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The Hero

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  • April 2008
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Critical Response: Construction of the Hero
Cara O’Keefe
The construction of the ‘Hero’ is one every writer should consider. The hero or protagonist is designed to keep the narrative moving and whose actions create progress for the plot (Morrow et al, 1997). Pearson (2001, p. 101) defines hero’s as “fearless protagonists who realise their own special power and go on to take great personal risks in order to change their reality. In day-to-day life, these powerful archetypes provide a structure that can release the ability of ordinary people to rise to challenges, take risks, break rules, and transform their lives”. There are many ways of defining what a hero is and what a protagonist is. A hero is usually the protagonist but this is not always the case and vice versa. For clarification purposes within this analysis a protagonist or hero is a character who drives the narrative and plot and who embarks upon a learning journey that changes them. A writer’s construction of the hero will be analysed using examples from Kate Grenville’s Lilian’s Story, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Stephen King’s Carrie in comparison to Joseph Campbell’s (1949, p. 36) “destiny of Everyman” by firstly illuminating who the hero’s and protagonist’s are, how the character of the hero has been portrayed and how their journey’s compare.

Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code construction of the hero is by no means a clear one as Lilian’s Story is. There are three main characters, Jacques Saunière, Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu. Jacques is a protagonist, despite the fact that he is dead for majority of the novel, his puzzles and codes left for his granddaughter drive the narrative. However Robert and Sophia’s actions upon these also drive the narrative. Jacques could be seen as a previous hero, as he indeed goes through self sacrifice in his journey but the narrative focuses on Robert as the hero as it is ultimately he who experiences the learning journey and is transformed....

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