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You, the hero - When defending your domain or some part of it, the natural role for you to assume is that of hero. You are the hero of your life, of your personal drama. Using America’s favorite form of drama - the movie - we will consider the script that will provide you with lines to speak and heroic actions to perform. (You are also the script writer, by the way.)

Who else, in your life, is going to play the hero but you? Consider your options. Sidekick? Heroine? Villain? Something else?

A movie review - The Machiavellian hero as shown by The Shawshank Redemption and a few other movies you may have seen.

 

Movie Heroes

Someone in your life needs to play the role of hero. What is a hero and why do you need one?

In a movie, there is a usually a main character that the viewer identifies with. She is someone who takes on a problem Rooster Cogburn displayed courage and a clear understanding of right and wrong. He was his own man.voluntarily, or perhaps it is forced upon her by events. She is able to overcome obstacles, fight the villain, climb the mountain, rescue the hostage, win the football game, educate the troubled students, win the cheerleading competition, or somehow resolve the problem that is presented to her. She displays personal qualities that we admire: persistence, strength, intelligence, courage, determination, beauty (there are few ugly heroes in the movies), prowess in hand-to-hand combat, and humor.

Perhaps you don’t feel that your life is a heroic one, but you are nevertheless the star of your personal drama. The problems, villains, opportunities, and love affairs of your life revolve around you - no one else. If a situation needs to be fixed, a problem needs to be resolved, or a lover needs to be seduced it is you who must rise to the challenge. Norma Rae overcame her own fears to defy her powerful employer and her family. Her dignity could not be dented.

 

Jimmy Stewart played a juror who believed in the innocence of a man on trial. He faced down eleven angry jurors who disagreed with him.Movies provide us with many heroic models to think about. What qualities do they exhibit that you can emulate - when the situation demands it? You must be careful not to imitate the inhuman qualities that our cinematic heroes exhibit in dumber films. Don’t count on the good luck that James Bond always has, the inhuman ability to withstand pain of Rocky Balboa, the fearlessness of Superman, the indifference to death displayed by Lara Croft, or the indifference to gravity displayed by the various karate and kung fu heroes. A real hero is human and is limited by the weaknesses of her body, her control over her feelings, the intelligence of her mind, and the opportunities that Luck provides her.

 

But, you can still think about the various fictional heroes that the movies present to us and distinguish heroic types that can elevate your thinking. If you haven’t seen the movies described below, you have a treat in store for you. If you have seen them, rent them again and think of them as a study in heroism since you already know the plot and the ending. Different situations call for different kinds of heroes.

  • Rooster Cogburn in True Grit was, above all things, his own man. He lived in drunken squalor, spoke only the truth, did as he pleased, ignored the opinions of others, pursued villains with merciless intensity, and protected a young girl with the tenderness of a loving father. John Wayne spent his entire life mastering the imitation of heroism, and this role by the aging actor was the ultimate creation of a superb artist. Heroic qualities of Rooster Cogburn included independence of action, courage, and determination. This hero was not swayed from his path. Also, this hero displayed the selective inconsistency of the Machiavellian, able to gut-shoot a man with indifference but protecting the irritating and headstrong young girl Mattie Ross, played by Kim Darby. I have not read the book, by Charles Portis, so I don’t know how much of the ingenious dialog was taken from his novel and how much was created by the script writer Marguerite Roberts.
  • Norma Rae was an employee who courageously defied the managers of her factory, her coworkers, and her family to help unionize the textile plant in which she worked. Sally Fields brilliantly played an ordinary woman who rose to an extraordinary challenge, overcoming many fears because her self-chosen task demanded that she do so. This movie would be particularly helpful, I would think, to women who find it emotionally difficult to challenge established male authority. Norma Rae is a case study in defiance, an important quality for heroes, and an important quality for ordinary people who must find heroism within them somehow.
  • Twelve Angry Men, starring Henry Fonda, is the story of Juror #8 who with eleven other citizens must decide the fate of an accused murderer. Eleven jurors quickly vote to convict, but Juror #8 is not convinced. Juror #8 persuades his fellow jurors to think more carefully about the evidence and the testimony, and convinces them one-by-one that the accused is innocent. He does not get into shouting matches or curse, but he persuades them. He invites them to reason with him. He listens to their point of view, spots the error in their thinking, and guides them to a more reasoned conclusion. This hero (1) does not back down under social pressure and (2) he does not lose his temper - two important arrows for the hero to have in his quiver. Juror #8 is the heroic citizen, who makes the institutions of government work properly. More heroes of this type would make the world a much better place.

 There are thousands of movies, and many of them are well worth watching and thinking about for their depiction of many kinds of heroes facing many kinds of situations. The fact that most movies are formula-written, cliché-ridden mush compels you to be selective of course. If you look, you will find other movies like True Grit, Norma Rae, and Twelve Angry Men. Humans have used drama to enrich their lives and their thinking for millennia. Enjoy the drama, but consider what you might learn from the actor’s portrayal of the writer’s fantasy heroes.

 

 

Hero? Who me? I don’t think so.

