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Humanities 310-02 • Key Concepts: Hero and Antihero

Professor Tom Giannotti Winter 2007 (15011)


LCH A334 • M-Th 5-5:30 or by appointment MTWTh 6:00-9:50 PM
(310) 243-3930 • tgiannotti@csudh.edu LCH A324

Course Texts Publisher Date ISBN Price Reading Total


Campbell, Joseph. Hero With a Thousand Faces Princeton 1990 0-6910-1784-0 $15.95 240 pages
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness Mod Lib 1999 0-3757-5377-x $7.95 110 pages
Ibsen, Henrik. Four Major Plays: A Doll House Signet/P 1992 0-4515-2406-3 $6.95 75 pages
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman Penguin 1977 0-1404-8134-6 $7.95 125 pages
Morrison, Toni. Sula Signet/P 1989 0-4522-6349-2 $11.95 175 pages
Rowson, Susanna. Charlotte Temple Penguin 1991 0-1413-9080-4 $12.95 130 pages
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet Norton 1992 0-3939-5663-6 $11.95 95 pages
Sophocles, Oedipus the King Oxford 1990 0-1950-5493-8 $8.95 75 pages
Weekly Average: 343 pages Total: 1030 pages
Course Description and Objectives
Prerequisite: HUM 200. Course objectives: 1) to investigate the cultural assumptions and implications lying
behind the archetypes of heroism and antiheroism; 2) to sharpen students’ aptitudes as critical readers,
interpreters, and writers. Our odyssey through literary myth and cultural history begins in classical antiquity,
whose heroes mirror the consensual values of their society, and then traces the transformations of heroism and
development of antiheroism amid the modern world’s more problematic and paradoxical value-systems. Texts
drawn from literature, mythology, stage drama, and film, with sideglances at philosophy and psychology. Class
meetings are divided into two discussion sessions separated by a break, with a brief quiz at the beginning and
sometimes a writing session or quiz at the end.

Course Requirements and Grading


Regular access to Blackboard and class email is required, and course grade may be penalized up to one
letter grade if you do not access them: please update your username in Blackboard to receive class email.
1) Ten Quizzes • 30%. Ten multiple-choice quizzes, usually of four questions (at all class meetings
but first), most given in the first five minutes of class, some in the last five. Only partial credit
issued after 6:05; quizzes cannot be taken or made up after 6:10. Please bring a Scantron #882-ES
(the long ones) every day.
2) Midterm Essay • 30%. Typed, 4-5 pages, due in hard copy in class and in Digital Dropbox (TBA).
Late papers accepted, but are docked one letter per day.
3) Final Essay • 40%. Typed, 4-5 pages, due in hard copy in class and in Digital Dropbox. No
papers accepted after 8:00 PM, Th, Jan 18.
4) Diagnostic Essay • 0%. Not included in GPA, but penalty of one letter grade assessed on Midterm
if you do not write the Diagnostic on the first or second class day.
Course Policies
1) Note that class meets at 6:00—if getting here on time will be a problem, please don’t enroll.
Please bring texts to class daily, and please switch off cell phones.
2) The drop deadline in Winter is at the end of the first week—please decide your status by then as I
don’t normally approve drops after the deadline and require documented “serious and compelling
reason”: a medical emergency or permanent change in work schedule is adequate reason; a failing
performance or frequent absence is not.
3) All work is due in class, Th, Jan 18. Please be aware that Incompletes won't be issued for con-
sistently missed work or absence—only for medical or other documented emergency on the final
exam when all prior work is complete.
4) Take-home essays and exams must be typed (200-250 words/page). Please don't use folders.
Sorry, I can’t accept voluntary rewrites in so short a termlet’s get it right the first time. I only
accept papers with a Scoring Sheet attached to the back. Please print them out from Blackboard.
5) You’re required to know the CSUDH plagiarism policy in the catalog. If you copy from another
source without proper acknowlegement/documentation, the consequences will normally include my
assigning an F for the course and reporting it to the Vice President’s office for disciplinary action.
6) I’ll post grades by Tu, Jan 23, 3:00 PM; they’re available from Toro Web within 24 hours.
Humanities 310 • Schedule
Wk 1 Initiations • Myth and The Classical Hero Work Due
Tu Jan 2 Read Aristotle-Frye handout in syllabus (during break). • SE 1/2: Frye/Oedipus
6:00 • Introduction
Break: 6:30 • Video: Campbell, The Hero’s Adventure (0:55)
7:30 7:30 • Break: Read Aristotle-Frye handout, visit bookstore.
8:00 • Lecture: Heroism and Its Types
W Jan 3 Read Sophocles, Oedipus. Campbell, “Monomyth” (3-47). • SE 1/2: Frye/Oedipus
6:00 • Discussion: Sophocles, Oedipus Rex • Quiz 1: Oedipus and
Break: 7:10 • Discussion: Campbell, “The Monomyth” Campbell (3-47)
7:00 7:30 • Writing Session (Aristotle/Frye, Oedipus, Campbell)
Th Jan 4 Read Campbell, “Departure,” “Initiation,” “Return” (49-243). • Quiz 2: Campbell (49-
Break: 6:00 • Discussion: Classical Heroes and Antiheroes 243)
8:00 7:30 • Video: Rosenberg, Cool Hand Luke (2:07)
Wk 2 Thematic Transformations • Hero and Antihero
M Jan 8 Read Shakespeare, Hamlet. • Quiz 3: Hamlet
Break: 6:00 • Video: Shakespeare, Hamlet, Vol. 1 (1:42 of 3:38)
7:45 8:00 • Video: Shakespeare, Hamlet, Vol. 2 (1:54 of 3:38)
Tu Jan 9 Read T.S. Eliot, “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” in syllabus. • Quiz 4: Hamlet/Prufrock
Break: 6:00 • Discussion: Shakespeare, Hamlet
8:00 8:10 • Discussion: Eliot, “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
W Jan 10 Read Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman. • Quiz 5: Salesman
Break: 6:00 • Discussion: Miller, Death of a Salesman
8:00 8:10 • Discussion: Miller, Death of a Salesman
Gender Transformations • Hero and Heroine
Th Jan 11 Read Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple. • Quiz 6: Rowson
Break: 6:00 • Discussion: Rowson, Charlotte Temple • MIDTERM DUE
8:00 8:00 • Break
8:10 • Discussion: Rowson, Charlotte Temple
Wk 3 Cultural Transformations • Heroism and Other Cultures
M Jan 15 MLK Holiday – No Class Meeting
Tu Jan 16 Read Henrik Ibsen, A Doll House. • Quiz 7: Doll House
Break: 6:00 • Discussion: Ibsen, A Doll House
8:00 8:00 • Break
8:10 • Discussion: Ibsen, A Doll House
W Jan 17 Read Toni Morrison, Sula. • Quiz 8: Sula
Break: 6:00 • Discussion: Morrison, Sula
8:00 8:00 • Break
8:10 • Discussion: Morrison, Sula
Th Jan 18 Read Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. • Quiz 9: Copolla
Break: 6:00 • Video: Copolla, Apocalypse Now (2:33) • Quiz 10: Conrad
8:30 3:40 • Discussion: Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now • FINAL DUE
Final Exam Essay Due

