Heroes in Opera: 6 Types of Heroes

Last Wednesday in my English class, we had a lecture on different types of heroes in literature. I'll elaborate on my traumatic experience of thinking that I was the first person ever to identify Don Giovanni as the best Anti-Hero in opera only to discover that that topic had been developed millions of times already later. 

Anyhoo, during my research I discovered an article on Huffpost.com written by Rebecca Tinkle called The 6 Hero Types: Which One Are You? I thought, I don't know which one I am, but I sure can bring up an opera character for each type. And so I did.

FYI, Tinkle's bio says that she is an author, film producer, yoga and energy master, and meditation enthusiast. You can find her original article here.  Let's jump right in!

The first hero Tinkle has on her list is The Warrior. I figure she chose to start with this type of hero because it is probably the most typical hero and the easiest to identify in any story. The Warrior is essentially your lovable rebel, the one who pushes back on society and fights standard conventions that keep them in a box. Respectable. I can list off many opera characters that fall under the classification of The Warrior: Cavaradossi, Chenier, Manrico, Figaro, Susanna, Rosina, Isabella, Calaf,  Turandot etc

The next hero on the list is The Protector. Tinkle describes The Protector as the hero who is "always looking for opportunities to comfort, protect, and champion".  She also wrote that The Protector wants to "lay [their] desire for a more harmonious world on display for everyone to witness". The first opera character that comes to my mind as I write this sentence is Violetta from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata. Violetta is " intuitive and devoted, a result of living in an internal world laden with hidden meaning and possibility", the exact words Tinkle uses to describe The Protector. Violetta's devotion to Alfredo overruns her devotion to herself. Violetta finds herself unable to let Alfredo go and ends up giving up everything she has for him, possibly even her life. According to Tinkle's article, the super flaw of The Protector is stubbornness, the one characteristic of Violetta that is prominently displayed by her actions throughout the story. Violetta refuses to give up Alfredo after Germont, Alfredo's dad, shows up at her door and tells her how his daughter can't get married because her brother is living with a woman lacking modesty, and even after Violetta is forced to succumb to poverty because she needs to somehow support herself and Alfredo. In addition, her stubbornness is manifested at her death bed as she springs up from it a few seconds before death and claims to be reborn and full of strength.

The Healer is definitely Mimí from Giocomo Puccini's La Boheme. The Healer is "[o]ptimistic, authentic and lighthearted" writes Tinkle, making "the world a better place through emanating real love, true love, everywhere [they] go". That sounds like Mimí to me. She brings out the best in Musetta and all the others, and her super flaw is vulnerability. Unlike Violetta, who spends most of her death scene fighting and denying her impeding death, Mimí faces reality from the very beginning and dies peacefully without any battle with fate.

The Master, one who sacrifices their "own comfort in order to help others", is probably a sub-characteristic of The Warrior. Mario Cavaradossi, from Giocomo Puccini's Tosca, is an excellent example. Is Cavaradossi a rebel? Yes. Yes, he is. Sure, he's not the most effective of rebels, but he is "a staunch defender of the law on behalf of humankind".

The next type of hero on the list is The Leader. Tinkle describes this type of hero as "both linear and logical" and possessing "a strong sense of duty". Turandot from Giocomo Puccini's Turandot is definitely The Leader. It is "difficult for [Turandot] to show [her] softer side" and she is "[a] natural leader and politician". Turandot's super flaw is definitely judgement since she spends most of her time making assumptions about the men who want to marry her. She is even somewhat of a feminist, if I dare say so. She wants to avenge the rape of her relative and ends up being unresponsive to people living around her. She is intelligent and follows her principles no matter what.

The last type of hero on the list is The Teacher. I will present Despina as an example of this type of hero even though she does not correspond to the criteria completely. Despina is "[b]rilliant, curious and creative" and she values "experience and [embodies] the very essence of love and its progression in the world". Although Despina is not the most intelligent of people she is definitely very cunning. She uses her wits to deceive the naïve sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi (not like that's something very hard to do), merely for funsies with Don Alfonso.


Well, that's it for my hero identification day. I discovered how to take a test and discover which hero I am, so click here is you'd like to find out about yourself.


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