Day Nine: Illustrious Intellectuals

Welcome to Day Nine of the A to Z Challenge. For this year’s challenge, I’ll be examining different types of characters that can be found in international fiction. Today I’m looking at illustrious intellectuals.

This group of people tend to be those who are recognized as geniuses by the world around them.  They are esteemed and capable, but still have problems solving a puzzle so much bigger than themselves.

These characters often face issues of self-doubt despite their accolades and challenges stretch the limits of their abilities.

Self-Doubt Despite Ability

These characters are invited to accomplish the impossible by the world around them, but still have troubles with self-doubt. One example of this character is Louise Banks in the film Arrival.  She is so established in her field of linguistics that the US government thinks she can help them communicate with extraterrestrials. She takes the job, but after her first encounter her hands shake and she even asks the question, “am I fired?”

Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 is another example. He’s a man who could build what no one else had built before in a cave with spare parts in Iron Man, but in the second film he’s so clueless as to how to correct blood poisoning at one point he seems resigned to die.

Goal Beyond their Expertise

One of the reasons characters doubt their abilities is due to the giant nature of their goal. Louise Banks is charged with communicating with aliens. Alan Turing in The Imitation Game is called on to crack a code that no one else has had success in doing. Gerry Lane in World War Z is tasked with finding out how to find a cure in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The largeness of the character’s ability enables the writer to tax them with a near impossible goal.

These characters appear across multiple genres including murder mysteries, speculative fiction and non-fiction. Other examples of this character are Tony Stark from Iron Man (1 & 3), Dr. Bennet Omaluin from Concussion, and Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock Holmes.


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