In keeping with the recent post on Peter Pevensie (AKA High King Peter the Magnificent – now there’s a title to live up to!), which got me thinking again about my Hero and Everyman post, and also with the start of a brand-new season of NCIS:LA this week (yes, aside from figure skating – and by the way, you will probably have to suffer through a post or two on that this winter, because that’s just how I roll – the NCIS shows are the only television I really care about anymore. Although I am really, really curious about Once Upon A Time starting in October, given its fairy tale premise), I got thinking about the kind of hero that I have always been drawn to, both in literature and film (and television).
So here you have it.
The type of hero I prefer:
Sam more than Callen (NCIS:LA)
Will more than Jack (Pirates of the Caribbean) (only in the first, though, because then Will just got irritating and Jack got immensely more charming)
Faramir more than Boromir (Lord of the Rings)
Mr Knightley (or Henry Tilney) more than Mr Darcy or Captain Wentworth (Jane Austen’s novels)
Not necessarily the squeaky-clean, never had any faults (like Peter) hero, but the one who isn’t angsting all over the place, the one who is truly good, the one who knows what is right and strives to do it. Not so much the tortured anti-hero for me. One of my chief complaints about the LotR films was the changes they made to Boromir and Faramir’s characters – how they made Boromir, the weak one, seem more heroic, and turned Faramir, who was strong and just and good, into somebody who was weak and willing to do almost anything to earn his father’s approval. GRRR.
I think that’s one reason I like Edmund so much in the Narnia books, because we get to see his journey from the most un-heroic beginning to a man who is confident in what is right, and acts upon it without much inner anguish or tortured questioning or intense struggles between what he wants and what he should do.
(Unless, of course, you are reading much of the Narnia fanfiction out there, where Edmund spends the rest of his life beating himself up for his temporary alliance with the Witch. GRRR again.)
Taran, from Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, is another similar character – one who starts out with foolish ideas about what a hero is, and grows to be a quiet and unassuming hero of his own without even realizing it.
This applies to heroines as well, of course. I have mentioned before about my fondness for Cecy and Kate of the Sorcery & Cecilia books by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. There are two girls who are confident in what is right, and able to act upon it. Granted, their actions often stir up yet more trouble, but that just adds to the fun. And it’s not over-confidence, either – don’t get me wrong. I’m not a fan of the smug, or even the one who never questions. I think that’s why I liked Will so much in the first PotC movie – when his sense of rightness clashed with “the rules” he’d always lived by, he had to undergo a struggle to determine which was stronger – his instinct for justice, or what he’d always believed. Which made his decision in the end far more cheer-worthy.
Or Sam, from NCIS:LA – though it tore at him to break away from NCIS in last season’s finale, to walk away from the structure he lived by, it was more important to help his friends (and save Hetty). If Callen hadn’t walked away first, would Sam have done so? I’m not sure, but once Callen did, Sam had to back up his friend and partner.
And that is awesome stuff, and to me, the sort of thing that makes a hero (or heroine) truly interesting, and truly worth emulating.
What sort of heroes do you prefer – the tortured ones, the ones suffering from a lot of inner angst, the anti-hero like Captain Jack Sparrow, or the simpler heroes, like Sam and Faramir, etc? I think there’s a lot to be said for all kinds, and I’m always interested to hear where other people differ from my preferences – it helps me broaden my writing repertoire as well as gives me stuff to chew on personally! Also, when it comes to Jane Austen heroes, am I the only one who thinks that Mr Darcy remains something of a bore even after his change, and that Mr Knightley is one of the greatest heroes in literature (I know Rockinlibrarian agrees with me on Henry Tilney’s swoon-worthiness, at least!)?