Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... the trickster!
|The Theft of Apollo's Cattle, Elizabeth Phillips|
So yes, you've got to have a trickster. But that doesn't mean that everyone has to like him.
|Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch, Disney|
|Loki's Punishment, Tudor Humphries|
|Coyote Went up the River, Frederick N. Wilson|
Audience sympathy is a powerful thing. When your creator can't bear even to punish you, let alone kill you off, it's a good sign that you're here to stay.
It makes the trickster the oldest outsider in the book. He exists to upset the status quo. Having him around makes life dangerous and unpredictable; it's no wonder that he has to con his way into good fortune, since most of his fellows avoid him and the chaos he brings. It's hard to say whether he's outcast because of his tricks, or whether his tricks created a scenario in which he had to be cast out.
And it's that trait, more than any other, that makes him the popular character audiences identify with. Of all the characters in any given pantheon, fixed and steadfast in what they represent, the trickster is the only one who can change.
No wonder we like him so much. We see most of ourselves in him. He's the one who not only adapts to a new world, but shapes that world to his liking. Who wants to be a boring paragon when you could be a dynamic change-maker? Who wants to sit still when you could have fun?