Heroes Throughout History And Popular Culture

2150 words - 9 pages

A hero is defined as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities (Hero, n.p.). Through the passage of time in history, the perceptions and characteristics of what makes a hero have changed. While some characteristics have remained constant, others have evolved and developed as society has changed. One thing that is certain is that most people have their own individual descriptions and ideas that define a hero. Heroes have high standards to meet. Thousands of people do heroic deeds every day, does doing one heroic deed make one a hero?
The values of a hero have evolved over time. The Renaissance Era introduced many of the common characteristics seen in heroes today, such as strength, intelligence, and courage. In the Romantic Era, these characteristics changed into a value of the arts. Being a hero was to trust one’s feelings and value them. Heroes loved art, literature, and music, and had a natural goodness. The heroes of the Romantic Era were poets, dreamers, and philosophers. The Victorian Era established the belief that heroism was a gift and wasn’t something that could be taught like it was suggested in the previous eras. The people of the Victorian Era believed that heroes had a greater power and were demigods. By the nineteenth century heroism was considered to be able to help others when needed, without any expectations of indebting the person that was helped. Heroes were generally good people who were helpful when needed. The twentieth century valued all people as heroes. The people of the century believed that simply living was a biographic legend to pass on for centuries. The twentieth century belittled the hero and disconnected him from military greatness. Small deeds became heroic (Wilhelm, 2005). The values that have changed over time have influenced and developed today’s hero, and are common characteristics of all heroes seen in this day in age.
Through the influences of society, today a hero is person who is helpful when needed, reliable, loyal, brave, trustworthy, strong, honest, and genuine. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and can be perceived in many different ways. Americans look up to all kinds of heroes. For example, there are superheroes, inspirational heroes, war heroes, and celebrity heroes. A hero can be a parent, firefighter, policeman, soldier, or any person who is helpful when needed. Heroism is perceived differently by all individuals of the world. When thinking of common heroes, one may think of Superman or Batman, while others may think of Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa. An American Democrat may see Barack Obama as a hero to America, while an American Republican may see him as the worst thing that has ever happened to America. A German man may think of Hitler as his hero, while a Jewish man may think of him as one of the most evil dictators of all time. Americans see Osama Bin Laden as an enemy, while the followers of Al Qaeda see him as their hero. Many American...

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