Hero Definition of Hero As a literary device, a hero can be defined as the principal character of a literary work. The term hero has been applied, not only in the classical sense, but also in modern literature, as the principal character of a story, play or novel.
For instance, extraordinary acts of physical strength and courage, such as saving a stranger from a burning house or standing up to an armed assailant, are feats we would typically label heroic.
Physical courage is not the only component of heroism, however. Those who exhibit moral courage, such as people who put their own lives or reputations at stake to do or say what is right, rather than what is merely popular, are also called heroes.
We even use it to refer to people who are inspirations to others, inspirations that do not necessarily hinge on physical strength or moral superiority. With all of these varied uses, clearly explaining the allure of heroism as a literary theme is difficult.
Compounding that difficulty is the fact that in literary studies, the term hero is used to refer to the central character of a work. John Dryden first used the term this way inand it is still commonly accepted as a synonym for protagonist, even when the protagonist does nothing particularly heroic.
We have long used the word heroic to refer to acts that are special or extraordinary. Nietzsche, a 19th-century German philosopher, wrote in Thus Spoke Zarathustra that in the modern world, God, or the concept of God, had ceased to give life meaning.
All could seek to reach this status, thus creating a world in which all were motivated by a love of the present world and the present time. The Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle, writing inwould agree that the heroism must be lifeaffirming, although he would not agree that religion had ceased to give life meaning.
Carlyle goes on to set up criteria for what makes a hero or a heroic action: Further, he must be earnest and sincere and have a vision that penetrates beyond what the average eye might see As Carlyle was one of the first to write on the subject seriously, many of his criteria have lasted and are reinforced by theorists of the present day.
Joseph Campbell, who has written some of the best-known works on mythology and heroism, echoes Carlyle when he says: In other words, heroes begin life as normal people, but through some extraordinary gift, they are able to begin on and succeed at the journey upon which they will prove their heroism.
Carlyle and Campbell both stress that human beings need heroes—that our response to them satisfies a basic human impulse. We need, apparently, the inspiration and motivation derived from believing there are heroes in the world to whose example we may aspire. The psychologist Miriam F. Polster, writing in about female heroes, compiled a roster of qualities culled from qualities ascribed to heroes over time.
She knows she must honor this life, even in death. But, as Carlyle and Campbell both stress, possessing great moral courage is just as rare and should be honored with as much fervor. John Rivers because she is not in love with him, and returning to the injured Mr. Fleeing his first battle, Fleming acts only out of fear.
However, when he returns to battle a changed man, Crane seems to suggest that he is still acting out of fear. He is now motivated by his desire not to be seen as a coward.
Henry Fleming is a soldier, and physical acts of courage such as those displayed in war have long been the province of heroism. Can these people exhibit heroism as well? In the grand scheme of things, this action might not seem noteworthy. To return to some of the criteria discussed above, Sammy has respect for life and respect for the present in that he does not want to simply carry on as though nothing has happened.
Also, Sammy has vision. Sometimes, the term antihero is used for these characters.
However, Macheath is arguably a hero because the system within which he operates is so corrupt and bereft of compassion itself that the audience actually roots for him to beat that system. He has his own moral code, and he sticks by it. There is quite a leap from a character such as Macheath to a character such as Sammy the checker.Examine works of art, literature and music that depict historical, legendary, or contemporary heroes.
Individually select a hero from one of these media to research as the subject of an expository essay topic. Definition of Hero. As a literary device, a hero can be defined as the principal character of a literary work.
The term hero has been applied, not only in the classical sense, but also in modern literature, as the principal character of a story, play or novel. Become familiar with the concept of an epic hero and examples of such from different cultures.
inspiring action. Work in groups to create a working definition of a hero. Present their findings to the class. Examine works of art, literature and music that depict historical, legendary, or contemporary heroes. Hero Analysis; Engage.
1. The concept of the hero can be found in classical literature. It is the main or revered character in heroic epic poetry celebrated through ancient legends of a people, often striving for military conquest and living by a continually flawed personal honor code.
. In A Hero with a Thousand Faces, among other works, he refined the concept of hero and the hero’s journey— George Lucas used Campbell’s writings to formulate the Star Wars saga.
Recognizing archetypal patterns in literature brings patterns we all unconsciously respond to . As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 75, lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.