The heroic ideal is a cultural idea of the perfect person, one who embodies the best of all the qualities a culture values. This vision differs by culture. Heroic ideals are most easily identified in stories, but they are also present as cultural expectations.Continue Reading
Contemporary western culture values courage, self-sacrifice and perseverance in its heroes. However, heroes from other cultures show different traits. For instance, the Trickster hero, popular in Native American stories of Raven or Coyote or in African tales of Anasazi the Spider, is often cowardly, but always clever and funny. Ancient Greek heroes sought out a perfect heroic death, which had to be immortalized in song in order to be considered heroic. Being victorious was more important, in Greek thought, than being good or selfless.
While past literary heroes have tended to be masculine men and feminine women, modern heroes are often women who take on the heroic traits of men. Joss Whedon's female characters, for instance, have been heavily influential in Western storytelling; they tend to be tough, smart, brave and self-sacrificing in the same way male heroes were only a little earlier in history. Heroes that subvert contemporary ideas of heroes are popular as well. Nevertheless, the traditional brave, self-sacrificing male hero is still the core heroic ideal of Western culture, all other heroic types being an expansion or revolt against him.Learn more about Classics
The monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often incorrectly referred to in popular culture as Frankenstein, but the creature himself had no name. The scientist to created him was named Dr. Victor Frankenstein. When speaking with his creator, the monster refers to himself as “the Adam of your labours,” but the novel never attributes an actual name to him.Full Answer >
"Beowulf" reveals the essential values of the heroic warrior culture that characterizes Anglo-Saxon and other early Germanic societies. Their values uphold the warrior aristocracy, including loyalty and the high value placed on kinship.Full Answer >
The primary theme of "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan is the mother-daughter dynamic and the clash between traditional and contemporary values. These themes are common ones revisited in many of Amy Tan's books. Many of Amy Tan's stories feature a mother who grew up in China and a daughter who is born in America and rejects many of the traditional requirements.Full Answer >
In the French novel "The Guest," author Albert Camus implies an ambiguous theme that explores how to be hospitable, yet true to personal values and beliefs. The main character, Daru, struggles with his beliefs about European justice and the wrongdoings of his Arab guest, while working to stay within the boundaries of the hospitality and social obligations of hosting this guest, who is a prisoner.Full Answer >