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Dalton Robinson Professor Amanda Stevens English 103 17 January, 2014 A Double Edged Blade Heroes and villains have been a part of culture for thousands of years. Some are fact, and some are fiction, but they come in a variety of genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. Spanning from Odysseus and the monsters he encountered, to modern day soldiers and opposing nations, heroes and villains alike have been created and adored by societies in past and present. But what defines a hero or villain? Many people fail to consider that this title can be subject to the bias demonstrated by the author. Perhaps a character can be both, depending on which side you view the story. In Greek mythology, the Greeks were battling the city of Troy in what is known as the Trojan War. Achilles, who was present at the battle, was defined by the Greeks as a demigod, as well are one of the greatest warriors ever spoken of. His immense amount of power earned him an exalted status among the Greeks which deemed him a hero. According to the Trojans however, Achilles was a terrifying presence of death and destruction, killing all in his way and sending men fleeing in fear. For the Trojans he was a villain of war, and was hated as well as feared by all. Achilless presence as a hero and villain are both equally present in the stories of the Trojan War, yet due to the stories being Greek mythology, he is presented as a legendary hero.

Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev is another hero or villain from the World War II era. Zaytsev was a Russian sniper that is one of the most famous war heroes of all time. Zaytsev had slain 225 German officers and infantrymen, as well as eleven snipers in a mere five week timeframe. To the Soviet Union, Zaytsev was a true hero that displayed the finesse, bravery, courage, and loyalty that all soviet soldiers should have. Zaytsev was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for his actions. To the man through his scope however, Zaytsev was the most vilified of the enemy. German commanders expended immense amounts of resources and time devoted to the removal of him. His actions were far worse than any villain Germany had to face since World War I. His status in German mentality truly defined him as a vile man worthy of only death. A final hero or villain is Adolf Hitler. Hitler is widely considered one of the most evil and cruel men to ever exist. His atrocities committed against the Jews, disabled, and weak are viewed as unforgivable by the majority of the world. The blame for World War II is also his, and the destruction of many families was the consequence. It is estimated that 60 to 80 million deaths occurred because of his actions, which is over 2.5% of the worlds population in 1945. Just as every other hero or villain however, his status is dependent upon the eye of the beholder. According to many Germans, Hitler was viewed as a powerful leader. His early diplomatic success with foreign countries gave the illusion of a promising future, and better conditions than Germany had ever possessed. His support was almost unanimous, and he was seen as the most promising leader Germany could ask for. Though his hero and villain status are clearly divided by the time of viewpoint, he still remains the same as other figures in societies eye as a hero or villain.

Perspective can change a tremendous amount about a given situation, character, setting, or even text. Heroes and villains are no exception to that trend, and are displayed as two seemingly different people, given the perspective on him or her. A hero is present in every society and culture ever developed, yet so are their antagonist counterparts. But which title does that person hold? Only you can decide.