Describe John Irving's use of "hero" in the Cider House Rules

Essay by cmelton05High School, 12th gradeA+, March 2005

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The Flawed Hero

Mark Twain once said, "If everyone was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes." In the novel, The Cider House Rules, author John Irving develops the idea of the flawed hero He takes the quote, "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show..." from the pages of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. These words seemed to have a particularly strong effect on young Homer Wells, who as an impressionable young orphan felt full responsibility for the direction his life would take. Though Homer would turn out to be a hero to several people in the book, Homer's mentor Dr. Wilbur Larch fills the position of hero for Homer and the people of St. Cloud's Hospital and Orphanage.

In the movie, the character of Wilbur Larch is played by actor Michael Caine.

A thoroughly convincing doctor, Caine provides a captivating performance as the eccentric Dr. Larch. In fact, for his efforts, Michael Caine won the 1999 Oscar for best supporting actor. Though his character was watered down and normalized in the adaptation from print to film, Caine was able to capture not only Larch's heroic devotion to his work and the kids at the orphanage, but also his flaws, namely his addiction to ether. Michael Caine was able to become the character of Dr. Wilbur Larch, in essence and in accent, to the point that the character came alive from the pages of the book, to the film on the screen, to my desk in the classroom. The director also cleverly used interesting camera angles and lighting patterns to soften the image of Dr. Larch, which in addition to Caine's acting talent, allowed the viewer to forget...