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Humanities 310 • Plagiarism, Sources, and Documentation
You’re required to know the CSUDH plagiarism policy in the catalog. If you copy from another source
without proper acknowlegement/documentation, the consequences will normally include my assigning
an F for the course and reporting it to the Vice President’s office for disciplinary action. I may require
that you submit essays in electronic format.

You are asked not to consult secondary sources for your Short Essays or Midterm and Final Essays.
Since we're all using the same editions of Campbell and the literary works, you don't need to cite them
formally in a Works Cited list—when you quote from Campbell or from a work of fiction, just cite the
page number in parentheses; when you quote poetry or drama, just cite line number or act/scene/line
number in parentheses:

• Kurtz’s final resolution in Heart of Darkness is to “Exterminate all the brutes!” (39).
• Campbell contends that “the hero’s adventure isn’t over till it’s over” (213).
• It’s the Fool in Happy Days who reminds us, “I’ll speak a prophecy ere I go” (3. 2.75).
• Milton’s speaker in Lycidas ends on a note of reassurance and resurrected hope: “The
shepherds weep no more/Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore” (192-93).

If you do use outside sources of any kind, follow the “new” (post-1984) MLA format for documentation,
which does away with footnotes and bibliography and replaces them with a system of in-text
parenthetical citation keyed to a "Works Cited" list at the end of the paper. If you're unfamiliar with it,
pick up a copy of the fifth edition MLA Handbook and keep it close to your bedside, but here's a crash
course in the MLA system. If you quote, paraphrase material, or borrow ideas from a secondary source
(even an editor’s introduction or web site), you must document properly in the text of your paper:

• According to Amoretti, Heart of Darkness “marks the end of Victorian fiction” (vii).
• Giannotti has suggested that the Italians are a strange but happy people, "beardless and
bootless, with a gift for language and song" (153).

Note that this rule applies to any material you use from an editor’s introduction or critical essay in the
editions we’re using (which generally isn’t recommended). Again, you must document the specific
writer and introduction, essay, or footnote you’re borrowing from:

• According to one critic of the play, for Hamlet, “readiness is all” (Kettle 246).

Once you’ve cited the source in your text, your Works Cited list at the end of the paper will cite books
and articles or chapters in books like this:

• Amoretti, Spenser. “Preface.” Heart of Darkness. By Joseph Conrad. New York: Penguin,
1995. ii-viii.
• Giannotti, Thomas J. My People, My Pasta, My Patrimony. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1998.
• Salsa di Pomodori, Mario. "The Wine Presses of the Lord." Sources for Viticulture. Ed.
Pasquale Firmi. Las Vegas: Basta, 1994. 17-31.
• Kettle, Arnold, “Hamlet in a Changing World.” Hamlet. Ed. Cyrus Hoy. 2nd ed. New York:
Norton, 1992. 237-46.

For more details about journal, magazine, and web sources, please consult the MLA Handbook, sixth
edition.

Humanities 310 • A Note on Editorial Markings


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Editorial marking in the margins of a paper is something you'll see comparatively little of this semester, and
for a very good reason. I do very little of it. That too has a very good reason behind it: composition
research shows clearly that most of those cryptic markings an instructor leaves behind in the margins have
little effect on improving writing. Occasionally, though, I will mark some of the more serious or recurrent
errors, and the most common are listed here.
RTS Run-Together Sentence. Also called a comma splice, fused sentence, or end-stop error, an RTS is a
literal "running together" of two sentences in a single sentence. Said differently, it is a sentence that
contains two sentences (two main clauses, each with a subject and main verb) with no end-stop
punctuation between them (only a period, semicolon, or colon will provide an end-stop for a main
clause, not a comma) or with only a conjunctive adverb (like however, therefore, moreover,
furthermore). Compare the italicized RTS errors with their corrected revisions below.

I'm a pre-law major, therefore the ability to write I believe it, in fact, the evidence is conclusive.
well is important to me.
I'm a pre-law major; therefore, the ability I believe it because the evidence is
to write well is important to me. conclusive.

Careful, though, of overusing semicolons. The sentence below, for example, only requires a comma:

Wrong: To my astonishment; she showed no emotion. Correct: To my astonishment, she showed


no emotion.

frag Fragment. An incomplete sentence (usually a subordinate clause of some kind) punctuated with a
period. If an RTS is a sentence with two main clauses, a fragment is just the reverse—a sentence
with no main clause at all. Italics mark the incorrect versions:
It was a beautiful face. A face to launch a thousand We parted on friendly terms. Which is the way she
ships. wanted it.
It was a beautiful face, a face to launch a We parted on friendly terms, which is the
thousand ships. way she wanted it.

