Hero Archetype Essay
- Choose one of the characters below. Question I hear:
Can I use a different character? No. Why? Because I want you to step outside the box
and read something new and explore a film or novel you do not know. Question:
Can I watch the film? Yes, you should watch the film. Netflix and amazon are just a
few of the possibilities for finding and watching the film. Then you will read the novel,
screenplay or stage play or poem. The written text is what you will quote for the
So does that mean that, even if I have a film in mind that I really love, I still have to
use one of the characters on this list? Yes, that is correct
- Now, think about that character and review the Hero Archetype document. Find the
kind of hero this is. Question: What if my hero is a combination of archetypes? Only
use one for this essay.
- Select three aspects of that archetype that relate to your character. Question: What
if there are three or four aspects that relate to my character? You can reference three
or four only for this essay.
- Go to google.com and type in that hero archetype so you can research some
additional information about that kind of hero and why that kind of hero doeswhat
- Set up an easybib project and begin researching and citing : the free script,
research about the archetype you have chosen, psychological information
about the character you have created that might explain motives, critical
analysis of your character. DO NOT use easybib or cliffs notes or yahoo
answers or Wikipedia or any other sites that are not legitimate, vetted
- Study these hero archetypes and see which one best describes the character
you have chosen
REMEMBER THAT ONLY ONE TOPIC CAN BE USED PER STUDENT.
Open the pdf in the Module and make your selection.
LOCK YOUR CHOICE IN THE DISCUSSION BOARD TOPIC
The Hero Archetype
The Classical Hero
Here are the main characteristics of the epic classical hero of Greek and Roman literature:
• He is of royal birth or even, like the Titan Prometheus, half mortal and half god.
• He must perform extraordinary feats.
• His is a noble character: close to perfectly ideal but for one fatal flaw.
• The suffering of the character is physical.
• Death must occur in an unusual way.
• The hero fights for his own honor; his deeds belong to the community after his death.
• A tragic hero is a person of noble birth with heroic or potentially heroic qualities.
• This person is fated by the Gods or by some supernatural force to doom and
destruction or at least to greatsuffering.
• But the hero struggles against this fate and this cosmic conflict wins our admiration.
• Because the tragic hero simply cannot accept a diminished view of the self and
because of some personality flaw, the hero fails in this epic struggle against fate.
• This tragic drama involves choices (free will) and results in a paradox — Is it Fate or
Free Will which is primarily responsible for the suffering in the hero’s life (and in our lives in
light of our own personal tragedies)? Though fated the hero makes choices which bring about
his destruction.In addition, tragic drama usually reveals the hero’s true identity. Oedipus —
instead of being the proud savior of Thebes — discovers that he is the cause of the city’s
plague, the killer of his father and the husband of his mother.
• The hero’s suffering, however, is not gratuitous because through great suffering the hero
is enlightened. Such heroes learn about themselves and their place in the universe. Pride is
chastened. Though destroyed the hero is at peace intellectually.
• Tragic doom is both public (the State) and private (a family tragedy as well) and usually
sexual transgressions are involved in some way.
• We are energized by witnessing this eternal drama for it encompasses the fate and “stuff”
of all humans from kings and queens to paupers. As for paupers, in his famous editorial for the
NY Times, Tragedy and the Common Man, Arthur Miller argues that the common person is also
capable of tragic stature in so far as each one of us seeks a true identity and a personal dignity.
The Medieval Hero
Here are the main characteristics of the medieval hero:
• A hero can be of common birth.
• Battle is an ongoing test of manhood and loyalty to the liege lord.
• A man has to be seen as having a good moral character, including chastity and obedience
(doesn’t actually need to be of such a character, perception more important than actuality).
• Must demonstrate obedience to hierarchy
• Must follow elaborate rules of chivalry, dress, courtesy, and codes of conduct.
• Wages war on behalf of liege lord’s principles, to grab land or to avenge honor.
The Romantic Hero
Here are the characteristics of the romantic hero:
• Birth and class are unimportant: the individual transcendssociety
• The battle is internal: it is a psychological war won by the “courage to be me.”
• Moral codes are eccentric/heroes make their own rules
• Passions are outside of individual control
• Self knowledge is valued more than physical strength or endurance
(physical courage is de-valued).
• The hero is moody, isolated, and introspective.
• Loyalty is to a particular project and to a community of like-minded others.
The Modern Hero/Antihero
Here are the characteristics of the modern hero:
• He seeks merely to survive, to create a pool of light in a world of dark shadows.
• The war is against meaninglessness: the battle is to create meaning and value.
• The heroes have a code of behavior rather than a code of ethics; they portray men who are
impassive, hard-boiled, never surprised by events.
• The world is seen as having no internal order: anything goes
– The hero is likely to be as debauched and depraved as the enemy.
• The internal struggle is with addiction to drugs, liquor, sex,money.
• The external struggle is with corruption in government, the military, schools, formal
organizations.There is no sense of community. The hero lives for a small, select circle, which
can be merely one woman or a few trusted friends.
