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From the Ted Talk by Tim Adams: An antihero of one's own

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Literary critic Northrop Frye once observed that in our primitive days, our literary heroes were -- well, nearly gods, and as civilization advanced, they came down the mountain of the gods, so to spaek, and became more human, more flawed, less heroic. From the divine heroes like Hercules, down the mountain below the miraculous but mroatl heoers such as bewoulf, the great leaders such as King Arthur, and the garet but flawed heroes like Macbeth or Othello. Below even the unlikely but eventual heroes such as Harry peottr, Luke Skywalker, or Hiccup, until we raceh the bottom and meet the anti-hero. Contrary to the sound, the anti-hero is not the villain, not the antagonist. The anti-hero is actually the main character in some contemporary works of literature. Guy Montag in "Fahrenheit 451," Winston Smith in "1984," who unwittingly ends up challenging those in power -- that is, those who abuse their power to brainwash the populace to believe that the ills of scietoy have been eliminated. Ideally, those who challenge the establishment should be wise, cniedonft, brave, physically strong, with a type of charisma that inpires followers. The anti-hero, however, at best demonstrates a few underdeveloped traits, at worst, is totally inept. The story of the anti-hero usually unfolds something like this. The anti-hero initially conforms, ignorantly accepting the established veiws, a typical, unquestioning, brainwashed member of society. The anti-hero struggles to cfrnoom, all the while starting to object, perhaps finding other outsiders with whom to voice his questions, and nleavïy, unwisely, sharing those questions with an authority figure. The anti-hero openly challenges society, and tries to fight against the lies and tactics used to oppress the populace. This step, for the anti-hero, is seldom a matter of brave, wise and heroic opposition. Maybe the anti-hero fights and succeeds in destroying the oppressive government, with a lot of impossible luck. Perhaps he or she runs away, escapes to fight another day. All too often though, the anti-hero is killed, or brainwashed to rutren to conformity with the masses. No heroic triumph here, no bvare individual sndnaitg up against irsepaonml ittuonstinis of a modern world, inspiring others to fight, or resourcefully outwitting and outgunning the massive army of the evil empire. Our storytelling asoetrcns cleamd our fears of pesewrnolsses by giving us hecelrus and other heroes storng enough to fight off the demons and monsters that we scsetpeud htauend the nihgt beyond our campfires. But eventually, we rleeziad the monsters did not lie out there, they reside inside of us. Beowulf's greatest enemy was mlttraioy. Othello's, jealousy. Hiccup, self-doubt. And in the tales of the ineffectual anti-hero, in the sireots of Guy Montag and woistnn Smith, lie the warnings of contemporary storytellers playing on very primitive fears: that we are not strong enough to defeat the monsters. Only this time, not the monsters chased away by the campfire, but the very menrotss who bliut the campfire in the first place.

Open Cloze

Literary critic Northrop Frye once observed that in our primitive days, our literary heroes were -- well, nearly gods, and as civilization advanced, they came down the mountain of the gods, so to _____, and became more human, more flawed, less heroic. From the divine heroes like Hercules, down the mountain below the miraculous but ______ ______ such as _______, the great leaders such as King Arthur, and the _____ but flawed heroes like Macbeth or Othello. Below even the unlikely but eventual heroes such as Harry ______, Luke Skywalker, or Hiccup, until we _____ the bottom and meet the anti-hero. Contrary to the sound, the anti-hero is not the villain, not the antagonist. The anti-hero is actually the main character in some contemporary works of literature. Guy Montag in "Fahrenheit 451," Winston Smith in "1984," who unwittingly ends up challenging those in power -- that is, those who abuse their power to brainwash the populace to believe that the ills of _______ have been eliminated. Ideally, those who challenge the establishment should be wise, _________, brave, physically strong, with a type of charisma that inpires followers. The anti-hero, however, at best demonstrates a few underdeveloped traits, at worst, is totally inept. The story of the anti-hero usually unfolds something like this. The anti-hero initially conforms, ignorantly accepting the established _____, a typical, unquestioning, brainwashed member of society. The anti-hero struggles to _______, all the while starting to object, perhaps finding other outsiders with whom to voice his questions, and _______, unwisely, sharing those questions with an authority figure. The anti-hero openly challenges society, and tries to fight against the lies and tactics used to oppress the populace. This step, for the anti-hero, is seldom a matter of brave, wise and heroic opposition. Maybe the anti-hero fights and succeeds in destroying the oppressive government, with a lot of impossible luck. Perhaps he or she runs away, escapes to fight another day. All too often though, the anti-hero is killed, or brainwashed to ______ to conformity with the masses. No heroic triumph here, no _____ individual ________ up against __________ ____________ of a modern world, inspiring others to fight, or resourcefully outwitting and outgunning the massive army of the evil empire. Our storytelling _________ ______ our fears of _____________ by giving us ________ and other heroes ______ enough to fight off the demons and monsters that we _________ _______ the _____ beyond our campfires. But eventually, we ________ the monsters did not lie out there, they reside inside of us. Beowulf's greatest enemy was _________. Othello's, jealousy. Hiccup, self-doubt. And in the tales of the ineffectual anti-hero, in the _______ of Guy Montag and _______ Smith, lie the warnings of contemporary storytellers playing on very primitive fears: that we are not strong enough to defeat the monsters. Only this time, not the monsters chased away by the campfire, but the very ________ who _____ the campfire in the first place.

