Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Heroes and Heroism: The Intellectual vs. Their Intellectual Match

Last week we looked at the fighter so lets jump to the other end of the spectrum to those heroes that rely on brain rather than brawn. This is one of my favorite heroic types: The intellectual. 

The intellectual is, in many ways, the opposite of the fighter. They are more reserved and prefer analyzing a situation before rushing into it. Their greatest asset is their brains. And they have no problem bringing others down a peg with their superior knowledge.


There are a million and two examples of the intellectual in fiction, movies and TV. Of course there are many, many different versions of the great Sherlock Holmes, from Robert Downey Jr.


To Benedict Cumberbatch 

To the Disney version starring mice (main character is not named Sherlock, but he is basically Sherlock). 



And all of them have their Moriarty, who puts them in their place and tests their intellect more than ever before.






But there are so many more shades to the intellectual archetype than Sherlockian heroes. Hermione is also an example of an intellectual as from the very beginning, her greatest strength is her bookishness and cleverness which saves her friends on many occasions. 

Sazed from Mistborn belongs to a culture of intellectuals, the Terrisman who collect history, religions, science and other areas of studies by way of Freuchemy.

So what ends up ultimately being the downfall of these heroes who are so brainy? They meet their intellectual match.

Now this could be a human being of course. A renown super villain or psychotic, smart enough to evade the hero and even out think him. The scary thing about this kind of intellectual match is it points out just how similar the hero and the villain are. This kind of match up can make the hero doubt their own humanity and wonder what really makes them so different. And I love complex psychological exploration like that.

But the intellectual match doesn’t have to be a villain. Sazed experiences an existential crisis after losing someone important to him. He decides none of his vast knowledge means anything anymore. The intellectual match can be circumstances beyond the hero’s control. Circumstances that make their vast knowledge irrelevant.


All of these situations put our brainy heroes through a test and, just like the fighters, they must overcome and become stronger than before.

Join me on Friday as we take a look at two very different intellectual characters! Until then, happy writing!

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