The Myth of the Hero

By: Rachel Lyle, March 20th, 2017

So I am going to tell you about another one of the many Literature courses I’ve taken in my time as an English Literature major. Over this past summer as an elective course I took an Intro to Literature, of which the theme was The Myth of the Hero. For one of the classes we had to write some sort of in-class response as to what the myth of the hero was or whether being a hero was truly possible or it is really a myth or something else having to do with heroes and myths. I wrote about the fact that society in a sense creates the myth of the hero, about how society creates a myth of what a hero should and no one can live up to that standard and fails to truly be a hero and thus the myth of the hero stays the myth of the hero:

The myth of the hero. The myth of the hero. The key word in that sentence is myth. It’s a myth because of the way society defines a hero. Heroes are larger than life with superhuman powers, have to have done some great deed and gotten some sort of award or a moment dedicated to them, selfless, sacrificial, have good moral and act on them etc., etc. but why? This isn’t always true of a hero. Yes, heroes are selfless and sacrificial but not all heroes have gotten an award or monument or have superhuman powers, but this is what society deems as a hero and people need to realize this because this is giving us unrealistic expectations of heroes. We should be able to look at a hero and define them in our own personal way, individually not as society sees them. In my opinion there are heroes all around us and we don’t even realize it. We need to see ordinary individual acts and people as heroic. Cops are heroes because they are selfless and sacrificial and risk their lives everyday knowing that they are protecting society against criminals and law breakers. If there were no cops then there would be no way of law enforcement making sure those who break the law are punished according to their crimes. Firefighters are heroes because they risk their lives everyday by running into burning buildings to save those trapped inside in the process putting themselves at risk of dying from the fire themselves. If there were no fire fighters then there would be no one to help those inside burning buildings and many more people would have died from fires than have today. Social workers are heroes because they help to save the lives of people by taking them out of abusive homes and putting them in an atmosphere where they will be safe as well as helping broken homes to be fixed among many other things. If there were no social workers then many more home would be broken and more children would be afraid to go home because of abusive parents or siblings and would end up on the streets. This shows how our reality and idea of what a hero is and what society says a hero is happens to be a myth.

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