Continuing from the last Brooklyn Project post.
Last time, I posted on heroism, the basic elements that all heroes must share, or come to share. Today, I’m posting on the unknown heroes, heroism that isn’t accepted.
It’s a not-often-realized truth that for every hero, there is someone who believes in him. However, in real life, many heroes never get more than just that someone. And even that someone may not know the truth of all that they’ve done; they simply believe.
It’s like praying in your closet and giving in secret; it does good, regardless or not if anyone knows that you did it. Indeed, to do good without anyone ever knowing is perhaps the very greatest thing of all.
However, most of the literature you will find today features heroes who do meet with applause. By the end of the book, everyone knows what they’ve done for the good of others. (Notable exception: at the end of the Agent Carter miniseries, the guys from Congress give all the credit to Thompson, who, by the way, is one of the best examples of a dynamic secondary character that I can give you. And Agent Thompson really did deserve the recognition, to an extent, in my opinion. Thompson’s awesomeness aside, Peggy is once again entirely overlooked. No one but the SSR agents involved know that she was the true hero of the hour. Admittedly, this doesn’t count because at least Peggy’s coworkers know of everything she’s done, but though Peggy has been fighting to be a strong woman in a man’s world through the entire series, she finds that she really doesn’t mind that no one gives her the recognition she really does deserve.) I think that the trend in literature towards heroes who are known is partly because we, as human beings, crave praise and recognition. However, in these cases, it is actually an example of our ability to step outside of ourselves rather than of our hunger for recognition; we want our heroes to be recognized. (One of the greatest reasons for literature’s existence is the human capacity to reach outside of ourselves in order to empathize, commiserate, and sympathize with others.)
I think the Lord of the Rings, while Frodo and Sam and the rest did have their actions recognized, was pretty good at this. Neither Frodo nor Sam ever really did expect to have their actions memorialized like they were. The thoughts they had of being in a story were more distant, held to keep their spirits up. Aragorn speaks to Eowyn of the unstoried heroes who they all may become, ultimately, should the threat of Sauron come to completion. Boromir was motivated in part by the glory of his home country, but in the end, he gave his life for two hobbits whom he had met mere months before, far from his home, before the larger war even began. The heroes of The Lord of the Rings acted not in the interest of glory, but because what they did had to be done; even if their world was to be enslaved, they’d die trying to stop Sauron from enslaving it.
Heroism is a curious thing. While it is somewhat based on the opinions of others, true heroism is the heroism that nobody ever sees.
Thanks for reading, Brooklyn Project followers, and God Bless! (If you like what you see, don’t forget to drop by my Brooklyn Project page and check it out–we’re always open for new recruits! 😀 )