On this day dedicated to love of all forms and varieties, what better to ponder than that illusive ideal of 'hero'? My friend Jessica and I have been going back and forth about heroes, particularly those great heroes of film and literature that we all love to adore. From this, she had the brilliant idea to create a 'series' of sorts, wherein we, with the additional insight of Nancy, look at these heroes. Why are they heroes? Why do we love them? What do they mean to us individually? What do they represent to us as a generation? We all agree that we are a generation in need of a Hero -- and how better to find a hero than to become better acquainted with those we use as standards. And so ... This Valentine's Day, I shall spend some quality time with Han Solo: Epic Hero, Flawed Man.
... There's more to Han's hero-status than the 'package' he comes with however. Han is real. As a man? He's tremendously flawed. He's a bad boy - trouble - a smuggler with a bounty on his head and a whole herd of strange creatures hunting him down. He's proud and arrogant, and more than a little smart-mouthed at times. He's makes no effort to hide that he's joined the adventure in A New Hope solely for the money. At first, you wouldn't think he has a heart or is capable of any feeling other than saving his own skin - excepting of course Chewie and the Falcon. So why on earth is he heroic? Because he changes. Or rather, the rough outer layers peel back and you can see the Man behind the exterior.
All the qualities (or lack thereof) that make Han the bad boy smuggler also make him the epic hero: He's stubbornly dedicated once he sets his mind (or heart?) on something. He speaks his mind, he doesn't hold back. What you see is what you get - there's not really a looming mystery about him. Once he starts to 'open up' and break away from the bad boy persona he's embraced for ages, there's a sense of loyalty and justice, courage and leadership. He's still a little rough-and-tumble, he's not got polished grace or banquet manners, but he's real.
Han sums up himself as hero the best, talking to Leia in The Empire Strikes Back:
"You like me because I'm a scoundrel."