What do we hope for from a hero?
Well, the first question is: how often do we meet heroes in real life? I can think of precious few. ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman)’ doesn’t seem to happen. Or it may be that by the time the media have inspected every potential hero – man or woman – to within an inch of their existence, feet of clay are crumbling all over the landscape.
But we do so need heroes! We need people who possess physical presence, and moral rectitude and the power to make things right. People like the Wolf of Dalriada – although Malcolm Craig Lowrie’s moral compass has an unusual perspective. He’s not above drawing the dirk across the jugular of someone who doesn’t behave as the Highlander code requires. But we still want this ‘judge, jury and executioner package’. We want a hero who is capable of making things right.
So we create fiction – through which strides this hero. And the creative concoction that is the hero feeds the hope that one day, our own hero will come into our real lives.
Personally, I can’t wait until Malcolm Craig Lowrie turns up in my life, smoking his pipe and enjoying his whisky and dispensing summary but effective justice. How about you?
But – and this is huge – do we want the hero to retain the qualities he/she possesses when we first meet him/her or do we want the hero to change? To develop? To learn? To grow? Through life-changing decisions?
A conundrum for the modern writer of historical and romantic adventures.