T Tense. Most seriously, incorrect tense formations can be a problem for non-native and dialect writers,
and they require extremely close editing on the writer's part. Less serious but more frequent is the
problem of referring to literary sources in the past tense. Generally, present tense should be used to
refer to a literary narrative. Thus, "The Captain in Conrad's story writes a letter home" instead of
"wrote a letter home."
WC Word Choice. Any use of inexact, unnecessary, or illogical words and phrases. Includes vagueness,
wordiness, ambiguity, and needless repetition.
SC Sentence Combining. Sentence combining isn't itself the problem, but a way of addressing the
stylistic problem of sentences that are limited to short, flat subject-verb statements laid end to end.
They often repeat words unnecessarily (especially the same subject) and don't indicate the connections
between themselves. They need to be combined with each other to form longer units, so several
simple sentences with main clauses only can be converted to one complex sentence with one main
clause and several subordinate ones.
¶ Paragraphing. Paragraph problems generally go beyond simple editing because they usually involve
larger issues of continuity or development of thought, but sometimes they're only cosmetic problems
because you're merely inserting paragraph breaks too often and unnecessarily. A reliable all-purpose
rule is that paragraphs should never consist of less than a hefty handful of sentences, and if you're
indenting more often than that, it's high time to rethink your paragraph structure and development.

Humanities 310 • Study Questions


Everyone will write SE 1 or SE 2 in class as a diagnostic, but it won’t be included in your final grade. Aim for 1½
to two pages (300-500 words). Otherwise, the Short Essays (SE’s) should be used as study questions and have
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two purposes: 1) to help you articulate the impressions and ideas you’ve formed while reading and thus to
encourage class discussion; 2) to let you try out ideas and materials you might want to develop later in the midterm
and final essays. Please be sure to identify by number which SE you’re submitting; if there’s more than one option
for a single essay, please choose one and indicate which of the two you’re writing on.

Short Essay 1 • Northrop Frye


Aristotle and Northrop Frye both discuss heroes and how they differ from other people and the world around
them. Frye describes five heroic types: 1) the god-hero of myth; 2) the demigod or super-hero of romance,
legend, folk tale, or cartoon; 3) the superior-man hero of serious “high mimetic” drama; 4) the average-guy
hero of ‘low mimetic” comedy or realism; 5) the inferior or absurd character or antihero of what Frye calls
“ironic” stories. Write a brief essay exemplifying at least three of the five types from any stories you know—
from literature, movies, TV, public life, or anything else that has heroes in it.
Short Essay 2 • Oedipus Rex
a) Analyze Sophocles’ hero Oedipus according to Frye’s five types of heroes (above): which is Oedipus, and
why? Explain in detail why he is one type (or more?) and isn’t the others. What does that kind of hero say
about Sophocles’ society? About us?
b) You’ve read Campbell’s account of the “monomyth” and heard an outline of his thoughts about the hero’s
adventure. What details of his story would qualify Oedipus as a hero for Campbell? Consider especially
whether he fits Campbell’s three major phases of the heroic quest: 1) the departure or separation; 2) the
initiation stage, with its rites of passage, trials, and victories; and 3) the return and reintegration with society.
(See pages 36-37 of Campbell for details.)
Short Essay 3 • Cool Hand Luke
a) Explain why the central character of Cool Hand Luke is an antihero. Don’t forget to explain how he just
missed being a hero.
b) Campbell divides the hero’s quest into three major phases: 1) the departure or separation; 2) the initiation
stage, with its rites of passage, trials, and victories; and 3) the return and reintegration with society (see pages
36-37 of Campbell). Discuss whether any parts of this model apply to the hero of Cool Hand Luke. (He is an
antihero, but antiheroes might share the quest pattern of Campbell’s heroes.)
Short Essay 4 • Hamlet and “Prufrock”
a) We know that Campbell divides the hero’s quest into three major phases: 1) the departure or separation; 2)
the initiation stage, with its rites of passage, trials, and victories; and 3) the return and reintegration with
society (see 36-37 of Campbell). Discuss whether any parts of this model apply to the hero of Hamlet—is he
or isn’t he a hero by Campbell’s definition?
b) Hamlet’s habit of spending his time not taking action makes him questionable at best as a classical hero and
man of action. Why is that? Where and how does Hamlet’s adventure take place—as opposed to earlier
heroes? Is Hamlet a new kind of hero?
c) Despite his inaction and his inability to come to terms with love (e.g., his relationships with Ophelia and
Gertrude), Hamlet is still a “hero” according to most readings, not an antihero. Not so with Prufrock. Why is
Prufrock so much more an antihero than Hamlet?
Short Essay 5 • “Prufrock” and Death of a Salesman
a) Consider some of our definitions of “antihero” and compare/contrast Hamlet and Prufruck as antiheroes.
b) Willy Loman is a travelling man, like Odysseus and other wanderer heroes. But unlike Odysseus, Willy fails
to make the return to family and reconciliation with his son that other wanderer heroes achieve. What features
of Willy’s character, psyche, or culture (America, 1949) prevent him from returning, and why does this failure
mark him as an antihero?
c) Discuss how the themes of capitalism and the American Dream work in Death of a Salesman.

