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The Plight of the Hero
Imagine living in the year 700 A.D. The evening’s entertainment is a poet, and he tells the story of Beowulf. Beowulf is an all-around hero, and he dazzles the audience with his determined nature and vows to right wrongs. Now fast-forward to the year 2002. The evening’s entertainment is a Batman movie. The screen shows Batman to be a present-day Beowulf, as he fights villains and makes the city a better place. This shows that the perfect hero has been recurrent in society for centuries. But, there are differences between Beowulf and fictional heroes from the twenty-first century.
A significant difference between Beowulf and modern-day heroes is the distinction between mortality and vulnerability. Roger B. Rollin wrote the following: “Heroes like Batman are always being threatened with death but never die (or even age), whereas Beowulf not only ages but dies. He is intensely aware of fate and almost preoccupied with death. Transience is his reality and this gives his story an additional dimension.” The image of Batman is our ideal rescuer—he is always there, ready and willing, and seems to be almost immortal. Batman has become an icon rather than an actual person. Why has our society evolved from the proper respect of praising a mortal hero to craving someone who has total immortality? The reality present in today’s society is in fact becoming less and less real. Computers, television, and video games have accelerated our society’s degeneration into a total and utter illusory lifestyle—a lifestyle where indeed the only heroes are the invulnerable.
Beowulf in his vulnerability creates a perception to which the every-day person can identify. People of this time period did not have the distractions from one another like that which is present today. Being very pragmatic people, a hero like Batman would have never been allowed or accepted, let alone regarded as a hero. People like...
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