Last week I broached the subject of some attributes of a hero. My mind got drawn to this topic when I watched a Youtube video of a blogger announcing her top 10 list of heroes. I started thinking about what makes a hero a hero. So today, I’ve got a few more traits to share.
This characteristic wasn’t on any of lists I found, but I found elements of faith on several of the other sites. The Jadhav lists determination, dedication, and perseverance as three different traits.
Faithful pulls all of these together. A faithful man refuses to quit. With focus and strength of character, he pushes onward despite grueling antagonism. Oh, and the loyalty that blog-reader, Barb, suggested certainly falls into this category.
Some heroes obviously displaying faithfulness:
- Mr. Ferrars of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
- Moses is a perfect example, though he’s not the only one from scripture by any means
- George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life
- Cole McKenna in Submerged by Dani Pettrey
I can’t believe I didn’t think about this one on my own. There’s something wounded in every well-developed hero. Something in his background that has molded his character. It’s hard the come up with a hero I like who hasn’t been wounded:
- Almost any superhero would fall into this category. That’s probably why I like these types.
- Darcy in Pride and Prejudice suffered from betrayal of his best friend and struggled with his father’s death.
- Griffen Riddell in Ronie Kendig’s Firethorn
- Deputy Landon Grainger in Shattered by Dani Pettrey
Hmm. Also in Drago’s article. I’m not to keen on this trait. Though the concept works well for fantasy, I don’t see this to be in effect for contemporary heroes. The children in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe might have been considered destined. And I think there were some comparable references in Harry Potter. Frodo in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy would fall into this category, as would Luke in Star Wars.
Jadhav added a separate category of humility to his list with a quote from someone I didn’t recognize. I loved the point, though. Something about a truly great person stands with people instead of above them. In truth, I wouldn’t consider humility to be a requirement of heroes. That quality benefits a story as long as the hero doesn’t come off as too perfect. I will say, though, how impressed I was that blog-reader Christa’s 15-year-old son included humility on his list of hero traits. Those of the male persuasion, particularly teenagers, don’t strike me as the ones who would value humility. Way to raise him well, Christa! I did have a little trouble thinking of heroes with this quality, though. Got any suggestions?
Another trait not included in any of the lists I read, but suggested in some of the articles was initiative. A hero can’t just stand by and let things happen to him. Being a good reactor isn’t an appropriate characteristic of a hero. A true hero should take steps, even when they make things messy. His mistakes will drive the the plot as well as his victories. In fact, if a my hero is someone to whom things happen all the time–things out of his control–then he’s no hero at all. He’s a victim. The Bruce Willis character in the original Die Hard comes to mind. (No I don’t recommend the movie – terrible language – but I loved it during my rougher years.) The man, a detective finds himself in an unbelievable situation, but he didn’t just sit there. He jumped into action. All heroes must have that mindset.
Analyzing the List
Using these qualities, I analyzed some of the heroes included on the YouTube list.
The #10 guy was Romeo, because he was so stupid that he got himself and his heroine both killed. So holding Romeo up against the list, I can list his attributes as including: courage, faithfulness, self-sacrificing, active, and wounded. Not incredibly wise, he did get his lady and himself killed through his rash decisions.
In the #9 place was Ned Nickerson from all of the Nancy Drew books. He doesn’t quite hold up in the same way as Romeo. I guess through the series he might have shown some courage, but he certainly never took an active role in any of her cases beyond being a side-kick. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to describe him beyond athletic and collegiate. As a hero-figure? Naaaaa.
Somewhere in the #8-4 were various vampire slayers, a couple of Regency types, and Edward Cullen from Twilight. Okay, I admit it. I’m totally unfamiliar with Twilight. I don’t know much about Harry Potter either. Oh, and while I’m confessing, I never saw Titanic. What can I say? I like reading and watching things that make me feel good. Batman is about as dark as I care to go and even with that one, I hate seeing a bunch of innocent people bite the dust. So maybe you can give me an analysis of vampire slayers, Regency dukes, and Edward Cullen?
Place #4 and #3 were held by Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and a character from North and South who was considered Darcy-esque. I have to admit, when I think of the term literary hero, Darcy leaps to mind. Why? What is it about him? He is wounded as I stated above. Not exactly courageous, he does show a sacrificial aspect to his character and grows into an unexpected humbleness. At the beginning of the story, things happen to him, but in the second half, his actions propel the story forward. He shows faithfulness as well, standing by his sister and protecting the Bennet family from Wickham. Truly heroic indeed, even without the courageous aspect.
Then place #1 showed Prince Charming. Really? The faceless, nameless, nobleman who merely steps in at the end of all the stories to marry the strong princess? My girls helped me with this one. The fact that he’s faceless and nameless means he can be anyone. One of the dinks claimed that her Prince Charming was Daddy, at least for now. Too sweet. And I can get that. Because even though he’s Anyman, he is the epitome of bravery and loyalty. Though seldom active, his reactions occur without wavering. His skill protects the innocent and he’s prepared to sacrifice himself at any moment. Hmm. I guess I can see him as a great hero.
Though I prefer mine to have flaws. Just sayin’.
Your turn: Who would make it to your top ten hero list. Mine’s coming next week!