Essays on the Theme of Heroism

Living in Symbolism: Nelson Mandela and Ludwig Van Beethoven

by Parmida Jannesari from San Diego, California

Living in Symbolism

Selflessness. Benevolence. Charisma. These are all deserving descriptions of a hero. But what if this is merely just an abstract opinion? If you look closely and uncover the layers of different people, you will notice that no two heroes are the same. While flawless and excellent qualities shape a striking and marvelous hero, such pristine characteristics plainly attest that heroes have to be this piece of artwork on display for all to admire. The subject of heroes is controversial at best because not everyone values the typical everyday protagonist. This is comparable to one viewing Snow White as a saint, and the Evil Queen as a cruel and ruthless beast. The fact that one can argue otherwise and portray the antagonist in such a pleasant light is all based on perspective. The lives of these mighty heroines may include perseverance, integrity, and generosity. Alternatively, there could be no moral integrity, no empathy, or no compassion, yet similar goals executed in elegance. In my humble opinion, heroes are a concept. Everyone has a distinct depiction of a hero. While this theory remains, I believe deserving heroes present themselves as indulgent and passionate.

To be indulgent is to be willing to go out of your way to express generosity, compassion, or kindness to another individual. Heroes must establish their Ethos by living with indulgence and revealing to their audience the great lengths they are willing to persist to set a positive and impactful example. Heroes that expose themselves as selfish and egotistical are less likely to be respected, even though they may be doing good in their community. One who is indulgent displays themselves as a kind person that paves the way for others to follow in their steps. An example of someone who expresses themselves in this light is Nelson Mandela, for his heart was true and forgiving. His disposition was rather unique and inspiring to his audience. Therefore, his followers supported him and his actions. However, those who choose to present themselves as egotistical may receive different, rather negative feedback from their audience. But why? They are still a hero, manifesting the same valiant tasks as the previous. Yet, their narrowminded, greedy, and selfish standpoint results in little to no regard or admiration for their heroic actions. Their honor is lost, and their actions scarcely remembered. It is extremely important for a hero to be a good leader, as well as a genuine, respectful, and honorable person. Author Christian Nestell Bovee once said: “In ambition, as in love, the successful can afford to be indulgent toward their rivals. The prize our own, it is graceful to recognize the merit that vainly aspired to it” (Biography of Nelson Mandela). Maintaining indulgence is key for any hero. The first step to becoming respected and idolized is to be a good-natured and generous human towards everyone despite any differences. Indulgence is a necessary trait for a deserving hero. Every action a generous, compassionate, and selfless person takes has considerably more impact on one’s heart than a person with lesser self-respect. 

Additionally, passion is a fundamental characteristic of building a driven and reputable hero. Composer Ludwig Van Beethoven once admitted that “music itself was [his] last remaining hero” after he gradually grew deaf (MyHeroProject). It is believed that motivation is what drives passion, and without it, the flame burns out. The idea that passion cannot stand alone and needs an additional factor to it is a captivating discussion. Studying Beethoven’s situation, he was told that his hearing was depleting. That emptied all of his motivation to continue composing -- or so one would misguidedly think. Beethoven’s passion for music was so strong and magnificent that he merely viewed his deafness as a small obstacle he would have to tackle. Therefore, as a result of Beethoven’s undying passion for music, he became one of the most famous and well-known composers of the Romantic Era during the Renaissance period. Music was his “last remaining hero” (MyHeroProject). He didn’t have much motivation left, yet he did bear a great amount of passion. This proves a contrast to the belief that motivation stimulates passion. Instead, passion is what drives motivation -- and through countless successful heroes, this theory is claimed true. This trait is not only important for the hero to possess, but it is also essential for the audience to see that the hero has a goal. This is one of the traits that impact a hero’s followers because as a result, the audience becomes inspired by the drive of their idol, and they too aspire to have the same flame burning inside of them. 

The topic of heroes remains a striking argument. Due to different perspectives and opinions, heroes cannot be easily defined. Instead, people should see who they are and what they do. Ultimately, actions never fail to speak louder than words. It is the pure intentions of the individual that shapes their hero profile. While indulgence and passion are immaculate ingredients in creating a polished hero, it is debatable to say those specific traits could formulate such a specific person. Though my eyes see these two characteristics as key components for heroes; another man may disagree and argue back that the Evil Queen is indeed more of a hero than Snow White. While the statement that heroes are abstract hangs, it is to be known that, more importantly, it is the impact the hero has on their audience, and the example they set. It is when the hero highers the standards, that it leads to a crack in the boundaries of symbolic ideas, and as a result, lives in symbolism.

Works Cited

Hartland, Jessie. Steve Jobs: Insanely Great. Ember, 2016.

“Ludwig Van Beethoven.” The MY HERO Project, 24 Nov. 2006,

“Biography of Nelson Mandela.” Nelson Mandela Foundation, 29 Oct. 2014,

Page created on 5/15/2020 3:59:28 AM

Last edited 7/10/2020 8:57:49 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.