By: J. Gideon Sarantinos
The term protagonist is a theatrical term used in Ancient Greece to signify the character that made the first appearance on the stage and was the focal point of the story. This term is still prevalent in theatrical circles. The term main character is more commonly used in film and TV to mean the same thing. Often they are used interchangeably and are almost always the same character. However, there are subtle differences between the two.
The protagonist is more thematically bound to the story because they both drive and undergo change. Protagonists generally undergo the main character arc; emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth. They emerge at the end of the story as more evoked people. Protagonists must have a distinct goal, the higher stakes and the greatest obstacles. It is their story and they are the reason it exists.
They are the effective hero of the story and garner the most audience emotional connection. If the protagonist and main character are separate characters, the former is the most essential.
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