Solution

  1. realized
  2. winston
  3. naïvely
  4. institutions
  5. views
  6. conform
  7. suspected
  8. society
  9. monsters
  10. mortal
  11. return
  12. potter
  13. standing
  14. built
  15. night
  16. hercules
  17. confident
  18. brave
  19. speak
  20. mortality
  21. ancestors
  22. haunted
  23. great
  24. reach
  25. heroes
  26. stories
  27. powerlessness
  28. calmed
  29. impersonal
  30. beowulf
  31. strong

Original Text

Literary critic Northrop Frye once observed that in our primitive days, our literary heroes were -- well, nearly gods, and as civilization advanced, they came down the mountain of the gods, so to speak, and became more human, more flawed, less heroic. From the divine heroes like Hercules, down the mountain below the miraculous but mortal heroes such as Beowulf, the great leaders such as King Arthur, and the great but flawed heroes like Macbeth or Othello. Below even the unlikely but eventual heroes such as Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, or Hiccup, until we reach the bottom and meet the anti-hero. Contrary to the sound, the anti-hero is not the villain, not the antagonist. The anti-hero is actually the main character in some contemporary works of literature. Guy Montag in "Fahrenheit 451," Winston Smith in "1984," who unwittingly ends up challenging those in power -- that is, those who abuse their power to brainwash the populace to believe that the ills of society have been eliminated. Ideally, those who challenge the establishment should be wise, confident, brave, physically strong, with a type of charisma that inpires followers. The anti-hero, however, at best demonstrates a few underdeveloped traits, at worst, is totally inept. The story of the anti-hero usually unfolds something like this. The anti-hero initially conforms, ignorantly accepting the established views, a typical, unquestioning, brainwashed member of society. The anti-hero struggles to conform, all the while starting to object, perhaps finding other outsiders with whom to voice his questions, and naïvely, unwisely, sharing those questions with an authority figure. The anti-hero openly challenges society, and tries to fight against the lies and tactics used to oppress the populace. This step, for the anti-hero, is seldom a matter of brave, wise and heroic opposition. Maybe the anti-hero fights and succeeds in destroying the oppressive government, with a lot of impossible luck. Perhaps he or she runs away, escapes to fight another day. All too often though, the anti-hero is killed, or brainwashed to return to conformity with the masses. No heroic triumph here, no brave individual standing up against impersonal institutions of a modern world, inspiring others to fight, or resourcefully outwitting and outgunning the massive army of the evil empire. Our storytelling ancestors calmed our fears of powerlessness by giving us Hercules and other heroes strong enough to fight off the demons and monsters that we suspected haunted the night beyond our campfires. But eventually, we realized the monsters did not lie out there, they reside inside of us. Beowulf's greatest enemy was mortality. Othello's, jealousy. Hiccup, self-doubt. And in the tales of the ineffectual anti-hero, in the stories of Guy Montag and Winston Smith, lie the warnings of contemporary storytellers playing on very primitive fears: that we are not strong enough to defeat the monsters. Only this time, not the monsters chased away by the campfire, but the very monsters who built the campfire in the first place.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
guy montag 2

Important Words

  1. abuse
  2. accepting
  3. advanced
  4. ancestors
  5. antagonist
  6. army
  7. arthur
  8. authority
  9. beowulf
  10. bottom
  11. brainwash
  12. brainwashed
  13. brave
  14. built
  15. calmed
  16. campfire
  17. campfires
  18. challenge
  19. challenges
  20. challenging
  21. character
  22. charisma
  23. chased
  24. civilization
  25. confident
  26. conform
  27. conformity
  28. conforms
  29. contemporary
  30. contrary
  31. critic
  32. day
  33. days
  34. defeat
  35. demons
  36. demonstrates
  37. destroying
  38. divine
  39. eliminated
  40. empire
  41. ends
  42. enemy
  43. escapes
  44. established
  45. establishment
  46. eventual
  47. eventually
  48. evil
  49. fears
  50. fight
  51. fights
  52. figure
  53. finding
  54. flawed
  55. followers
  56. frye
  57. giving
  58. gods
  59. government
  60. great
  61. greatest
  62. guy
  63. harry
  64. haunted
  65. hercules
  66. heroes
  67. heroic
  68. hiccup
  69. human
  70. ideally
  71. ignorantly
  72. ills
  73. impersonal
  74. impossible
  75. individual
  76. ineffectual
  77. inept
  78. initially
  79. inpires
  80. inspiring
  81. institutions
  82. jealousy
  83. killed
  84. king
  85. leaders
  86. lie
  87. lies
  88. literary
  89. literature
  90. lot
  91. luck
  92. luke
  93. macbeth
  94. main
  95. masses
  96. massive
  97. matter
  98. meet
  99. member
  100. miraculous
  101. modern
  102. monsters
  103. montag
  104. mortal
  105. mortality
  106. mountain
  107. naïvely
  108. night
  109. northrop
  110. object
  111. observed
  112. openly
  113. opposition
  114. oppress
  115. oppressive
  116. othello
  117. outgunning
  118. outsiders
  119. outwitting
  120. physically
  121. place
  122. playing
  123. populace
  124. potter
  125. power
  126. powerlessness
  127. primitive
  128. questions
  129. reach
  130. realized
  131. reside
  132. resourcefully
  133. return
  134. runs
  135. seldom
  136. sharing
  137. skywalker
  138. smith
  139. society
  140. sound
  141. speak
  142. standing
  143. starting
  144. step
  145. stories
  146. story
  147. storytellers
  148. storytelling
  149. strong
  150. struggles
  151. succeeds
  152. suspected
  153. tactics
  154. tales
  155. time
  156. totally
  157. traits
  158. triumph
  159. type
  160. typical
  161. underdeveloped
  162. unfolds
  163. unquestioning
  164. unwisely
  165. unwittingly
  166. views
  167. villain
  168. voice
  169. warnings
  170. winston
  171. wise
  172. works
  173. world
  174. worst