Who are Heroes? An Analysis of the Literary Hero and an Interpretation of the Modern Hero




Shang, Amanda

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Heroes appear in literature and reality in various forms. Given the changing times, the definition of heroism has evolved to incorporate modern societal values, but remains built on a structural foundation of moral righteousness prevalent in philosophy. Utilizing Immanuel Kant, David Hume, and John Stuart Mill’s philosophical evaluations of moral righteousness and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, this thesis seeks to understand the structural components to heroism both in theoretical and practical applications. Analysis of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series will provide distinctions between traditional and modern heroism as well as highlight developments of hero archetypes. Through understanding these idealized hero archetypes in literature, this thesis will further examine heroism and its manifestation in the modern world through case studies of activists, whistleblowers, doctors, teachers, mentors, and good Samaritans – ultimately bringing light to the compassionate, empathic, and inspirational qualities prevalent across heroic figures.


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