Harvey Dent is the District Attorney for the city of Gotham during a tumultuous period. Aaron Eckhart plays his character. The city is receiving the help of a mysterious vigilante and hero, the Batman, in combating the serious crime problem in the city. He made this statement to shore up his confidence before embarking on a life threatening transport to a holding facility after he falsely took credit to being the Batman in an effort to stop the Joker, a mentally unstable villain, from killing innocent citizens. This statement was made to his colleague, Rachel Dawes, a prosecutor who was unafraid to prosecute the crime lord and Mafiosi. He made it in order to calm her since she knew that Bruce Wayne was the Batman and was trying unsuccessfully to make Harvey see sense and stop him from risking his life since it was a challenge to the Joker himself (Ebert, 76). This statement was made for two reasons. The first was to reassure and comfort Rachel since he had romantic feelings for her and the second was to shore up his resolve to what was virtually a form of suicide. He had, however, put his faith in Batman to come to his rescue, which he did. Harvey Dent’s choice of words and both the context and the situation in which the words suggest a cavalier attitude towards his own mortality (Ndalianis, 191).
What Harvey Dent was trying to convey is that if we place ourselves on moral high ground and act in a manner or perform actions that are for the greater good, we in effect take upon ourselves power that is reserved for the state without any of the checks and balances. This unbridled power and influence can cause the hero to lose whatever morals and resolve he or she had and act in a manner that is personally beneficial. In short, power corrupts. Therefore, every hero will, in fact, become a villain given enough time.
Throughout history, there have been several figures that were first considered heroes, but either died or were killed as villains. Before their death, they were considered saviors, heroes, role models but after their demise they were castigated as monsters, butchers, psychopaths and ultimately, evil.
When Caligula was declared emperor, there were celebrations throughout Rome. It was viewed as a new Golden Age after the dark, repressive time of Emperor Tiberius. He was born the third son of a brilliant military commander from the most powerful family in all of Rome. He was born Gaius Julius Caesar, a name that emphasized his royal lineage from his mother’s side.
As a child, he had a very strong military influence as he was dressed in miniature military uniforms, and it was the troops who nicknamed him “Caligula” meaning ‘little boots’. He grew up alongside infighting, backbiting and feuding among his family members. After his father Germanicus’ death, which had all the signs of poisoning, his family fell out of favor with the throne. Emperor Tiberius and the powerful Praetorian Guard, Sejunus, saw Caligula’s elder brothers and mother as political rivals due to Germanicus’ popularity with the masses. All died either in exile or were forced to commit suicide. Fortunately for Caligula, his grandmother Antonia saved him by shielding him from the palace intrigues until Sejunus’ death in 31 AD (Livingstone, 36).
Emperor Tiberius had by now lost favor with the masses and the Senate due to the elimination of Germanicus’ family. In an effort to win back their favor; he invited both Caligula and his cousin Gemellus to the palace, adopted them, and even went so far as to declare them equal heirs to his empire. Caligula ascended to the throne in 37 AD.
The masses loved him and sang praises to his name. They had no idea of the sadism and extravagance in store for the empire. Caligula did do some good during his reign. He recalled all exiles that had been meted out, he also paved the way for the conquest of Britannica. He lavished money on building projects like aqueducts and harbors and to some extent improved the cultural society of Rome through the construction of exquisite theatres and temples. He ensured the support of the masses by providing games, banquets, and theatre free.
After a period of illness, which had the entire empire holding its breath for his recovery, Caligula became increasingly paranoid and even more extravagant with his spending. The amount of money he was spending was exhausting the treasury faster than he could replace it via taxes and extortions from conquered kingdoms. Due to his status as emperor, his biographer Suetonius as saying that he could do anything to anybody quotes him. He was fond of having dissenters and those condemned to be executed by torture being killed in front of their families even inviting them to feast in the presence of the torturer. He would force those with thicker hair to shave their heads even forcing a man to give him his wife for the night and returning her in the morning. Eventually, a plot to have him killed was hatched by members of the Praetorian Guard. His corpse, when recovered was covered in over 30 stab wounds (Richardson-Hay, 195).
He was first welcomed by all as a reformer and a visionary yet was later despised and feared by the masses, senate and even members of his family. His successor Claudius attempted to defend his decisions by referring to him as a maniac (Livingstone, 36).
The attempt was also portrayed in the film when Harvey Dent snapped after Rachel Dawes was murdered by the Joker as well as having half his face burned away and went on a rampage killing several individuals whom he believed were responsible for his loss. After falling to his death during a botched attempt to get Police Commissioner Gordon to choose between his wife and son, the Batman (the Commissioner’s saviour) and the Commissioner agree to save Harvey’s image by shifting blame to the Batman.