The Byronic hero
• Cunning and able to adapt
• Disrespectful of rank and privilege
• Emotionally conflicted, bipolar, or moody
• Having a distaste for social institutions and norms
• Having a troubled past or suffering from an unnamed crime
• Intelligent and perceptive
• Jaded, world-weary
• Mysterious, magnetic, and charismatic
• Seductive and sexually attractive
• Self-critical and introspective
• Socially and sexually dominant
• Sophisticated and educated
• Struggling with integrity
• Treated as an exile, outcast, or outlaw
The Homeric Hero
• A vital complex person who is on a quest
• Changing emotions
• Faces complex and important decisions
• Strives for excellence
• Strives to be best among peers
• Goal is to achieve the greatest glory, to gain the greatest honor from his peers,
commander, and his warrior society
• Has supernatural help
• Public approval is crucial to self-esteem
• Has super-human strength
• Associated with beautiful women
• Birth/death dates unclear or unknown
• Respects all forms of life
• A model for behavior
The Dystopian Hero
• Often feels trapped and is struggling to escape.Questions the existing social and political
• Believes or feels that something is terribly wrong with the society in which he or shelives.
• Helps the audience recognizes the negative aspects of the dystopian world through his or her
Seeks to improve a world where
*Propaganda is used to control the citizens of society.
• Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted.
• A figurehead or concept is worshipped by the citizens of the society.
• Citizens are perceived to be under constantsurveillance.
• Citizens have a fear of the outside world.
• Citizens live in a dehumanized state.
• The natural world is banished and distrusted.
• Citizens conform to uniform expectations. Individuality and dissent are bad.
• The society is an illusion of a perfect utopian world.
• A protagonist who holds up human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomingsto
censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, or irony, often with an intent
to bring about improvement.
• The character is oftena sophisticated man of the world concerned about folly, which he
sees everywhere, and he is moved to laughter, frustration, orrage.
• Incongruities, hyperbole, litotes, parody, oxymoron, and irony are key literaryelements
• The protagonist continually but subconsciously fights against reality, tradition,
phenomenon, and himself—all under the mask of naivety.
The Epicurean Hedonist Hero
• Strongly motivated by a desire to be happy and experience various kinds of pleasure.
• Unlike an Ethical Hedonist, however, the character isn’t mature enough to sufficiently
consider even his own long-term needs, much less the (short-term or long-term) needs of
• Personal instant gratification is the goal here. Sometimes the hero takes pleasure to the
limit so that the pursuit of pleasure becomes the character’s only defining trait, doing
whatever feels good without any thought of the consequences.
• Such a childish mentality is often justified by the character actually being a child. If the
character is adult, he might be a sex maniac… lovable or otherwise.
• While usually Played for Laughs, this kind of character is sometimes played as a
Strawman Political against Ethical Hedonists or people with a HedonisticLifestyle.
• Unlike these real hedonists, a childishly hedonistic character is not prone to consider
other people’s happiness, or even his own long-term happiness.
• Instant gratification is gold. If it feels good right now, do it! Why waste time on thinking?
Thinking isn’t fun! Unless you are thinking about how to get what you want as quickly
and effortlessly as possible, that is.
• It’s original to compare this general viewpoint to the original hedonists, who believed you
should basically do the opposite; true happiness is the opposite of desires, which cause
• This hero will eventually come face to face with his humanity when the discovery is
made that not all people, places and animals support the hero’sself-indulgence.
• Traditionally, an existential hero is one who doesn’t define himself in terms of what the
“herd” or the “public crowd” defines the ideal hero as.
• The existential hero stands alone against the crowd and generates a self-interpretation
from his own will and experiential history.
• This constitutes”authentic” experience.
• Moreover, the Hero usuallyaccepts his own mortality and generates meaning out ofthe
meaninglessness of finite experience.
• Existential protagonists are most often misunderstood as misanthropes who are curt,
reticent, morose, disillusioned, and sometimes even mad besides being termed as cynics.
• The existential hero looks for the alternatives to joining the status quo.
• the Existential Hero is one who, like Sisyphus, grasped the absurd pointlessness of his
task (existing) and chooses to embrace it anyway.
• The Hero thinks that this God created a world of meaningless, terrible suffering; onlythe
terror of the plague and witnessing children dying can teach the Hero the true nature of
charity and love and, thus, God.
• The Existential Hero learns that hell is despair itself (or perhaps clinical
depression). Hell is the failure to create meaning, to create moral or ethical values and
then live in accord with them, or to confront the fact that others have created worlds that
collide with ours and obliterate our attempts to live meaningfully. Thus, the Hero learns
that hell is other people.
Martyr or Christ-Figure Hero
• A martyr is an altruistic, self-sacrificing character who pleases God through suffering,
deprivation, and hardship.
• He (usually) sees life as difficult and unpleasant butnecessary to work for others’sakes.
• He believes it is more blessed to give than receive, more virtuous to be poor than rich.
