"I have always pitied the coward, in whom battle arouses a series of hellish tortures, while the spirit of the brave man merely rises the higher to meet a series of exciting experiences."
Ernst Junger - The Storm of Steel
#storm of steel
At various point in my life I have been consoled by discovery of literary characters with whom I strongly identify. Such characters are always outsiders tormented by uncertainty and seeking resolution through action. Another aspect of such characters is that their peers fail to understand their motivations or intentions. One of the first I can remember was Hamlet, years later it was Meursault and more recently it was Plowart from ‘The Divine and the Decay’. Sartre’s Matheiu fits the description too, but I couldn’t identify with someone who retreats into Marxist materialism when confronted by the question of existence.
I think there are proabably many others who, like me, look for “outsider” characters in fiction that they can identify with, but the problem with much modern literature and cinema, is that the “otherness” of the protagonist is not derived from an inner feeling of differentiation but due to a failure to embody the values of their culture that can result in an outright celebration of criminality and perversion. This is why I think the criminal is so exalted in popular culture.