It’s week eight of my Class Showcase series, where I take a class from D&D and give three examples from popular culture. This week: Paladins.
#1 Arthas Menethil (Warcraft 3 / World of Warcraft)
Arthas has the unique distinction of being both a paladin and what many would describe as an anti-paladin in his long and varied history within Warcraft lore. He began as a Prince of Lordaeron and a paladin in training under Uther the Lightbringer. However, during the events depicted in Warcraft 3, he became corrupted by the cursed runeblade “Frostmorne”, eventually killed his father, King of Lordaeron, and destroyed the kingdom. After this, he traveled to Northrend and eventually merged his body with the Lich King gaining control over the Scourge. He is one of my favorite examples of how a good character can go bad for all the right reasons.
#2 Joan of Arc / Jeanne d’Arc (Various)
Saint Joan has the proud distinction of being both a pop-culture figure and a historical one. While many of her deeds have been glorified by movies, television, and novels, the factual history of the Maid of Orléans is no less impressive. She quickly became the figurehead for the French forces during the later period of the Hundred Years’ War, she is credited for turning the tide at several battles which led to the coronation of Charles VII, and, despite the fact that she was illiterate, knew more about religion and the laws of god than many of the church officials who put her on trial and ultimately burned her at the stake. Not bad for a girl who never attained the age of twenty.
#3 Private Jackson (Saving Private Ryan)
Religion and war movies seem to go hand and hand. I look at The Patriot, Gladiator, the recent film Fury, and of course Saving Private Ryan. In the latter, the character of Private Jackson stands out to me as an excellent example of a modern-day paladin. He believes that god guides his sniper rifle in a grand effort to hinder those who would replace his Christian beliefs with fascist ideals. The scene in the bell tower is particularly moving as Jackson recites quotes from the bible as he shoots down several German soldiers. His faith seems absolute and his conscious, despite the many corpses he leaves in his wake, is clear.