Protagonist Definition & Meaning

A Protagonist is used by writers as the central character of his plays. Entire plot revolves around him and his activity determines further development of the story. He doesn’t necessarily have a good character. There are some cinemas and plays where the most villainous character is a Protagonist. But more often he is represented as “Hero” of the narrative. The word originates from Greek drama and has been used by Greek play writers to represent the lead of chorus. With time the word was associated with the first actor of the play. A well imagined Protagonist connects with the audience and the audience start relating with his virtue, joy and emotion . As previously discussed, that it is not mandatory for him to have a virtuous character, for instance Iago in Othello is one of the most villainous character drawn by Shakespeare, but still he is main character of the play, because he is responsible for the development of the plot and is the reason for all the complications and controversies.

Protagonist Example

There are many examples from plays and cinemas, but we will keep it within Shakespeare plays.


The character of Macbeth is one of the best example of Protagonist in Shakespeare plays. His character though not a flawless one is responsible for the development of the plot, he is the main character in the play and the audience sympathizes with the tragic flaw.


The character of Hamlet in the play Hamlet is another famous protagonist in Shakespeare play. Hamlet’s father was murdered by his uncle and Hamlet’s struggle with the antagonist is the main element of the play. He experience false situations and events, just because of his indecisiveness. Sometimes a slight weakness in the central character of the play is highlighted to the extent that causes his downfall.

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