The introduction defines the concept of the flat protagonist in literary and narrative theory and explains its larger critical stakes. The flat protagonist is a kind of major character who simplifies in the course of a novel, instead of becoming deeper or more complicated. Novels that feature flat protagonists can decenter more usual forms of self-regard by suggestively depicting just how little the expression of a single mind and body might amount to, and how little it reveals about anything except this particular person. By highlighting the flatness of their major characters, novels can undercut the ease with which one might come to treat one’s first-person experience as a sufficient measure of the vastness of the surrounding world. They can negate the assumption of a sense of centeredness that comes with inhabiting a particular human body and mind.
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