What Does It Mean to Be a Hero?
We often talk about fictional characters with supernatural powers as heroes. Soldiers, firefighters, volunteers are also often called the heroes. But what really is a hero? Does heroism always require the physical strength, or are there other important qualities that define a hero? According to a Meriam-Webster Dictionary, a hero is a person who is greatly admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. (1) Does that mean that people with outstanding personal qualities who can motivate us and change the world can be considered the heroes? Probably, yes.
A hero can be anyone we look up to. Heroes can be real or fictional, they can be someone we see every day or have met once in our life, they can be male or female, children or grown-ups. When we were young, our heroes were Robin Hood, Batman, Spiderman. Then our moms, dads, grandparents, sisters and brothers and even our pets became our heroes. We become older, more experienced, and our perceptions about heroes change. We start to think that we are surrounded by heroes, in fact. Single mothers who deny themselves food and clothes to send their children to college, couples who adopt children, a person who donates his kidney to save the brother, children who put their careers on hold to take care of their sick parents, people who sacrifice their dreams to support the loved ones, cancer patients who continue to fight for their life – these are the examples of heroes around us. (2)
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Heroes motivate us. They can do plenty of different things that inspire and stimulate others to do their best. The heroes make us find and develop our best qualities and share our experience with other people who need it. The motivation is very important for finding strengths within yourself and disclosing the prominent qualities. When we see the Red Cross volunteers, the dangers these men and women face, their extreme courage, we respect them and also want to help others. We decide to join different organizations and become the active volunteers, whether at preserving the wildlife, protecting homeless pets, or fighting with corruption. Heroes motivate us to realize our assets and make our small contribution into the good deeds. Heroes don’t only save us, they help us to save ourselves.
Heroes change the world. They love the feeling to help other people and try not to miss the opportunity to be useful and sympathetic. Heroes make sacrifices for others, no matter small or enormous ones. Very often they are not prepared for what they would experience, but always make the right and decent decisions, even in the most difficult and confusing situations. That is the main reason why they receive the respect, recognition and support for their future great deals. You also can be a hero for someone. It’s not difficult – help someone in need, defend the moral principles, be reliable and sympathetic, join the useful activities, do your best to realize your passions and follow your heart. Maybe one day someone will call you his hero.
There are more heroes around us than we think. To find them, look at your parents, neighbours and friends. You’ll find that they are great people who make sacrifices for others, use their courage to deal with the harsh realities of the modern life, don’t lose their humanity when facing challenges and always ready to help if you need. Sometimes we don’t even know about the great deeds of all those people, as heroes don’t like to share their stories. Look around and you’ll probably find your hero.
You know what I always liked about Batman and Iron Man over the rest of the superheroes? The fact that they are (relatively) normal guys. They don’t need any special powers to fit into the same category as Spiderman, Superman, or Wonder Woman.
Heroes can be, and usually are, real people. And that’s exactly what we’re going to focus on when writing a hero essay–who your real-life hero is and why.
What Is a Hero Essay?
Before we get started on how to make your hero essay awesome, we first must answer the question what is a hero essay?
Put simply, a hero essay is one in which you describe someone you look up to or admire. This could be a family member, teacher, community leader, friend, celebrity, or even a random stranger who did a kind deed.
When writing about whoever you end up choosing, keep in mind that the hero essay is not just describing what the person is like. You need to expand on certain qualities that you admire in the person, and why you admire those qualities. Unlike Professor X, your reader can’t read your mind, so you have to make those connections in your writing. To bring your hero to life on the page, it also helps to have examples or anecdotes of those qualities.
Now let’s get into the technical side of writing a hero essay. For the purposes of my examples, I’m going to use one of the heroes I mentioned above–Batman!
Steps for Writing a Hero Essay
The first thing you want to do is choose your hero. Obviously, for me, it’s Batman. For you, choose someone who you can write a whole essay on. You don’t want to wind up halfway through your essay with nothing left to say–which brings me to the next step.
To ensure that you have a fully fleshed out essay, it’s best to make an outline. This way you’ll know in which order to write your details, and you’ll know that your essay will be fully developed by the time you’re done writing it.
Every essay–and, thus, every essay outline–should have at least three things: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Hero essays are no different.
Your hero essay introduction should include three main components:
- A hook: The hook is the first sentence or two of your introduction and is what grabs your reader’s attention. Whether this is a quote, anecdote or statistic, be sure your hook draws readers in and leaves them wanting more.
