Hero? The Definition of "Hero" Has Changed Journal

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¶ … hero?

The definition of "hero" has changed quite radically over the centuries. Today, there seems to be two types of hero: the "action hero" type displayed most prominently in films involving actors such as Sylvester Stallone; and the more subtle hero, who makes necessary and radical changes, but on a much more subtle level. Many of today's heroes are charity workers, rescue workers, teachers, and writers. For me, the most important characteristic of the modern hero is the ability and drive to make a difference in the lives that share the world with them.

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By this definition, one might believe the greatest heroes to be those with large amounts of money to donate to worthy causes across the world. The band U2 or actors such as Leonardo diCaprio, for example, give a large amount of money to help animals, children, the poor, and the earth. However, I think the greatest heroes are those the world never knows about on a large scale. One example is a teacher I had 10 years ago. According to many reports, teachers don't receive anywhere near the money they deserve. And many teachers are not worth much. However, Ms. Jenny cared not only about her profession, but also about the students she was working with. Regardless of the money she made, she acted as if she wanted to be no other place on earth than in the class with us. She opened worlds of knowledge and also universes of deeper understanding. She lay the groundwork for what I am today. She is a true hero, because she showed love in a world that had become jaded and enchanted with glamor that is only fleeting. She confronted the evil of superficiality to help us learn. She wanted to make us authentic human beings, just like she was. She believed that the power of the future was in the young.

Journal Exercise 1.5B: Responding to Gilgamesh

TOPIC: Journal on Hero? The Definition of "Hero" Has Changed Assignment

There are several requirements for an epic poem. It should be a long narrative poem, celebrate the adventures and achievements of a hero, and incorporates the traditions of a nation. The poem "Gilgamesh" does all this. It is a long narrative poem with the central character of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is two parts god and one part human, and rules the people as king. This type of super-human quality is a common tradition within the literature of the time.

Another element of the story is that the king oppressess the people harshly. In response, the gods intervene. This type of direct divine intervention is a further common element in the tradition of the poem's time. The gods sympathize with the people's request and send Enkidu, a wild man to act as rival against Gilgamesh.

In contrast to Gilgamesh's nature as super-human, Enkidu is subhuman, created from the natural world rather than the divine. Enkidu, however, becomes more human after contact with a harlot. Although he was physically very strong, he loses these powers as a result of this contact. In the same way, one might say that Gilgamesh also lost his powers by coming into contact with Enkidu. After their first altercation, the two become friends. They grow increasingly similar, with Enkidu losing his powers as a result of human contact and Gilgamesh letting his powers fall by the wayside as a result of comfortable city living.

When the two decide to go on an adventure together, it is as equals in terms of physical prowess and mental fitness. Gilgamesh's contact with Enkidu therefore shows his susceptibility to becoming less than his potential by succumbing to temptation, just like Enkidu did. His strength, however, lies in his physical superiority to Enkidu, while Enkidu in his transformed from seems to be the intellectual power of the two. Neither, however, bothers to pay attention to the ominous nature of Enkidu's dreams

Journal Exercise 1.6A: Defining Honor

Like the concept of "hero," the idea of honor can also have a variety of connotations in the modern mind. There are many different areas of life, for example, each with its own code of honor. What these generally have in common is a sense of sacrificing one's individual needs and concerns to help others. One's central code of honor, for example, is most prominent in stressful situations, such as the battles fought in the Iliad. It is easy to be honorable when the needs of others coincide with one's own. However, when there is a conflict between saving oneself and putting oneself in danger for others, it is not so simple. In this light, honor for me is therefore to put the needs and concerns of others above one's own.

On the other hand, honor is also a sense of integrity, even when the concerns of others are not the concern. Resisting the temptation to steal or cheat, for example, is also honorable, even in a context where these would cuase no or minimal harm to others. In this case, honor is defined as a sense of honesty in all one's actions.

This latter definition is less spectacular than that of Homer's; however, it is no less important in terms of one's relationships with oneself and others. Homer's fighters would be unable to live with the shame of running from a battle. A person with honor today would be unable to live with the shame of having cheated, even if nobody else knows about it. It is therefore a much less public type of honor, but no less important.

Journal Exercise 1.6B: Responding to Literature

Accordint to the story of the Iliad, it indeed seems that Hector was doomed by fate. Despite his father's please not to enter into battle with Achilles, and despited knowing what the outcome would be, Hector attempts to be brave and meets Achilles nonetheless. It is as if he was succumbing to fate because he did not think any other course of action was open to him.

Achilles was also doomed by fate. His major vulnerability was his heel, where a small wound caused his death. It was as if fate had dictated his ultimate death because of this weakness. Everybody's fate was sealed by the actions of Paris, who abducted his lover, Helen of Troy. This caused a major war, during which fate came into effect for many of the major characters of this story.

In terms of hubris, the most prominent case in the Iliad is probably that of Agamemnon, who believed that he could change even the minds of the gods. This led him to sacrifice his daughter, for which he was ultimately murdered by his wife. Achilles, in turn also displayed hubris, which was driven by revenge rather than a sense of personal pride itself. He was so focused upon this, that he almost sent his men into war without food. This hubris causes his fate to come into effect in the end. Finally, Paris also displays some hubris by believing that he could abduct a very prominent woman in a prominent position without causing great trouble. Hector's ultimate fate is sealed by Achilles' drive for revenge, and also by Hector's own pride. He could not face the shame of standing down from battle, although he knew the probable outcome.

Between Achilles and Hector, the former is clearly the superior in terms of honor. Hector's only display of honor is when he makes the decision to meet his fate. However, when he faces Achilles, he runs. This is a display of dishonorable cowardice, which leads Achilles to disrespect him even after death.

While the Iliad does celebrate the heroism of those who do well in battle, it also condemns mindless brutality such as that of Agamemnon. It is an evenly developed consideration of the splendor that war can create and also examines what might happen if heroes such as Achilles negotiate with rivals such as Priam. The implication seems to be that there is a general development away from the brutality of war towards a more intellectual paradigm.

Journal Exercise 1.9A: Irony in the Canterbury Tales

Many of Chaucer's characters are the clergy, most of whom are far removed from the commonly accepted definitions of their positions.

The pardoner also works for the Church, but is in a somewhat ambiguous profession. The irony in the Pardoner is that his profession is supposed to help the church be collecting fees to provide pardons for significant sins. He further tarnishes the reputation of his profession by pocketing the indulgences. In addition, he also challenges the social norm by presenting himself as ambigious in terms of gender and sexual orientation.

He uses all the tools he can to deceive the faithful and is even on his way to make a profit from the pilgrimage trade. For this purpose, he sells worthless materials as promises of forgiveness or animal bones as charms against the devil.

The irony in his actions is that he uses sermons to warn people against the very sins that he commits. He also attempts to sell… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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