Short Essay 6 • Charlotte Temple


a) Yes, Campbell divides the hero’s quest into three major phases: 1) the departure or separation; 2) the
initiation stage, with its rites of passage, trials, and victories; and 3) the return and reintegration with society
(see pages 36-37 of Campbell). Discuss whether any parts of this model apply to the heroine of Charlotte
Temple.
b) Charlotte Temple is a not-so-distant cousin of Shakespeare’s Ophelia—a woman seduced, abandoned, and
victimized by good love gone bad. Discuss Charlotte’s similarities with Ophelia. Differences? Consider
their societies and the gender roles imposed on them.
Short Essay 7 • A Doll House
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a) What cultural assumptions about the role of women does A Doll House share with Charlotte Temple? In what
assumptions does it differ? Discuss in detail.
b) Does Nora’s abandonment of her children undermine her otherwise heroic decision to walk out on a hollow
marriage? Does it make her an antihero? (A German production of the play provided an alternative ending in
which Nora, after struggling with her conscience, decides she can’t abandon the children. Is this ending
better? What does your answer suggest about you and your preferences in heroic values?
Short Essay 8 • Sula
a) Yup, Campbell still divides the hero’s quest into three major phases: 1) the departure or separation; 2) the
initiation stage, with its rites of passage, trials, and victories; and 3) the return and reintegration with society
(see pages 36-37 of Campbell). Discuss whether any parts of this model apply to the heroine(s) of Sula.
b) Sula is often seen as a dual-heroine novel, Sula being only one half of a heroic identity that’s completed by
Nel. Discuss how they complement each other, and whether or not they combine to form one heroine.
Short Essays 9 and 10 • Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness For SE 9 and 10, you may
write on any of the questions below (as long as you don’t write on the same topic twice, of course).
a) Who is the hero of Heart of Darkness—Marlow or Kurtz—and why? If you had to make a choice between
Marlow and Kurtz in the novella, which would qualify best as hero, which would qualify best as antihero? Is
there any overlap? Careful to define your terms.
b) What is Coppolla saying about America and Vietnam in the 1960s? What is Conrad saying about Europe and
Africa in the 1890s? How’s what they’re saying related?
c) Some students have been offended by the occurrences of the “n-word” in Heart of Darkness. If you prefer,
feel free to write on one of the other topics, but discuss Apocalypse Now only, not Conrad. But if you’re
interested in understanding why people spoke like that and what Conrad’s view of racism is, consider this.
Aside from the author, Conrad, who’s miles removed from the world of Heart of Darkness, we get our
information in the novella from a lot of different sources: from two narrators (Marlow and the anonymous
listener-narrator who’s repeating to us the story he heard from Marlow on the deck of the Nellie); at least two
claimants to the role of hero, Kurtz and Marlow; and a host of minor characters and viewpoints. Trace the
offensive (“n-word”) language closely. Who uses it? Who merely reports its use by others? Where are
Marlow’s beliefs and sympathies about race? What does Conrad’s use of Marlow as a point-of-view character
reveal about his attitudes toward racism and colonialism?
d) Coppola’s narrator (Captain Willard) and tragic hero (Colonel Kurtz) are direct parallels for Conrad’s
narrator (Marlow) and hero (Kurtz) in Heart of Darkness. If you had to make a choice between Willard and
Kurtz in the film, which would qualify best as hero, which would qualify best as antihero? Is there any
overlap? Careful to define your terms.
e) Know what? Campbell divides the hero’s quest into three major phases: 1) the departure or separation; 2) the
initiation stage, with its rites of passage, trials, and victories; and 3) the return and reintegration with society
(see pages 36-37 of Campbell). Discuss whether any parts of this model apply to Apocalypse Now or to
Heart of Darkness.

Humanities 310 • Midterm and Final Essay Questions


Midterm Essay Questions • Three-four pages (750-1000 words), typed
Please choose one of the questions below as the basis for your essay. You’re urged not to use
outside sources, but if reference to secondary sources is absolutely necessary, please refer to the
“Policy on Dishonesty” and “Sources and Documentation” sections of the syllabus and be sure to
quote, paraphrase, and document appropriately. Take care to center your discussion around a
thesis or clearly stated perspective and refer specifically to the texts/films for examples. Please
remember to identify which question you’re answering by number.

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1. Choose two of the following works: Oedipus Rex, Cool Hand Luke, Hamlet, “Prufrock,”
Death of a Salesman. Assuming that a true hero reflects his society’s values, discuss the extent
to which your two heroes embody (or don’t embody) the social values around them. Be sure
to explain what the society’s specific values are, and why, and illustrate how your heroes reflect
or fail to reflect them.

2. Choose one theme or motif (or two very closely related ones) from the “Some Thematic
Patterns” handout. Discuss, compare, and contrast the uses of that theme in the heroes of two
of the following: Oedipus Rex, Cool Hand Luke, Hamlet, “Prufrock,” Salesman.

3. Discuss the heroes of two of the following works, arguing for one as hero, one as antihero:
Oedipus Rex, Cool Hand Luke, Hamlet, “Prufrock,” Death of a Salesman. Be sure to define
the terms “hero” and “antihero” consistently, according to the definitions we’ve developed in
class, and use your characters to exemplify the specific features of a hero and an antihero.

Final Essay Questions • Three-four pages (750-1000 words, typed if written out of class).
Please choose one of the questions below as the basis for your essay. You’re urged not to use
outside sources, but if reference to secondary sources is absolutely necessary, please refer to the
“Policy on Dishonesty” and “Sources and Documentation” sections of the syllabus and be sure to
quote, paraphrase, and document appropriately. Take care to center your discussion around a thesis
or clearly stated perspective and refer specifically to the texts/films for examples. Please remember
to identify which question you’re answering by number. Due at class time on final class day.

1. Choose two of the following works: Charlotte Temple, A Doll House, Sula, Heart of
Darkness, Apocalypse Now. Assuming that a true hero reflects his society’s values, discuss the
extent to which your two heroes embody (or don’t embody) the social values around them. Be
sure to explain what the society’s specific values are, and why, and illustrate how your heroes
reflect or fail to reflect them.

2. Choose one theme or motif (or two very closely related ones) from the “Some Thematic
Patterns” handout. Discuss, compare, and contrast the uses of that theme in the heroes of two
of the following: Charlotte Temple, A Doll House, Sula, Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now.

3. Take special care on this one: “antihero” will be trickier to define with this group of texts.
Discuss the heroes of two of the following works, arguing for one as hero, one as antihero:
Charlotte Temple, A Doll House, Sula, Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now. Be sure to define
the terms “hero” and “antihero” consistently, according to the definitions we’ve developed in
class, and use your characters to exemplify the specific features of a hero and an antihero.
Humanities 310 • Definitions of the Hero • Aristotle and Frye
In his Poetics, Aristotle was the first to discusss the art of making, composing, or telling stories
(Aristotle’s poesis, the word from which our “poetry” comes, literally means making). At the very
beginning of his discussion of how stories are told, he insists that they are all, in some way or another,
representations or imitations of the world around us—of the actions, people, things, ideas, feelings, that
make up life as we know it. Take a look below at what Aristotle has to say about the kinds of people
who are imitated in storytelling, and how we make the most fundamental judgments about what kind of
a person, or hero, we’re witnessing.

