Wednesday, March 22, 2006


For the last couple of weeks I have been researching heroes (there are worse topics!) not for my books this time, but for the dissertation I’m writing. One of the historical characters that I’m studying is Horatio Nelson. In his day Nelson was not considered particularly physically prepossessing although the portraits of him make him look pretty good! He was vain and was famously unfaithful to his wife. And yet he was also courageous, brilliant and inspiring. His men admired him deeply and he caught the public imagination. He was a Georgian/Regency celebrity as well as a national hero.

This set me wondering whether there is a hero template. Are there certain men and women who possess the characteristics that make them universally admired, and if so, what qualities are they? Do we use these in our own writing and recognise them in our reading? Or do we all have our own personal heroes and heroines?



Lois said...

It sort of seems to me that at least with people I'm trying to think of, that most heroes, have the reason why we look up to them, but they have those reasons that remind us they are human. Maybe they are the best heroes. Mine, Albert Einstein. The dude's the smartest guy in the universe (at least in the past 100 years, give or take! LOL), but his personal life sucked. LOL Not that it wasn't too bad, one ex-wife, romantically writing to a cousin while still married to the first one, ending up marrying her only apparently really wanting to marry her daughter. There are worse stories on soaps, but still he's not perfect. Just look at the hair. LOL :) (but sadly for me, the story of him being lousy at math, is just a myth. Made me feel better when I didn't know that.) ;)

And one time I looked at JFK as a hero, (before I discovered physics and Einstein), and well, we all know his story. :)

Anyway, I guess a universal quality is someone who does something spectacular. Which does include everything from the game winning home run to simply raising us. But I think the more human they are the more we actually can identify with them. But we can do without the drug doing sports stars or the barely dressed 20 something blond musicians who barely can sing types. But that's just me. :)

Lois, who wants to do what Einstein did, but could use his brain too! :)

Nicola Cornick said...

Very good point, Lois, about heroes combining achievement with a quality of humanity we can all admire.

I didn't realise Einstein had such a complicated personal life. There seem to be quite a few of these high achievers who messed up their private life big time!


Anonymous said...

I think heroes who fight for the people they love (either the heroine or their family) are admired, particularly if they are skilled in battle.