Another mythologizing animal sharing a spark of intellectual passion!
On the other hand, heroically doing the right thing is important to Karen Chance's heroine, Cassandra Palmer. Perhaps because she remembers what it is to be small and helpless before immensely powerful forces, at one point Cassie refuses to leave behind prisoners who are trapped before the lethal onslaught of an upcoming natural disaster. She risks her life, using her magical energy profligately in order to save as many as possible. She cannot save them all, of course, but she does her best, and manages to save a significant number. People later tell her she was crazy to risk herself so — but she refuses to agree with them that what she did was wrong. Even though it was dangerous, she heroically did what she felt was the right thing to do, and saved as many lives as possible.
Patricia Brigg's heroine Mercedes Thompson is also markedly heroic to my way of seeing things, although the most notable case that leaps to mind is in a slightly different vein: she struggles to clear the name of an innocent friend accused of multiple murders. She does this despite other, well-meaning friends telling her it's a risky enterprise; she perseveres in the face of more powerful entities telling her to let it lay — she even keeps fighting to aid her friend when he himself tells her to stop because he's willing to take the rap for the murders! To Mercy, justice and truth are of paramount importance. Letting an innocent man go to prison — even when everyone tells her it's the "right"and expedient thing to do — is neither just nor right, and Mercy cannot simply sit by and let it happen.
For me, both the above cases showcase real heroism: to keep fighting against the odds to unearth the truth, to do what's right — even when everyone else tells you it's hopeless; even when it's the easy, expedient thing to do. Frankly, I was sorely disappointed in Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden when he took the easy way out in this fashion, and let an innocent take the rap for a murder. What happened to the mouthily independent PI who wouldn't let anything get in the way of prosecuting a just but difficult case? Expediency, in my book, has nothing to do with heroism.
This element of my proposed Heroine's Journey ("Be a Heroine!") is in fact where I almost lose Harry Dresden a couple of times. Oh, I don't deny he's often exceptionally courageous and strong — for pete's sake, the man's epitaph is "He died doing the right thing"! -and he's certainly fought for what's right more than once, despite the disappointing showing I mention above. I find him curiously lacking, however, in the category of "nobility" — which, to be fair, is a very difficult one to clearly define. Still, to me at least, true courtesy or nobility consists in doing unto others what they would like done unto them — not what you want done unto them for your own reasons. That being the case, Harry's weird insistence on what he calls chivalry becomes, over time, a bit of a turn-off for me.
It's one thing to gently tease a dear friend with it, or to make a game out of who gets to the door first — as long as Harry accepts that someone might hold the door open for him too, and stops being "chivalrous" when he's asked to. Unfortunately Harry takes this pseudo-chivalry to great lengths, insisting on doing it even at wildly inappropriate times — to the extent that more than once a woman gets the drop on him or harms him — because he's apparently too stupid to learn that women are just as human as men!
There's even an unpleasant mental diatribe from Harry in one of the books where he decides a particular villainess is no longer worthy of his "chivalry" because in his eyes she's no longer truly a "woman." I found that deliberate dehumanizing on his part to be rather creepy — because we never see Harry deciding any of the men are somehow not really men, simply because they're bad guys. So why does Harry insist on shoving women into these simplistic little mental pigeon-holes (i.e. woman/human or not-woman/not-human)… but allows men to be real people, with their own complex motivations and desires?
Effectively what Harry is doing, by insisting women must let him behave the way he wants to while around them, is stating that his desires are more important than those of all women. People may not initially realize that; they may even think I'm over-reacting to the "harmlessness" of chivalry, but in such a case I have to ask: would this issue seem quite so benign if "chivalry" consisted of Harry greeting every woman he met with a tightly groped hug and a prolonged kiss on the lips — regardless of how they felt about his forcedly deliberate invasion of their personal space? Or alternatively, I find myself asking how Harry would feel if all the women felt the proper response to his so-called chivalry was either a patronizing coo and a pat on the head (like petting a dog or a baby), or familiarly fondling his ass? I mean, come on! Why be upset? There's no real harm to it, after all — they're just trying to be nice, you know? Yeah, riiight.
Bestiaries depict mythical, moralizing animals, but are also potential allegorical sparks that can bloom into brilliant mental bonfires. My bestiary is this mythologizing animal's fascinated exploration of beauty & meaning in the wonder of existence -- in the hopes of inspiring yet more joyous flares of intellectual passion.
Help yourself & me too!