Whether or not a person should be considered to be a hero is a difficult question to answer. One of the principal issues of such categorization is the broad definition of heroism (Gonçalves 11). However, this paper intends to discuss this subject in order to overview various possible explanations of heroism within the context of socio-historical examples, literature, and personal experience.
What is a hero?
It is important to notice that the concept of heroism has been the subject of many changes in the course of history. Throughout various historical periods, people have interpreted the idea of heroism differently, applying it to many aspects of life.
How do others define the concept of hero?
To begin with, it is possible to observe that one of the first definitions of heroism originated in the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. These societies created numerous myths and legends, notably including the Hercules myth cycle and Homer’s Odyssey, which represented a hero as a man who is able to compete with gods and go against his fate. This concept partially translated to the Medieval ideal of a hero, which was represented by the idea of a noble knight, one who is willing to fight against any iniquity, vice, or evil. In addition, it should be mentioned that the concept of heroism is connected to the discourse of many revolutions. Of course, two world wars also shaped the image of heroic behavior in the minds of people. In the contemporary world, the ancient representation of a hero reinvented itself in the form of superheroes from comics.
What is my definition of a hero?
This section is devoted to my perception of heroism. First of all, this concept is defined by the outstanding personal characteristics of a heroic person. It includes such traits as resoluteness, higher moral standards, and bravery. However, the application of these characteristics is not limited to extreme situations such as war, prevention of crime, or the saving of people’s lives by firefighters and doctors. It is essential to understand that many individuals who are considered to be ordinary or who just do not fit into the common definition of a hero are in fact incredibly heroic. Therefore, it can be argued that the principal trait of a hero is the sense of duty. Different people have varying circumstances, which means that they have dissimilar responsibilities, burdens, and obligations. It is important for every person to follow their moral standards without giving regard to the temptation of choosing an easier path, because this is the core of heroism.
Real people as heroes
As was discussed in the previous section, any person could be a hero if they choose to pursue higher moral standards demanded by their duty. There are personal examples of people who fit the definition of a hero. First of all, there is the example of a friend of mine, who was able to provide for his family after his father died. He managed to work and study at the same time, though this was a very stressful period of life for him. Despite this, he did not surrender because he had a higher goal of supporting his family. Secondly, my father’s friend deserves a mention. He created a public discussion club to which he invited teenagers from low-class families in order to prevent them from street criminality and deviant behavior.
Characters from the reading selections
This section aims to discuss the examples which have been provided in the form of reading selections in the textbook.
In the short excerpt from Bodega Dreams, the author describes the incident between his school friend Sapo and their English teacher Mr. Blessington. Another teacher, named Tapia, is also mentioned in this reading selection. It can be argued that the only person who approaches the definition of a hero is Tapia, since he tries to encourage his students in the belief that they can succeed in life by being honest and hard-working. On the contrary, Mr. Blessington could be labeled an anti-hero because he is complacent about his work (even though it does not offer many contributions to education), in addition to his suggestions that all his students will end up in jail (James 121).
This poem by Alma Luz Villanueva touches upon a very delicate theme of gender identity and courage to be yourself. She vividly describes the bravery and dignity of her friend, Michael, who decided to express himself through both masculinity and femininity. One could argue that such decision is an example of the concept of a hero since Michael to do what he considered to be a real expression of himself, despite the fact that he could be misunderstood, mocked, or even killed (James 149). This mindset relates to the idea of heroism due to the person’s willingness to stay loyal to their ethical standards and beliefs.
The Train from Hate
In this short essay, the author tells a story which happened to him when he was 7. He was heading to another city with his family to buy some supplies. When they boarded the train, they did not realize that they entered the coach which was reserved for white people. Later, the conductor stopped the train and commanded them to leave the train. While they were walking back home, the author asked his mother why that conductor was so mean to them. His mother gave him a lesson, which he considers to be one of the most important in his life: under no circumstances, should a person be distressed because someone intends to demean them (James 150). This advice is the result of great dignity, which is an inherent quality of any hero.
How does a hero relate to society?
This question is also of particular importance, and it is possible to provide two primary characteristics of such a relationship. It is also important that both of them could be described by two University Core Values. The first characteristic is integrity: a hero should be committed to society by being an honest person who is consistent in his or her words and deeds. Secondly, excellence is essential since it is the path to becoming a morally responsible leader. These two characteristics should shape the relationship between hero and society.
In conclusion, it is possible to observe that the definition of heroism is still too broad to be univocally formulated. However, this paper provides many examples and ideas of what it means to be a hero. Finally, every individual should honestly and without bias decide what moral and ethical standards they will pursue in this life.
Gonçalves, João Miguel Correia. Dialectics of the Hero: Representing Subjectivities. On the Possibilities of Contemporary Figurative Sculpture. Dissertation, University of London, 2015.
James, Missy et al. Reading Literature and Writing Argument. 6th ed., Pearson, 2016.