Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Heroes

I have just finished reading Eragon and Eldest, the 2 fantasy novels by Christopher Paolini. While they are billed as children's novels, I found that I really enjoyed them (especially Eragon, Eldest is the second novel in a trilogy, and suffers from all the issues common to such stories). I think one of the reasons I enjoyed them so much is that the hero, the young man named Eragon, is not a flawed hero. He is basically a good person, his only weaknesses are those of youth - he is 15 and 16 in the novels - not of character.

This got me thinking a bit about heroic characters. I can see that we need our heroes to be slightly flawed, both because we are flawed and cannot relate to a perfect hero, and also because so many of these stories involve the redemption of the hero. But popular culture has become so enamored with truly flawed heroes that it is hard to find someone you can really look up to. Perhaps those of you who read my blog can name for me a hero from either print or film in recent years who is at most mildly flawed. If you have read Eragon, can you name a hero like him?

My problem is that when I consume these stories, I find myself wanting a character that I can root for through the good and bad. Someone for whom, when something bad happens, I can feel it is truly unjust. Someone who feels like a redeemer to me, and not just another sinner.

Great stories resonate with us because they mirror the greatest of all stories - redemption. I have grown lately to feel that our culture only tells one side of the story, the side the Greeks told, of the tragic, almost accidental redemption of a flawed hero. But the full story includes the remarkable, miraculous redemption of a flawed world by a hero who suffered tragedy, not because he deserved it, but because He took it for us that we might be redeemed.

Eragon doesn't exactly tell this story, but it is closer than I have seen for a while. It was refreshing.

6 comments:

charlene said...

Are you aware of the upcoming movie based on the book? My kids have read the books, but I have not. Thanks for piquing my interest...:)

Dr. Don said...

It was the movie that pushed me over the edge to reading the book. I had seen the book for a while, but assumed it was too juvenile for my tastes.

I bought it to read, then discovered that my youngest was reading it in his free reading time at school.

I am really looking forward to the movie, although I expect to be disappointed.

Dr. Don said...

BTW, Charlene. Piquing, good word, I like it.

Bad Methodist said...

I've not read the book, but the movie does look interesting. Definitely my kind of thing.

I think there are plenty of fictional heroes that aren't deeply flawed but are rather virtuous characters. Luke Skywalker. Peter Parker. Harry Potter. Will Turner (Pirates of the Caribbean). Kim Possible. Danny Phantom. The Incredibles. Yugi Mutou (although his alter-ego starts out VERY dark, so the dark hero/redemption arc does play out there). These are from some of my favorite movies/books/comics/cartoons for the very reason that they have really wonderful heroes. Perfect? No. But not dark or twisted or anything like that. Not that I don't love my anti-heroes and redemptive arcs (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Han Solo, Captain Jack Sparrow to name a few) but there's something about a character with strong ideals that just does the right thing that really draws me into a story, even if it's a kid's comic or cartoon. (Can you tell I'm a mom? Most of the things I like now I got into because my kids watch them.) :)

Bad Methodist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bad Methodist said...

Argh. Sorry for the double response. (I deleted the second). First Blogspot tells me there is an error, so I go to the trouble of retyping, then when I post, the first one was already there! I think I need to go take a nap now. ;)