Archetype of Hero in the Film Amazing Grace

Archetype of Hero in the Film Amazing Grace

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During the 18th century millions of men, women and children were taken from their homes in Africa and sold into slavery. Few survived the slave ships, and even fewer lived through their slave labors. Few people thought the slave trade was wrong, and to find one who had the courage to stand-up against it seemed impossible. Humanity needed a hero, someone who could establish equality. The movie Amazing Grace tells the account of an Englishman who gave his health and youth to end the slave trade. Like heroes of history and literature, William Wilberforce's story followed the archetype of a traditional hero.
William Wilberforce was an example of a common mortal hero. He was a normal, completely realistic person, in that he stumbled many times and often emphasized his humanity by saying, ?Am I not a man?? After years of work without success he felt he had failed, but he still pressed forward. He possessed no extraordinary power or skill, but he rose to the occasion and changed the world. Not only was William one of the few who was disgusted by the slave trade, he was also one of the select few who had the courage to stand up against it. Someone once said, ?Courage does not consist in feeling no fear, but in conquering fear. He is the hero who seeing the lion on either side goes straight on, because there his duty lies.? William saw the lions?many of them, nevertheless he continued on because he knew it was his duty. William Wilberforce was an ordinary man, but he was able to overcome fear and be a hero. However, he would not have been able to do it without the help of many friends.
Loyal companions have played a large role in many hero stories, and the story of William Wilberforce is not different. William Pitt, the Prime Minister, was William Wilberforce?s best friend. He was able to keep Wilberforce in good standing and also assisted in the eventual success of his bill which banned the slave trade. William Pitt also encouraged him to keep trying. After a race across the lawn William Pitt said, ?Why is it that you only feel the thorns in your feet when you stop running? You must keep going, fast.? William Pitt was one of the main reasons for his friend?s success. Without him, William Wilberforce would have quit, and even if he had continued trying he would never have been able to pass his bill.

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Many other heroic friends played a part in William?s success. These included Hannah Moore, a well respected and religious lady, Thomas Clarkson, a passionate and powerful speaker, and Equiano, a former slave. Perhaps most important was the role of William?s love, Barbara Spooner.
Barbra Spooner was the woman figure in this hero story. She was a huge source of inspiration for William, and her intellect attracted him. It was Barbra who succeeded in helping William get back on track to save the slaves. Barbara brought William through the darkest moments of discouragement by offering the encouraging words, ?After night comes day. You still have passion ? that?s what matters most.? Like Megara in the story of Hercules, Barbra Spooner encouraged and inspired William Wilberforce to be the hero he was.
William Wilberforce was a traditional hero. Although just a common man, he was able to become the hero humanity needed. Character archetypes, such as William?s friends and his love, as well as situational and symbolic archetypes, occur throughout this story defining it as the legacy of a hero. When William?s bill was finally passed a member of the House said, ?When people speak of great men they think of men like Napoleon, men of violence. Napoleon arrived home in power yet his dreams were haunted by war. William Wilberforce, however, will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow and remember that the slave trade is no more.? Through his work to establish equality, William Wilberforce added his name to the list of people who made great sacrifices for the greater good?people known as heroes.
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