POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE
The Reluctant Hero
By Nandy Ekle
“A reluctant hero is a tarnished or ordinary man with several faults or a troubled past, and he is pulled reluctantly into the story, or into heroic acts. During the story, he rises to the occasion, sometimes even vanquishing a mighty foe, sometimes avenging a wrong. But he questions whether he’s cut out for the hero business. His doubts, misgivings, and mistakes add a satisfying layer of tension to a story”. (From Wikipedia)
As a reader, the reluctant hero has always fascinated me. This is the person who wants a normal life, hearth and home, living in his own world fulfilling his own desires. But due to circumstances he has no control over, he is forced to think about the good of others.
In my opinion, the epitome of this type of character is William Wallace in the movie “Braveheart.” I’m not sure about the historical accuracy of the story. I’ve heard a lot of talk about how there’s not a shred of truth to it. And, to be fair, it does give a pretty dark light on a certain group of people. But, let’s face it. Most, especially those of us with an overdeveloped sense of imagination, don’t really care how accurate of a biography it is.
Braveheart is a masterfully told epic with a true reluctant, unwilling hero at the very center.
Scotland in the 1300s has been taken captive by England, and the king of England is a cruel man who rules his people (including his family) with an iron fist. At the first of the movie, William Wallace is a boy and his father and older brother leave him in to look after the cottage and the farm while they go to peace talks between their clan and a the English rulers over their homestead. William watches as a wagon brings the bodies of his father and brother back home. At their funeral, a little girl offers him a thistle, her gesture of comfort for the new orphan. His uncle rides into the village and takes young William off on a journey where he is educated to read, write, other languages, and calculate numbers.
When he’s grown, he comes back to his home to live as part of the clan, raising animals and vegetables, and to marry the now grown thistle girl who has been on his mind for all the years he was gone. His only wish is to marry her, run his farmstead, and raise children. The circle of life, as it were.
But then, his wife (they did marry, but only is secret to protect her from the attention of the lusting English soldiers.) This ended his wife’s death. And this is the moment the hero reluctantly emerges. William kills the English soldiers, and the rest of the clan help him out and was able to pinpoint the exact moment when he became the successful leader that lead a country to freedom.
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.