 

Heroes come in all genders.Not the hero type? Not all of us are, thank goodness. It would be a very combative and ugly world if we were all heroes, jostling each other on the field of combat for room to move around. Human nature expresses itself in a vast range of personalities, and not all of us are adept at heroism. There are other options if your life needs a hero in it. Consider these possibilities and then think of more.

Hire a hero. In exchange for money you can acquire the services of an attorney, bodyguard, accountant, publicity agent, private investigator, religious deprogrammer, or security expert who will guide you through the crisis. Remember, your hero is working for himself and he is charging by the hour. Select your hired hero carefully and monitor what he does in your behalf.

Every superman needs a Lois Lane to rescue.Seduce a hero. This approach has been used by women and men for many centuries, though men use it less frequently. If a hero loves you, he will defend you, rescue you, or fight for you. Many a hero has taken a black eye in his woman’s defense. If you are the soft, emotional, fragile type it might make sense for you to hook up with a strong, fearless, durable partner, whether husband, wife, or significant other. Just be ready to reward your hero with the kind of payment he or she needs: public praise, gushing gratitude, special sex-play, starry-eyed admiration, whatever.

Prevail upon a hero. The heroic personality is programmed to search for damsels and dragons so that one can be rescued and the other can be slain. Personalities for whom justice is important will fight against injustice. Parents will often fight for their offspring and friends will sometimes fight in each other’s behalf. Even employers will fight for an employee who has been wronged, though this is rare. Find such a person and impose, beg, or plead for assistance and rescue.

Assemble a heroic committee. Perhaps no one in your Domain has all of the heroic qualities that the situation demands, so you might consider a heroic committee with each person assigned to handle one aspect of the problem confronting you. A lawyer can handle the lawsuit while a press secretary tries to contain negative publicity, etc. Someone will have to coordinate their efforts. This might be you or someone you designate.

 

 While shopping for a hero, keep the elements of your situation in mind. Your hero’s skills should be matched to the demands of the crisis at hand.

 

 Don’t forget, in your anxiety over the crisis of the moment, that it will end eventually. Then it will be time to pay off your hero for his or her services. You might need to call on them again, so be sure to tend to your debts, financial and emotional. Your hero may have taken a few punches in your behalf and may need some tender affection, public praise, money, or form of appreciation.

 

 

The Shawshank Redemption

 

The Shawshank Redemption provides an excellent depiction of Machiavellian heroism in the character Andy DuFresne, If you haven't yet seen it, you must rent and watch it.played by actor Tim Robbins. Morgan Freeman’s character Red Redding provides narration as well as a conversational partner to Andy. The film is based on Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which is a wonderful read and will provide you with two or three very pleasant hours. If you think of Stephen King only as an author of horror stories about homicidal prom queens, clowns, cars, and dogs, it will be a happy surprise for you to learn that his personality is not that simple. Like many authors, he is a surprising man. The novella in turn was based on a newspaper article that King read about a prisoner who had escaped after spending years tunneling through the his cell wall. The differences between King’s novella and Frank Darabont’s script are minor.

 

Both men are in prison. Red committed a murder during a botched robbery. Andy, though innocent, was wrongly convicted of killing his unfaithful wife. Over decades of prison life, the two men become close friends and help each other deal with the stress and violence of prison life. The plot introduces us to a corrupt warden, equally corrupt prison guards, violent and rapacious prisoners, and a few characters who fill us with compassion.

 

Reviews of the movie say that it is about hope or friendship or even Christian redemption, but for our purposes it is about heroism. I will not attempt to trace the plot line so that you can enjoy its freshness if you will be watching the movie for the first time. I will tell you that, in the end, Andy escapes from prison Andy DuFresne converses with Red  Redding in the Shawshank Prison yard.via a hole he has slowly chipped into the wall of his cell. The opening to his escape tunnel had been hidden behind a large cheesecake poster, first of Rita Hayworth and then of a series of young, sexy, female movie stars over the years. Only after his escape do his fellow prisoners and the prison personnel realize that he has been working on that tunnel for decades.

 

Andy DuFresne was a Machiavellian hero in a very difficult situation. After a time of grieving for his lost life, he accepted the reality of his situation. In conversation, Red mentioned to him that life presents us The Machiavellian hero always thinks before he acts. He never loses control.with two options.

 

“Get busy living or get busy dying.” Inspired by this chance comment, Andy concluded that life and freedom were to be his choices and that the only path to either was through the prison walls. He also knew that if his plan was discovered, he would never have a second chance to escape, so he kept his mouth shut and devoted the dark nights to chipping concrete.

 

The best way to experience this movie is to watch it, and I think you should go rent it. Watch DuFresne slowly make himself into a hero of the highest order.

 

I have seen The Shawshank Redemption a dozen times and will no doubt watch it a dozen more. Enjoy.

 

Chapter 12

 

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Download or read online: Machiavelli’s Prince in English translation by W. K. Rowling

 

Read a brief summary of Machiavelli’s life and works,

written by W. K. Rowling as the Introduction to his translation of The Prince

 

A readable summary of Machiavelli’s Prince can be found at

http://www.princeton.edu/~ferguson/adw/prince.shtml

 

 

 

 

The Modern Prince:

Better Living Through Machiavellianism

 

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