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What Is a Hero Essay

08 Sep 2016History Essays

A hero is someone special, out of the ordinary, with qualities or powers that exceed the usual.

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The Oxford English Dictionary has three distinct definitions:

  1. Aperson noted or admired for courage, outstanding achievements, nobility etc
  2. The chief male character in a poem , play or story
  3. A man of superhuman qualities, favored by the gods, a demi-god

Definitely, someone who stands out from the crowd. The Jewish King Saul, for instance, was described as being head and shoulders taller than most as described in the Bible, 1 Samuel 9 v 2. It is unlikely that someone small, insignificant and unimportant would be classed as heroic, although David when he faced Goliath performed heroically despite being only a boy facing a giant in full armour as described in chapter 17 of the same book. Despite his size, he performed heroically to save his people. Heroes are not selfish or mean spirited, nor are they usually shrinking violets.

Modern science fiction heroes such as Superman or Spider have non-human advantages such as the ability to fly or superhuman strength.

Many heroes are flawed in some way – Nelson was always seasick, he wasn’t faithful to his wife, he had lost an eye and an arm and he died during his greatest triumph – yet he was still proclaimed a hero. Field Marshal Montgomery would be hailed by many who served under him as a hero – yet he had a stilted way of speaking and didn’t suffer fools gladly.

It is not only in battle that heroes are discovered – Einstein and others who have received Nobel prizes are other people considered to be heroes – whether the prize is for science or for peace. And let us not forget heroines - Grace Darling, Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole - each of these women selflessly sought the benefit of others, with no thought of self-glory. That is what qualifies them as heroic.


Bible, King James Version,( 1964) B.B.Kirkbride Bible Company .Inc.

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