Analysis of Heroic Qualities in "The Use of Force"


The short story "The Use of Force" by William Carlos Williams delves into the complexities of heroism as a doctor endeavors to treat a young girl resistant to medical intervention. The narrative unfolds with the doctor's unwavering determination to provide essential treatment, offering a compelling exploration of heroism beyond conventional archetypes. This essay examines the heroic qualities demonstrated by the doctor, emphasizing the significance of determination, perseverance, and the ability to bring about positive change in challenging circumstances.

Determination in the Face of Resistance

As the narrative unfolds, the central theme of heroism takes shape through the doctor's unyielding determination to assist a young girl who vehemently refuses medical treatment.

Despite the girl's resistance and the parents' futile attempts to reason with her, the doctor persists in his mission to provide necessary care. This determination becomes a crucial aspect of the doctor's heroic persona.

Heroism, as portrayed in the story, extends beyond traditional notions, illustrating that determination is a fundamental trait of a hero.

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The doctor's commitment to overcoming obstacles, even when faced with a life-threatening situation, showcases the depth of his character. In a scenario where the outcome could lead to the girl's demise, the doctor's persistence emerges as a heroic quality essential for the greater good.

The doctor, faced with a challenging situation, exemplifies a hero's determination to confront obstacles. Despite the young girl's vehement refusal of treatment, the doctor's dedication to providing essential care becomes a defining characteristic of his heroism. In many ways, the doctor's unwavering commitment to his mission mirrors the essence of true heroism, especially when faced with adversity.

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Throughout the narrative, the doctor's determination serves as a driving force, compelling him to persist even when met with resistance. The refusal of the young girl to cooperate intensifies the challenges, yet the doctor remains resolute in his pursuit of the greater good. This unwavering determination, rooted in a sense of duty, underscores the doctor's heroic qualities and distinguishes him as a protagonist committed to positive outcomes.

The Diverse Faces of Heroes

The narrative challenges conventional hero stereotypes, highlighting that heroes come in various forms and sizes. Unlike the typical clichés of knights in shining armor or dragon slayers, the doctor represents a hero driven by a sense of duty and the courage to confront challenges. This unconventional portrayal emphasizes that heroism is not confined to external appearances but rather is defined by the ability to take charge and act for the benefit of all involved.

Through the diverse portrayal of heroes, the story encourages a nuanced understanding of heroism, breaking away from simplistic archetypes. It prompts readers to recognize that heroism can manifest in everyday individuals who possess the qualities necessary to navigate challenging situations and drive positive outcomes.

By presenting a protagonist whose heroism defies traditional expectations, Williams challenges readers to reconsider preconceived notions. The doctor, with his determined and persistent nature, becomes a hero not through grand gestures but through a commitment to making a difference in a challenging circumstance. This expands the definition of heroism, illustrating that true heroes can emerge from the most unexpected places.

Perseverance: The Key to Heroic Success

Central to the concept of heroism is the theme of perseverance. A successful hero must identify problems, evaluate them, and persistently work toward finding solutions. The doctor's ability to adapt and overcome challenges, exemplified when the tongue depressor breaks, underscores the importance of perseverance in achieving greatness. Despite setbacks, the doctor remains resolute, showcasing a determination that defines true heroism.

Perseverance becomes a central theme in the narrative as the doctor, undeterred by obstacles, continues his efforts to provide the necessary medical examination. His unwavering commitment ultimately leads to the successful completion of the procedure, reinforcing the idea that determination and persistence are integral components of heroic actions. The doctor's ability to persevere in the face of adversity distinguishes him as a hero. When confronted with challenges such as the breaking of the tongue depressor, the doctor does not falter. Instead, he adapts to the situation, finding an alternative solution. This resilience becomes a hallmark of the doctor's heroism, highlighting the importance of perseverance in overcoming obstacles.

The Hero's Impact: A Positive Force

In the concluding moments of the story, the young girl undergoes the necessary medical examination, realizing that the doctor is not a figure to be feared but someone committed to her well-being. This transformative moment highlights the hero's role as a positive force for change. The doctor's dominant and strong-willed demeanor becomes instrumental in guiding the girl towards a path of healing and understanding.

When the parents, overwhelmed and emotionally attached, could no longer persuade the girl to accept treatment, they sought the doctor as their saving grace. The doctor's ability to approach the situation with a level-headed perspective, grounded in medical knowledge and the urgency of the girl's potential fatal illness, becomes the catalyst for positive intervention. In this instance, the hero emerges as a figure capable of bringing about positive change when others falter.

The impact of the hero extends beyond the immediate medical treatment. By instilling a sense of trust and understanding in the young girl, the doctor becomes a positive force for change. The transformative nature of the hero's actions is evident as the girl's perception shifts from fear to recognition of the doctor's genuine intentions. This positive impact reinforces the notion that heroism involves not only addressing immediate challenges but also fostering long-term positive change.


"The Use of Force" challenges traditional notions of heroism, presenting a narrative that redefines the qualities inherent in a hero. Through the doctor's determination, perseverance, and ability to instigate positive change, the story underscores that heroism is not bound by stereotypes. Instead, it emphasizes the diverse faces of heroes and the transformative impact they can have in challenging circumstances. William Carlos Williams crafts a narrative that encourages readers to appreciate heroism in its nuanced and multifaceted forms.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Analysis of Heroic Qualities in "The Use of Force". (2016, Jul 24). Retrieved from

Analysis of Heroic Qualities in "The Use of Force" essay
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