- A little bit of background: Your hero essay will probably be about someone you know (though it doesn’t have to be). Therefore, your reader probably won’t know who the person is–and even if they do, include some background information anyway. This could mean a brief description of your relationship to the person, or any details–such as their occupation, hobbies, etc.–that are relevant to setting up your essay.
- Your thesis statement: The thesis statement is where the introduction all comes together. It’s what explains exactly what you’re writing about and provides a brief preview of your essay to the reader.
My introduction might look something like this:
The city of Gotham is one of the most crime-ridden places in the country, not because of petty crimes, but because of true criminal masterminds.But one man has dedicated his life to ridding the streets of evildoers, making the city safe for its citizens–Batman.Batman is a hero to not just me, but to an entire city because of his timeliness in responding to danger, his unwavering sense of justice, and his awesome gadgets.
You probably noticed that I included three different qualities in my thesis statement (timeliness, justice and awesome gadgets), which would make my hero essay a 5-paragraph essay. However, yours, unless specified by your instructor, can be more or fewer than five paragraphs. The key is to write a complete story that clearly depicts your hero.
No matter how many paragraphs are in the body sections of your hero essay, each paragraph should have at least three elements:
- A topic sentence: Your topic sentence lets the reader know what the main idea of the paragraph is.
- Support for the topic sentence: For a hero essay, your support will usually come in the form of one or more anecdotes. These serve as examples to back up your point.
- A good transition to the next paragraph: Transitions are important because they make your writing flow. Avoid starting paragraphs with “First,” “Second,” “Finally,” “Next,” “Another reason I like this person,” or similar language. Phrases like these make your writing sound immature and clunky. Putting a good transition at the end of your paragraphs enables you to go right into the next paragraph and avoid all those useless words.
I’m only going to show you my first body paragraph, but I think you’ll get the point.
Batman may cut it close sometimes, but he manages to save most people just in time.When the Joker threw Batman’s love interest, Rachel, off of a building, Batman jumped after her and protected her as they fell, which saved her life. Batman also saved Commissioner Gordon who was attacked by gangster Alberto Holliday while escorting Holliday’s rival, Sal Maroni, to jail.Of course Batman can’t possibly save everyone on time–he’s just one man. But because of his clear sense of justice, he tries to save as many people as possible.
At last we come to the conclusion. This does not have to be as long as your body paragraphs. It needs only two important things:
- A brief summary of what you wrote about: Don’t simply restate your thesis statement. You’ve gone into a fair amount of detail since then, and you want the summary to reflect that.
- A closing statement: This should give your hero essay a sense of closure. Think about why your hero is important and why you or other people want to emulate this person.
Here’s what my conclusion would look like:
Batman has saved countless lives–including Rachel, Commissioner Gordon, and many citizens of Gotham–and in many cases just in time. Because of his commitment to justice, he refuses to kill or harm anyone, including his nemeses, and commits acts of selflessness without pay or other incentives. In addition to his incredible personal qualities, he also has amazing gadgets, like boomerangs, the Batmobile, and smoke bombs, to help him achieve justice on the streets of Gotham.Perhaps if more people were this moral and selfless (and had the right tools for the job), the whole world could stop evildoers in their tracks, just like Batman.
Tips to Make Your Hero Essay Super
Now that you have the basics down, it’s time for a couple helpful hints on how to go from an okay hero essay to a great one.
- Pick a person people might not expect. Your instructor has probably read a dozen or more hero essays by the time he or she gets to yours. One way to make yours stand out is to choose to write about someone unexpected. This could be a younger sibling that has overcome adversity or the homeless man who helped push cars up a hill in a snowstorm.
- On the same note, pick qualities that people might not expect. If you don’t have any unexpected people to write about, or you just simply don’t want to, another option is writing about unexpected qualities. Most people can look up to someone for their kindness, generosity, intelligence, or even fame. But writing about someone’s creativity, courage, determined spirit, or optimism in extreme misfortune can be a fresh take on a common essay theme.
These are just two ways to make your hero essay more nuanced. A little bit of complexity and out-of-the-box thinking in your writing will take it to the next level. Just think about it this way, it’s better to have a Dark Knight essay (nuanced and complex) than an Adam West Batman essay (simple and a little corny).
Image by marvelousRoland via flickr
Image via spinoff.comicbookresources.com
I hope that I’ve given you enough to get those creative juices flowing. If you finish your hero essay and you still don’t think it’s up to par, send it over to one of the Kibin editors. They’ll help you make it great.
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