True Heroism: Thirty-Nine Steps

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In the novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, the main character Richard Hannay, finds himself in a frightening and demanding situation. He is on the run from the English police, who believe he is a murderer, and is also being pursued by an enemy, a German secret organization called The Black Stone, who wants to eliminate him because he knows too much about their dangerous plans. In many of the dramatic circumstances that follow, he has to use heroic skills to escape. The question could be asked: does he represent the ultimate in heroism? Heroes are, by definition, people who capture our admiring attention through the character they demonstrate and the skills they display in trying situations. Qualities such as courage, strength, intelligence, nobility and resourcefulness are attributable to heroes. Any assessment of the heroism of a character must include an analysis of how they evidence these qualities. Courage is perhaps the main quality to look for in a hero. You can’t have a hero that is too scared to face fear or danger. Richard Hannay is a good example of someone who is courageous. When he is locked up in a room of the enemy’s house he finds explosive substances, which he uses to blow himself out of the room. This decision is courageous because, although it was necessary, the outcome could have been fatal. Instead of wasting time fearing the worst possible outcome, he got on with the job even though there was the risk of death. Hannay uses his disguises in a courageous way too. When he is face to face with the bald archaeologist, who suspects his true identity, Hannay is determined to make sure that he can change his mind about his true identity. Overall, therefore, Hannay could be classified as courageous, but does he fit into other heroic qualities? An essential quality for any true hero is physical and mental strength. Hannay’s endurance is critical to his

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