Xavier Journal of Undergraduate Research

Article Title

Tris Prior, Selfless Female Hero


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The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth has become a cultural phenomenon and evoked polarizing responses. In an effort to understand why, this essay pulls from scholarly research about dystopian fiction—specifically young adult dystopian fiction and the conversation concerning how women are portrayed or represented in these novels—along with the scholarly exploration of women as heroes. Using as a framework Lori Campbell’s theory of the “female hero” in modern fantasy literature, I argue that Tris has four important characteristics: one, she is a role model of true virtue and femininity; two, she is believer in human dignity and equality; three, she is a teacher of the truth of selflessness; and finally, she is a beacon of hope. Understanding Tris’s role as a “female hero” reveals how the trilogy responds to a need in society and therefore has been a cultural success despite the polarized reactions to it. Society is hungry for examples of strong females who can serve as role models, and literature such as The Divergent Trilogy can provide readers of all ages with this fully-formed female character who is much more complex and desirable than the stereotypical female.

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