• Common traits: performance of miracles, manifestation of divine qualities, healing
others, display loving kindness and forgiveness, fight for justice, being guided bythe
spirit of the character’s father, death and resurrection.
• While Christ figures are often martyrs, sacrificing themselves for causes larger than
themselves, not all martyrs are Christfigures
• This crosses over to become a Christ-figure when a character displays more than one
correspondence with the story of Jesus Christ as depicted in the Bible: walking on water,
making much out of little (typically fish, bread, or wine), virgin birth in a stable, twelve
followers, carpentry, exchange of silver, betrayal by a close friend, denied three times,
crown of thorns, spear wound to the side, crucifixion, resurrection.
• This hero is born alienated and seeks self discovery
• The hero is a conventional if unusual young man
• In some cases, the Dickensian hero is a morally flawed and passive protagonist
• The hero is often an abandoned child
• Natural hero
• A dynamic and imperfect hero who overcomes social station and personal flaws to find
• The hero lives within a social context and psychic estrangement
• The hero faces social alienation and the price of selfhood hears the hero to death
The Aristophanic Comic Hero
• Aristophanic comedy, the hero is an independent-minded and self-reliant individual.
• He has something of the ingenious and shrewd
• He is subjected to corrupt leaders and unreliable neighbors.
• Typically he devises a complicated and highly fanciful escape from anintolerable
• The comic hero supports peace and constructs a plan to bring about a peaceful outcome.
• The Aristophanic hero applies unlikely negotiation strategies
Heroic Comedic Sociopath
• The Heroic Comedic Sociopath is a very special sort of comic relief who works toward a
positive, morally affirming goal whilst being as evil as possible along the way.
• He differs from most Anti-Hero archetypes in that he’s never ineffectual or angry – he
loves what he does for a living.
• His punishment, at worst, is that he may be on the receiving end of some Comedic
• Far more often he’s dealing out Comedic Sociopathy and Crossing the Line Twice at such
a rate that he quickly becomes a fan favorite. (Note that it is not always a “he”, but female
Heroic Sociopaths are rare.)
• A Heroic Comedic Sociopath can and will eat the souls of jaywalkers, swindle old ladies,
detonate buildings, punt puppies into traffic, and steal candy from babies all in broad
daylight with a hundred witnesses present, in the funniest way possible.
• The Karma Houdini is a natural part of his being (The character has done a number of
things that deserve a karmic comeuppance, most importantly things that caused harmto
the innocent. But when the time comes for the hammer to fall, that’s not what happens. At
least, not on him. He doesn’t get what he deserves. Instead, he gets away scot-free. ) — not
because he’s too badass to be captured, but because it’s hilarious.
• Being cranked up to the top and played for laughs as he is, the Heroic Comedic Sociopath is
so fun, evil and invincible that the audience naturally cheers for him and his wacky antics.
• At the same time, he serves as Wish Fulfillment: a fantasy for the audience. Anyone who
has wanted to give the boss what they deserve can wish they were like the Heroic Comedic
Sociopath, or had a Heroic Comedic Sociopath ally to sic on said boss.
• Actually good characters in the story put up with him, sometimes because while he may be
a monster, he’s their monster.
• Sometimes the other heroes have protection from the Heroic Comedic Sociopath’s hijinks
— it might be a Restraining Bolt, or the fact that the heroes combined can stand up to
him. Failing that, they may be in some way endearing to him.
• The Heroic Comedic Sociopath just finds the heroes amusing enough to see the advantage
of not pestering them too much, or may just find it more fun to target the bad guysinstead.
• Other times, they don’t have that luxury and are stuck with an “ally” as disruptive to them as
to their enemies. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HeroicComedicSociopath
- Now, create your alphanumeric outline. Here is a template
A. Introduce the film, novel or play
B. Describe the hero in one or twosentences
C. Describe the hero archetype that applies
D. Indicate the three aspects of that archetype youconsider
- That kind of hero does this for thisreason
- That kind of hero does this for thisreason
E. That kind of hero does this for thisreasonTransition to II. Definition
F. Summarize the film in a fewsentences
G. Discuss the hero of the story in a fewsentences
H. Explain why the hero does what he does. (Note: This is where you move out of plot
summary and into analysis by delving into the character)
I. What does the hero learn in the end?
J. How does that lesson make that character an example of a hero?
K. Transition to II.
II. First Heroic quality
A. A hero possesses this particular quality (refer to the list youmade)
B. This hero exhibits that same trait.
- For example, in this scene, he/she faces this or that problem and responds in
this or that way.
- The hero says “ ” (citation).
- By using those words in this situation, the hero clearly demonstrates that he is
driven by the same forces that drive, by definition, the hero.
C. According to (whatever google source you found)
the hero is motivated by his/her need for…
- For example, the hero says “ ” (citation).
- These words indicate his/her needfor
, , and .
D. Transition to the next archetypal characteristic.
And repeat the formula.
III. Next Point of the Essay following the sameformat
IV. Next Point of the Essay following the sameformat