Nietzsche's Theory Of Heroism

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Heroes, inhabitants of an ontological Limbo

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One of the most intriguing questions about heroism regards the delicate coexistence between heroes’ private and public spheres. A hero’s ‘valet de chambre’ (i.e. ‘valet of the chamber’), representing those who have access to his most human sides, may be contemplated as a metaphor of his private image, counterposed to his public one. The purpose of this essay is to emphasize the organic relationship between the presence of heroes’ weaknesses and the efficiency of their heroic images, considering the concept of sacrifice as a binding element between these two apparently antithetical aspects.
Though heroes do not necessarily need to discard their relatives
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In Twilight of the Idols, a 1888 philosophical introductory text, Friedrich Nietzsche developed the theory of ‘the genius’, alternatively called ‘the great man’, and compared the relationship between geniuses and their ages to that between strength and weakness. From such a perspective, the hero appears as a medium, an instrument produced by the stream of history to keep transforming itself, age by age. Looking at heroes as instrumental beings, standing among the masses to fight for their salvation and to lead them to a better era, the role of their ‘valets de chambre’ might seem of paltry importance; thus, despite their apparent marginality, they are necessary in any hero’s …show more content…
Without considering this aspect, the heroism of Alexandr Pechorin, in A Hero of Our Time, whose life ‘is merely a chain of sad and unsuccessful contradictions to heart and mind’, might be hard to identify. In fact, the Russian hero’s dominant feature is his omni-pervasive indifference, later echoed by the same apathetic nihilism described by Alberto Moravia in his 1929’s masterpiece. Pechorin is certainly a sophisticated type of hero, whose character is not devoid of repulsive features or amoral behaviours, such as the abandonment of the young Bela out of mere boredom. However, his bright intellectual qualities, his profound knowledge and his refulgent elegance, upheld by a pleasant physical appearance, determine his superiority over the others. In this instance, the presence of different narrators, impersonating the public sphere, only enhances the aura of mystery surrounding Pechorin. It is curious how, in this Russian experimental prose, the hero, almost entirely self-absorbed, does nothing to gain people’s admiration but being himself, while his beautifully shaped egocentrism stimulates the other characters’ curiosity. In A Hero of our time, again, the figure of the hero appears to be a public product, paradoxically unsupported by any kind of concrete

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