Define a hero in brief and discuss how the events of the story "Rip Van Winkle"  develop him as an example of the American anti-hero .

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writergal06 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Classical literature shows heroes who have qualities of courage, bravery, and morality. As literature progressed, the image of a hero progressed as well. We move from epic heroes, where larger-than-life qualities are celebrated, to more realistic, every-day heroes. Still, though, heroes are seen as people who go beyond what is expected to help, comfort, protect, etc. Heroes are still seen as people that have some sense of morality, though that moral code may not be governed by religion or society as it once was. Anti-heroes go against these traits. We can label Rip van Winkle an anti-hero primarily because of his laziness and passivity. While he is kind and helpful to others, he does not take care of his home or children. He is also not inherently brave to our understanding, an implication made by his missing an entire war while asleep in the mountains. Though we tend to like Rip for his good-natured temperament and his amicability, we do not respect him as a leader nor do we expect valor or bravery from him, making him and anti-hero.