Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

  • YKTTW discussion leading to creation of this entry.

Seven Seals: The entry mentions that Koschei is older than Gray, but in fact this trope is even longer in the tooth than that. The Golden Bough discusses many variants in many cultures, under "the external soul" []. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a good "modern" example, though, also because it's used with a twist — Dorian becomes immortal, but his portrait shows the ravages of time and his actions instead. He is eventually undone when he dares to look upon it and "faces himself", when most stories that use this trope have an external force destroy the object containing the external soul.

Robert: Gray Picture is not a good name for this trope. The story adds an extra twist, not usually part of the trope. Without the name 'Dorian', a gray picture doesn't really suggest this trope either.

Soul Jar or External Soul would be better names. It's not always the literal soul that's used, but even so they fill fit the trope better.

Burai: I agree. Since the Koschei form is the "classic" form (in my experience), maybe Heart In A Box?

Looney Toons: Also agreement. When I saw this entry's name in the recent updates, I thought it would some Applied Phlebotinum thing involving photo enhancement. As soon as we can settle on a new name for it, let's get it renamed. I am partial to Soul Jar, but then, that was my suggestion to begin with.

Harpie Siren: I still think we should go with the HP refference and call it The Horcrux

Robert: Horcrux's are just the most recent popular example. I'd prefer soemthing more generic — Soul Jar would be fine.

Burai: You took the words out of my mouth, Robert. This is one of The Oldest Ones in the Book, after all generic seems to be the order of the day. If it was entirely up to me, I'd still shoot for Soul In A Jar to emphasize that it's the soul (and the part where it's not in your body) that's important, not the actual container. But the shorter form does seem like a budding consensus.

Harpie Siren: If we're going for a more generic title I'd prefer Soul In A Jar rather than just Soul Jar it's a bit more discriptive.

Whogus The Whatsler: Sorry to be a nitpicker, Seven Seals, but the notion that Dorian Gray is undone by looking at the painting is a fallacy perpetuated, as far as I can tell, by the film version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In the book Gray witnesses the decay of the painting, and it's a kind of slow torture for him; his downfall comes (spoiler alert) when his overall loathing of the painting leads him to destroy it with a knife, which results in the chilling image of his servants coming across a beautiful painting of their master near an ugly old man with a knife in his heart.

Looney Toons: I'd just like to note that "soul jar" is the term used in much folklore and mythology for this kind of item, including in Voudoun, Zuni myth, and some Egyptian-based mysticism; it's been used in a Doctor Who audioplay ("Doctor Who Unbound Sympathy For The Devil"); it's an element of some game called "Sanctum" (I found discussion board via Google where someone complains about a bug in the system implementing the Soul Jar); there's more than one in an Xbox game called "Vexx"; it's a spell name/object in numerous tabletop game systems including D&D/AD&D and GURPS; and at least one physical jar in a museum that I've come across is actually labelled "soul jar". I think we have more than sufficient prcedent to avoid the clumsy variant "soul in a jar".

Burai: FWIW, I was familiar with the term as used in RPGs, but I generally see it used there for items that trap someone else's soul against their will, rather than the intentional "stash my own soul here to keep it safe" being described here.

Seven Seals: @Whogus: I haven't seen the film, I only know the book. But you're right, I forgot that Dorian looks at his painting every now and then (though less and less), and only decides to destroy it in the very end, not the first time he sees it. This is a misremembering on my part. (I did imply the whole part with the knife with "being undone"; I don't know how the movie portrays that.)

Looney Toons: Burai, that's a later variation, probably by way of a confusion between the D&D spells "Soul Jar" and "Trap the Soul". So anyway, do we have a consensus on the name change yet or what?

Ununnilium: I dunno, I like this name. It's more evocative than Soul Jar, IMHO.

Robert: Only if you make the association with Dorian Gray, which is not obvious, what with 'gray' being a fairly common word. Also, that picture isn't a typical example; these objects don't normally change to match the state of the soul within them. and Dorian didn't do it deliberately.

Soul Jar isn't ideal, but it's good enough for me, and much better than Gray Picture.

Ununnilium: I suppose.

Looney Toons: Pulling the trigger on the name change.
Looney Toons: Took this off Characters as Device, because it's not a character type, but an attribute/plot point.

LORd: Removed the Fullmetal Alchemist example because what the homunculi possess is a Healing Factor, not a soul, especially one in a removed Soul Jar.
Fire Walk: Applying Fire Walk's Chainsaw of Natter Removalon the Pirates entry:
  • Actually, he had the powers already, as part of his deal with Calypso, which is why he is able to live without his heart.
  • And yet killing the heart kills him, so he was really removing his only weak point from his body when he angsted out with the lovey dovey symbolism.
  • In the third film, it's revealed that putting your heart in the chest is actually a requirement for being captain of the Flying Dutchman. The captain certainly needs the immortality to be able to seek out and ferry the souls of the dead to the afterlife.
    • Hang on, the story given in the second film says that he tore out his out so he would be unable to feel the pain and anguish of being rejected by his lover. So why is it necessary for Jones' successor to put their heart in the chest?
    • Plot device, Mister Frodo, plot device.
    • Even if it wasn't strictly necessary for the next captain, it was necessary for Will to become the next captain, what with all the bleeding to death he was doing at the time.

Cambdoranononononono: Removed:
  • Futurama's "heads in jars" appears to subvert this trope.
As it's more of a straight Brain in a Jar example that's not really an example or a subversion.
Daikiwixep: I added a picture to complement the one for Demonic Possession (sort of a joke; before & after...just click the Demonic Possession link and you'll see). I know something like a horcrux or the Ring is probably a better and more well-known example. I will point out that the demon in the book makes it obvious how a Soul Jar can function.