Heroism in Hollywood

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Hannah Chapman
Mr. Coffee
AP Literature
March 20, 2013
Heroism in Hollywood
Cinema and its impact on my life has influenced the world in which I endure in the way that it has molded my perspective on so many diverse objects, places, things, and even ideas. When a person is born they hold deep in their brain a conceptual framework called a schema. This outline is what one uses to provide a basis by which they relate to the events him or her experience (Myers). From the moment I was born Hollywood entered my life in a welcoming light. My mother worked full time and did the entire house work so of course my babysitter became the magical world of Disney. For a few short hours I stared at the screen mesmerized by the talking gargoyles and tantalizing gypsies of the imaginative world of Quasimodo, as my mother bathed in soapy scummy waters in order to cleanse the gritty meat and other odd assortments off the mountain of porcelain the habitually took over my kitchen counters. This childhood delight turned into a most powerful love that developed my own schema by pouring in the liquid of experience into my glass called life. Walt Disney turned into Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas) who morphed into Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) and Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain), the visionaries I idolize to this day. Through this growing admiration for film “the hero” of all my cinematic adventures resonated in an eternal light. However, the image of these so called heroes changed continuously and I could never understand why. It came to the point where the definition of the hero, the classifications of a hero, became ambiguous.

The hero is not as it seemed thousands of years ago not even in the span of eight decades ranging from the 1930s to now in 2013. Like many things in culture the hero has transformed and has worn many faces. The hero is one thing then in a short time later its image has entirely altered. Early on, children played in backyards where the boys would impersonate cowboys in saloon brawls or astronauts awaiting on their next space expedition and the girls played the beautiful princesses where they waited in their towers for their knight in shining armor to rescue them from the fire-breathing dragon called “evil.” Heroes back in the day had one look and one responsibility, stop mayhem and save society from darkness and malevolence. This image has easily been described as the Beowulf-façade where the hero is dressed in pure masculinity and honor. According to George Clark in his excerpt, “The Hero and the Theme”, “The poem announces its theme, fame (honor, the praise of one’s peers and posterity), before introducing its hero, keeps the theme of fame in view throughout the narrative, and reasserts that theme in its closing episode and in its final word.” This fame and honor is what has labeled protagonists that have encompassed countless millenniums. The good versus the evil is established as the frequent plot for all fairy tales and valiant stories. This paper will discuss the different shifts in heroism starting from Beowulf and ending with the landscape of current heroes, the restructuring of cultural expectations of heroism through the archetypal, anti, heroine, and moral deviations of heroism.

An “archetype” according to psychologist Carl Gustav Jung “is an original pattern of which all other similar persons, objects, or concepts are derived, copied, modeled, or emulated.” In the epic poem, “Beowulf,” author unknown, its theme is devoted to the strength, courage, and loyalty in a warrior; the comradeship, generosity, and political skills in a king; etiquette in women; and good reputation in all people. This theme is critical to this specific warrior society as a means of understanding their affiliations to the world and the perils lurking beyond their brinks. This story is what illuminated the path for the original heroes in history. Mythology was the...
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