Arguing A Position: Heroism

The Definition of Heroism

One person’s hero may be another’s villain especially in a world that is so diverse. The diversity of the world is so vast that even communities in one country cannot share similar views about single aspects. By extension, the world cannot have a common understanding of aspects that affect it. For instance, the concept of heroism and the values attributable to it has always raised controversy. Depending on the point of view that one takes a hero could be a person who did great service to one community sometimes by doing a disservice to another. For instance, some people attained their heroic status by assisting their nations or people to conquer other nations because colonization, annexation and conquering other nations were allowed. In contrast, the conquered or colonized nations regarded their conquerors as exploitative villains or enemies. Another example of the contrasting perspectives is portrayed in the colonization of both Europe and Africa. People who assisted their countries in particular expedition and won battles could be regarded as heroes in their home countries. However, the same people are viewed as ruthless enemies who did not have any regard to humanity. Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame perfectly outlines the subject of heroism. Ideally, true heroism is defined by great service to a people by a person regardless of whether or not they are his people.

The movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a classical example of the true nature of heroism. The ability of the movie to incorporate different aspects of leadership in the many characters is an effective way of contrasting true heroism from fake heroism. Particularly, Quasimodo, the bell ringer of Notre Dame, is a perfect example of true heroism as he is almost sentenced to death for being gentle. On the other hand, Claude Frollo, who is a judge, is an exact opposite as he attempts to kill Quasimodo. Although the judge later changed ways and is even report to having raised Quasimodo as his true son, it is only because he was forced to do it. In addition, the Gypsy girl, whom Quasimodo met while he was hidden in the cathedral, is an example of a true hero. The Gypsy girl and Quasimodo together with another friend portray aspects of true heroism by working against the judge thereby averting the destruction of gypsies’ home. In this movie Quasimodo can be described as a hero by the gypsies that he saved.

From the movie we can clearly observe that heroism making huge sacrifices in order to save others from a particular situation that could be life threatening or could have devastating effects on their lives. In one instance, for example, Quasimodo visits the gypsies to warn and save them from Frollo even when he knew that he could be killed for doing that. In so doing, Quasimodo sacrifices his own life to make those of others better. In another instance, Quasimodo risks his life by helping Esmeralda to escape from the cathedral where she has been kept in prison. Although the act may be seen as a kind gesture for the help she had accorded him earlier, it portrays the heroic nature of the hunchback.

The true definition of heroism requires that a person who is to be regarded as a hero to be doing the right thing. This character is quite dominant in Quasimodo as different instances in the movie suggest. For example, Quasimodo saves Esmeralda form an attempt by Frollo to burn her for rejecting his advances. This, Quasimodo does even though Esmeralda had fallen in love with Phoebus thus leaving the hunchback alone. In addition, the hunchback continues to defy orders of the judge that he deems to be evil even when he had raised him all his life. In extension,. The hunchback possesses the character to ascertain what is right and wrong and this is evidenced in all the decisions he makes. Moreover, his mind is not corrupted by the good life that he is accorded as he continues to protect the people that are treated unfairly.

Quasimodo is also attributed with defending the people who are suffering from the evil ways of Frollo.  In one instance, Quasimodo protects Esmeralda from Frollo and anyone else who meant to kill her by pouring molten copper around the area they were hiding. In so doing, Frollo ends up killed as he falls on the molten copper and the life of Esmeralda is spared. Additionally, protecting the gypsies from being killed by Frollo is a positive step by Quasimodo in protecting the people who are suffering. He defended them at the expense of offending the judge even when he knew very well that the repercussion were to be grave.

From the forgoing in the movie, it is obvious that a hero is a person who has made great sacrifices in serving particular people. This people could be his own people or another people. Essentially, heroism does not mean defending or assisting your own blindly while oppressing people from other communities. It is in fact, possible to do a heroic act by correcting or punishing your people for being on the wrong. Just like Quasimodo defended the gypsies even when he had no association with them, so can modern day heroes.


Works Cited

Hunchback of Notre Dame. Perf. Quasimodo. Walt Disney Home Video, 1997.

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