Cultural Heroes

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The literature of a culture is a reflection of its beliefs. This is true of its mythology. In a fantasy setting, the qualities that a society exalts in a protagonist, here the hero of the myth, can be fully manifested, without being restricted by reality. Although these qualities differ, the principle remains the same throughout these cultures. Despite the differences chronologically and geographically between India, ancient Greece, and modern America, their heroes are similar in their superhuman abilities and courageousness. As heroes, they find themselves obligated to save others who cannot save themselves. The burden of their heroic status is to take on challenges and defeat them. The Ramayana is an ancient Indian myth and a basis of Hindu tradition. It tells the story of Rama, the kidnapping of his wife Sita, her rescue, and his ascent to the throne. While Rama is a prince, he is only half-divine, although his superhuman ability is cemented early in his life. Before the age of twelve, he rises above his brothers’ accomplishments and so he is required to defeat a group of titans attempting to ruin a holy sacrifice. Rama serves as an archetype for the ideal roles in families and society. He accepts the exile demanded of him by his father, as the ideal son. He rescues Sita, as the ideal husband, and kills her kidnapper to preserve the honor of his family. The emphasis of the Ramayana is on its hero’s religious piety and conforming to societal rules, more than being amazed or entertained by his heroic deeds. The myth of Heracles and his twelve labors is the story of the Greek hero and his series of trials, which he must undergo to atone for the murder of his children, after being driven insane by Hera. This story follows th... ... middle of paper ... ...ro’s victory because he, too, is human. While all three heroes share this fundamental link to their people, Rama and Hercules are religious figures, idealized and worshipped, both by their society and by the characters in their stories. Here, the cultures differ, as Americans are less interested in perfect protagonists and more interested in realistic, flawed characters. Jack is a human, who makes mistakes and falls short of others’ expectations, but maintains his status as a hero by displaying courage and maintaining leadership. Works Cited “A Tale of Two Cities”. Lost. 4 Oct 2006. Television. “Lighthouse”. Lost. 23 Feb 2010. Television. “Man of Science, Man of Faith”. Lost. 21 Sept 2005. Television. Thury, E.M., and M.K. Devinney. Introduction to Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print. “White Rabbit”. Lost. 20 Oct 2004. Television.

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