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Deconstructed Character Archetype / Literature

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  • A Hero of Our Time deconstructs Byronic Hero in Pechorin: a brooding, selfish outcast from high society who inadvertently brings ruin to everyone he meets, especially the women who fall in love with his romantic persona.
  • Discworld has a few of these, since Sir Terry Pratchett's brand of humour is largely based on taking something seriously that was not intended to stand up to it.
    • Cohen the Barbarian is something of a deconstruction of a Barbarian Hero; Sir Terry wondered what happened when Conan got old, and realised he'd have to keep doing it, even if his back was going and he'd lost all his teeth.
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    • Moist von Lipwig, when he first appears in Going Postal is a deconstruction of a Lovable Rogue, who requires quite a lot of Character Development to actually become lovable; he's initially a callous user who sees people as things (the ultimate Discworld crime).
  • An early Deconstruction of Knight in Shining Armor exists in Don Quixote, in which the eponymous character attempts to take up the role in an age when chivalry has been abandoned. Hilarity Ensues.
  • "The Story of the Good Little Boy" by Mark Twain is a short story that deconstructs the "Good Little Sunday School Boy That Teaches Lessons" archetype that was popular at the time by making the protagonist try to fit the mold of the Sunday School characters, but ends up being ridiculously Wrong Genre Savvy about it all. The boys that went sailing on Sunday instead of going to church didn't drown for their wickedness, but he nearly does trying to stop them. The dog he saves attacks him. In the end he gets blown up into multiple pieces and isn't even able to deliver a Bible passage before dying or make any kind of lasting impact. His obsession with good works and Holier Than Thou attitude isn't just ineffective but literally gets him killed.
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  • Ender's Game is a deconstruction of the Kid Hero and Boring Invincible Hero. By the time the book ends Ender abandons Earth forever, has killed all but one of a decidedly non-hostile species that accidentally antagonized humanity before they realized we were sentient, doesn't hook up with his love interest (because, you know, he doesn't get one) and had his ass handed to him psychologically. Oh, and he accidently killed two fellow students but was never told about it, but he's smart enough to suspect it and feel guilty.
  • Dan Abnett also deconstructed The Smart Guy in his Warhammer 40,000: Eisenhorn trilogy. Eisenhorn's savant, Ueber Aemos, is the walking databank he is because of a "meme-virus" he acquired that gives him a compulsion to keep gathering knowledge, culminating in memorising the entirety of the Malus Codicum and summoning a daemon in an attempt to protect Eisenhorn.
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  • Joe Golem And The Drowning City has Simon Church, a deconstruction of the Gentleman Adventurer. He's cunning, sharp-witted and cultured, but it's made abundantly clear that is all a facade to hide the massive emotional trauma he carries from slowly watching all his partners, family and friends amidst his adventures. Essentially Church's a Gentleman Adventurer whose adventuring days left the gentleman as a empty, suicidal emotional husk.
  • Dune deconstructs many hero tropes within the first book starting with Paul Atreides as an example of what happens when the Chosen One comes about too early and plays up the Messianic Archetype card (largely through Becoming the Mask) to achieve his goals for revenge. That being a Chosen One also gifts him with an ability that completely destroys his life through clairvoyance. The rest of the characters in the story are often used to pick apart the very characteristics that would be necessary for a person to embody the tropes, and just how self-destructive they can be.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Relationship Sue: Cho Chang is introduced as Harry's ideal match - she's pretty, popular, kind and loves the same things he does. When Harry actually tries to date her...he finds out they're incompatible and they don't work out. The main lesson here is that a relationship can't be based on someone being the metaphorical perfect match - especially if neither party hasn't got a clue how to actually make a romance work. At the same time, it also spells out that circumstances beyond either party's control could interfere with any attempts of romance. By this point, Cho was still grieving for Cedric, her former beau while Harry has been dealing with character attacks on him due to the widespred denial over Voldemort returning and his witnessing Cedric's death.
    • The Chosen One: Harry's status as the chosen one wasn't decided by fate. It happened because Voldemort thought it was fate and attempted to Screw Destiny by killing Harry’s parents and attempting to kill Harry, which ironically made Harry one of his hocruxes and gave him the protection to prevent Voldemort from ever killing him. It’s also made clear that Harry's status could have been given to somebody else; when Harry first learns about the prophecy, Dumbledore tells him that the conditions of who the “chosen one” is (a baby born at the end of July and whose parents escaped Voldemort three times and lived to tell the tale) meant that Neville Longbottom could have been it instead. Moreover, while he's competent with magic (better at some things than his peers), he's not a genius or exceptionally gifted in magic like his adversary (who is described as one of the most powerful wizards in wizarding history). His heroic actions do save lives but, until near the end of the series, they don’t bring him glory - they end up being used by the general public to label him as "reckless" and "unstable". Harry ultimately defeats Voldemort not because of his superior talent, but because Voldemort makes several major mistakes and is arguably brought down by his own blindness and arrogance.
    • Bad Boss: Voldemort is so obsessed with punishing the subordinates who he considers weak that the first time he fell from power, they immediately disowned any association with him. Harry, on the other hand, is willing to befriend and be loyal to his allies, which means that they are willing to fight and die for him, and for the most part they stick to Harry, no matter what. During the final battle, his Death Eaters started to outright abandon Voldemort while those loyal to Harry continued to fight on despite Anyone Can Die being in effect. The death of Bellatrix, his only remaining loyal underling, caused Voldemort to lose his collective shit, and sure enough, when Harry finally kills him, nobody is left to support or fight for Voldemort.
