Re: Is Kirk a Well-Defined Character?
FWIW, here's a condensed version of the description of Captain Kirk from The Making of Star Trek
The normal mission of a starship places the vessel out of communication with Earth and Star Fleet Base for long periods of time. A starship captain therefore has unusually broad powers over both the lives and welfare of his crew, as well as extensive jurisdiction over people and activities encountered during the course of the vessel's mission . . . The loneliness and the enormous responsibilities of this position place an extreme burden on the man who holds it. Only an extraordinary man can rise to this position.
Captain Kirk is such a man. He appears to be about thirty-four years old and was born in a small town in the State of Iowa. He entered the Space Academy as a midshipman at the age of seventeen, the minimum age allowed. He attended the Academy and finished in the top five percent. Kirk rose very rapidly through the ranks and received his first command (the equivalent of a destroyer-class spaceship) while still quite young.
. . . James T. Kirk is an idealist, rather sensitive, with a strong, complex personality. Constantly on trial within himself, he feels acutely the responsibility of his position and is therefore fully capable of letting the worry and the frustration lead him into error. Ignoring the fact that he is also capable of fatigue, Kirk is often inclined to push himself beyond human limits . . . The crew respect him, some almost to the point of adoration. High regard for their Captain notwithstanding, no senior officer aboard is fearful of using his own intelligence in questioning Kirk’s orders, and will be strongly articulate up to the point that Kirk signifies his decision has been made. The young Captain is definitely a man of decision and decisive action.
In many respects Kirk resembles the captain of an 18th century ship of the line — Captain Horatio Hornblower. Anyone familiar with C. S. Forrester’s famous Hornblower series will quickly recognize similarities in the personalities of both men. It should not be surprising to learn that Gene Roddenberry rates Captain Horatio Hornblower as one of the all-time great adventure characters in fiction.
. . . The loneliness of command is intensified for Kirk by his continuing struggle within himself to preserve, in the eyes of his crew, the image he feels necessary. Because he sets impossibly high standards for himself, there are few aboard ship with whom he can talk without fear of showing what he fears may be construed as a weakness. He has therefore placed himself in a form of self-imposed exile from the rest of the crew.
(A couple of short paragraphs follow describing Kirk's relationships with Spock and McCoy.)
“All the universe or nothingness. Which shall it be, Passworthy? Which shall it be?”