Conan the Barbarian - “Conan” series” by Robert E. Howard

A Comprehensive Analysis of Literary Protagonists - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Conan the Barbarian - “Conan” series” by Robert E. Howard

An Extensive Study of Conan in Robert E. Howard's "Conan" Series: The Evolution of a Barbarian

Readers are introduced to a legendary figure in Robert E. Howard's "Conan the Barbarian" series—a barbarian whose travels take him across the wide-ranging and varied terrain of a made-up planet. Conan is not just a static archetype; along the course of the series, he experiences substantial growth and change. Conan's character is complex, and this research will examine his goals, relationships, conflicts, background, personality qualities, and overall relevance in Howard's literary universe.

Character Type

Character-wise, Conan is dynamic and changes along the course of the show. Although he is based on the barbarian hero archetype, he has a significant metamorphosis that challenges the idea of the static, archetypal hero that pervades many adventure stories.

Place in the Narrative

Without a doubt, Conan is the protagonist—the main character who moves the story along. But his function goes beyond that of a conventional hero; he is a multifaceted character whose choices and deeds determine not just his own fate but also the fates of the worlds he lives in.


Conan's character is enhanced by the mystery and intrigue surrounding his past. His background as a Cimmerian warrior, where he was raised, gives him a tough demeanor and impressive fighting abilities. His early survival and war experiences laid the groundwork for his unwavering spirit, which distinguishes him.

Personality Characteristics

Conan's character is a patchwork of opposing features. He epitomizes unadulterated strength, bravery, and a basic survival instinct, on the one hand. On the other hand, he defies the image of the brute because of his clever intelligence and versatility. His ability to bounce back from setbacks and his contempt for social mores reveal a deep and complex side to him.

As an illustration:

- Power: "His muscles, cramped and numbed by his bonds, swelled into a steely bulk at the first touch of freedom."
- IQ: "Conan, despite his barbarian origins, possesses a keen perception of the human condition, often outwitting foes with strategic brilliance."

Motivators and Objectives

Conan's motivations are primarily driven by his desire for power and independence. His objectives are flexible and change depending on the situation he's in. Whether he is pursuing retribution, wealth, or conquest, his primary goal is to maintain his independence and pursue a future that he has created for himself.

As an illustration:

- Retribution: "Driven by a thirst for vengeance, Conan's journey takes a darker turn as he seeks to settle old scores."
- Authority: "Conan's ambition extends beyond mere survival; he aspires to ascendancy, a desire that propels him into the heart of political intrigue."

Difficulties and Conflicts

Conan has experienced several hardships in his life. Every obstacle he faces, whether it is a physical conflict against his own morality or an emotional conflict challenging supernatural enemies, makes a lasting impression on him. The way his internal and exterior difficulties are juxtaposed gives his narrative arc more complexity.

As an illustration:

- Outside Conflict: "Conan faces mythical beasts and sorcerers, showcasing his prowess in combat against otherworldly foes."
- Inner Conflict: "As Conan rises in power, he grapples with moral dilemmas, questioning the price of his ambition."


Conan's human side is revealed through his relationships. His relationships with friends, foes, and romantic partners show a man capable of loyalty, treachery, and sincere feeling. These connections not only affect his growth but also act as a mirror, reflecting many aspects of his character.

As an illustration:

- The Allies: "Conan's camaraderie with fellow warriors highlights his capacity for loyalty and friendship."
- Romance: "His tumultuous love affairs explore the vulnerability beneath the barbarian facade, adding a layer of complexity to his character."

Archetypes and Symbolism

Even though Conan embodies the barbarian hero paradigm, he defies easy classification. His value as a symbol goes beyond that of a warrior. He turns into a representation of resistance, a natural force opposing the status quo.

As an illustration:

- A Symbol of Rebellion: "Conan's refusal to conform to societal norms becomes a symbolic rebellion against authority."
- The Ideal Hero: "Despite his barbarian roots, Conan fulfills the archetype of the hero's journey, facing trials and emerging transformed."

Character Story

Conan's character arc consists of a quest for introspection and growth. The story charts his evolution from a youthful warrior trying to survive to an experienced conqueror facing the fallout from his decisions. Every journey serves as a stepping stone in his unrelenting quest for his destiny.

As an illustration:

- Background: "The early tales depict Conan as a lone survivor, laying the groundwork for his evolution into a formidable warrior."
- Change: "As Conan gains power and influence, his character undergoes a transformation from a solitary warrior to a figure of legendary proportions."

Speech and Conversation

Conan's words reveal something about who he is as a person. His blunt and even curt speech habits reflect his uncomplicated demeanor. But when he speaks with passion or contemplation, his words show a depth of feeling and intelligence that challenges stereotypes about barbarians.

As an illustration:

- bluntness: "Conan's dialogue is characterized by brevity and directness, a testament to his pragmatic nature."
- depth "In moments of reflection, Conan's language becomes poetic, hinting at a profound inner world hidden beneath the surface."

Historical and Cultural Background

Conan lives in a planet with a diverse range of civilizations and history. Conan's experiences in other societies influence his thoughts and behavior, offering a prism through which to examine issues of authority, civilisation, and cross-cultural conflict. The way the character responds to his environment provides insight into the series' larger social dynamics.

As an illustration:

- The Clash of Cultures: "Conan's encounters with different civilizations highlight the tension between the barbaric and the civilized."
- Social Dynamics: "The character becomes a conduit for exploring the impact of power structures and societal norms on individual agency."

Analytical Angles

Academic interpretations of Conan's persona provide a range of viewpoints that deepen our comprehension. Themes of existentialism, masculinity, and the subversion of genre norms have all been examined by critics in relation to Howard's writing. Comprehending these crucial viewpoints augments our understanding of the character's intricacy.

As an illustration:

- The Masculinity: "Conan's embodiment of traditional masculinity is both celebrated and critiqued, sparking debates about gender roles in fantasy literature."
- Subversion of Genres: "Howard's treatment of the barbarian archetype challenges established genre conventions, paving the way for a more nuanced understanding of heroism."

In summary

To sum up, the "Conan the Barbarian" trilogy by Robert E. Howard offers readers a character with exceptional nuance and complexity. Conan's transformation from an outlaw to a famous figure highlights issues of identity, power, and humanity. We obtain a thorough grasp of the character's development by carefully examining his past, character qualities, motivations, connections, conflicts, and symbolic meaning. Conan goes beyond what is expected of a conventional hero, emerging both a resistance icon and a means of examining more general society processes. Along with Conan, we explore the vast and varied landscapes of Howard's imaginary universe and witness not just the exploits of a barbarian but also a profound investigation of the human soul in all its manifestations.