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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MORE DEMIHERO DELIBERATIONS

In ANT-ATOMY LESSON PT 2 I said:

Harry Potter, my go-to example for the drama, has the *megadynamicity* and *centricity* I associate with the normative superhero, but he does not conform to the superhero archetype because he belongs to the dramatic mythos rather than the adventure-mythos.

Years ago, when I began to think in terms of separating heroic protagonists in terms of their conformity with one of the four Fryean mythoi, it was initially enough for me to discount a character like Potter from the superhero idiom purely for not being aligned to the mythos of adventure.  The same logic still applies to comic heroes like Ranma Saotome and ironic heroes like Marshal Law, and I still do subscribe to that logical conclusion.  These characters are as close to "the superhero idiom" as any characters in these mythoi came come.

However, in DEMIHERO DELIBERATIONS I noted an example of a protagonist, Dr. Erasmus Craven of the 1965 comedy film THE RAVEN.  This character possessed "super-powers," a.k.a. marvelous megadynamicity, as well as centricity. Is he a "comedy superhero?"  Decidedly not, I said, for the simple reason that Craven did not conform to the type of *intellectual will* characteristic of the true hero, but represented rather than an *instinctive will.*

So:

HARRY POTTER-- megadynamic/ centric / representation of intellectual will/ dramatic stature
DR. CRAVEN-- megadynamic / centric /  representation of instinctive will / comic stature

It occured to me to ask, given this parallel, how do I demonstrate that Harry Potter represents the sort of intellectual will of which I speak.  Instinctive will I defined thusly:

Endurance, more than courage, is the hallmark of demiheroes like Alice and Jonathan Harker.

Which defines Harry Potter, endurance or courage?  Harry is a hero within a dramatic mythos, which means that though he possesses a fair chance to win (which he does in his final outing), the mythic emphasis is upon the chance that he might not; that his author might outrage millions of readers by killing her creation.  This makes Potter a *kenotic* figure, so that even though he wins, the possibility of his losing was far more real to his readers than it would ever be for a comic hero like Craven or Saotome.

I do think, though, that though the Potter books pay a great deal of attention to the degree to which Harry endures loads of suffering, I would say that he still shows *intellectual will* in that he chooses to delve into the mysteries of his parents' heritage, the private tragedies of the other adults brought into his sphere, and, of course, into assorted magical mysteries.

Comic demihero Craven never quite exerts himself this much.  He's obviously trained himself in the arts of magic, but his final determination to fight Scarabeus seems more "reactive" than "proactive."  Their battle does qualify for what I've termed the quality of Kantian "dominance," because it involves the collision of two greater-than-average forces. If anything, there's even more emphasis places on the final magical contest of hero and villain in THE RAVEN than between Potter and Voldemort in the final Potter book.

And yet, because Craven does not possess the same stature as a hero within his own mythos, or a hero from any other mythos, I find that it makes the most sense to style him a "demihero," indicating a different-- though not automatically "lesser" stature-- than true comic heroes like Ranma Saotome.






 



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