The Twentieth Century American Literary Anti-Hero

Anna Ricci

This past summer I read a bunch of twentieth century American anti-hero novels including The Godfather, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Wolf of Wall Street, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Fortunate Pilgrim, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, American Psycho, Play it as it Lays, and I took copious notes on each one. I also read Atlas Shrugged in the fall semester to supplement my research. I read all of the books in hopes to find a pattern or correlation between some or all of the works to get a better idea of the nature of anti-heroes and what draws people to these types of characters, as many of the books I read are extremely popular in the US and abroad. I found that all of the books were told from the perspective of the anti-hero themselves, and these anti-hero characters almost always rationalize their actions (no matter how severe), are mostly white American men, are involved with some kind of corruption, give a positive first impression (most of the time), and are all motivated by money. These findings lead me to some preliminary thesis sketching, though I ended up cutting my research short and did not complete this process.




Laura Browder