A Hero Is More Than A Sandwich

July 16, 2007 at 9:06 am | Posted in hero, Jessica, writing | Leave a comment

Bria closed out last week by introducing the topic of heroes, and I have been thinking about the topic all weekend, trying to list the qualities that I find to be heroic. The list was a pretty long one, which made it all the more hard to make the leap to the list of my most memorable heroes from books or movies.

A good one is just so hard to find.

In modern fiction, we refer to the hero as the main protagonist in the story. The hero can be male or female and, for the most part, all we ask is that they walk the road of the hero’s journey, show some growth, and come out changed on the other side. That’s a pretty reasonable expectation, I’d say.

But when I conjure up the image of a true bring-me-to-my-knees kind of hero, the best ones are so much more than just the male lead. For me, the most memorable ones are not just the heroes, they are completely heroic – in action, in deed, and in words.

The entry for hero in the online resource, Wikipedia,is:

“From the Greek ἣρως (demi-god), in mythology and folklore, a hero (male) or heroine (female) are characters that in the face of danger and adversity, from a position of weakness display courage and the will for self-sacrifice, that is, heroism, for some greater good, originally of martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.

In literature, particularly in tragedy, the hero may also have serious flaws which lead to their downfall, e.g. Hamlet. Such heroes are often called tragic heroes.

Stories of heroism may serve as moral examples, impressing a culture’s ethical code, especially for the young. In classical antiquity, hero cults, veneration of deified or semi-deified heroes such as Heracles, Perseus, or Achilles, played an important role in Ancient Greek religion. Later emperors employed hero worship for their own apotheosis, that is, cult of personality. Though this Roman usage retained religious significance, it may have been the first use of “hero” in the modern, more generalised sense – much like “idol” – of simply referring to a celebrity.”

In one of her many helpful and informative sessions, Suzanne Brockmann has talked about how she creates her heroes, and, to loosely paraphrase (apologies to Suz if I don’t have it quite right), she says, ‘You take a solid character and take the most important thing away from him. Then when he tries to get back on steady ground, you pull the rug out from under him. And when he tries to get back up, you beat him while he’s down.’

It’s when the best of men are faced with tragic loss or seemingly unbeatable adversity that we get to see just how heroic they are by the actions they take and choices they make.

I get chills just thinking about such a hero! If you have a hero that falls in that category – whether in fiction or real life – please share. I would love to read about him!

-Jessica

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