A Different View of Heroes
A hero is a natural person, usually a main fictional hero character who, against insurmountable odds, executes unbeatable deeds through out greatness, cleverness, or simply sheer strength of character. Just like other previously solely male term, hero has been used to describe any male, though hero usually refers only to boys. The hero can be both good and bad, just like the other side of the coin. The typical hero’s personality is usually described by two qualities: bravery and wisdom. One who is courageous is defined by one who is willing to take calculated risks to achieve a desirable goal, while the wise hero does things out of a studied and considered approach.
Research conducted by behavioral scientists suggest that there are two basic personality types – the heroic and the villainous character. While researchers do not think there is an exact relationship between these two types of personalities, they believe that heroes have higher morale and are more willing to risk their lives for a common cause, while villains are generally less willing to risk and more aggressive in nature. Among other characteristics, villains have more negative traits such as intolerance, greed, power craving, revenge oriented, and deceitful. However, the positive traits of heroes include tolerance for others, higher moral standards, trust in others, and high motivation.
The concept of heroism is not exclusive to either gender. While most literature portrays the hero as a male, the word “girl” did not exist until the 20th century, which gives rise to the belief that boys are more inclined towards heroism than girls. On the contrary, researchers have also shown that most children lack the capability of heroism. Instead, according to some experts, boys are more inclined towards action and adventure, while girls are more likely to prefer reading, pretending, and caring.
More specifically, several theories on the hero image were formulated by American philosopher John Locke, who believed that we are inspired to act for self or others, rather than for the state. According to Locke, the hero acts with the highest value proposition, which in this case is to the welfare of others. For Locke, heroes act to prevent an impending danger or to prevent another person from being hurt, while the villainous characters always intend to harm others. For Locke, therefore, the real value proposition is not how much one acts for himself, but rather, how much he is willing to do or suffer for others.
Since the mid-nineteenth century, several theories on hero images have been developed. In general, these have focused on the contrast between the bad and good characters. According to some experts, the bad characters are usually represented by clowns or monsters. On the other hand, the good characters are usually symbolized by virtues like faith, hope, honor, and courage. In addition, according to some experts, heroes are the defenders and protectors of values and principles, while villains are the antagonists who intend to obstruct these values. In this way, we find that the definition of a hero includes qualities such as faith, hope, honor, and courage, along with other values such as truth, justice, and equality.
The hero image thus has different effects upon how we think about the concept of heroes. While some see them as symbolically powerful beings, others see them as vulnerable human beings needing our protection. Still, others see heroes as the pure opposites of the bad and evil, holding conflicting values, intentions, and views. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that we find various definitions of a hero among many different societies and cultures.