the roles between multiple characters.

One example of splitting the main character from the hero can be found in Final Fantasy X. It’s pretty clear that while Tidus is telling the story, and we see most of the action from his point of view, the story’s about Yuna’s growth, not his. Tidus drives most of the action forward, but some of the other characters step in from time to time.

Tidus begins the game as a childish brat with daddy issues, and he still hasn’t resolved them by the end. Yuna, on the other hand, has gone from a meek, “standing in her father’s shadow” character, to a a true leader who can inspire others to greatness. It’s what Tidus wishes he could do, and he serves as her foil. Yuna’s able to accomplish what Tidus fails to do. She changes. He fades away.

Final Fantasy XII has an interesting example of having a nobody main character (Vaan), alternating protagonists (Ashe and Basch), and no real hero. Nobody grows or changes substantially throughout the course of the adventure — which is probably one of the reasons the game has a generally unsatisfying conclusion.

Lots of people died, and nobody learned anything. It’s actually one of the things I rather enjoyed about the game, as it made things feel more realistic for me. Awful stuff was going on all around, competing ideals clashed and everyone who got in the way suffered, and there was no real resolution.

Actually, of all characters, Vayne experienced the closest thing to growth in the game — he repeatedly tries and fails to engender lasting peace in a vassal state. He tried to put down a rebellion and even realized in the end (before the final boss fight) that his efforts were a waste. He accepted his fate and went down fighting.