• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What differing views of heroes and heroism are explored in Mice and Men, and the Sexton’s Hero?

Extracts from this document...


What differing views of heroes and heroism are explored in Mice and Men, and the Sexton's Hero? The idea of a hero, a man idealised for superior qualities, has been present in legends for centuries. The Greek myths contained heroes such as Hercules and Theseus, who outwitted and overpowered evil beings. This Greek image of a brave and strong hero was then carried into medieval tales, where a 'warrior type' male of exceptional courage and ability would stand up against evil and battle the monsters. The vision of a hero then developed from the 'warrior type' male into a man with not just physical strength but also mental strength. A man who would stick by his morals or principles. A hero was also thought to be modest, courageous, have integrity and willing to stick to his morals. An example of this is the 19th Century hero. However, one aspect that had not changed from the Greek myths was that the hero was always a male and if a female was mentioned she was a weak, vulnerable character, unable to save herself. It was not until the late 19th Century that the female figure became more independent. ...read more.


In return to the challenge Gilbert Dawson says 'I cannot fight, because I think it is wrong to quarrel and use violence.' This led to the village scorning him for his cowardice, 'The men muttered the word 'coward' in his hearing.' This reaction of the village is intended to make the reader criticize the people who isolated Gilbert Dawson. By refusing to fight Gilbert Dawson was sacrificing his place in the village, as everyone will now scorn him. To the reader he is now morally superior to the Sexton who 'was so full of scorn at his cowardliness' and the rest of the village. The reader now respects Gilbert Dawson. Gilbert Dawson then became an outcast in the village, with only the old clerk and the children talking to him. Gaskell used the children as they are seen as the innocent, able to see the good in people. The clerk, also with a religious background, understands Gilbert Dawson's decision. When Gilbert Dawson then saves the Sexton's life and sacrifices his own, he is seen as a hero by the reader, but also by the Sexton, who realised he was wrong about him. ...read more.


Gaskell aims with this story to show the reader how someone who sticks to his principles can be a hero. Whilst Steinbeck leaves the reader to decide on his or her own whether George is a hero or not. This novel aims to get the reader to consider the arguments involved in George being considered a hero. Another area of difference between the two authors is based on intentionally killing someone. Steinbeck based his book on this. He saw George killing Lennie as an act of bravery and courage. However, at the beginning of Gaskell's book she brings up the question of military heroes, men who injure others, whose heroism lies in the death and injury of others. After reading Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men the reader feel sympathetic towards George. Some people may think that he could not be considered a hero and that under no circumstances could killing Lennie be justified. I however feel that by killing Lennie, George was saving his companion from a more painful death, as it was inevitable that someone would have killed Lennie after what he had done. I also agree with Gaskell's opinion of a hero being someone who has religious principles. The question of heroism is one that can be considered very deeply and various people will have differing opinions. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE John Steinbeck section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE John Steinbeck essays

  1. A comparison of the heroic figures within Of Mice And Men and the Sexton's ...

    The theme of heroism is introduced very differently in each story. In Of Mice and Men it is introduced implicitly to the reader. Readers look at the characters and their relationships with others and decide for themselves what a hero is.

  2. Of Mice and Men English language

    would be less likely to get that job, Candy only got that job because he lost his hand under their behalf. Crooks only got that job because he's been there a long time and he's got skill. If Crooks and Candy were kicked and had to start again, it wouldn't be easy for them to get another job.

  1. Of Mice and Men

    Curley's wife comments that '... they left all the weak ones here.' Crooks, of course, is a physical cripple, but he is also black. It would not have been possible for him to mix with the other hands, even if he was physically fit.

  2. Of Mice and Men

    themselves and harvest what they sew with no one to take anything from them or give them orders. George and Lennie desperately cling to the notion that they are different from other workers who drift from ranch to ranch because, unlike the others, they have a future and each other.

  1. "The Country of the Blind' and 'Of Mice and Men' are very different stories, ...

    using words such as 'Legend' to describe this novella aids the author in masking his controversial comment on the time. However both stories use place and distance to emphasise the realist theme, strongly in 'Of Mice and Men' and an added hint in 'The Country of the Blind'.

  2. A comparison between the heroes in 'Of Mice and Men' and 'The Sexton's Hero'

    Most people in them days would have just got rid of Lennie but George stayed with him to the very end. He kept Lennie happy by reciting "The Dream" to him. The dream was that one day they would get their own ranch and Lennie would be to tend the rabbits.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work