Definition of a Hero and Heroism

Definition of a Hero

There are various patterns of development that can be used to define a hero. This essay will use the exemplification method. Exemplification uses typical examples or case studies to define a given issue or concept.

A hero has been widely defined as a person who puts his/her life in danger for the good of humanity. It also refers to someone with a lot of courage and bravery to risk their lives in order to help other people. Heroism is therefore a good thoughtful deed carried out by someone to make a change in for the society, a group of people, or a specific person (Pearson 1989). Heroism can also be defined as an act of kindness from the heart which does not necessarily require super strength. Some other people also suggest that a hero acts in the best interest of others; they do not act selfishly to meet their own selfish interests but instead do good things for others (Pearson 1989). However, this essay defines a hero as someone who uses his interest as a platform to achieve personal values, and by doing so influence the wider society.

These definitions can be expounded from some examples of known heroes in both literature and real life. Heroic stories are told all over the world to provide moral example for other people. For instance, heroism has been exemplified in the lives of cults who idolized various heroes in the Ancient Greek society including Heracles, Perseus and Archiles (Gladstein 1999). This essay uses the Randian Hero to define the term Hero.

The Randian Hero is a figure displayed in the fiction of Ayn Rand in the 20th century as a hero. The hero was presented in the figures of Howard Roark and John Galt. Howard Roark was used to exemplify the Randian Hero in the fiction The Fountainhead while John Galt was presented as a Hero in Rand’s fiction Atlas Shrugged (Younkins 2007). In the Rand’s fictional stories, a hero is defined as an ideal man who perseveres to achieve his values even if his actions will lead him into conflict with other people. The Randian hero is also considered to be morally heroic and heroically rational.

A Randian hero can be defined as a creative individualist with ethical egoism. Ethical egoism suggests that the self-interest of an individual should be the basis for an individual’s moral action. Therefore, based on the Randian Hero, heroism is the act of using individual morality to perform acts that boost the ethical value of an individual. This reflects the true picture of an ideal man. Although Randian heroes are not obligated to help other people, they demonstrated generosity, compassion and empathy (Younkins 2007). These heroes displayed self-conscious sense of life and self-assertion tendencies.

In the perspective of Randian heroes, a hero is someone who is radically individualistic, morally resolute and highly intelligent. He has emotional discipline and self-control (Cody 1973). In this case, a hero is defined in terms of both characteristics and functions. In terms of functions, a hero pursues personal moral and ethical value. In terms of characteristics, a hero is considered as intelligent and morally resolute.

An example of Randian Hroes is Equality 7-2521 who was a protagonist in Rand’s novel, Anthem. He had a quick and inquisitive mind; hence he was considered to be intelligent. He was forced by his collectivist society to work as a sweeper on the street. In defiance to the collectivist society, equity discovers electricity and builds a stronghold of individualism with other like-minded people in order to fight for freedom (Žižek 1998). In this case, Equality is considered to be a hero because he pursued individualistic moral and ethical values of freedom and improvement of personal value. Intelligently, Equality achieves personal value by discovering electricity, but in the end his discovery also helped the entire dystopian society of the story. Therefore, a hero is someone who uses his self-interest as a platform to achieve personal values, and by doing so influence the wider society and heroism is a good thoughtful self-interest act of a hero.


Works cited

Cody, John. “Ayn Rand’s Promethean Heroes.” Reason, 5, 1973, 30–35.

Gladstein, Mimi. The New Ayn Rand Companion. Westport: Greenwood Press. 1999. Print.

Pearson, Carol. The Hero Within: Six archetypes we live by. San Francisco: Harper and Row. 1989. Print.

Tuccille, Jerome. Alan Shrugged. New York: Wiley. 2002. Print.

Younkins, Edward. Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Aldershot: Ashgate. 2007. Print.

Žižek, Slavoj. Cogito and the Unconscious. Durham: Duke University Press. 1998. Print.

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