Aristotle, The Poetics1

1 Aristotle’s Theory of Poetry and Fine Art. Trans. S. H. Butcher. 1894. New York: Dover, 1951.
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Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and these men must be either of a higher or lower type
(for moral character mainly answers to these divisions, goodness and badness being the distinguishing
marks of moral differences), it follows that we must represent men either as better than in real life, or as
worse, or as they are. It is the same in painting. Polygnotus depicted men as nobler than they are,
Pauson as less noble, Dionysius drew them true to life (11). . . . The same distinction marks off tragedy
from comedy for comedy aims at representing men as worse, tragedy as better than in actual life (13). . . .
Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower type—not, however, in the full sense of
the word bad, the ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness
which is not painful or destructive (21).
Again, tragedy is the imitation of an action, and an action implies personal agents, who
necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and thought (25). . . . [Tragedy] should,
moreover, imitate actions which excite pity and fear, this being the distinctive mark of tragic imitation. It
follows plainly, in the first place, the change of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous
man brought from prosperity to adversity: for this moves us neither to pity nor fear; it merely shocks us.
Nor, again, that of a bad man passing from adversity to prosperity for nothing can be more alien to the
spirit of tragedy. . . . Nor, again, the downfall of the utter villain be exhibited. Plot of this kind would,
doubtless, satisfy the moral sense, but it would inspire neither pity nor fear for pity is aroused by
unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves. Such an event, therefore, will be
neither pitiful nor terrible. There remains, then, the character between these two extremes—that of a man
who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but
by some error or frailty. He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous—a (45) personage like
Oedipus, Thystes, or other illustrious men of such families (47).

And with that, Aristotle is off on his famous definition of the tragic hero and his equally famous theory
of tragic catharsis, which claims that by arousing and purging the emotions of pity (or empathy) and
fear (or terror), tragedies allow us to release unhealthy emotions and, in effect, become better people.
Both of those—the tragic hero and tragic catharsis—are ideas we’ll discuss in more detail later, but for
now consider just how simple Aristotle’s statement about heroes and storytelling really is: good or
“high” character makes for a tragic or serious story; bad or “low” character makes for a comic or
satirical or silly story.
But how do we decide what’s good and what’s bad, what’s high and what’s low? Who decides
who gets to be the good, the bad, and the ugly? Clearly, Aristotle had moral criteria in mind, and
though we probably wouldn’t agree with him about a lot of virtues and vices—most people in
Aristotle’s society were slaves, and we probably wouldn’t agree with the “justice” of a society or
government that upholds slavery—we’d probably agree with the way he bases his thinking on a social
norm. When Yogi claimed that he was “smarter than the average bear, Boo-Boo,” he was making a
practical assumption that we all make at all times: people (and bears) are different. And a range of
difference implies a norm or average in the middle. Exactly what a normal or average character or
behavior is would be pretty hard to agree on, but we do assume a norm or average of behavior and
character exists—otherwise, we’d stop for green lights. Think about it: every time you go through a
green light, you’re acting on the assumption that most people going the other way are intelligent,
perceptive, and law-abiding enough to recognize what a red light means and stop for it. Whether
norms are good or bad, without their existence, we might all be roadkill because they allow for a
consensus of some kind that we can base our social actions on. But let’s see what happens to
Aristotle’s assumption of norms if we give a little more thought to the different types of heroes and
types of stories there are out there. Aristotle’s had lots of intelligent followers, but none perhaps quite
so brilliant as the literary scholar Northrop Frye, whose thoughts on the subject will repay your
attention richly. The first essay in his Anatomy of Criticism starts below where Aristotle left off.

Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism2


1. If superior in kind both to other men and to the environment of other men, the hero is a divine
being, and the story about him will be a myth in the common sense of a story about a god.

2 Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1957. 33-34.
8
2. If superior in degree to other men and to his environment, the hero is the typical hero of romance,
whose actions are marvelous but who is himself identified as a human being. The hero of romance moves in a
world in which the ordinary laws of nature are slightly suspended: prodigies of courage and endurance,
unnatural to us, are natural to him, and enchanted weapons, talking animals, terrifying ogres and witches, and
talismans of miraculous power violate no rule of probability once the postulates of romance have been
established. Here we have moved from myth, properly so called, into legend, folk tale, märchen, and their
literary affiliates and derivatives.
3. If superior in degree to other men but not to his natural environment (33), the hero is a leader. He
has authority, passions, and powers of expression far greater than ours, but what he does is subject both to
social criticism and to the order of nature. This is the hero of the high mimetic mode, of most epic and tragedy,
and is primarily the kind of hero that Aristotle had in mind.
4. If superior neither to other men nor to his environment, the hero is one of us: we respond to a sense
of his common humanity, and demand from the poet the same canons of probability that we find in our own
experience. This gives us the hero of the low mimetic mode, of most comedy and of realistic fiction. “High”
and “low” have no connotations of comparative value, but are purely diagrammatic . . . .
5. If inferior in power or intelligence to ourselves, so that we have the sense of looking down on a
scene of bondage, frustration, or absurdity, the hero belongs to the ironic mode. This is still true when the
reader feels that he is or might be in the same situation, as the situation is being judged by the norms of a
greater freedom (34).

Short Essay 1 • Northrop Frye


Aristotle and Northrop Frye both discuss heroes and how they differ from other people and the world around them. Frye
describes five heroic types: 1) the god-hero of myth; 2) the demigod or super-hero of romance, legend, folk tale, or
cartoon; 3) the superior-man hero of serious “high mimetic” drama; 4) the average-guy hero of ‘low mimetic” comedy
or realism; 5) the inferior or absurd character or antihero of what Frye calls “ironic” stories. Write a brief essay
exemplifying at least three of the five types from any stories you know—from literature, movies, TV, public life, or
anything else that has heroes in it.
Short Essay 2 • Oedipus Rex
a) Analyze Sophocles’ hero Oedipus according to Frye’s five types of heroes (above): which is Oedipus, and why?
Explain in detail why he is one type (or more?) and isn’t the others. What does that kind of hero say about Sophocles’
society? About us?
b) You’ve read Campbell’s account of the “monomyth” and heard an outline of his thoughts about the hero’s adventure.
What details of his story would qualify Oedipus as a hero for Campbell? Consider especially whether he fits Campbell’s
three major phases of the heroic quest: 1) the departure or separation; 2) the initiation stage, with its rites of passage,
trials, and victories; and 3) the return and reintegration with society. (See pages 36-37 of Campbell for details.)

