- Characteristics of a Hero Essay
- List of suggested heroes - ordered by popularity
- Beowulf : A Modern Epic Hero
- Heroes heal us, transform us, and connect us with others
He wielded superhuman strength on the battlefield and was blessed with a close relationship to the deities. Achilles famously refused to fight after his dishonoring at the hands of Agamemnon, and only returned to the war due to unadulterated rage after Hector killed his close friend Patroclus. Achilles plays a tragic role in the Iliad brought about by constant de-humanization throughout the epic, having his menis wrath overpower his philos love. Heroes in myth often had close, but conflicted relationships with the deities. Thus Heracles's name means "the glory of Hera ", even though he was tormented all his life by Hera, the Queen of the Greek deities.
Perhaps the most striking example is the Athenian king Erechtheus , whom Poseidon killed for choosing Athena rather than him as the city's patron deity. Fate , or destiny, plays a massive role in the stories of classical heroes. The classical hero's heroic significance stems from battlefield conquests, an inherently dangerous action. Countless heroes and deities go to great lengths to alter their pre-destined fates, but with no success, as none, neither human or immortal can change their prescribed outcomes by the three powerful Fates.
After learning that his son, Oedipus , will end up killing him, the King of Thebes, Laius , takes huge steps to assure his son's death by removing him from the kingdom. But, Oedipus slays his father without an afterthought when he was unknown to him and he encounters him in a dispute on the road many years later. The lack of recognition enabled Oedipus to slay his father, ironically further binding his father to his fate.
Stories of heroism may serve as moral examples. However, classical heroes often didn't embody the Christian notion of an upstanding, perfectly moral hero. Classical heroes, regardless of their morality, were placed in religion. In classical antiquity , cults that venerated deified heroes such as Heracles , Perseus , and Achilles played an important role in Ancient Greek religion.
It is a set of 22 common traits that he said were shared by many heroes in various cultures, myths, and religions throughout history and around the world. Raglan argued that the higher the score, the more likely the figure is mythical. The concept of a story archetype of the standard monomythical "hero's quest " that was reputed to be pervasive across all cultures, is somewhat controversial. Expounded mainly by Joseph Campbell in his work The Hero with a Thousand Faces , it illustrates several uniting themes of hero stories that hold similar ideas of what a hero represents, despite vastly different cultures and beliefs.
The monomyth or Hero's Journey consists of three separate stages including the Departure, Initiation, and Return. Within these stages there are several archetypes that the hero of either gender may follow, including the call to adventure which they may initially refuse , supernatural aid, proceeding down a road of trials, achieving a realization about themselves or an apotheosis , and attaining the freedom to live through their quest or journey.
Campbell offered examples of stories with similar themes such as Krishna , Buddha , Apollonius of Tyana , and Jesus. The actions that fall into such a hero's sphere include:. Propp distinguished between seekers and victim-heroes. A villain could initiate the issue by kidnapping the hero or driving him out; these were victim-heroes. On the other hand, an antagonist could rob the hero, or kidnap someone close to him, or, without the villain's intervention, the hero could realize that he lacked something and set out to find it; these heroes are seekers.
Victims may appear in tales with seeker heroes, but the tale does not follow them both. No history can be written without consideration of the lengthy list of recipients of national medals for bravery , populated by firefighters, policemen and policewomen, ambulance medics, and ordinary have-a-go heroes. The philosopher Hegel gave a central role to the "hero", personalized by Napoleon , as the incarnation of a particular culture's Volksgeist , and thus of the general Zeitgeist.
Thomas Carlyle 's work, On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History , also accorded a key function to heroes and great men in history. Carlyle centered history on the biography of a few central individuals such as Oliver Cromwell or Frederick the Great. His heroes were political and military figures, the founders or topplers of states. His history of great men included geniuses good and, perhaps for the first time in historical study, evil. Explicit defenses of Carlyle's position were rare in the second part of the 20th century.
Most in the philosophy of history school contend that the motive forces in history may best be described only with a wider lens than the one that Carlyle used for his portraits. For example, Karl Marx argued that history was determined by the massive social forces at play in " class struggles ", not by the individuals by whom these forces are played out. After Marx, Herbert Spencer wrote at the end of the 19th century: "You must admit that the genesis of the great man depends on the long series of complex influences which has produced the race in which he appears, and the social state into which that race has slowly grown The Annales school , led by Lucien Febvre , Marc Bloch , and Fernand Braudel , would contest the exaggeration of the role of individual subjects in history.
Indeed, Braudel distinguished various time scales, one accorded to the life of an individual, another accorded to the life of a few human generations, and the last one to civilizations , in which geography , economics , and demography play a role considerably more decisive than that of individual subjects. Among noticeable events in the studies of the role of the hero and great man in history one should mention Sidney Hook 's book The Hero in History.
In the epoch of globalization an individual may change the development of the country and of the whole world, so this gives reasons to some scholars to suggest returning to the problem of the role of the hero in history from the viewpoint of modern historical knowledge and using up-to-date methods of historical analysis. Within the frameworks of developing counterfactual history , attempts are made to examine some hypothetical scenarios of historical development. The hero attracts much attention because most of those scenarios are based on the suppositions: what would have happened if this or that historical individual had or had not been alive.