Hitler has been condemned as one of the evilest men to ever walk on the face of the earth. Said to be the man who singlehandedly organized and enabled the systematic extermination of an entire race known as the Holocaust. He is also lauded to be the one solely responsible for the start of the Second World War. Ripples of this man’s actions are still felt today with the Neo Nazi Movement having followers in The USA and parts of Europe.
His origins and heinous acts are known to most through the study and causes of the wars compulsory on almost all school curriculums. However, before the war and anti-Semitic and white supremacist propaganda, Hitler was wildly loved by the people of Germany who saw him as a messiah of sorts.
After Germany’s surrender of the First World War, and her acceptance to sign the treaty of Versailles, there was a breakdown of her economy. In an effort to pay her debt of 6.6 billion dollars as reparations, the German Chancellor Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered the printing of more paper money in an effort to speed up the payment. Sadly, this did nothing except to wildly deflate the value of the German Currency (Nicholls, 214)
When Hitler came into power, he instigated economic reforms that got the inflation problem under control. In less than ten years, he had returned Germany to an industrial power once more. He encouraged individuals to work for the betterment of Germany so that the world could see that Germany was not finished as a country. Being a skilled orator, he was able to inspire many individuals to patriotic zeal. The German people held Hitler in high esteem since he solved most of the problems individuals were facing. He was considered a hero of the German people. An image that would eventually be destroyed and recorded in the annals of history.
Indeed, many of the Western powers were slightly concerned at the ability Hitler had of reviving the country that quickly, but this was discounted as they were satisfied there were no international incidents caused by Germany.
Because of to these solid accomplishments, Hitler gradually became convinced that the German people were special, better than all other races. He eventually began to distribute propaganda to the German population that they were a ‘master race’, assembled in heaven. His book, Mein Kampf, was made mandatory for all (Hitler, 12). He was also widely obsessed with the youth and started movements that were almost militaristic in nature. They were also compulsory for all children, the Hitler Youth Association for boys and the League of German Maidens for girls.
Hitler was convinced that, with able leadership, it would be possible to conquer all of Europe and ‘cleanse’ it for the master race. He thus embarked on a warmongering quest to start a war that would have devastating consequences for the Jewish Race. Eventually, he committed suicide in the closing days of the war after the Allied powers invaded Germany effectively ending the War.
Hitler was considered a hero until the final days of the war when Germany’s successive losses caused the populace to become disillusioned with him. Most of the orders he gave were considered the ravings of a lunatic by his generals when they were shown to have flawed tactical logic. He had begun to passionately believe in his own propaganda and lies. His followers and close allies were not logical but were sycophants who echoed his every word and followed every order he gave them without question relying on his authority to garner results. History retells his story as a maniac. No one considers his achievement as they were overshadowed by his delusions, sadism, and acts of utter villainy (Nicholls, 134).
The historical figures analyzed show how true Harvey Dent’s words were. One either dies a hero or lives to see himself become the villain. Davy Crocket is considered one of America’s selfless heroes following is death at the Alamo. Many native Americans would view him as a villain who arrived to take away their ancestral property.
Power in the hands of the unworthy or selfish can corrupt to the point of almost catastrophic proportions. Harvey Dent’s words seem to suggest that heroes do not stay heroes for long but rather are villains waiting to happen.
What individuals or rather those who intend to be heroes can learn fro these words is that one has to be very careful when taking up the mantle of trying to make the world a better place. What he fights for must be enough such that he is never tempted to abuse his power and influence for his own personal benefit. The moral ground on which he stands must be higher than the average man’s.
A hero must, therefore, know when it is time to hang up his cape before it forever remains attached to him as his death shroud.
Livingstone, David. Black Terror White Soldiers: Islam, Fascism and the New Age. Place of publication not identified: Sabilillah Publications, 2013. Print.
Richardson-Hay, Christine. First Lessons: Book 1 of Seneca's Epistulae Morales ; a Commentary. Bern: Lang, 2006. Print.
Ndalianis, Angela. The Horror Sensorium: Media and the Senses. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co, 2012. Print.
Ebert, Roger. Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2011. Kansas City, Mo: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2011. Print.
Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. LaVargne, TN: Bottom of the Hill Publishing, 2010. Print.
Nicholls, David. Adolf Hitler: A Biographical Companion. Oxford: ABC-Clio, 2000. Print.