A hero is defined by Websters dictionary as a “courageous, valorous
man.” There are many people in history that society deems or defines as
“heroes”. An example of a hero from our past is Martin Luther King Jr.. He
went against all odds in his fight for freedom. There are fictional heroes that
can be considered heroes as well. Superman and his antics in saving the
planet are in many ways considered heroism. Many sports stars and actors
are considered by many as heroic figures. Mario Lemiux won his battle with
Hotchkins Disease, a form of cancer, to win a completely different battle, the
Stanley Cup. A hero is a person or character that defies all odds in order to
achieve both the respect and idolization of his fellow human beings.
“Among other characters, a literary hero is a character who lives or struggles
to live by a certain code which he sets for himself or which society or
environment has established for him.” In our readings this year, there are
many characters that exhibit these special qualities.
One of which is Jake, in Ernest Hemingway’s award winning novel,
The Sun Also Rises. This story takes place immediately after World War 1, a
time of great hardship. These hardships results in a digression both morally
and socially. Jake handles this digression like a man and continues to live his
life as a journalist. Jake installs his values on his friends on a trip they take
to France. There are two friends that Jake attempts to help that are very
special to him. Those friends are Robert Cohn, and Brett Ashley. This is an
exemplary example of heroism.
It is clear that Lady Brett Ashley is anything but a lady. She is kind
and sweet, but extremely vulnerable that various men in her life seem to
smother her with. Brett is unhappy with her life and her surroundings and
seeks escape and refuge in the arms of these men. But her actions seem to
always end up hurting her, and you could guess who she runs back to, Jake.
Jake knows that he can never have her as his own, and he accepts this as fact.
This is clear when the Count asks, “why don’t you get married, you two.”
(pg. 68) Although Brett toys with Jake’s emotions, Jake is still accepting of
her problems and is tolerant of her behavior because he loves her
unconditionally and is willing to overlook everything she does. Jake’s
willingness to endure and forgive Brett’s promiscuity and infidelity is an
indication of how heroic Jake really is.
Jake’s war injury forced him to accept living in a seemingly terrible
way for more than one reason. The physical ramifications of his injury carry
over to his social life. When Georgette makes reference to his injury, he
simply replies, “I was hurt in the war.”(pg. 24) Hardly an acceptable answer
for such a sophisticated injury. The acceptance of this injury is the basic
definition of a hero. This is definitely a respectable attribute.
Jake’s feelings toward his friend Robert Cohn are a combination of
jealousy, compassion, and understanding. Jake knew of Robert’s
relationship with Brett, and it ate him up with envy, but at the same time he
knew how it had ended. He had been close friends with Robert, and been
through similar situation with Brett, so he had both compassion and
understanding for Robert’s position. At the same time, Jake is angered with
the way that Robert deals with this. Robert goes around beating up every guy
that attempts to get close with Brett. At one point, he even hits Jake. Jake
takes this like a man and accepts Roberts good with his bad and tries to help
him. Again, Jake’s heroic attributes help a friend in need.
The attitude that Jake possesses is an extremely difficult stance to take.
Not many people could be as understanding and caring as he is. I know this
is a fictional character, but the heroics that Hemingway portrays through Jake
can be taken with a grain of salt and help normal people such as you and I
understand what it takes..... to be a hero.
In a different situation Hamlet, in William Shakespeare’s world
renown play Hamlet, helps people learn the truth in a heroic manner. Hamlet
exhibits a puzzling, duplicitous nature. He contradicts himself throughout
the play. This ambiguity is demonstrated by his illeged madness. He
behaves madly one minute, only to become perfectly calm and rational an
instant later. These inconsistencies are related with the internal dilemmas