Preliminary Assessment Task – Heroes
It is an aphorism that heroes reflect the best and worst in human nature. Furthermore, it is evident that these reflections are unequivocally derived from their individual values and characteristics. Their own personal essence and disposition is what determines the approach in which they will exhibit towards their enemy; this in turn, establishes distinct facets that palpably reflect the best and worst qualities within humanity. This concept is explored upon the examination of the 1985 novel Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card as well as the 2009 film Avatar, directed and produced by James Cameron. Within Orson Scott Card’s novel, the protagonist, Ender, reflects the best and worst in human nature through his own individual mannerisms and mindset as he accosts instances of manipulation and conspiracy through the inadvertent execution of another race. Comparably, in James Cameron’s Avatar, the protagonist, Jake, exemplifies an array of good and bad qualities within humanity as he faces the demanding decision of choosing between what is morally upright and extinguishing another race by the means of what the rest of mankind perceives to be expedient.
To comprehend a hero’s relation to the best and worst in human nature, it is crucial to have a meticulous understanding of their personal values and characteristics. Ender’s values and demeanour towards mankind reiterate the goodness in human nature; this is accurately disclosed within a proclamation made by Graff, stating, "Human beings are free except when humanity needs them. Maybe humanity needs you. To do something. Maybe humanity needs me—to find out what you're good for. We might both do despicable things, Ender, but if humankind survives, then we were good tools." In this, Graff is explaining the philosophy behind what they are doing. However, Ender objects to this idea, as he believes people are more than just tools, and firmly denounces the proposition that this philosophy ethically justifies the conductivity of malpractice and wrongdoing in the name of humanity. This creates a sense of hostility and resentment towards the malfeasances conducted by Colonel Graff and marks an eminent turning point in the novel; Card exemplifies this through the use of character development as Ender transitions from an oblivious, naïve “launchy” to an attentive, and mindful “soldier”. Ender’s personal values and ideology allowed him to vilify the deleterious use of humanity. Thus, through Ender’s character, his heroism, in conjunction with the goodness of human nature, is established.
Similarly, Jake’s relation to the best and worst in human nature in the film Avatar is heavily influenced by the delinquency and misdemeanours of mankind. Originally, Jake’s intention was to “win the hearts and minds of the natives” in order to destroy their homeland, however his objective abruptly readjusts when the actions and demeanours of humans against the natives oppose his own personal ethicality. James Cameron effectively reflects this change through a dramatic conflict between the natives and human soldiers, where the protagonist, Jake, turns against the human race for the first time. Cameron frequently incorporates parallel shots or ‘cross-cutting’ to accentuate the dynamic tension between both groups; in conjunction, various close-ups and dolly-shots were repeatedly utilised throughout this scene to capture diametric emotions and exalt Jake’s eminent values and demeanours towards the vulgar actions of the human race, further reflecting a sense of equitable heroism and goodness in human nature.
In addition, the manipulation of heroes amongst their own race can alter and distort their values and sense of judgement, and thus provoke the worst in human nature.
Card effectively explores this concept as he exemplifies Ender manipulating another soldier, Bean, in the same