Holden Caulfield: An Existential Hero

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In this essay there will be discussed whether Sir Thomas More and Holden Caulfield are heroes by considering their characteristics and experiences. Sir Thomas More, in A Man for All Seasons, is an existential hero because he dies in defence of his conscience and he goes through a night journey. Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye is also an existential hero because of his heroic attitude towards life. These statements will be discussed by defining a hero in literature and examining the characteristics of an existential hero. Furthermore, the statements will be proven by considering Thomas More’s conscience and the night journey that he endures. The heroism of Holden Caulfield will be discussed by considering his attitude towards society and his view of life. Defining a literary hero is crucial in the identification of a character’s…show more content…
In the play, A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More is depicted as a character who deems his morals as a beneficial part of his decisions. He is a character who looks inward for his strength and does not rely on others to give it to him. “Well . . . I believe, when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties . . . they lead their country by a short route to chaos” (Bolt, 1990:6). By analysing this quote, one can certainly identify that Thomas More relies on his conscience to be a guide to him. His conscience is the part of him that shapes his morals and inspires him to be a man of integrity. Merrigan (2017:25) states that “to be faithful to conscience means to act responsibly in the light of one’s knowledge of one’s duty.” Sir Thomas More has the knowledge and insight to know that it was unethical to involve others into his decisions before and during his trial. He deliberately decides to keep quiet and also not involve his family in his predicament even though they were also suffering the consequences of his

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