Hero. Just a thought I've been developing.
So does a person have to succeed in his quest in order to be labeled a hero? I don't believe so.
The dictionary doesn't seem to agree that it is required. Interestingly enough a hero seems to be determined by his effort and intention rather than a desired result. Rather it seems society has grasped on to the successful hero's in tale and reality and we may have a slanted perspective of actual hero's.
Not to say that we don't recognized a hero when he has failed. We honor all of our fallen soldiers with the title. Surely they failed in both saving our country and their own lives, yet we still label them for their brave deeds.
I think a defining measure of a hero is someone who acts when others stall due to fear or risk. They step forward and accept the call (bravery) to duty or righteousness when others flee or hide from the same. They accept the risk. That means they're willing to fail, but that they will try regardless The risk isn't usually dragons or some imaginary wickedness. It is more frequently in our lives smaller things.
It's anyone who when faced with fear moves forward toward their goal because the believe it's the right thing to do. They don't consider failure an option, but they accept the reality that they can't win every time. And when they do fail they learn and keep moving forward realizing that in time success will come. Even if it's not of their hand.
Some of the most glorious hero stories (probably of Greek origin) are when the hero (remember the person who takes action when others shrink in fear) dies as a result of their failure to succeed. Then their death, now a martyrdom, motivates those who first shirked the opportunity to raise their bravery and also accept the same possible risk and seek our success where their hero failed.
I think that's my favorite hero story. Nobody likes to see the hero die. In particular it pisses off today's 'super hero' reader society. If you kill your hero your public often time demand that you resurrect them. But the reality is our true hero's die. They're imperfect men and women. Those who took great risk usually do die. It's the great stories where they served as a motivation, where they became the predecessors. Like the story of William Wallace for example. Sorry he died before he achieved his goal of a free Scotland. His followers later achieved his victory (in part) and only generations later did his over all vision become fulfilled. Even today when we learn of the man's heroic act do we still feel the buzz in our breast and maybe even some of us lift his torch of heroism in our own lives.
So why do we even care? Because hero's make us want to be better people. Even when they die... maybe even more when they die.
The next time your upset because the author in the story you're reading kills off your hero, don't be dissuaded. Realize that the martyr is now passing the torch of hero from one to another.
If that torch doesn't get passed. Well that's a tragedy and just plain sad. Maybe you don't have to forgive him then.