Folk hero

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A folk hero is a type of hero, real, fictional, or mythological. The single salient characteristic which makes a character a folk hero is the imprinting of the name, personality and deeds of the character in the popular consciousness. This presence in the popular consciousness is evidenced by mention in folk songs, folk tales and other folklore. Folk heroes are also the subject of literature and some films.



Although some folk heroes are historical public figures, they generally are not. Because the lives of folk heroes are generally not based on historical documents, the characteristics and deeds of a folk hero are often exaggerated to mythic proportions.

The folk hero often begins life as a normal person, but is transformed into someone extraordinary by significant life events, often in response to social injustice, and sometimes in response to natural disasters.

One major category of folk hero is the defender of the common people against the oppression or corruption of the established power structure. Members of this category of folk hero often, but not necessarily, live outside the law in some way.

Historically documented folk heroes

  • Johnny Appleseed – United States, he introduced the apple to large parts of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
  • Arminius – Germany, was a chieftain of the Cheruski who defeated the Roman army in the battle of Teutoburg Forest
  • Billy the Kid – United States, a 19th-century American frontier outlaw and gunman
  • Black Hawk – Midwestern......
  • ...

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