The Role Of The Hero In Horror

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The Role Of The Hero In Horror Literature Essay, Research Paper The young maiden swoons, about to fall into the deep black hole, but then, suddenly, a set of strong bronze arms reaches out and grabs her waist pulling her to safety. She looks up to see her handsome rescuer, instantly falls in love and they live happily ever after. This is an example of a scene that is common to many romance novels; the hero s brave rescue scene. Heroes play a key role in many stories and most people know the formula for a hero in any story. As Freud points out in paragraph six of his essay The Relation of the Poet to Daydreaming, throughout any story one is secure in knowing that even if the hero is left unconscious and bleeding in one scene he will soon be safe again with his wounds nicely

healing. This is an example of the most important variable in the classic hero formula. The special providence looking over the hero to keep him safe from all evils that may be directed towards him. The rest of the variables may differ slightly from story to story, however they are basically the same for all stories. Almost all heroes have a woman with whom they are in love, and conveniently they get to save the life of either her or someone close to her during the story. Another variable in the typical hero story is the hero s archenemy who is, of course, always cleverly defeated at the end of the story so that the hero may live happily ever after with the woman of his choice. This classic hero formula is often used, and people never seem to tire of reading it no matter how

predictable it is. However, there are also many stories that do not follow this particular hero story line. If one is to look at a collection of horror stories he will find that most of them do not follow the simple hero formula that people have come to expect. This discord with the classic hero formula leads to why people consider these stories are horrifying. In the first frame of the movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919, Robert Weine), the audience is introduced to the character of Francis and discovers that he is to tell a story of him and his fianc e Jane. As the story develops it is discovered that a string of murders has left a good friend of Francis and Jane, who are not yet engaged, dead. Francis begins investigating the murders and discovers the perpetrator to be the

evil Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist, Cesare. In the classic hero formula Francis would now apprehend the evil murderers winning Jane s heart. The plot continues as expected when Francis locks up Dr. Caligari and Cesare dies in a climatic chase scene. But then, the classic hero formula begins to fall apart. In the classic hero formula Francis and Jane would now get married and live happily ever after; but Jane informs Francis that she could never marry him because she is royalty. At first this is confusing because Jane s father was shown earlier in the film and he was not royalty. This confusion is soon cleared up when it is discovered that Francis, who is actually a patient in a mental institution, concocted this whole story. None of this happened except in his very active

imagination. That can t be right. Everyone knows that the hero is a good guy and always gets the girl he wants, but Francis turns out to be a mental patient who was refused by his true love. This movie challenges all variables of the classic hero formula. There are some special circumstances to be considered in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari when looking at Francis as a hero because it is a story within a story. In the outside frame of the movie, where Francis is telling the story, Francis cannot be considered a hero. He is a patient in a mental hospital and fabricated this whole story because he believed his doctor to be the ancient Dr. Caligari. This does not follow the classic hero formula; however, if we consider the inside as a totally different story then Francis fits the