Anti-hero or Anti-heroine is a central character in a dramatic or narrative work who lacks the qualities of nobility and magnanimity expected of traditional heroes and heroines in Romances and Epics. Unheroic characters of this kind have been an important feature of the Western Novel, which has subjected idealistic heroism to Parody since Cervantes's Don Quixote (1605).
Flaubert's Emma Bovary (inMadame Bovary, 1857) and Joyce's Leopold Bloom (in Ulysses, 1922) are outstanding examples of this antiheroic ordinariness and inadequacy.
The anti-hero is also an important figure in modern drama, both in the theatre of the Absurd and in the Tragedies of Arthur Miller, notably Death of a Salesman (1949). In these plays, as in many modern novels, the protagonist is an ineffectual failure who succumbs to the pressure of circumstances.
The anti-hero should not be confused with the Antagonist or the Villain.