(A Note from Daven: The Hero Redeemed is an assignment I received from an auditor of one of my classes. This was turned in for an assignment given in the mythology lesson.)
The Hero Redeemed- An Archetypical Myth
Author: Posting for a lurker – Daven Iceni
(Daven’s Note: I received this via email today. Apparently there is a group of Non-AS residents who follow this class, and email me their assignments. So, we have auditors in the classroom, be on your best behavior. I have their permission to post this, but I was asked to keep their identity to myself.)
In the story I will be examining I have found a modern retelling of the classic myth of personal redemption. In the true Grecian style, a Deus Ex Machina is employed to resolve the conflict.
(Daven’s Comment: For those of you not familiar with the device of Deus Ex Machina [Okay, I had to look it up too.] I will explain it in brief here. It’s the device used where a benevolent Power intervenes in the story to make it “all better”. It’s “and the little boy fell out of bed and woke up, it was all a dream” cheat that drives me out of my mind.)
Our protagonist is embittered, isolated, hurt and an outcast. What caused him to become an outcast? There are vague hints, allusions to pain in the past, to loss, but the reason why are really not important to the author of the myth. This again parallels the Ancient Greek Myth patterns.
What is important is what his pain drives him to do. Revenge! He decides to strike back. Again, we are not told if the people he has chosen for his plan are those who caused his pain, yet it can be inferred that they are.
Obviously, at this point the protagonist is an anti-hero.
Carefully, thoroughly, he plots his revenge on a small, isolated village, the only habitation near his hideout. He prepares camouflage, transportation and insures that all of his plans are in order before he starts out. He chooses to strike the night before the villagers most sacred religious festival. His journey to the village is long and arduous, yet he perseveres.
Finally, he reaches his goal and in short order completes the first phase of his plan.
He runs into a near disaster when he is stopped by a villager who closely questions his identity and presence in the town.
Courtesy of his intense planning (and, to his belief, the naiveté of the villagers) he bluffs his way through the encounter. His escape is a riveting exposition of his plan and sets the stage for phase two of his plot, the destruction of the ritual implements as well as the town’s wealth.
Joyously he retires to his hideout, eager for dawn to arrive s that he can witness the town’s anguish and despair his actions will cause.
The festival day dawns and the anti-hero is ready.
Ready for the Deus Ex Machina?
The rubes still celebrate! Without their sacred artifacts, robbed of all he would count valuable, they still carry on.
He is outraged, infuriated, thwarted. He is baffled by their actions and broods about Why– Why are they behaving in this way?
Then (here it is) his heart is opened. Suddenly he is redeemed, transformed by the villagers’ actions. Understanding floods him and he finds forgiveness in himself, not only for their actions, but his own. Against all reason, this happens.
Logically, his actions should have succeeded; the village should have been destroyed emotionally. They were ruined financially; their holy objects of veneration are gone. Yet, they still celebrate their sacred day.
Given their response, he should have stepped up his attack, but he does not. Only the intervention of a higher power can cause this.
He forgives them, forgives himself, but will the villagers forgive him?
Of course they will! This is a redemption myth after all! He only stole their holy religious objects, their wealth, and their food, after all.
The village will forgive him because, collectively, they embody, not the fools the antihero believes them to be, but the wise fool of many myths in many cultures.
These actions combine to redeem our anti-hero, and make him a hero. They teach him the eternal lesson of spirit triumphing over the material.
Frantic to atone for his misdeeds, he rescues the sacred objects, the village’s wealth- everything he has taken and restores it to the village, again enduring a perilous and harrowing trip.
The villagers unquestioningly open their hearts and homes to him and all is well.
And that, my friends, is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas“.
As tongue in cheek as this appears at first glance, this is an excellent analysis, and a very true one. These kinds of stories abound in Western Culture, and in many Mediterranean cultures as well. From Sumerarian, to Greek to Roman, all these and many more have this kind of story type in them.
One may even go further and say that the Grinch employs a Zeusian or YEVHian attitude of taking away that, which appears to define some when they cease to appreciate what they have. (For an example of this, see Job or Lot as well as the entire trip back from Troy by Odysseus and his crew.)
So one can see the Grinch as a benevolent God making sure that the creatures under his care and/or protection truly appreciate all they have, for it can be taken from them at any time. And making sure that they don’t confuse the object with self-worth.
He can also be seen as a trickster model. In this interpretation, the God takes what he wishes to take from the protagonist (in this case the entire village of Hoos) to teach an object lesson. Coyote is a good example of this. So too, is Loki.
Okay, enough of this. Read this for it’s worth, and don’t treat it lightly simply because it takes a child’s myth and interprets it. How many times have you been moved by the power of a movie or story? That is the Power of Myth working. Get to work and get your analysis done and post them. I look forward to reading them all.
Stars light your path.
Originally posted 2011-05-26 14:41:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter