Perhaps the very word hero should suffer a live vivisection for all of its purported morality and bloody, patriarchal implications. There are many universal components of the hero as explored and anatomized by Joseph Campbell in The Hero's Adventure. You've seen it many times before; a young boy leaves and denies the whims of maternal dependency and suddenly the external world itself simply unfolds in all of its grandeur before him. All that he has to do is follow the prompts, and somehow, legitimize the world in his endeavors with this new god-like knowledge he stumbles upon. The texts that contain these presupposed heroic adventures and notions are many times seen as living and breathing with us in the contemporaneous realm. Stories such as Shakespeare's Henry IV and T.H. White's opus The Once and Future King provide us with a powerful reference in all of their didactic yet flawed nature of what a hero truly is. Ultimately, a hero is someone who breaks out of the mechanized system we all are confined within and is brave enough to be truly human.
[...] He succeeds in that he attempts to save lives by challenging Hotspur to a one on one duel despite that scheming messengers thwart the message. The aim of the true hero is to save lives while also upholding some sort of principle for the good of humanity. Despite that he is the closest thing there is to a protagonist, Harry is not absolved from the vain trappings of gallantry and honor. He makes this worse by ostracizing himself from his dear friend Falstaff, and literally denying the ideals that his he offered him. [...]
[...] Hotspur seems to be an empty vessel obsessed with obtaining the virtues of honor through battle, and Harry as ambiguous as he is at times, also believes that he can very simply gain honor by fighting. These vacillating points of honor and legitimate rule make the notions surrounding them seem even more specious and ludicrous. Shakespeare perhaps places his most central views of chivalry upon Falstaff as he believes that it is nothing but a lacking in any real relevance. [...]
[...] Another more humorous lesson that Merlyn teaches Arthur is the ludicrous and facile nature of knighthood by allowing Arthur to watch King Pellinore and Sir Grummore Grummursum, joust. The two knights spit insults out at each other in a high tongue, and impeded by their own heavy armor are unable to hurt each other. More importantly, is it realized that the two knights only fight to fulfill the requirements of their social status, as they are, in fact, friends. One night Merlyn transforms Arthur into a merlin, or small hunting bird, and places him with the rest of the birds are kept. [...]
[...] After all, chivalry is a driving misogynistic force in the novel that works to justify the subjugation of women by a sort of right of God taken out of the context of the bible and to declare women as unclean. The men in the book are dogs to their masters as well (the fallacies of chivalry) which makes White's ultimately confused moral message even more baffling. It is not entirely clear what White exactly meant in his injurious representation of women, but considering that the moral voice of the book, Merlyn, lived backwards in time, it is unacceptable that there is no mention of the changing the attitudes used toward women. [...]
[...] In act one King Henry mourns over his son and says that he sees “riot and dishonor stain the brow of my young Harry (Shakespeare Falstaff, one of these criminals, is a surrogate father figure to Harry and one of the most integral characters in the play. In Falstaff, Harry finds a man who lives his life with verve and contends with the ideology of chivalry and honor that so often causes unnecessary war and bloodshed. Shakespeare uses a multiplicity of language to represent a wide spectrum of people. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee