Multi-Media Hero Analysis

How perceptions of a 'Hero' change


Key Staff

The lesson can be taught by the English teacher and could be supported by the art teacher.

Key Skills

Developing Arts Literacies: Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique
Creative Thinking: Communication and Collaboration
Global Connections: Connecting to History and Culture, Connecting with Other Arts


In a world with few real heroes, students will recognize the positive character traits of heroes as depicted in music, art and literature. All cultures and societies have produced folk, military, religious, political, and artistic heroes. In this lesson, the class will break into groups and write a working definition of a hero which they will present to the class. Students will discuss multi-media representations of heroes as well as cultural differences among who is considered a hero. The teacher will provide various works of art depicting heroes, and the students will choose one hero to research for an essay.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Identify characteristics that are common to heroes, and recognize qualities that are exceptional in certain heroes.
  • Recognize heroes from many diverse cultures.
  • Become familiar with the concept of an epic hero and examples of such from different cultures.
  • Discuss how heroes can be any type of person who has accomplished an inspiring action.
  • Work in groups to create a working definition of a hero.
  • Present their findings to the class.
  • Examine works of art, literature and music that depict historical, legendary, or contemporary heroes.
  • Individually select a hero from one of these media to research as the subject of an expository essay topic. Research the style, medium, and time period in which this hero was depicted.

Teaching Approach

  • Arts Inclusion
  • Interdisciplinary

Teaching Methods

  • Discussion
  • Self-Directed Learning
  • Research
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Direct Instruction

Assessment Type

Determined by Teacher


What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Classroom
  • 1 Computer per Learner
  • 1 Computer per Small Group
  • Projector
  • Speakers
Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

Teachers should be familiar with notes on the romantic hero in classical music.

Prior Student Knowledge

Students should read both Exploring the Function of Heroes and Heroines in Children's Literature from Around the World and A Story of Epic Proportions: What makes a Poem an Epic?

Physical Space



  • Large Group Instruction
  • Small Group Instruction


Post hero quotes around the classroom

Accessibility Notes

English Language Learners should be encouraged to reference the art, literature, and traditions of their native cultures.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.

Build Knowledge


1) Begin this lesson by reading a well-known account of a hero and heroic action, such as a Greek myth.

2) Using this character as an example, have the class begin to draft a  list of the characteristics and qualities of a hero that were presented in the story. Widen their concept of a hero by guiding the discussion to talk about heroes from areas such as politics, religion, history, folktales, and art.

3) Brainstorm a list of as many heroes as possible and then create a grid with the heroes on one axis and the characteristics on the other. Check off the qualities as they apply to each hero.

4) Break the class into small cooperative learning groups.

Build Knowledge

1) Instruct the groups to create a working definition of a hero. Encourage them to explore and answer the following questions:
  • What constitutes a hero?
  • What qualities do certain heroes have that make them exceptional?
  • When have we seen a situation give rise to an unconventional hero or heroine?
  • Do all heroes have something in common about their appearance?
  • What are some of the lessons that heroes can teach us?
  • What differences exist among cultures with regard to their concept of heroes?
  • How can we compose an imaginative way to present our definition to the class (i.e., acting, monologues, visual aids)?

2) Have each of the groups present their findings to the class, and keep running lists of the traits that were most common amongst the groups, and of the most unusual adjectives and descriptions for a hero. Lead the students in a group discussion of the variety of types and qualities of heroes.

3) Introduce different works of art depicting deeds of heroic figures, available on the following Web sites:

You may wish to project the images from the Internet using an LCD projector or pass out copies of the works to the class. Comment on the various examples presented, identifying styles of art, media, historical periods, composition, and interpretation of subject matter. Each of the students will select a work of art depicting a hero and write an expository essay on this piece. They may either select from the reproductions shown in class or select a work of art on their own, subject to approval. Students will each write a two-page, double-spaced expository essay on this work of art.


1) Have students research heroic art on their own for a few minutes in groups (a few images are provided in the resource carousel above). Have them find one example of a hero depicted in art, and then analyze according to the following:

  • What is the theme depicted in this work?
  • Can you identify a heroic deed or character in this work of art?
  • What terms would you use to identify specific aspects of the work that illustrate heroic qualities of the subject?
  • In what manner is the portrayal (medium/style) suitable to the hero illustrated?
  • What characteristics does this hero display?
  • Why do artists depict heroes? What aspects of this hero are specific to the culture from which it comes? Would people all over the world agree that this is a hero? Why or why not?

2) Have groups find a song or piece of music that also can be anazlyzed using the previous questions.

3) Groups will present their piece of art and music to the class.


1) For homework - each of the students will select a work of art depicting a hero and write an expository essay on this piece. They may either select from the reproductions shown in class or select a work of art on their own, subject to approval. Students will each write a two-page, double-spaced expository essay on this work of art.

Students could create their own work of art in a variety of media depicting one of their heroes or one of the heroes about which they read.

Students could make a visual representation of a hero based on the composite definition their group came up with.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education
National Standards in Other Subjects
Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

Language Arts Standard 2: Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing

Language Arts Standard 3: Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions

Language Arts Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Historical Understanding

Historical Understanding Standard 1: Understands and knows how to analyze chronological relationships and patterns

Historical Understanding Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective



Maggie Hepworth
Original Writer

Daniella Garran
Original Writer


Gilman, Billy.Billy Gilman's One Voice. Sony 2000. B00004TTF5.

Bennett, William H. (ed.). The Children's Book of Heroes. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New York: NAL, 1971. (Or another reliable mythology reference.)

Myths and Legends: Mirrors of Mankind, Part Two. White Plains, NY: The Center for Humanities, 1974.

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Use this collection of resources and articles to devise an approach for supporting individual needs in the classroom: from English Language Learners or students with disabilities, to conflict resolution and giving feedback.



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