heroesIf someone is considered a "hero" and they do what they do for money and/or fame, are they really a hero? Or, can a person only be hero when they are working towards the greater good and for...


If someone is considered a "hero" and they do what they do for money and/or fame, are they really a hero? Or, can a person only be hero when they are working towards the greater good and for other people, not themselves?

Expert Answers
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I must admit that I am troubled by those who act only for monetary--or perhaps I should say mercenary--reasons. George Washington, an undisputed hero for many people, assumed command of the Continental Army on condition that he be paid no salary. Still, although money seems a base motivator, there are those who have done great things which could not have been accomplished had they not been paid. Dr. Jonas Salk could not have perfected his polio vaccine had he not been properly funded.

The real issue seems to be the motivation of the person. Is he/she working for the greater good, or for his/her own personal gain or aggrandizement? If the latter is true, I am not sure the "hero" label fits. We like our heroes to be selfless, at times sacrificial. I guess it is for that reason that I have trouble conceiving of athletes as "heroes," unless they donate a kidney to a needy child.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a thoughtful question. Many of our modern day "heroes" are often little more than sportsmen or entertainers who capture the attention of the public because of their abilities on the playing field, concert stage or movie screen. What always should set a "hero" apart from mere celebrity status is how they direct their actions when they are away from their chosen field. Those who give freely of their time and/or money for a good cause, or who risk their lives in the service of mankind are the men and women who should be thought of in a heroic sense.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I doubt that there are very many people who are working only for the greater good and not at all for their own purposes.

With the example of Washington given above, he clearly did not work for money, but did he have other selfish motives?  Might he not have been motivated strongly by a desire for fame and glory?  These things might have been worth more to him than money.

If there is such a thing as a hero, it cannot be only a person who has completely selfless motives.  I am not sure such a person exists.

bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that whether the person is getting paid for their "heroic" deeds, or volunteering, that it is the character of the person and not necessarily the deed that makes a hero.

There are sports starts that have accomplished a lot, and become famous, but that  have no character at all (Tiger Woods, etc.). These people are not heroes in my eyes.

However, other athletes/famous  people may achieve the same feat, but with sterling character (think Joe Mauer), and I think this person may be  a hero.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that often the fame and fortune may come as a consequence of heroic actions, but they do not define a hero. A hero is generally selfless and puts others before themselves. I think that a hero often will not benefit directly from their actions, but their worl\k is of great importance to the lives of others. Martin Luther King gained recognition for his cause for equality, although it is generations later that the real influence of his actions are felt.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Heroes usually don't choose to be that. They may fight fires for example, and be very good at it, and even perform a heroic act that gains them fame and surprises even themselves, all while still getting paid for firefighting. Certainly these people can be heroes, even though they may not want to be. Others may want to be celebrities, famous, role models or idols to millions of fans. In that case, heroism is in the eye of the beholder who chooses to idolize them.
megan-bright eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many heroes in my opinion are people who go above and beyond their normal job duties and really make sacrifices to help those in need. For instance, certain exceptional and caring teachers, nurses, doctors, fire fighters etc. Technically these people are being paid for their duties, but the money doesn't make them less of a hero because they go above and beyond the standard call of duty and do it from their hearts.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think this is a really excellent question!  I had to think, but I do believe that a person's motives don't matter in making the feat itself heroic.  Why a person saves someone doesn't matter, the saving is what matters.  On the other hand, there are different types of hero.  The humble hero is the best in my book.  That's the person who does good for the sake of doing good, and wants nothing in return.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most of the kinds of people who might be considered "heroes" as part of their jobs do not make extravagant amounts of money at those jobs. People who have a heart for people and a true willingness to serve are generally not moved by money. Motive is everything, and money does not seem to me to be much of a motivator for heroism.