The common notion of hero is usually used for the principal character in a play or movie or novel. It is a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength. He often fights against a monster or an army of strong enemies for a cause, a value such as justice, freedom or in order to protect other people. All these seem grandiose. But Eugène Ionesco, a playwright of the Theatre of the Absurd, has a different notion of hero. For him, who knew how it was under the Communism, the Nazism, the Fascism and who lived throughout the Second World War, the real hero is the one “who dares think against the course of History, against all odds and dares challenge the spirit of his times”.
In other words, he had an aversion to ideological conformism. His true hero is the one who stands unchanged against this tide of blind conformism, as it was his message in his play Rhinoceros. Everyone is transformed into a rhinoceros, except one man, who at the end of the play, remains alone and still resists the transformation.
People under these political regimes are like puppets controlled or menaced by an outside force. Ways of thinking are imposed on them. They have to follow an ideology. They lack freedom of expression and of thought. People who dare manifest a sign or blurt out a single word against the regime will be arrested and executed. They are crushed under the weight of the political machine and for their own safety and survival, for the stability of their lives they must carry that weight.
But when such a machine becomes oppressive, obsolete and tyrannical, then changes must be made. It is certainly not easy to do as revolution is often a labour of tears and blood, and personal sacrifices must be made. Nevertheless, as long as people dare to dream and fight for a better world, even with all society and its prejudices, laws and customs against them, with even their lives and close ones at stake or even if the battle is considered by everyone as vain and hopeless, they would succeed one day. It is this determination to make the future by their hands that make them a true hero.
Copyright text: Huong Ly Dang