Characteristics of a Hero Essay
Although the term "heroine" exists in recent use, "hero" is the predominantly used term nowadays, even though its neutrality may be put into question by some. The definitions of the heroine often refer back to the one of the hero, but sometimes insinuate that their deeds are of less value, or were obtained only thanks to their love of God, country, or a man. Therefore, implying that an external explanation for the supposedly extraordinary nature of her deeds is needed to justify them.
The warrior women is considered unholy, unnatural. These figures tend to be dismissed because they don't fit in the feminine values they are supposed to represent.
List of suggested heroes - ordered by popularity
Following this logic, acts of heroism by women are seen as acceptable, during specific time, such as when men are at war and during times of crisis, but they are otherwise often seen as suspicious. Moreover, women are often not individualized, but praised as a group for heroic deeds. Women in the military were often subordinated to tasks less likely to be praised than armed combat and rather, are praised for their courage as a general force, the behavior of nurses during wartime are a good example of this phenomenon.
Reflecting the same perspective, if their story gets told at all, they are made to fit in the acceptable script. Their story is told in a way as to match the expectations of femininity ex: maternal love, compassion, fidelity, resistance, defense, etc. So the set of strengths in which, historically, a heroine could express her value, are overall not the same and perceived as less valuable than their masculine counterpart.
In general, the cultural repertoire of heroic stories requires different qualities for each gender. The contrast of the ideal narrative line pits the autonomous ego-enhancing hero single-handedly and single-heartedly progressing toward a goal versus the long-suffering, selfless, socially embedded heroine, being moved in many directions, lacking the tenacious loyalty demanded of a quest. Often, if women heroes get mentioned in history, the way their story is told also differs from their male counterparts. Generally, they are portrayed as young and beautiful, their actions are limited to a short time period in opposition to the possibility of a long heroic career portrayed for male heroes, underlying feelings that led to their heroic acts are underlined, overall less details about their life are kept, and emphasis is put upon their tragic death.
It has been asserted that heroes and heroines are part of a social construct, their history is told and changes throughout history to serve different purposes of memory, propaganda according to diverse social, political, or religious evolution. The word "hero" or "heroine" in modern times , is sometimes used to describe the protagonist or the romantic interest of a story, a usage which may conflict with the superhuman expectations of heroism.
In modern literature the hero is more and more a problematic concept.
Beowulf : A Modern Epic Hero
In , for example, William Makepeace Thackeray gave Vanity Fair the subtitle, A Novel without a Hero , and imagined a world in which no sympathetic character was to be found. Even the most sympathetic characters, such as Captain Dobbin, are susceptible to weakness, as he is often narcissistic and melancholy.
The larger-than-life hero is a more common feature of fantasy particularly in comic books and epic fantasy than more realist works. The superhero genre is a multibillion-dollar industry that includes comic books, movies, toys, and video games. Superheroes usually possess extraordinary talents and powers that no living human could ever possess. The superhero stories often pit a super villain against the hero, with the hero fighting the crime caused by the super villain. Social psychology has begun paying attention to heroes and heroism.
Zeno Franco and Philip Zimbardo point out differences between heroism and altruism, and they offer evidence that observer perceptions of unjustified risk play a role above and beyond risk type in determining the ascription of heroic status. Psychologists have also identified the traits of heroes. But Southerners were nationalists, too. But the nationalism of the North and that of the South were in fact different, and much of U. Calhoun declared in , arguing against admitting Mexicans as citizens of the United States.
He continued:. I think I may defy Judge Douglas to show that he ever said so, that Washington ever said so, that any President ever said so, that any member of Congress ever said so, or that any living man upon the whole earth ever said so, until the necessities of the present policy of the Democratic party, in regard to slavery, had to invent that affirmation.
No matter, the founders of the Confederacy answered: we will craft a new constitution, based on white supremacy. The North won the war. But the battle between liberal and illiberal nationalism raged on, especially during the debates over the 14th and 15th Amendments, which marked a second founding of the United States on terms set by liberal ideas about the rights of citizens and the powers of nation-states—namely, birthright citizenship, equal rights, universal male suffrage, and legal protections for noncitizens.
These Reconstruction-era amendments also led to debates over immigration, racial and gender equality, and the limits of citizenship. Under the terms of the 14th Amendment, children of Chinese immigrants born in the United States would be U. Few major political figures talked about Chinese immigrants in favorable terms. Typical was the virulent prejudice expressed by William Higby, a one-time miner and Republican congressman from California.
The most significant statement in this debate was made by a man born into slavery who had sought his own freedom and fought for decades for emancipation, citizenship, and equal rights. A statue of Frederick Douglass pictured behind U.
Heroes heal us, transform us, and connect us with others
President Barack Obama at a ceremony commemorating the th anniversary of the 13th Amendment in Washington, D. To Republicans like Higby, who objected to Chinese immigration and to birthright citizenship, and to Democrats like Davis, who objected to citizenship and voting rights for anyone other than white men, Douglass offered an impassioned reply. I answer, I would.
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Would you have them naturalized, and have them invested with all the rights of American citizenship? I would. Would you allow them to vote? It did not prevail. Emancipation and Reconstruction, the historian and civil rights activist W. This transformation began in the United States in the s, with the rise of Jim Crow laws, and with a regime of immigration restriction, starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first federal law restricting immigration, which was passed in Both betrayed the promises and constitutional guarantees made by the 14th and 15th Amendments.