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The Phenomenon of Left Handers in Stories

March 2, 2018

     

 

     What do Arya Stark, Tommy Pickles, Kermit the Frog, Dilbert, Mickey Mouse, Rapunzel from Tangled, Rocky Balboa, Mulan, Mega Man, Prince Zuko, and several characters from The Simpsons have in common?

Considering it’s a rhetorical question, and that you can’t answer through your computer screen, and that you can probably guess by the title anyway - I'll get right to the answer. All of them are fictional characters, and all of them are left-handed. About one in ten people are left-handed, yet a disproportionate number of fictional characters are as well. Why is this?

 

     This trend is most obvious in cartoons, since, even in handedness is never mentioned, the animators have to choose one when designing their movements. It isn’t as common in live-action movies, where the character will use their actor’s dominant hand. And in books, you don’t always learn handedness, but authors often make a special point to mention left-handed protagonists.

        I believe that to an extent, story characters are so often left-handed because their storytellers are as well. They say that a left-handed person’s brain works differently from others, making them more creative. Therefore, perhaps left-handed people are better storytellers. As for some of the earlier examples, The Simpsons’ Matt Groening and The Muppets’ Jim Henson are left-handed. Makes sense, right? But I think it goes beyond that.

        See, this is a right-handed world. Scissors, computer mice, and school desks are all the proof you need of this. Centuries ago, people even believed that left-handedness was satanic. Can you believe that?

        Left-handed storytellers have lived through plenty of pain and irritation, and it’s only natural for authors to place their own traits in stories, especially those that an author feels is undervalued. So when it comes to their stories, they imagine someone who is special. A hero who is fantastic and unique. And the visible symbol of all that? Their handedness. By doing great things and conquering evil, a left-handed protagonist can show that being left-handed is like a super power!

Left-handed storytellers, keep on imagining left-handed characters while you’re inside your own fantasy world. And take care not to smear the words of your story as you write them.

 

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