Fictional heroes

Among the many interesting bittercon discussions going on this weekend, sartorias has started an interesting discussion of what–in fiction–makes for a hero. Which helped me to clarify what makes for a hero for me–I’ve already posted there, but am posting here, too, so I can hang onto it:

For me, what makes for a hero is a character who does the things that need to be done, makes the hard choices when they need to be made, and (without being stupid about it) don’t put themselves first when there are larger things at stake.

crinklequirk made very interesting observation that this sounds less like a description of a hero than simply like a description of an adult. Which got me to thinking further:

I think adults–human beings–are heroes at our best. Or have things in us that are echoes of heroes, or can–part of the appeal of a hero for me is what she tells us about how we could be living our own (hopefully less imperiled) lives, too.

Not everyone had the sort of same definitions–the whole post and its comments are worth reading. But Indiana Jones notwithstanding (Harrison Ford is an exception for everything), it’s useful/interesting for me to remember that for the most part I’m not interested in larger than life heroes–I’m interested in heroes who are closer to us–more powerful perhaps (though perhaps not), likely more imperiled as well–but who have in them echoes of our ordinary human lives.

This is why, among other things, Eowyn and Faramir have always resonated so much more for me than Aragorn and Arwen. And probably, for that matter, why Ged resonates more than Gandalf, too.

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