Humanities 310 • T. S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917)

Let us go then, you and I,2


S’io credessi he mia risposta fosse When the evening is spread out against the sky
a persona che mai tomasse al mundo, Like a patient etherised upon a table;
questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
Ma per cio che giammai di questo fondo The muttering retreats
non torno vivo alcun, s’I’odo il vero, Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.1 And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
1 The epigraph is from Dante’s Inferno (27.61-66). Dante Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’ 3
and his guide through hell, Virgil, encounter Guido da Let us go and make our visit.
Montefeltro, who is consumed in flame as punishment for
giving false counsel. Since Guido believes that Dante will In the room the women come and go
never be able to escape hell and return to earth (“none has Talking of Michelangelo.
ever returned alive from this depth,” he tells them that “I
answer you without fear of infamy” and tells them how his
2 Ask yourself what’s wrong with the title of this “love
sins have landed him in the lower rungs of hell. The
metaphor of a private hell is central to “The Love Song” as song,” with its character’s name, and with the opening
is the idea of “overhearing” Prufrock’s “confession”—try three lines of the poem. More importantly, who are the
considering the poem not just as a monologue that we “you and I” of the first line? (See note above for hints.)
overhear Prufrock speaking, but perhaps as a dialogue 3 Notice how Prufrock’s “overwhelming question”
between two parts of Prufrock’s self (conscious mind and degenerates into an increasingly pathetic series of
unconscious mind, ego and id, self and other?). questions as the poem develops: try tracing them.
9
Is it perfume from a dress
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window- That makes me so digress?
panes, Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window- And should I then presume?
panes, And how should I begin?
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, * * * * * *
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from
chimneys, Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
And seeing that it was a soft October night, Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. windows? . . .

And indeed there will be time I should have been a pair of ragged claws4
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time * * * * * *
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create, And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
And time for all the works and days of hands Smoothed by long fingers,
That lift and drop a question on your plate; Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,
Time for you and time for me, Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
And time yet for a hundred indecisions, Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
And for a hundred visions and revisions, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
Before the taking of a toast and tea. But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald)
In the room the women come and go brought in upon a platter,5
Talking of Michelangelo. I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And indeed there will be time I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and
To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’ snicker,
Time to turn back and descend the stair, And in short, I was afraid.
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
(They will say: ‘How his hair is growing thin!’) And would it have been worth it, after all,
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the After the cups the marmalade, the tea,
chin, Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple Would it have been worth while,
pin— To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
(They will say: ‘But how his arms and legs are thin!’) To have squeezed the universe into a ball
Do I dare To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
Disturb the universe? To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead,6
In a minute there is time Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all’—
For decisions and revisions which a minute will If one, settling a pillow by her head,
reverse. Should say: ‘That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.’
For I have known them all already, known them all—
Have know the evenings, mornings, afternoons, And would it have been worth it, after all,
I have measure out my life with coffee spoons; Would it have been worth while,
I know the voices dying with a dying fall After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled
Beneath the music from a farther room. streets,
So how should I presume? After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that
trail along the floor—
And I have known the eyes already, known them all— And this, and so much more?—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, It is impossible to say just what I mean!
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in pattersn
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, on a screen;
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 4 Hamlet tells Polonius (3.2.205-6) that “you yourself, sir,
And how should I presume? should be as old as I am if, like a crab, you could go
backward.”
And I have known the arms already, known them all— 5 The prophet alluded to here is John the Baptist, whose
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare head was brought to Salome on a platter (Mark 6.17-20).
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!) 6 See the New Testament for the resurrection of Lazarus
(John 11.1-44).
10
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say,
‘That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant at all.’

* * * * * *

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;


Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.7

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .


I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?


I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the
beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves


Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea


By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

7 Sounds like the Polonius we know and love from


Hamlet, doesn’t it?
11
Humanities 310 • Heroism • Some Thematic Patterns
The transformations of the hero follow a number of thematic patterns and assume a variety of
shapes. Some of the most common motifs below overlap; some indeed are subcategories of or
synonyms for others, as we’ll discover recurrently. But still, you might want to keep an eye out
for variations on the themes below. (This isn’t a list of heroic traits, just recurrent themes.)

