Ingenue (stock character)

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Mary Pickford, a perpetual ingenue

The Ingénue (pronounced /ˈænʒənuː/) is a stock character in literature, film, and a role type in the theatre; generally a girl or a young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome.

Typically, the ingenue is beautiful, gentle, sweet, virginal, and often naïve, in mental or emotional danger, or even physical danger, usually a target of The Cad; whom she may have mistaken for The Hero. Due to lack of independence, the ingenue usually lives with her father or a father figure (although in some rare cases she lives with a mother figure). The vamp is often a foil for the ingenue (or the damsel in distress, for that matter).

In opera and musical theatre, the ingenue is usually sung by a lyric soprano. The ingenue stereotypically has the fawn-eyed innocence of a child.

The ingenue is often accompanied with a romantic side plot. This romance is usually considered pure and harmless to both participants. In many cases, but not all, the male participant is just as innocent as the ingenue is. The ingenue is also similar to the girl next door archetype.

Ingenue may also refer to a new young actress or one typecast in such roles.

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