Clarke Griffin is one of the main characters on the 100, a television series set in the future surrounding the journey of 100 criminally convicted juveniles who are sent down to Earth in an attempt to see if it is habitable. She is a teenage criminal and an artist, but most importantly she is a self-sacrificing leader. In the lens of Narratology – a type of literary criticism that analyzes the structure and function of a narrative by its themes, conventions, or symbols – we can clearly see that Clarke is a rare culmination of all of the seven character types. In Barry’s Beginning Theory, we see these roles explained.
1. The Villain: A character that creates struggles for the hero.
At the end of the second season, Clarke makes the decision to save her people by eliminating the enemy completely – innocent civilians and children included. The guilt almost destroys her. By doing this she becomes a monster, feeding into an ideology that she hates – “blood must have blood.” She desires to live in a world free of war and suffering, and yet she murders hundreds to accomplish her desires. Clarke hates what she did and despises herself for it. She has become all that she abhors. Clarke is her own enemy.
2. The Donor: A character that prepares the hero, or gives them something special, such as a weapon or wisdom.
Clarke fills the role of donor in the 100 in how she provides the other heroic characters of the show with her assistance. She rescues her friend Jasper after he’s been impaled, she provides Bellamy with a shoulder to lean on through sharing the responsibilities of leading the 100, and she is originally the person who motivates the group of delinquents to get the supplies they need in order to survive when they first arrive on Earth.
3. The Helper: a wise, old character who appears at critical moments to provide support.
Clarke is the epitome of a good helper and healer. She is there to heal the wounds of the other characters, both physical and mental. When we are first introduced to her character in the second season, we see her help a young girl struggle with nightmares, we see her guide a group of characters across dangerous, uncharted territory, and we see her reassure Bellamy, her co-leader of the 100, and help him see that he is not a monster, and that people need him to lead. Knowing that the only way to truly reassure him is by admitting how much of an impact he has on their group, she follows her previous lines with the admission that she needs him too.
Clarke is a great communicator, healer, and friend. Her habit for self-sacrifice has allowed her to become a great leader – which also involves a great deal of helping her people in any way she can.
4. The Princess: The object which is deliberately sought after by the hero.
Clarke is a character that is more interested in surviving than finding true love, or serving as a prize for any other character to claim after a victory. But in the first episode she is nicknamed “Princess” by Bellamy partly due to her elite birth status as the daughter of a doctor and an engineer, and partly because she so easily falls into a leadership role. Later on, Clarke does end up playing into a couple romantic relationships where she is sought after by “heroic” characters, so in the sense that her significant others sought her out throughout the series, she can been considered desired – a princess.
5. The Dispatcher: A character who illustrates the need for the hero’s quest.
After arriving on Earth, Clarke is the only one of the 100 who immediately grasps the seriousness of their situation. Her first move is to take out a map and locate their current position, coming up with a realistic plan for survival. She forms a group to explore their surroundings and explain what they need to do in order to make it through the night. Clarke is highly practical and realistic, she gets the other characters moving toward becoming more sustainable and independent.
6. The Hero: A character who thwarts the villain and fights against evil.
Clarke is the character everyone roots for. She is incredibly dynamic and fights for all that is good. Everything she does is for her people. On the show, we often see her struggle to make decisions, and it is incredibly compelling to see someone so young hold the weight of so many.
“I’m trying…I’m trying all the time. But everyone is counting on me, and it’s so hard.”
7. The False Hero: A variant on the villain who appears heroic, but is less morally inclined.
As mentioned before in the villain role, Clarke has done some incredibly dark things. She has killed in cold blood, murdered innocent civilians and children. At times, we see her spiral into a dark place where she decides that “love is weakness” and allows for unspeakable atrocities to occur. Other characters call her out on it, but Clarke knows that she will take on whatever is necessary to protect her people. She often claims that she never had a choice – she is merely doing the best she can.
In the end, Clarke is an incredibly complex character that offers a lot on the levels of heroic character development and models for young females. She is incredibly strong, but not without weakness. She is a hero, but also everything she despises. Clarke is an enigma, but also one of the most compelling heroines on the 100.