Causes: a sheltered upbringing, an innocent nature, a determination to only see the good in people and in life, deliberate avoidance of negativity, mental deficiency
Characters in Literature: King Arthur, Wilbur (Charlotte’s Web), Forrest Gump, Primrose Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
Positives: Naïve characters are usually innocent and pure. They take what they see at face value, always finding something worthwhile where others only see the negative. Naïves are childlike in their innocence, and therefore vulnerable, making them easy to like and protect.
Negatives: In their determination to only see the good, Naïves may not see the world and other people as they truly are, which puts them at a disadvantage. While some may admire their innocence, others see it as a weakness to be exploited, making the Naïve an easy mark. Still others view naivety as a disdainful trait and will attempt to set the Naïve straight by revealing the truth and destroying their childish delusions.
Common Portrayals: children, the mentally challenged, the elderly, recent graduates, the uneducated, Christians and other religious people
Cliches to Avoid: the naïve character who falls in with the wrong crowd and becomes jaded by the story’s end, the poor widow being financially ruined due to her naivety, the naive graduate who learns the ways of the world and ends up a savvy, ruthless businessman
Twists on the Traditional Naïve:
- In literature, Naïves are always cured of of their naivety by the story’s end. What about a naïve character who is able to resolve her conflict while maintaining her innocence and purity?
- Naïve are often cast in the supporting role, with a main character who looks out for them. Instead, make the naïve character the one who must be responsible for someone else.
Conflicting Characteristics to make your Naïve unique or more interesting: popular, rowdy, unfriendly, grouchy, arrogant