Epic Of Gilgamesh Heroism Essay

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The hero is one of the quintessential literary archetypes, found in nearly every work from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Harry Potter. Sometimes they are a paragon of human virtue, a shining and unattainable ideal. Sometimes they are broken and bitter. The latter's journeys assure us that even the most flawed person can better themselves, yet the standards we hold heroism to indicate society’s bias in our view of the ideal person. The classical traits of a hero are honesty and courage, and so a bias towards independence over obedience can be seen. We have more respect for the rebel than the conformer - our heroes topple oppressors and lead armies against injustice. A hero does not stand by, instead facing the villain outright. The protagonist’s heroism must be obvious, their actions bold and foolhardy. There is no honored title for those who play the system to their advantage - using subterfuge and trickery in the name of self-interest is not noble. We detest bystanders even more, condemning them for their passivity. To us, they are weak in their cowardice. A hero obeys a code of honor, a hero’s allegiance is to some great cause, a hero answers to a call higher than the constraints of society. And yet, isn’t the coward’s good deed more noble, their victory in their internal struggle against fear and doubt? We cannot…show more content…
Virtue comes in many different forms, as should our heroes. Being heroic doesn’t have to mean being the knight in shining armor, or the man braving disaster to save stranded civilians. We can find strength in what we perceive as weakness, and nobility in the small and subtle moments. It’s time for us to recognize the unsung - the erased and ignored, the “weak” heroes who do not fit into the mold that society has cast for them, thousands upon thousands of individuals who hold strength in their own right - and honor them as representations of the diversity of humanity at its
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