After discussing the characteristics of heroes for the last couple of weeks, I’ve succumbed to assemble my own list of favorite heroes. I’ve combined book heroes with those from movies and television, and even a couple from real life. These characters show all of the traits we’ve discussed. Some of them show up stronger than others, but all are present. From two weeks ago, the traits were Courageous, Selfless, and Skilled. The traits from last week were Faithful, Wounded, Humble, and Active. Part of me wants to add honest to the list, but there are some great characters that, for one reason or another, can’t be honest – even to themselves. Though honesty and integrity are always going to be high on my list of things I like to see in real people, the conflict developed with a not-so-honest hero can be delicious!
So here is my list of top ten heroes:
#10 Aragorn from Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – my girls would disown me if I didn’t include in at least one character from Tolkein. Though one of my dinkies would say I should add Legalas, I just can’t. He looks like a girl! I think Aragorn has a great character arc, starting out a little on the less dependable side, but he develops into a strong, loyal character, proving himself to those who didn’t trust him in the beginning.
#9 Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice - a favorite of Precious Redhead, too! Darcy is completely misunderstood at the beginning of his arc, but he doesn’t remain in the non-active state. Far from humble, he becomes broken before the woman he adores. And contrary to what many believe, he’s got courage. He faces down the man who would do harm to his sister. He satisfies the tragedy that hangs over his heroine’s head. And he goes back for seconds in humility when he repeats his doomed request. I’ve placed him in the 9th position because important traits, while there, are a little on the weak side – particularly Courageous and Skilled.
#8 Abraham Lincoln – Now I haven’t seen the latest movie, but the man has all of the traits. As too wounded, only one of his four children lived beyond his dad’s death. Further, there is ample evidence that Lincoln held himself partly responsible for the war and the deaths of so many of his countrymen. He showed courage to stand his ground and make difficult decisions for the good of all the people. These choices displayed selflessness as well, since most of them struck against vocal antagonists. The only thing I’d say that Lincoln showed a weakness as a hero is the active trait. Much of his “story” happened to him placing him in a reactive position.
#7 Matthew Crawley from Downton Abby – I’m loving this series. This much loved character should not have (Spoiler covered!) Mmmph mummph mmumph mup mpuupuh! Just saying! Matthew has wounds with a precious loss. I wouldn’t say he’s entirely selfless, but he’s close, not wishing to take an inheritance he doesn’t feel entitled to. He shows skill during WWI, humility when he deals with soldiers and common workers far beneath him, and maintains his loyalty to his mom, his extended family, and to his promises. Nice job.
#6 George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life” – Though not a terribly romantic character, George shows all of the pertinent traits. Selfless is pretty high on his list, though not tragic; he maintains that balance well. He shows his skill in accounting, keeping his father’s business afloat when it should have gone under several times. His courage comes early when he didn’t hesitate to save his brother’s life. I would say that most of the story happens to George, rather than him taking the initiative to make something happen. That’s what places him so far back.
#5 Cole McKenna from Submerged by Dani Pettrey – Oh this guy has it all! A scuba search and rescue volunteer, he easily shows courage, selflessness, and skill. He’s also faithful, particularly to his family, though his humility isn’t really addressed. His wound comes from a high school sweetheart – rather weak, but there – and he’s active with his decisions and making things happen rather than letting them happen. Good guy (Good book!)
#4 Joseph – Do you know he is the only character in the Bible besides Jesus that doesn’t have a fatal flaw, though some would count his sharing of dreams to be an arrogance, that’s not intimated in scripture. He is certainly skilled in organizing, leading, inspiring and that’s probably his highest point. I bet he would have made a great CEO! He is selfless and faithful to the leader he supports, shows courage in standing before the king and relaying the truth of his dreams, and humble when he forgives and welcomes his brothers. His only weak trait is the active one. Though he is definitely a hero, he spends most of his “story” as a victim.
#3 Deitrich Bonhoeffer – Okay, I really need to learn more about Bonhoeffer, but from all I know, he passes the hero test at 200 MPH or maybe I should say KPH since he was German? Courageous, active, and faithful, he was part of the Valkyrie project to assassinate Hitler. I can’t testify to his humility or skill, but I believe he was a minister which would lead me to believe that he was both. I definitely need to learn more about Bonhoeffer!
#2 Caleb Knight from My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren. Wounded, this guy was broken on a couple of levels and yet he persevered, showing incredible courage and skill. He didn’t let life happen to him, he pushed through the things he couldn’t control to work through the things that he could. Humility wasn’t expressed outright, but he had no arrogance. His selflessness put him in the public eye in a way he’d hoped to avoid, but he was faithful to his heroine and willing to act in order to help her be successful. Two years after I’ve read this is still one of my favorite books.
#1 Captain America – I’d love to add some of the other Avengers to this list, but I just can’t. Thor has trouble with humility. Bruce Banner is far too tragic and inactive. Things happen to him. He doesn’t cause any of it. Not enough is known about Hawkeye or Nick Fury to judge either way, but I look forward to learning more about both of them! As for Captain America, he certainly shows the selflessness needed for a hero, though his explanation of why Iron Man won’t be a hero seems a little conceited. He has loyalty, courage, and skill in spades, and is twice wounded in his own movie. I would say that he is a practically perfect hero!
Not making the list: Rick Castle (lack of selflessness) from the TV show “Castle”, Shawn Spencer of the TV show “Psych” (lack of selflessness, courage, faithfulness), Perry Mason (while showing the elements of a hero, he is plastic with no faults or realistic personality traits–Prince Charming didn’t make my list either), Mr. Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility (my redhead will argue, but he showed no courage whatsoever and though he displayed selflessness, it seemed more like martyrdom – blah) Oh, and I removed Iron Man from the “Avengers” movie because of his obnoxious arrogance. I also removed Batman from the list. He seems too wounded and tragic. Again, way to close to martyrdom. Finally, I removed Joshua, of the Old Testament, from my list. Though truly an amazing warrior, I consider God to be the true hero in Jericho and many of his other exploits.
Your turn: Who did I leave off? Who shouldn’t be included?