  • Stormfur from Warrior Cats is a deconstruction of Mighty Whitey. He's a cat from the main group in the series who gets discovered by the Tribe of Rushing Water, a group with strange customs, and finds out that he's The Chosen One destined to save them, and even gets to date a native she-cat, and eventually chooses to stay with the tribe. Plus he gets to train the tribe cats in his fighting skills to later save them from some rogues who they're utterly helpless against without him. But not only is he not really The Chosen One, but his strategy only ends up failing and leading to the deaths of many tribe cats rather than saving the tribe like he believed it would, and once he finally gets to come back and make up for everything by saving them for real he and the other cats realize that, however they want to defend the tribe, they don't want to force their culture on them or constantly be their rescuers.
  • Pride and Prejudice:
    • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents. Mrs Bennet's unsubtle attempts to match-make her daughters are mortifying to her two oldest daughters and she frequently encouraged the same embarrassing behavior in her younger daughters. Mr Bennet is just as guilty as he would openly mock and ridicule his wife and younger daughters. The consequences of their behaviour in public is a huge part of the reason why Mr Darcy persuaded Mr Bingley not to marry Jane. After all, what respectable Regency bachelor would want those kind of people as their in-laws?
    • It also deconstructs Gold Digger. The Bennet sisters are greatly pressured by their mother to find a wealthy husband so that they can live comfortably after their father dies. The oldest daughter Jane genuinely falls in love with a rich man Mr Bingley but due to her snobbish mother's efforts and the fact that Jane is a Love You and Everybody kind of person, Mr Bingley's friend Mr Darcy mistakenly believes that Jane is a Gold Digger and doesn't actually love Mr Bingley.
      • The second oldest daughter Elizabeth recognizes how destructive the Gold Digger mindset is. But she eventually comes to a compromise. She won't marry a poor man but she would only marry a rich man if she falls in love with him. Her intentions are genuine when she actually shies away from the rich but snobbish Mr Darcy. It takes several events, including a polite trip to his beautiful estate and hearing how his servants heap praises about him and saving her family from eternal disgrace to make Elizabeth to consider letting him court her.
    • The effects of a Bratty Teenage Daughter through Lydia in particular are shown. Most of her behaviour stems from the fact her mother spoils her and enforces the obsession to marry and her father leaves her to her own devices rather than educate her properly. All of this leads to Lydia eloping and running away with Wickham and nearly ruining the reputation of the rest of her sisters, not understanding or acknowledging the consequences of her actions.
  • The character of Felix, who appears in two different novels by John Steakley (Armor and Vampires, which are set in different worlds) deconstructs two types of Invincible Hero:
    • Vampires demolishes The Gunslinger by providing Felix with Improbable Aiming Skills and making him incapable of missing a shot. The deconstruction is that the ability to never miss a shot makes him unable to shoot non-fatally — if there is a Hostage Situation, for example, he will always Shoot the Hostage (and kill them) in order to get a clean shot at the hostage-taker. He also cannot ever "shoot to wound" — it's Boom, Headshot! or nothing.
    • Armor makes him a One-Man Army and Powered Armor-wearing killing machine. The problem here is that his mind becomes so badly screwed up by how much War Is Hell that he eventually creates a Split Personality called "The Machine" that has as its first priority surviving at any cost (including tossing fellow soldiers to the wolves), not to mention that the bean-counters cannot believe that he was capable of surviving so many confrontations (when entire battalions did not) and thus the bureaucracy treats him as Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder. Both versions of Felix are understandably horrified by the brutality that these abilities (and the circumstances in which they come in handy) had forced him to partake in.
  • In The King's Avatar:
    • Satellite Character is deconstructed in-universe. When Ye Xiu was with Excellent Era, Su Mucheng's play style revolved around working with him, with the two of them even getting the Best Partner achievement awards for four consecutive years. But when Ye Xiu was forced to retire, she had to adapt to a completely different style with new team captain Sun Xiang who does not fight the same way as Ye Xiu. This is one of the many reasons why she leaves Excellent Era to join Happy.
    • Tang Rou is a Determinator/Blood Knight; she will continue to fight and request rematches despite losing but she will consistently challenge pro players who have far more experience than her and continually defeat her more times than she can defeat them. Ye Xiu flat out tells her that this mindset isn't always good.
  • The titular character of Stargirl deconstructs Cloudcuckoolander. She's a peppy and very weird New Transfer Student. Instead of people being endeared by her, she sticks out like a sore thumb, several of her attempts to "help" actually make things worse because she doesn't have the social skills to know if her actions are actually appropriate, and eventually the school ostrasizes her for her eccentric behavior.
  • Kyra, the titular Goth girl in The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl is this for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Like most MPDG, she is a quirky Implied Love Interest who often encourages the male lead to join in on her shenanigans. However, said shenanigans are illegal at best and self-destructive at worst, which causes Donnie to question why he hangs out with her.
  • Lorcan of Brimstone Angels is a deconstruction of the "supernatural bad boy" archetype. He's the devil heroine Farideh made a pact with and they have plenty of (eventually consummated) UST - attractive, charming, legitimately less evil than most of his kind, has a tragic backstory that explains exactly why he is the way he is, has positive qualities that show through at odd but critical moments, has perfectly good reasons for why he needs to stay in Fari's life. And, at the end of the day, none of that changes that he's an overall terrible person and toxic influence in Farideh's life and rather than her love redeeming him, she ends up cutting ties with him at the end of the series and is better off for it.
  • The Frozen Tie-In Novel A Frozen Heart deconstructs the Prince Charmless trope through Hans, exploring how a horrible childhood in an abusive royal family that emphasized Social Darwinist values over genuine care slowly turned him into a bitter man who thinks Love Is a Weakness.


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