• Mysterious Origins or Past (Moses among the bulrushes, the unknown parentage of Oedipus)
• Disguised Identity (Odysseus upon his return to Ithaca)
• Ritual Scar, Mark of Identity (Odysseus’ scar, Pike’s leg in The Wild Bunch, Ratso Rizzo’s leg in
Midnight Cowboy)
• Summons to the Quest (Christ and John the Baptist, Telemachos and Athena)
• Cyclic Departure and Return (Odysseus’s travels)
• Faithful Friend or Servant (Eumaios in the Odyssey, Horatio in Hamlet)
• Betrayal or Suspected Betrayal (Judas, Laertes in Hamlet)
• Patterns of Ascent and Descent (Christ’s descent into the grave and resurrection, Marlow’s journey
upriver in Heart of Darkness)
• Rite of Initiation or Passage (Adela Quested in the Marabar Caves in Passage to India)
• Consulting the Mentor (Telemachos/Nestor, Mentor; the “old men” in The Wild Bunch)
• Descent into the Unconscious or Night-Sea Journey (Job in the whale’s belly)
• Underworld Journey (Odysseus’s meeting with Tiresias in Hades, Prufrock’s descent into a private
hell)
• Supernatural Intervention (ghost of Hamlet’s father)
• Hero’s Narrative of His Adventures (Odysseus’s tale of his adventures among the Phaiakians)
• Symbolic Death or Maiming (Christ, Odysseus’s act of self-blinding)
• Ritual Cleansing (Christ’s baptism, anointing of his feet by Mary Magdalen)
• Symbolic or Bodily Healing of Wounds (Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars, Yojimbo)
• Captivity and Escape (Odysseus in Cyclops’ cave, Eastwood, Angel’s capture in The Wild Bunch,
Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck in New York/Florida)
• Retreat to Pastoral “Greenworld” (Angel’s village in The Wild Bunch)
• Retreat to Wilderness Isolation (Christ in the wilderness, Adela at the temple in Passage to India)
• Wandering (Oedipus before his arrival at Thebes)
• Wasteland Crossing (Israelites’ forty years in the wilderness, Percival in the Grail legends,
Gawain’s winter journey in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
• Rescue of/by the Hero (Angel in The Wild Bunch)
• Trial by Combat (Menelaus’s wrestling with Proteus in The Odyssey)
• Trial by Water (storms/shipwrecks of The Odyssey, river crossings in The Wild Bunch)
• Trial by Sexual Temptation (Odysseus with Circe or Calypso, Gawain’s dalliances in Sir Gawain)
• Trial by Economic/Social Temptation (Nora’s wish to remain with Torvald)
• Trial by Spiritual Temptation (Christ in Gethsemane or in the wilderness)
• Trial by Temptation to Death (Hamlet’s suicide wish)
• Atonement with Father (Christ/Father, Telemachos/Odysseus, Hamlet/Hamlet)
• Reconciliation with Mother (Hamlet and Gertrude)
• Attainment of or Reunion with Spouse (Odysseus and Penelope)
• Symbolic Weapon (the great bow of Odysseus, Eastwood’s revolver, Yojimbo’s sword, Willy
Loman’s car)
• Apotheosis of Hero (Christ’s assumption into heaven, Oedipus in Oedipus at Colonus)
12
• Rebirth of the Social Order (Fortinbras’s arrival in Hamlet, ending of Oedipus, The Wild Bunch)
• Achievement of Transcendent Understanding (Oedipus, Hamlet, Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy)
Humanities 310 • Heroism/Antiheroism • Character
Traits/Values
So far, we’ve seen one definition of antiheroism in Northrop Frye’s thinking about the hero of an ironic
story. As he tells us, “If inferior in power or intelligence to ourselves, so that we have the sense of
looking down on a scene of bondage, frustration, or absurdity, the hero belongs to the ironic mode.” In
other words, an antihero is a hero who’s defined less by his “powers” than by his limitations—though
he may have heroic aspirations, like Eliot’s Prufrock, he is prevented from achieving them by the
conditions of his world (his lack of freedom, powerlessness, alienation).

A second way of defining the difference between heroism and antiheroism is this: if the hero typically
reflects and responds to the values of his society, then the antihero fails to do so or embodies values in
conflict with those of his community—most often simply because the antihero lives in a world whose
values are no longer universally shared. Oedipus and Hamlet, for example, have a chance at
succeeding because their societies agree on what heroism is and should be; Eliot’s Prufrock, on the
other hand, doesn’t because his society doesn’t agree on what values are heroic.

Though hardly accurate as a representation of any single hero or antihero, the schema below might
provide you with a map of heroic and antiheroic ethics, a sort of genealogy of morals to compare with
and help define each of the characters we meet. But use with care. If you used Hamlet as a test case,
you might find that he qualifies for half the heroic qualities below, half the antiheroic ones. These are
not, therefore, defining traits of the hero or antihero. Only a model or definition of a hero will do that.

Heroism Antiheroism
Shared social values Disjunctive social values
Independence, autonomy Alienation, dependence
Fixed self Fluid self
Certainty Doubt
Belief in reason, virtue Skepticism
Firm sense of justice Confused sense of justice
Unusual physical attractiveness or power Unusual physical appearance
Mastery Victimization
Eloquence, ability to communicate Inability to communicate
Fraternity Isolation
Loyalty Divided loyalties
Deception only for honest ends Deceptions often misguided
Love Loneliness
Developed sexual identity Ambivalent sexual identity
Approved sexual behavior Ambiguous sexual behavior
Creativity Creative futility
Secure ethnic identity Conflicted ethnic identity
Elite class affiliation Lower class or outcast affiliation
Aristocratic Democratic or classless
Pre-industrial Industrial, post-industrial
Centripetal Centrifugal
Material prosperity Poverty
Stable life-style Picaresque life-style
Social or political enfranchisement Social or political marginalization
Stability Instability
Decisive Doubt-ridden
Active, forceful Passive, recessive
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Awareness of goals Ignorance of goals
Humanities 310 • Heroism and Antiheroism: A Bibliography

PS336.T7 A3 Adam, Julie. Versions of Heroism in Modern American Drama: Redefinitions


