This meme was created for YA Midnight Reads as a discussion post of all things bookish.
What popped up in your mind when you read that blog post title?
Kickassery? Badassery? We’ve heard all the synonyms. More often than not, the word “hero” is used to describe those special characters who can knock their opponent down with the throw of their fist in an action-fueled novel. It is the word to describe those who can handle guns and lead some government rebellion in a dystopian world. It is the word to describe those who can survive the apocalypse when no one else can. It is the word used to describe a Katniss, or a Percy, a Tris, and even a Harry. These are our common YA fiction heroes and heroines that would normally pop up in your head if I asked you to name one.
So what does make a character a hero?
Joseph Campbell was an America mythologist who had a concept, often referred to as the Monomyth or The Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell created 12 steps that make up The Hero’s Journey which proves that every mythic narrative can be stemmed back to the same great story. And it’s very true. We can evidently see The Hero’s Journey being used in all forms of literature and film today. Notable examples that evidently reflect Campbell’s theory include Harry Potter, The Odyssey and The Princess Bride. All three of those pieces of literature have a hero that go on a journey–whether it is literally on abstractly. What matters is that at the end of the journey, there is change (it is referred to as step no. 12 aka the last step to The Hero’s Journey: The Return with Elixir). My 2014 English teacher constantly told us that there was only really one rule in creative writing. And that was that something should have changed since the beginning of your story. And that is completely correct, it doesn’t have to be a huge change that alters the world, but perhaps it’s something that will change the hero for life. (I know, that sounds so dramatic.)
So, if you can see what I am trying to say, (I don’t blame you if you don’t. I have the WORST explaining skills ever known to Earth) every character is a hero in their own, special way. Each and every character experiences change throughout their journeys (as that’s a basically the non-spoken and obvious rule for writing a story) and that means they all follow The Hero’s Journey theory. And whether they make a huge change to the world, that isn’t necessary. Because each and every one of them are the heroes to their own stories, and that’s what makes it so special. They don’t need to rule a rebellion, but something like battling cancer and surviving already makes that character a hero.
So long story short? There isn’t anything that makes someone a hero, because one already is–one just doesn’t know it yet. Every character is their own hero to their own life journey. Which is why we call Katniss and Tris and Harry and Percy heroes; they’re the main characters to their stories. But it’s also important to remember a Lizzie from Pride & Prejudice, an Emily from Since You’ve Been Gone, and a Lainey from The Art of Lainey are heroines, too; even though they don’t go kicking butt and saving the world. Each hero is different; they look different, they think different, they act different; and, they are a hero for a different reason.
And as for us unfortunate (and non fictional and mundane) beings, we are heroes as well, in a strange and twisted way. We’re the main characters to our own life stories.
Do you agree with me? In a way, aren’t all characters their own heroes?
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