Critical Lens Essay Heroes

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Umberto Eco’s quote, “The real hero is always a hero by mistake…” means that genuine heroes are not those who anticipate specific deeds in order to become a hero, but rather those individuals who are confronted with unexpected situations, and develop into accidental or unintentional heroes. People that have these characteristics should have no reason to be called heroes. Those characteristics would make them the so-called “hero by mistake”. Two books that are associated to this quotation are The Crucible, by Arthur Miller, and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. John Proctor and Atticus Finch are both main characters and both become so-called “heroes by mistake” by making the best of the unexpected situation that they have been put in. In the book, The Crucible, the setting is located in Salem, Massachusetts. John Proctor does what he thinks will help and goes to try to aid his wife. He tries many ways to get his wife out of jail including confessing to the sin of adultery. This would make John a “hero by mistake” because he does not want to be thought of as a hero for his trying to save his wife. He only does what he thinks is right and becomes a hero for what he does. John never expects to have himself hanged and this is another example of him being a “hero by mistake”. In the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, the main character is another great example of another “hero by mistake”. The setting of this book is based during the Great Depression in the area of Maycomb, Alabama. Atticus is a lawyer and given a case that consists of an allegation of a black man raping a white woman in which he must defend the Tom Robinson, the accused. Atticus is very brave and considered a hero because he does what nobody else would do, defend a black man. When the court case is over Tom Robinson is found guilty, yet Atticus is still a hero due to his actions in the courtroom. John Proctor and Atticus Finch both never thought that they would ever be...
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