Identifying A Hero Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 7 July 2017

Identifying A Hero

A protagonist is a leading character. In the texts I have studied, there are often a characters which the reader are encourages to be drawn towards. We are endeared to them and the story is often focused around them. In The Great Gatsby, even the title encourages the reader to feel that the story is about his character, especially as Nick’s accounts are designed to be in order to recover the truth about Gatsby. It is important to note that even though Nick is the one telling the story, his character is presented as a first person modified narrator. It is often the case when the voice of the text is also the main focus/hero of the text, however in this case Nick is merely an onlooker.

As readers, Fitzgerald presents Nick as being in awe of Gatsby “he had an extraordinary sense of hope” and appears to look favourably upon him. Due to this fact, Gatsby is seen as somewhat of a hero and is the main interest and focus of the story. The whole text is mainly based around Gatsby and the period in which Nick’s character knew him. Even before meeting him as a person, the readers are given clues upon him, mostly rumours “we heard it from three people, so it must be true”, which play a key part in the story.

These rumours “he once killed a man who found out he was nephew to Von Hinderburg and second to the devil” build up a mental image in the readers’ minds which encourage us to want to find out more. Even in Chapter 1 where we meet Daisy and Tom’s characters, Fitzgerald may be framing the picture for his readers for us to understand more about Gatsby as a character, as well as his future lover, Daisy, and why she is the reason that his character has changed the way he lives. Nick says “he felt married to her, that was all”, which shows his absolute obsession with her. Throughout the text, the readers’ are encouraged to think back to Gatsby’s character, relating him to other characters and our feelings are swayed by Gatsby’s fate.

Just like in The Great Gatsby, Coleridge also places the main protagonist into the title. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner gives the readers the immediate knowledge of what the poem is going to be about the Mariner. Having the word ‘ancient’ gives the sense that there is something mystical about the Mariner, as well as being old. The fact that Coleridge decides to use the word “rime” instead of the modern writing of “rhyme” also adds to this effect. Despite hearing numerous voices throughout the poem, such as the Wedding Guest, ‘Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!’, it is the Mariner’s tale we are hearing and therefore him who we relate back to.

This tale of morality with its numerous religious connotations, “Heaven’s Mother send us grace!” is told by the Mariner to the Wedding Guest and in some aspects, Coleridge may be encouraging us to put ourselves in the place of the Wedding Guest. It often feels that the Mariner is talking directly at the reader when putting oneself in such a position, “And I had done a hellish thing, And it would work ’em woe”. Being a morality tale, it takes us through the process of redemption and the idea of free will.

Coleridge makes it clear that the Mariner does the wrongful deed for no apparent reason, “I shot the Albatross”, only because of the God given idea of free will. Because of his actions, there were horrible consequences “Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,” and the Mariner had to redeem himself. This tale of morality is highlighted as it is said that the Mariner only chooses certain people to stop and tell the tale to, “And he stoppeth one of three.” which is an interesting concept as it perhaps demonstrates how he only chooses people who would potentially make the same mistake as he did. Having the Mariner’s character as the main protagonist enables the readers to relate back to his story and learn from his tale of morality.

In Small Island, a main hero/heroine is not clearly distinguished. Having different first person narratives throughout the novel, there is not just one character that we as readers are endeared to. It could be disputed that we are drawn to all four voices, Hortense, Queenie, Gilbert and Bernard’s, and therefore it is important to define what is meant by the title of this essay.

If there were several options as heros/heroines, I would consider all four of these leading characters to be the protagonists. By hearing their point of views on the matters, Levy enables us to understand where they are coming from, especially with character’s like Gilbert’s character who has an informal manner of writing to the reader “Now I am telling you this so you might better understand”. This manner of talking as if directly to the reader encourages us to sympathise with his character. Other characters use other ways to endear the readers to them, such as pity in Hortense’s case, “ She then shut the door in my face.”.

On the other hand, if I were to chose a main hero for the text, I would nominate Hortense’s character. I feel that this novel is very much a struggle between the two races, of black mixing with white people, and we as readers appear to be following Hortense’s struggle to adapt herself in the Mother Country. The other characters only seem to be included within the story in order to reflect upon Hortense; Gilbert is her husband, Queenie her landlady and Bernard an outsider with similar views as Mr Todd in his ideas of “darkies”. Gilbert is also adapting himself to the ways of the English, Queenie accepts the coloured people as who they are yet Bernard is portrayed as the stereotypical individual who is against the coming together of two nations. Having Hortense as the heroine of the novel draws all the other characters together and gives the readers someone to rest their interests upon.

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  • Date: 7 July 2017

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