Hey folks and welcome to another edition of Food for Thought! Today we’re going to have a brief discussion on a literary device that may, or may not, help you out on your next big English paper. The Bildungsroman–AKA the “coming-of-age-story”–is a time-honored tradition that can be traced in literary history from myths, to epics, and to even modern novels that populate the average English class reading list. The Bildungsroman is also found in many of our favorite anime, films, video games, etc — because of its timeless and nearly universal plot structure. These stories feature a child (Or child-metaphor) taking a journey towards becoming an adult, with a focus on the psychological or moral growth of this child-like protagonist. Character development is integral to the success of the Bildungsroman, with the protagonist’s journey towards becoming a proper adult standing in as a metaphor for becoming a better person.
But you know what, as much as we love when things work for our heroes, for them to successfully leave behind childhood and accept the “greatness” of adulthood… We also love it when their plans fail miserably, when the Bildungsroman is actually a recipe for disaster and instead of the triumphant growth of a character, we instead are privy to their failings and the ultimate realization that growing up actually sucks.