Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Flawed but Majestic"

The flawed heroes we love.

If you were new to this planet and western culture in particular, you might be fooled into believing that humans seek perfection in their objects of desire both physically and in character. I assure you this is not the case. If those new arrivals to Earth invested a little time watching our favorite movies, reading our favorite books and most educational of all-if they took the time to actually fall in love with a human, they would see this mythic search for perfection doesn’t have a biological leg to stand on.

As a species, humans secretly love and embrace flaws. Simply said flaws are part of individuation, they make us who we are. Our flaws are often our strengths in disguise. They often represent unique qualities and something that cannot be erased. On a planet filled with nearly seven billion people, flaws help us stand out in a crowd.

One of my favorite flawed heroes is Edward Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre”. I fell for this guy big time. He’s dark, guarded, brooding, and slightly bow legged with a barrel chest. He’s a gallant liar, a tease and a trickster. At heart he’s basically a decent man who has been abused by life. His tragedies are epic but he does pause to do some good deeds along the way. He cannot outrun his fate and by the end of the story he has lost his ancestral home, his fortune, his right arm and his left eye but he gains Jane’s love and respect in the process and becomes one of fiction’s most memorably flawed heroes.

In movies Clint Eastwood has mastered the art of the flawed hero. The Harry Callahan character comes to mind. Clint plays a “loner” with such strong magnetism that the more he pushes people away the closer they come-often at their peril. We watch the inevitable drama unfold when Harry Callahan heroically makes a choice to go it alone and spare others his fate but because every body loves a hero, they tag along anyway and get hurt. Oh well, Harry warned them…

Did Rhett Butler’s character flaws stop any of you from dreaming about what it would feel like to be obsessively pursued by a dashing man who had that much charisma? Did Clark Gable’s sparkling green eyes and strapping frame scooping a woman off her feet and marching her up the staircase to be ravished-turn you off? I thought not. Rhett had some pretty difficult personal vices. He smoked, drank, gambled, lied, whored, took his daughter out of the country and generally showed bad co-parenting skills. Quite frankly, in real life I would give a damn. But Rhett’s flaws both in fiction and on the screen made him appear incredibly real as if we actually knew this man.

The bottom line: Flaws set us apart and make our virtues look all the more sweeter.

Who is your favorite flawed hero?

XXOO Katalina Leon.


  1. Edward Rochester has to be my all time favorite flawed hero - unlike Jane, I would have stayed with him after his deceit was exposed! Nobody's perfect - perfection would be so boring! What would we have to write about?

  2. Great post. Edward Rochester is one of my favourites too. I'm not sure we fall for the flawed aspects of the human being. It's the good we catch a glimpse of behind those flaws. For example, a man who made Adele Varens his ward, after she'd been abandoned by her mother, can't be all bad. Therefore we're predisposed to like him. Perhaps we think we can change him, eliminating the flaws and bringing forth the good - like Elizabeth Bennett while viewing a stern faced portrait of Mr. Darcy on her visit to Pemberley -"I would change that look."
    Julia, I have to say that Jane had no choice but to walk upon the discovery of the twisted fire starter in the attic. She was a woman of her time - bound by convention. It's a good writer who can make us want to stay even when we know we should go.
    Rhett Butler had no flaws Kat; I'm surprised at you!! He was pure lust on my part so I didn't see anything else...Moving swiftly on. I wonder what happened while Jane and Edward were living happily ever after. Did he pick up his dirty socks? How long did it take him to realise he could get away with it? If they were to his left -"Eh excuse me, missing limb here!" To his right - "Eh I don't know what you're talking about - can't see a thing!"
    That's why stories are wonderful, they don't tell us the details; they give us the paint and we draw our own landscape.

  3. Great post, Kat, but I have to agrue one point - Rhett had no flaws! LOL Why do you think I loved him so. :)

  4. Lol I love Rhett too! Flaws and all (But Scarlet was pretty flawed herself, which only added to her allure)
    XXOO Kat
    Amber shall we pardon Rhett?

  5. Oh yes, of course Jane had to walk away in order to remain true to herself. In the end though, she needed to know what became of Edward. Yes, I suppose that's why I love Jane Eyre. She remained a woman of character throughout and her love for Edward never died.

  6. My favorite flawed hero of all time I can't think of even one.

  7. I'm having trouble coming up with one favorite flawed hero, but many vampire characters are floating through my mind. They certainly have numerous flaws, but I love 'em!

  8. Well, if we're looking for truly flawed, I think we should look at Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. His dark, brooding nature and wild tendencies certainly make an impact. He was cruel but I found myself liking him anyway!

  9. I loved Heathcliff too! Emily Bronte was an extremely gifted and honest writer. Today Heathcliff would definitely be placed in the obsessive-psychotic pile and the other characters around him were just as bleak but they were so well written and believable you want to go for the ride.
    XXOO Kat


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