Sunday, February 17, 2008

Buffy Summers - you’re my hero! - Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This topic came up as a type of sideline to my princess blog. Most myths and legends revolve around a male hero who does most of the action and a female secondary character who has a vital role to play but isn't the mover or shaker. There are exceptions, but they are few.

Most modern stories are based on these mythic molds and as such most stories in genre fiction revolve around a male hero. Now, I've been noticing more and more stories with a female lead and one that is much more active in the hero role. You even see the male secondary character playing a more low key approach (going so far as to become the damsel in distress).

One of the great examples of this is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". The creator of the series made a conscious effort to switch around the stereotypical approach to a hero. By switching the roles around he brought us a warrior who was still a woman. The Buffy series is filled with strong women and stories that test these women in all kinds of ways. Now, many writers and readers have been influenced and excited by this type of character and she's become an archetype of sorts.

And this leads me to the question... is this type of female warrior set along the same path as a typical male hero - or does she face different obstacles and different trials based on her sex?

I think that in the grand scheme of things, the story is the same. She receives the call to adventure. She tries to avoid it, but is forced to make a decision. She faces many trials and gateway blockers. She faces the final challenge and initially fails (and may even die). She returns from death (or a long training montage) and fights again, this time using her newfound knowledge and/or power. She wins and saves not only her friends but her love.

Its the details that get different. Who is the love? Who is her nemesis? What forces her hand to act? Like all good mythic stories the details make a difference and give each story their own feel.

What do you think about a female in the lead of of hero's journey story? Does she have a different road to travel? What are your favorite female hero characters, and do they take a different path?

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