Ahead are spotlights on some of my personal heroes – characters who serve as role models, aesthetic muses, amor fati inspiration, and sometimes just the subjects of good ol’ lifestyle coveting.
Don Quixote is a gentleman turned knight-errant. Amidst his normal life of respectability he became enraptured by books extolling the virtues of knighthood. Drunk on ideas of gallantry, he sets off on a reckless adventure characterized by love, valor, and hallucination (with all the pitfalls that such a combination commands). Devoting every act of bravery to his imagined ladylove Dulcinea, Don Quixote travels through Spain with his ragged horse and squire, fighting to correct wrongs of the world. Generally stirring up mayhem, he acquires a reputation for more than just chivalry after some knightly confrontations with sheep and windmills.
The hero of La Mancha flaunts a relentless thirst for adventure and an expansive imagination. He epitomizes fanciful dressing, and exemplifies the way one’s outlook and character can be affected by dress (in his case a haggard suit of armor does the trick). He is also a swell model for the argument of self-creation versus self-discovery.
Tatterhood is an unconventional princess. She confounds the expectations of her kingdom with unruly behavior – parading about loudly while riding her goat and wearing clothes of an unkempt nature and brandishing a wooden spoon, Tatterhood is always recognizable by the tattered hood which shelters her wild hair. Her lack of decorum is met with confusion, and Tatterhood receives acceptance from only one person in her life – her lovely twin sister Isabella. Despite the pressure from all around to act the part of a demure princess, Tatterhood is resolute in her decision to live authentically and spurn the rules of others.
When hobgoblins mount an attack against the castle Tatterhood bravely rides into battle to protect her family. Her sister’s head is stolen during the clamor, sparking Tatterhood’s journey for repossession. She outwits the hobgoblins and recaptures her sisters head, then sets out with Isabella to explore the world. Ultimately Tatterhood reveals a softer, more refined exterior on her own terms.
Note: Tatterhood would be a great poster child for the man-repelling movement, as she perpetually dresses for herself without consideration of how others desire her to appear.
Xena’s is a story of massive transformation from evil to good. Sickened by her past wickedness, she forges a path of redemption using her skills (which are obscene both in number and degree of impressiveness) to fight for and protect what is good. Traveling the world (as well as various underworlds, alternate universes, and additional planes of existence) with her sidekick Gabrielle, Xena puts her dark experience to use so that she might make amends.
Xena is the ultimate renaissance person – she does not dabble in trades and skill sets, she masters. Awe-inspiring as Xena’s abilities are, she also has flaws and a laundry list of bad habits to overcome on her journey to atonement.
Whether or not one agrees with her choices, it is irrefutable that Xena strives in every situation to act in adherence with her ideas of right and wrong. Her strong moral fiber is strengthened by the constant regret she feels over past mistakes, bolstering her character with the resolve to not make any more.
Also, she has a really cool warrior cry.
(As a bonus, here is a shot of Xena catching an arrow in her mouth. You’re welcome!)
In addition to the traits already celebrated, these three characters are also supremely creative – I cannot help but admire each one’s inventive embodiment of that quality.
Don Quixote with his topsy-turvy worldview, Tatterhood’s unapologetically deviant style of living, and Xena with her radical ingenuity in every task of problem solving.
It’s hard to determine which of these individuals take in their surroundings most creatively. An episode in which Xena uses seafood as weaponry comes to mind…
In different ways they each imbue their lands with magic and wonder, making the stories of their lives very special and uniquely inspiring.