The Song of Roland

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The Song of Roland Essay

Most young boys see strong, courageous characters in many of their cartoons, or in their books. The cartoon their watching may be new, but the image of a hero has been around for thousands of years. The tragic and epic heroes have been central characters in some of the most important pieces in history. The epic hero is characterized by being a person of high birth, being capable of superhuman feats, intervention of the supernatural, and trying to immortalize themselves through valorous deeds. The tragic hero is very similar, they are also of importance, usually a very brave character, they are pitied by the audience, and the tragic hero has one major flaw which ends up being their demise. Roland, the main character from the epic poem, The Song of Roland fits the definition of both a tragic and an epic hero because he tries to immortalize himself, he performs super human feats, he has interventions from the supernatural, he is of high birth, he is pitied by the audience, and he has one fatal flaw. Roland shows many traits of an epic hero such as trying to immortalize himself through his actions. Throughout the story he does many things that are not completely logical, but are done to immortalize himself and his name. An example of this is when he realizes that he is about to go to battle against one hundred thousand Saracens and decides to not blow his olifant that would signal for reinforcements, saying “I’d be a fool to do it. I would lose my good name all throughout sweet France” ( Goldin, stanza 83). He was only trying to protect his name, but by not signaling for help he sealed his fate and the fate of all the twenty thousand french warriors with him. He eventually is persuaded to signal for help when the Archbishop says “ Let the king come, he can avenge us then - these men of Spain must not go home exulting!” ( Goldin, stanza 132). Roland blows the olifant, but not to save his life only to make sure his death is avenged...
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