The reluctant hero is a heroic archetype described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces:
- "The hero may refuse the adventure or deny the ability to move beyond the status quo. The heralded event may even be ignored – All of these constitute the ‘Refusal of the Call.’ The use of magical intervention is then needed to plunge the hero into the unknown. The reluctant hero requires supernatural forces to urge him on, while the willing adventurer gathers amulets (magical items) and advice from the protector as aid for the journey."
The reluctant hero is typically portrayed either as an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances which require him to rise to heroism, or as a person with extraordinary abilities who nonetheless evinces a desire to avoid using those abilities for the benefit of others. In either case, the reluctant hero does not initially seek adventure or the opportunity to do good, and their apparent selfishness may draw them into the category of antiheroes. The reluctant hero differs from the antihero in that the story arc of the former inevitably results in their becoming a true hero.
In many stories, the reluctant hero is portrayed as having a period of doubt after his initial foray into heroism. This may be brought about by the negative consequences of his own heroic actions, or by the achievement of some position of personal safety - leaving the audience to wonder whether he will return to heroism at the moment when he is needed the most. Campbell describes this as the "Rescue from Without", where "The reluctant hero loses all desire to abandon his bliss, he does not want to take on the burdens of the world. Someone or thing may facilitate his miraculous return from apparent death. An overriding reason is necessary to bring the hero back to the world to save it."
Read more about Reluctant Hero: Examples
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