1991b by Miller, Williams, O'Neill and Anderson. London: Macmillan, 1991.
BF412.B43 Bentley, Eric. A Century of Hero-Worship: A Study of the Idea of Heroism in
1957 Carlyle and Nietzsche. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1957.
PN3428 B5 Bjornson, Richard. The Picaresque Hero in European Fiction. Madison: U
of Wisconsin P, 1977.
PN56 H45 B7 Brombert, Victor, ed. The Hero in Literature. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett,
1969.
PN3503 B765 Bruffee, Kenneth A. Elegiac Romance: Cultural Change and Loss of the
1983 Hero in Modern Fiction. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1983.
L313 C28 Campbell, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. 2nd ed. Princeton:
1968 Princeton UP, 1968. See especially "Part I: The Adventure of the Hero.”
Any of Campbell’s many other books will be relevant as well.
PR4426 A1 Carlyle, Thomas. On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History. Ed.
1966 Carl Niemeyer. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1966.
E176 F535 Fishwick, Marshall William. The Hero, American Style. New York: D.
McKay, 1969.
PN81 F75 Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton
UP, 1957. See especially "First Essay. Historical Criticism.”
PN57 H43 Galinsky, Gotthard Karl. The Herakles Theme: The Adaptations of the Hero
G72 in Literature from Homer to the Twentieth Century. Oxford: Blackwell,
1972.
PN56 L25 H3 Hays, Peter L. The Limping Hero: Grotesques in Literature. New York:
New York UP, 1971.
D16.9 H6 Hook, Sidney. The Hero in History: A Study in Limitation and Possibility.
Boston: Beacon Press, 1955.
PN1303 J3 Jackson, W. T. H. The Hero and the King: An Epic Theme. New York:
Columbia UP, 1982.
E178 J65 Johnson, Gerald White. American Heroes and Hero-Worship. New York:
Harper, 1943.
PN1303 L4 Levy, Gertrude Rachel. The Sword from the Rock: An Investigation into the
1976 Origins of Epic Literature and the Development of the Hero. 1953.
Westport: Greenwood, 1976.
PS201 L4 Lewis, Richard W. B. The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and
Tradition in the Nineteenth Century. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1968.
BL304 N6 Norman, Dorothy. The Hero: Myth, Image, Symbol. New York: World, 1969.
BF311 N488 Neumann, Erich. The Origins and History of Consciousness. Trans. R. F. C.
Hull. New York: Pantheon, 1970. Neumann is very, very important.
BF23 N413 ---. Art and the Creative Unconscious: Four Essays. Trans. Ralph Manheim.
New York: Pantheon, 1959.
BL85 N4 ---. The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. Trans. Ralph Manheim.
1972 2d ed. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1972.
PN1995.9 Parks, Rita. The Western Hero in Film and Television: Mass Media
W4P33 1982 Mythology. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1982.
PS169 H4 P4 Pearson, Carol. The Female Hero in American and British Literature. New
York: Bowker, 1981.
HQ1206 .P58 Polster, Miriam F. Eve's Daughters: The Forbidden Heroism of Women. San
14
1992 Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1992.
BL325 H46 Raglan, FitzRoy Richard Somerset, Baron. The Hero: A Study in Tradition,
R3 1956 Myth, and Drama. New York: Vintage, 1956.
BL313 R263 Rank, Otto. The Myth of the Birth of the Hero: A Psychological
Interpretation of Mythology. 1914. New York: Vintage, 1959.
PQ145.1 H4 Ridge, George Ross. The Christian Tragic Hero in French and English
R52 1983 Literature. Atlantic Highlands, NJ : Humanities P, 1983.
GR111 A47 Roberts, John W. From Trickster to Badman: The Black Folk Hero in Slavery
R63 1989 and Freedom. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1989.
F596 S238 Savage, William W. The Cowboy Hero: His Image in American History and
Culture. Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1979.
PA4037 S394 Schein, Seth L. The Mortal Hero: An Introduction to Homer's Iliad. Berke-
1984 ley: U of California P, 1984.
PN57.O3 S8 Stanford, William Bedell. The Ulysses Theme: A Study in the Adaptability of
1964 a Traditional Hero. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1963.
PN56.5 C65 Torrance, Robert M. The Comic Hero. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1978.
T6
DC103 W27 Warner, Marina. Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism. New York:
1981 Knopf, 1981.

Course Objectives
Faculty are required to publish formal course objectives and means of “learning outcomes assessment”
in their courses. Though they won’t tell you more than I said in plain English under the course
description above, the learning objectives for this course and the means of achieving and assessing
them follow:

Learning Objective Means of Demonstration/Assessment


• Understanding of the concepts, themes, and • Short essays, longer essays
traditions of heroism and antiheroism, including Objective tests on assigned readings
an understanding of the roles of gender, race,
and culture in their formation
• Usable knowledge of major literary, cultural, • Short essays, longer essays
cinematic texts that develop key ideas of Objective tests on assigned readings
heroism and antiheroism
• Ability to read literary, cultural, cinematic texts • Short essays, longer essays
with an understanding of their thematic,
historical, and critical dimensions
• Ability to articulate in writing dimensions of • Short essays, longer essays
the texts described above

Humanities 310 • Heroism and Antiheroism: A Filmography

15
Well-stocked local video stores will have most of the titles below.

Lawrence Olivier, Hamlet (1948). Olivier’s classic. A “Freudian” take on the play in its handling
of Oedipal themes. Runs 2:35, B/W.
Kenneth Branagh, Hamlet (1996). The best new-generation Hamlet, set in 19th-c Denmark,
directed by and starring Branagh, one of today’s leading Shakespeareans. Runs 3:58.
Andre Konchalovsky, The Odyssey (1997). Not bad for a film version.
Philip Saville, Oedipus the King (1968). Christopher Plummer, Orson Welles, Don Sutherland.
George Stevens, Shane (1953). Gives the first antiheroic turn to the classic western hero.
Akira Kurosawa, Yojimbo (1961). Samurai movie with anitheroic touches. See Fistful of Dollars
below for an astonishing comparison.
Sergio Leone, Fistful of Dollars (1964). The spaghetti-Western remake of Yojimbo that made
Clint Eastwood famous as the “Man with No Name.”
John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy (1969). Dustin Hoffman’s the crippled NY street hustler
“Ratso” Rizzo; Jon Voight’s a John-Wayne wannabe turned antihero. A buddy movie
ultimately, but a tragic one.
Arthur Penn, Little Big Man (1971). D. Hoffman as sole survivor of Custer’s Last Stand who’s
caught—confusingly, sometimes hilariously—between American Indian and white cultures.
Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch (1969). Classic western with important redefinion of
(anti)heroism—an elegy for the passing of the Western hero. Compare Shane.
Joseph Losey, A Doll’s House (1973). Jane Fonda and Trevor Howard.
David Lean, A Passage to India (1984). British heroine, colonial hero—based on Forster’s novel.
Volker Schlondorff, Death of a Salesman (1985). Dustin Hoffman as Willy. The best film
version.
Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990). Antiheroic “sequel” to Hamlet:
what would happen if the minor characters in Hamlet became major characters? This would.
Fax Bahr and Copolla, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991). Documentary on
the making of Copolla’s film by his wife (and others).
Joel and Ethan Coen, The Big Lebowski (1998). A spoof of heroes and antiheroes that features
Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) as the antiheroic version of a Raymond Chandler-like noir detective.
Lots of foul, R-rated language, but otherwise pretty family-friendly and very possibly the
funniest movie ever made—if you like cerebral, multi-layered satire in which guys bowl a lot.
---. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). A comic, sometimes antiheroic turn to the Odysseus
story, only it’s set in 1937 Mississippi. The title and major themes come from Preston
Sturges’1941 film, Sullivan’s Travels. If you don’t see the movie, buy the CD for the music
score.

16