Here is the final paper that I wrote for my Introduction to Literature Course in college:
According to Jeph Loeb and Tom Morris in Heroes and Superheroes, “The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘hero’ as a term coming down to us from Greek antiquity, and as meaning ‘man of superhuman qualities, favored by the gods.’ The second definition given is ‘illustrious warrior,’ and the third is ‘man admired for achievements and noble qualities.’” (Pg. 12). In my opinion at the first of these two definitions do to necessarily define what a hero. I do agree that in order to define a hero you have to use the definition ‘man, or woman, admired for achievements and noble qualities’ but not in every instance of a hero, because a hero can still be a hero even they are not recognized as a hero or admired as a hero. I believe a hero is humble, self-less, puts others first, not self serving, willing to help others, puts others above themselves, sees the good in everyone and tries to bring it out, doesn’t exalt themselves, willing to sacrifice for the benefit of other people no matter what the cost of that sacrifice may happen to be and most of all always loves others more than themselves. The one fictional hero that have encountered recently that comes to mind when I think of this definition of hero is Agnieszka the main female protagonist in the novel Uprooted. She, throughout the book is always humble, willing to serve others, never selfish, always putting others before her own needs and is always loving others no matter how they treat her or what they happen to do her.
In terms of selflessness, sacrificing, and putting others first Aggie is always doing this through the entire book. In the words of Loeb and Morris, “And, when you think about it, sacrifice—along with the ability to make sacrifices—-is something like a forgotten virtue in much of modern life.” (Pg. 15). One instance of sacrifice and putting someone above herself was when Kasia, Aggie’s best friend was kidnapped and brought into the corrupted Wood, and Aggie was willing to go into the Wood to rescue her, “My Breath fogged into a small pale cloud and drifted away from me, leading the way into the trees. I stepped between two trunks, and followed it inside the Wood.” (Uprooted Pg. 104). Angie was willing to sacrifice and risk her own life and risk total corruption by the Wood in order to save and protect Kasia from complete and total corruption from the darkness and evil of the Wood. She would rather get corrupted by the Wood than let Kasia be corrupted by it,
The Dragon was waiting for us in the high tower room. His face was hard and grim as ever I had seen it, and gripped me by the chin and jerked my head up. I looked back at him, exhausted and empty, while he studied my face and searched my eyes. He was holding a bottle of some cordial in his hand; after he’d looked at me a long while he jerked out the stopper and thrust it at me. “Drink it,” he said. “The whole thing.” (Pg. 109)
Angie is always willing to sacrifice for others no matter what happens, no matter the cost, and is constantly doing it and sacrificing for others. In this case she was willing to go as far as sacrificing her life to save her best friend.
In many ways Agnieszka seems to be in the mindset that there is good in everyone and seems to see the good in each person she meets because she seems to keep loving and loving them no matter what they do or say to her. She seems to think that she can bring the good out of them and to the surface through loving them because in her eyes they just need to find the good in themselves in order to love others. This especially shown in the way she treats the Wood- Queen at the end of the novel when she finds out what caused her to be the way she is, after she found out the history of the Wood and how it came to be the way it is, “‘They burned the trees,’ she said, pleading for understanding from someone long gone. ‘They cut them down. They will always cut them down. They come and go like seasons, the winter that give no thought to the spring.’ (Pg. 419).
She is helpful to the Wood-Queen in many ways at this point, “‘We’re meant to go,’ I said softly, answering for both of us. ‘We’re not meant to stay forever.’” (Pg. 419). She now understood why the Wood-Queen was the way she was, “But she had’t been able to the root. She’d remembered the wrong things, and forgotten too much. She’d remembered how to kill and how to hate, and she’d forgotten how to grow. All she’d been able to do in the end was lie down beside her sister: not quite dreaming, not quite dead.” (Pg. 419). She could have taken revenge on the Wood-Queen for what she did to the people of Agnieszka’s village and the surrounding villages, but she didn’t, she decided to help the Wood-Queen to escape her torment and help her dream, “‘I’ll help you,’ I told her. ‘If you want to save her, you can.’” (Pg. 420). She loved the Wood-Queen because she saw there was good inside of her trying to escape but it was all coming out the wrong way in a form of revenge and hate for what past civilizations did to her people.
Aggie helped the Wood-Queen to take root, become a tree, and dream for the rest of her endless life, I gave her the last drops of the pool’s water, tipped them into her mouth, and then I touched her skin and said softly, very simply, ‘Vanalem.’ And she was changing. The last remnants of her white gown blew away, and the charred surface of her scorched skin peeled off in huge black flakes, fresh bark whirling up from the ground around her like a wide silver skirt, meeting and merging into the old tree’s broken trunk. She opened her eyes one last time and looked at me, with sudden relief, and then she was gone, she was growing, he feet plunging new roots over the old.” (Pg. 420)
Angie realizes that she needs to love the Wood-Queen in order to help her as well as in order to rid the land of the evil in the Wood. She know this is the only way to get the Queen to stop her habit of exacting revenge on the people around her. She knows this because she knows if she treats the Queen the same way the Queen treating Aggie and her village it won’t get her anywhere it will just cause her to become like the Wood-Queen and just like the Queen forget all the right things but remember all of the wrong ones. She could have taken revenge on the Wood- Queen but she decided to love her and show the Queen how to use the good inside of her in the right way rather than the wrong way. Aggie Loved the Wood-Queen no matter what because she saw good inside of her and the only way she knew she good bring out that good was to love her and help her to take root and join her sister among the trees.
When it comes to being humble, being willing to help others, and always loving others more than herself Aggie is definitely the epitome of a hero, well in my opinion anyway. She never ever stops loving other no matter how much trouble it happens to get her into at the time. One way she is willing to help and love others is in the end of the book when she starts helping the Wood to become uncorrupted little by little. As I stated above she started by helping the Wood-Queen to take root and join her sister in endless dreaming. She also helped out by getting rid of heart trees that are too far corrupted to save and replacing them with uncorrupted heart trees, and taking the corruption out of the heart trees that aren’t fully corrupted so that the tree people in them can live happily in a life of endless dreams and even put people in the trees who no longer wanted to live the life they had,
There were too many souls caught inside, twisting the tree in every direction, and they’d been there to long; there wasn’t enough left of them to bring out, and it would be almost impossible to calm and ease them all together, to slip them into dreaming……“I can help you,” I’d offered but the old man shook his head, his eyes half dreaming already, smiling, and the hard knobs of his bones and body trapped beneath the bark melted away suddenly beneath my hands. (Pgs. 425, 431)
She willingly went into the Wood and risked corruption to help the Wood and its creatures become uncorrupted,
Two more walkers had come creeping through the passageway to join the first: they were sitting in a row, their long heads all bent intently towards my basket. I fed each of them a clean fruit, and when I started working they helped me. Together we heaped dry kindling against the trunk, and sun a broad circle of dirt around the limits of the heart-tree’s branches. (Pg. 425)
This could also be seen as another instance of sacrifice but in this instance instead of saving a friend or a person from the Wood, she is sacrificing and risking her life to save the Wood itself from its own corruption.
In my definition a hero is selfless, willing to make sacrifices, not self-serving, puts others first, willing to help others, humble, puts others above themselves, sees the good in everyone and tries to bring it out, doesn’t exalt themselves, and most of all loves others more than themselves no matter what comes with that, and I believe Agnieszka is a hero in her own right because she exhibits every single one of these qualities.