Why is The Divergent Trilogy so popular?
Why does it evoke such polarized responses from readers?
What does this imply about our society?
Tris Prior, the protagonist of the trilogy, is a female hero whose position as a site of influence for readers offers one way by which we can understand the cultural phenomenon surrounding the trilogy.
^Read more about the trilogy and reader responses by clicking on any of the book covers.
^Learn more about each of the factions by clicking on their symbol.
A Quest of Her Own: Essays on the Female Hero in Modern Fantasy
Definition of “female hero”: Lori Campbell purposefully uses “female hero” rather than “heroine” because, as she explains, the female hero is only recently coming into her own, and, while the male version has been the standard and ideal for centuries, her representation of heroism must be considered in its own terms. For instance, obstacles she must overcome for her journey to be recognized as heroic are different, and that difference must be taken into account.
The four defining traits of the female hero, as discerned by Campbell:
- At first glance, she is not likely to succeed.
- She is not overly burdened by gendered or other societal expectations.
- She is not a “superhero.”
- She is not going away.
Definition of “site of influence”: Although Campbell does not specifically define “site of influence,” I have interpreted this to mean that the female hero functions as a role model for readers – a role model of any number of positive characteristics – and therefore can inspire female and male readers alike.
Tris fulfills her role as a female hero who is site of influence on the reader because she is a role model of true virtue and femininity, a believer in human dignity and equality, a teacher of the truth of selflessness, and a beacon of hope.
The Divergent Trilogy’s popularity and Tris’s role as a female hero who serves as a site of influence for readers, while they do not provide clear answers about our culture, do point to issues and concerns that preoccupy us.
One such issue is society’s hunger for examples of strong females who can serve as role models, and literature can provide readers of all ages with this fully-formed female character who is much more complex and desirable than the stereotype.
Read my full thesis: Tris Prior: Selfless Female Hero: How The Protagonist of The Divergent Trilogy Satisfies Society’s Hunger for Positive Female Role Models
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