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Gunnar and Siegfried, Heroic Leaders

Powerful Essays
We expect heroes to be someone who will go above and beyond the call of duty and to be the first to react at the face of danger. But a hero to one may be an enemy to another. Is there a way to differentiate these heroes so that there is a clear divide that qualifies a person to be a hero? In the following epics, Njal’s Saga and The Nibelugenlied, Gunnar and Siegfried respectively, are portrayed as protagonist characters who display acts of heroism to settle arguments. Because of their glorified heroic feats, they both become blind-sided, unaware that their acts subsequently level them to what one would consider an enemy. A hero is not supposed to be selfish in the least bit. These books fabricate these men as heroes, convincing readers that they use their superhuman abilities to protect society from violence; ultimately, they do this to protect their reputation and masculinity.

Gunnar and Siegfried have all the physical attributes that lead readers to believe that they have the insurmountable ability to use them to better society; such is the definition of a hero. Heroes are thought to be more extreme and braver than the average human being. They fight for what they see as wrong when no one else will. Heroes understand the sacrifices civilians make to overcome adversity and have experienced the hardships and fought through troubles, thus can relate to the less-fortunate of society. We expect a hero to protect people from harm while maintaining their character and are idolized for their bravery to fight for what they think is right. But does fighting for what is right make ones actions justifiable to correct that wrong or does it inflict more harm than good?

In Njal’s Saga, Gunnar Hamundarson, a handso...

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...easons. His powerful repertoire symbolizes ammunition and for his masculinity, contributing to his arrogant character. This type of honor is not reputable, it is shameful. Civilian lives are lost to preserve one’s identity from being shattered.

Gunnar and Siegfried are represented in such a way that readers view them in a positive light. In these stories, we assume that characters are heroic when they are portrayed through physical characteristics or interactions within their community. Truth be told, they are far from the definition of what a hero should be. Beneath the pretentious appearance lies a selfish character whose flaw is shielded solely through violent acts. Fighting in combat is one of the many ways to exhibit masculinity. These novels illustrate heroes as extraordinary, but in retrospect, they force readers to reconsider what a hero truly entails.
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