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Examples and Definition of Heroism

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Throughout history there have been many examples of heroism in everyday life, but what does being heroic really mean? To me, to be described as heroic, you have to be brave, ready to take on whatever life throws at you, and be willing to put your life and or reputation on the line for others’ benefit, not self-glory. Based on the definition above Beowulf, MacArther, and Joy from Inside Out exemplify great acts of heroism but MacArther demonstrates my definition of heroism one step more than the others.

Joy from Inside Out did many things to make others benefit rather than for her own self-worth, while at the same time was not risking her life in a great way. Joy is one of many emotions held by Riley in her head. Joy tries her best to keep Riley in a neutral state of happiness and runs all of her emotions including her memories. Joy in the movie tries to get back to headquarters and save all of Riley’s memories from being lost. In doing this she has to face her fears for the greater good of Riley, not herself. Joy finds herself trying to lead herself, sadness, and her friend she finds along the way to safety while protecting Riley’s memories. This shows that Joy is a hero when she is put against my definition because it shows how she risked her life for the greater good of Riley. Joy is considered to be a hero in the aspect of her going on this long journey provoking her own fears for Riley’s health, but in the beginning, her motives were not the same. At the beginning of the movie, Joy is selfish in the fact that she thinks that sadness should just be pushed out of the way and not be involved in Riley’s emotions for a day. Later on in the movie, this is proven to be Joy’s mistake but at this time Joy wanted to exclude sadness because she was just going to create bad memories for Riley. After sadness is excluded she accidentally touches one of Riley’s core memories and turns it blue and sad. Then Joy proceeds to inconsiderately shun sadness for making this mistake. Joy is selfish in the means of only wanting Riley to be happy and joyful instead of including any of the other emotions. When in reality every emotion is needed to be healthy. This whole selfish and inconsiderate scene in the movie leads to the journey that they have to go on to save Riley’s core memories before time runs out. However, Joy still demonstrated great acts of heroism in about get risking her life for Riley but not so much in the means of her being selfish in the beginning.

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In Beowulf, the word heroic is viewed to be someone who is brave, confident, and hands-on just like the definition given but his ideas differentiate from it also in the means of the motives behind the heroic act. Beowulf has been known to be a hero in many examples given at the beginning of the text, but according to my definition, he is a hero on certain terms. Beowulf states to Higlac, “ That I, alone and with the help of my men / May purge all evil from this hall, I have heard, / Too, that the monsters scorn of men / Is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. / Nor will I. My lord Higlac. (Beowulf 260-264)” This shows that he is compared to my definition of Heroism in the means of Beowulf being confident and brave to the point where he will take any monster on even without weapons. Even though Beowulf demonstrates great bravery his motives are on the same track. Beowulf only is in it for self-worth and not the benefit of others. In Beowulf, he states, “I’ve never known fear, as a youth I fought / In endless battles. I am old now, / But I will fight again, seek fame still (Beowulf 624-626).”

Here Beowulf is proving to the reader that his only motivation to save the country is the reward that will be given after. This shows that his idea of a hero is someone who gains fame and glory in contrast to the given definition which states that these heroic acts are done solely for other people’s benefit. Therefore Beowulf can still be considered a Hero based on his bravery but according to my definition, his motives need to change to still be heroic.

MacArthur defines the word heroism as someone who has great bravery and is willing to risk their lives for others’ self-benefit as compared to the given definition. In his speech to his war soldiers, he is trying to teach them the ways of being true soldiers. He states to his men, “Yours is the profession of arms, the will to win, the sure knowledge that in war there is no substitute for victory, that if you lose, the Nation will be destroyed, that the very obsession of your public service must be Duty, Honor, Country.”(MacArthur 3) This quote shows how the result of the war is not going to affect them, that it’s going to affect the nation. He uses these words to emphasize how you have to be in it for the greater good of others/ The nation and not for selfish reasons just like the given definition of heroism. Another way that MacArther proves that he is the most heroic and applies to the definition the best is by how he shows what type of personality you have to have to be a soldier. In his speech once again he says to his soldiers, “In my dreams, I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield. But in the evening of my memory, I come back to West Point. Always there echoes and re-echoes: Duty, Honor, Country. ” (MacArthur 11) Here is another way that MacArthur’s views on heroism match up to mine. MacArthur is trying to demonstrate how many activities he had to engage himself in that required great bravery and confidence. He had to endure great battles in a war that not any person can handle. He was emphasizing to his soldiers that you need to be brave to be a hero. This is why MacArther is the best related to my definition of bravery and is the most heroic person overall. Therefore even though MacArther was a very brave man his words will always be remembered as the true definition of heroism when related to mine.

To be a hero you must be brave, ready to take on whatever challenges that you face, and be able to not have selfish motives in the means of completing the task. Macarthur mainly demonstrates the most heroism because of the risks that he has taken for his country and his wisdom he is trying to pass down to his men. He was the one character who matched my definition perfectly and still had some thoughts additionally that went above and beyond my definition. This very important soldier’s heroism is particularly important in today’s day and time. It is extremely important that soldiers in the now had his ideas and views on being a soldier. I believe that it is so important because there is so much tragedy and heartache in the world whether it’s terrorism war or just crimes that have been committed by others. It is necessary for people battling these things to have this heroic mindset and views on the world.        

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