- Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman is a deconstruction of this mindset. He'll never give up his Tragic Dream of being a successful salesman. But that also leaves his family perpetually sad and broke, and causes Willy no small amount of undue stress. Several times, it's commented that Willy should see that he needs to quit, but he won't; the inability to Know When to Fold 'Em is his Fatal Flaw. His complete lack of passion for what he does is ultimately self-destructive.
- A staple Sophoclean Tragic Hero type:
- Ajax features Ajax as a man who is determined to follow his will, no matter what, without the help of the gods. This is very dangerous.
- Oedipus' determined thirst for knowledge, even when the truth is utterly horrible, is his most important character trait. Even when he blinds himself and is forced to live as a beggar, he still operates by sheer force of will in both Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus.
- In Electra, the main character will not give up mourning her father until he's avenged, will not act like a woman and accept her place, and will not submit to her stepfather Aegisthus' and Clytemnestra's abuse. When she loses all hope of salvation (thinking Orestes is dead) and has been told of her parents plans to seal her in a cave to die, she decides to try and kill Aegisthus herself, in spite of being a woman.
- Sweeney Todd, in his Sondheim incarnation. Survives fifteen years in a penal colony, escapes, flees to the coast, builds himself a fucking raft and tries to sail to London from Australia. Of course, he gets picked up by Anthony and the good ship Bountiful en route, but still...
- Just to underline the above: Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years' hard labour, and was told that he'd be lucky if he survived eighteen months. Sweeney must have been a terminator in human form to survive fifteen years, and have enough strength to escape successfully.
- In Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote's Determinator frame of mind is expressed in "The Impossible Dream":This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To fight for the right, without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause...
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star.
- Henrik Ibsen had more than one determinator in his plays. The most awesome example is Solveig. When she decided that Peer Gynt was worth it, she gave up her former life, went to find him in the mountains, where he had to live the life of an outlaw. When he suddenly bailed out of her life, she decided to wait until he came back. He did so after more than fourty years, only to collapse in her arms, presumably dying. The sheer awesomeness of it is underlined by the fact that she states he gave her life meaning.
- And then, of course: Determination, thy name is Brand!
- John Adams in 1776. At the start of the play, he's proposed independence twenty-three times despite the fact that it's always shut down even before debate. He wavers after the Southern walkout, but Abby's reminder of his beliefs and her timely gift of saltpeter gets him back downstairs and badgering his stricken colleagues to whip some votes. And the Eleven O'Clock Number number he sings right after has him reaffirming that he will not give up on independence.For I have crossed the Rubicon
Let the bridge be burn'd behind me!
Come what may, come what may...
- Les MisÚrables arguably has two (though one is more obvious). On the one hand, you have Inspector Javert who just will not stop attempting to quash any kind of potentially illegal behaviour to the point that when confronted with the idea that The Law and justice might not be as black or white as he'd previously thought, his solution is to kill himself rather than live in this new reality. On the other hand, you have Enjolras who is so determined to help the poor that he leads a rebellion, is utterly confident that people will follow him (which his friends do, at least), and even when it becomes clear that the students are on their own, he refuses to leave the barricade (the idea of him leaving doesn't even seem to occur to him even when he tells others to go) and makes one last stand, calling for the world to finish the job for him before getting his Dying Moment of Awesome. There's a lot to be said for characters who would rather die than give up on what they believe...
Determinator / Theater