Heroism is often equated with courageous and selfless acts benefitting the health and well-being of other individuals. We often see those deemed as heroes to be role models, subsequently emulating their acts so that we can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in our own lives. Society often thinks of historical figures who risked their own safety for the welfare of others on a massive scale. However, we model our behaviour very often from those we presume to be highly influential and important in our personal lives whether it be parents, friends, or an authority figure. It is often they who demonstrate the greatest heroism of all. “Stella Dallas” is a heart-wrenching 1937 drama directed by King Vidor exploring this very idea.
The always versatile and wonderful Barbara Stanwyck plays Stella Martin, a woman from humble, working class roots who falls for Stephen Dallas Jr. (John Boles), the advertising manager at the town mill from a background of high society. They fall in love quickly, marry, and have a daughter named Laurel. Initially, it appears as if Stella has also selfishly fallen in love with luxury. As well, her brash personality and past upbringing often excludes her from opulent circles. Despite superficial appearances and a crumbling marriage, the motivation behind Stella’s actions is always with good intentions. Laurel is highly appreciative of her mother’s efforts and fiercely loyal towards her. Mutual devotion, embarrassment, anger, and sadness are experienced in one pivotal scene manifesting into Stella making the most selfless and heartbreaking decision of parenthood.
Parenthood itself is probably one of the most altruistic roles in society. So much energy, resources, and love are directed towards moulding and ensuring that a child will be productive and prepared for the challenges of adulthood. It often does “take a village to raise a child”, but it can be increasingly difficult in the case of single parenting and co-parenting. Co-ordination and compromise are essential to ensure that the child does not feel blame and continues to feel loved. This was especially the case in Laurel’s upbringing in spite of Mr. and Mrs. Dallas’ sometimes icy disdain for one another. Overall, I feel that the bravery and altruism of parents continuously expressed embodies the definition of a hero.
I do not own the above image.
This post is part of the Inspirational Heroes Blogathon hosted by The Midnite Drive-In and Hamlette’s Soliloquy! Please click on the link to check out other great posts about inspirational film heroes!