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Analytical Essay: What is a Hero

Trying to define what a hero is may be one of the most troubling topics there are because there may not be a right or correct answer. Is it due to circumstance alone or something that people learn? Human nature is not good, but people are taught how to function in civilized society, but few people are “taught” how to be heroes, so where does it come from? If we cannot answer that, can we answer what truly defines a hero?

I posit that humans are not born heroes. Human nature is cruel and very selfish. People are taught values as they grow older and are taught to respect others as they in turn wish to be respected. People are not born heroes, but there is something in life that drives one person to be a hero and not another.

Is it some sort of god or a higher power? Of this many people are not sure. They believe that if there was a god, they would understand it. Atheists do not believe that any person is smart enough to fully comprehend even the idea of what a god or higher power is. Since we will never know, we cannot rule out that a higher power makes people heroes.

If human nature is not good, as I suggest, and if people are taught good values, then what makes one person heroic and another cowardly? Two identical twins may be taught the same values and both may be born with the same inclinations, and yet one may be a hero where the other is not. Part of my argument is that it is circumstance, and another part is the human desire or free will to break the norm.

Circumstances may have their part to play in what makes a hero. If a person is repeatedly put into a circumstance where there is a chance to be a hero, then his or her may one day take the opportunity. However, if such an opportunity never arose, it is possible that a potential hero may never become one.

The only other thing I can think that would make a hero is related to free will and human desire. Two clones may be similar in every way except that one “chooses” to be heroic where the other does not. It takes a certain amount of “will” to break your human compulsions. Your compulsions are selfish and greedy in every case except when dealing with your family members and especially your offspring. Those are the only times people are biologically compelled to act in the interest of others. Otherwise, human nature is selfish and cruel, and it takes a lot of will to overcome that to the extent that somebody does something heroic.


Heroes are people that are willing to break their biological compulsions and do something for another person. There are heroes all around us, from the woman that throws herself on a hand grenade to save her platoon, to the young boy that carries an old lady’s shopping in the snow. There is no such thing as a perfect hero as depicted in the movies. A person may do both heroic and cowardly things during his or her life. It seems that the deeper the self-sacrifice, and the less other people know about it, then the more heroic the act. All this leads me to the conclusion that, “If you do something heroic, people will never know you did anything at all.”

Contributors Bio

Contributor photo Lona Glenn
Los Angeles
Lona graduated from Los Angeles City College. While being a lecturer in several high school institutions Lona founded an online educational project Tutorsclass.Read more
Contributor photo Maria Castle
Davis, CA
I studied education and currently work as a tutor for school-age children. I've worked as a volunteer in many different international social projects and as a camp counselor every summer.Read more

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