Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Heroes and Heroism: The Chosen One

Welcome back everyone! Today we’re talking about another very common hero trope--one that borders on cliché, especially in fantasy. That being the chosen one. No matter how far under a rock you live, you know at least one example of a chosen one. Harry Potter, Aragorn, Luke Skywalker. All three of these heroes are heroes foretold to defeat an ultimate evil, unite their people, or save the world. Or all three if the prophesy is feeling ambitious. They are the last hope and the ones everyone looks to in times of trouble.

However, unlike superheroes, who choose to use their powers to save others, Chosen one’s are sort of… forced into it. Their mentors or family tell them from a young age, everyone knows their name and they must train in order to rise to the occasion of the prophesy.

The Chosen one faces responsibility, of course, but more than that, they face the weight of the world’s expectations. When you’re a prophesied savior, everyone expects something out of you. Some expect power. Some expect kindness. Some expect wisdom. And some people just want to kill you. Usually the villain threatened by the prophesy.

But the dilemma for many Chosen Ones? They don’t want all of this fame or responsibility. Harry would happy live a normal life at Hogwarts as an ordinary wizard with his friends. Aang would rather play and have fun than become the Avatar. Aragorn is more comfortable as a ranger than a king. And yet, despite what they want, they are still needed by the world.

A lot of people find this trope cliché and stupid, mostly because prophesies seem like a cheap way to make a main character special through no merits of their own. I don’t hate on this trope quite so much because while there are plenty cliché ridden prophesied heroes, there is a lot of interesting conflict that comes from unwanted responsibility. If you’re a chosen one, you’re caught in the hands of fate and often feel like you have no control over your own life. Or you look at the weight of what you must accomplish and doubt that you’ll ever measure up. There are lots of fun psychological things to be done with this trope.

We’ll get into more specifics during the spotlight, but remember: just because a hero type has been written to death doesn’t mean it can’t be done well and with a new twist. Just make sure you use the trope to its fullest potential and don’t gloss over how heavy the world really is.

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