Healthcare workers Vs. Coronavirus: A semiotic study of the Hero-Villain narrative articulation of the Covid-19 pandemic

By: Sebastián Moreno Barreneche


Volume: 08
Issue: 02:Winter 2022
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2022.0015
Pages: 33-60
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Covid-19 pandemic
Social discourse



This article examines one of the hegemonic narratives social actors worldwide have used since 2020 to make sense of the Covid-19 pandemic: the one articulated around the hero-villain dichotomy. We can find this standard adversative structure in various narratives such as myths, fairy tales, novels, movies, and the social sphere in general. The pandemic has not escaped its explicative power. Since March 2020, healthcare workers have been widely represented as heroes – and even superheroes – fighting to protect humanity, while the novel coronavirus is typically depicted as an evil creature – a monster – threatening human life. After introducing narrativity as a key principle in articulating social discourses, the article analyses the role of the hero-villain narrative structure in the Covid-19 pandemic focusing on how it shaped the discursive construction of the virus as a villain and the healthcare workers as heroes.


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