History Analysis / ASongOfIceAndFire

9th Nov '16 9:53:10 AM slvstrChung
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One of ''A Song of Ice and Fire''[='s=] most notorious aspects is its SwitchingPOV and almost absurd preponderance of narrators; ''A Dance with Dragons'' alone has 18, which is just barely short of the number of stars in the credits of ''Series/GameOfThrones''[='s=] first season. (God, imagine the credits if they get that far.) What most of us don't realize is just how author George R. R. Martin uses these facts to transmit information and inform expectations.

Simply put: there is a division in ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' between Movers & Shakers and narrators, and ''very'' infrequently is a character ever both.

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One of ''A Song of Ice and Fire''[='s=] most notorious aspects is its SwitchingPOV and almost absurd preponderance of narrators; ''A Dance with Dragons'' alone has 18, which is just barely short of the number of stars in the credits of ''Series/GameOfThrones''[='s=] first season. (God, imagine (And the credits if they get that far.only got longer after that.) What most of us don't realize is just how author George R. R. Martin uses these facts to transmit information and inform expectations.

Simply put: there is a division in ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' between Movers & Shakers people with power and people who are narrators, and ''very'' infrequently is a character ever both.



The thing about RealLife is that, more often than not, it has nothing to do with good and evil. Sure, we have to decide whether to be selfish or good... but sometimes not even that. Sometimes it's not a choice we make. Sometimes it's a choice someone else makes, which then affects us. The continuum ''we'' live on is not (or at least is less) about Good vs. Evil. It's about ''Weak versus Strong''. With great power ComesGreatResponsibility, sure, to use it for good and not for evil... but do we ''have'' that "great" power? Are we in charge of our own lives, or is somebody else deciding these things for us? Stories typically tend to be about the decision-makers--they're more dynamic, more interesting, have more plot possibilities to them; everybody wants to be the guy with power. But that, in itself, just underscores the point: guys with power make good {{Escapist Character}}s precisely ''because'' most RealLife people ''aren't'' "guys with power".

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The thing about RealLife is that, more often than not, it has nothing to do with good and evil. Sure, we have to decide whether to be selfish or good... but sometimes not even that. Sometimes it's not a choice we make. Sometimes it's a choice someone else makes, which then affects us. The continuum ''we'' live on is not (or at least is less) about Good vs. Evil. It's about ''Weak versus Strong''. With great power ComesGreatResponsibility, sure, ''Power-To vs Power-Over''. Those are terms borrowed from UsefulNotes/{{feminism}}, by the way. There is a difference between "power-to", the right to use it for good decide what course your life will take, and "power-over", the right to decide what course ''someone else''[='s=] life will take. Most people have power-to, but not for evil... but do we ''have'' that "great" power? Are we in charge of our own lives, or is somebody else deciding these things for us? everybody has power-over. Stories typically tend to be about the decision-makers--they're those with power-over -- they're more dynamic, more interesting, have more plot possibilities to them; plus, everybody wants to be the guy with power. power(-over). But that, in itself, just underscores the point: guys people with power power-over make good {{Escapist Character}}s precisely ''because'' most RealLife people ''aren't'' "guys with power".
''don't have power-over''.



Let's just take the first book, since the audience is most familiar with it at this point. It has eight narrators: [[GeniusCripple Bran]], [[MamaBear Catelyn]], [[HonorBeforeReason Eddard]], [[HeroicBastard Jon]], [[ActionSurvivor Arya]], [[TheUnFavorite Tyrion]], [[PrincessClassic Daenerys]] and [[WideEyedIdealist Sansa]]. A number of these people, particularly Ned and Tyrion, have some power to call on, but none of them are at the top of the heap. In the meanwhile, there are other characters who really, really have power and are making most of the big decisions: King [[BoisterousBruiser Robert Baratheon]], his son Crown Prince [[RoyalBrat Joffrey Baratheon]], his wife [[TheVamp Cersei Lannister]], and Prince [[ImpoverishedPatrician Viserys Targaryen]], with people like [[ManipulativeBastard Littlefinger]] and [[TheChessmaster Varys]] lurking in the wings. ''These'' are the people making the actual decisions, calling the tune to which our narrators dance. As the story progresses, one narrator joins the Popular Crowd: Ned. For this reason, we immediately start assuming that he's a main character: in our experience, main characters are not just Good, they're also Strong. Ned not only shows a moral code, he shows agency; add to this the fact that he's a narrator, and our minds are made up.

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Let's just take the first book, since (when this was first written) the audience is was most familiar with it at this point. it. It has eight narrators: [[GeniusCripple Bran]], [[MamaBear Catelyn]], [[HonorBeforeReason Eddard]], [[PrincessClassic Daenerys]], [[HeroicBastard Jon]], [[ActionSurvivor Arya]], [[TheUnFavorite Tyrion]], [[PrincessClassic Daenerys]] and [[WideEyedIdealist Sansa]]. A number As the book start, a few of these people, particularly Ned and Tyrion, have some power to call on, power-over, but none of them are at anywhere near the top of the heap. In the meanwhile, there are other characters who really, really have power lots of power-ower and are making most creating a lot of the big decisions: plot twists: King [[BoisterousBruiser Robert Baratheon]], his son Crown Prince [[RoyalBrat Joffrey Baratheon]], his wife [[TheVamp Cersei Lannister]], and Prince [[ImpoverishedPatrician Viserys Targaryen]], with people like [[ManipulativeBastard Littlefinger]] and [[TheChessmaster Varys]] lurking in the wings. ''These'' are the people making the actual decisions, calling the tune to which our narrators dance. As the story progresses, one narrator joins the Popular Crowd: Ned. For this reason, we immediately start assuming that he's a main character: a, perhaps ''the'', MainCharacter: in our experience, main characters are not just Good, they're they also Strong. Ned have Power-Over. And that's Ned. He not only shows a moral code, he shows agency; add to this the fact that he's a narrator, and our minds are made up.



First off, Ned is quite obviously ''not'' the main character; being KilledOffForReal will do that to ya. Second, while he has power, he doesn't have much of it (it's basically a loan from the king), he doesn't know how to use it, and a number of other people (particularly Cersei and Littlefinger) are able to circumvent what little he does have. Third: the trope being deconstructed in the ''first'' place ''is'' the idea that main characters have to be Strong, that only Strong characters ''can'' affect the outcome of the story. All our narrators are the HeroOfAnotherStory, TheGreatestStoryNeverTold; the big names are going to be remembered by Westerosi historians, but the ''real'' movers and shakers--our narrators--will be left in the dust.

As the series continues, this line gets blurrier and blurrier--mostly because the big Movers and Shakers have a tendency to attract fatal attention in Westeros, allowing some Ishmaels to themselves move into the spotlight. But notice that, during The War of Five Kings, not a ''single one'' of those five kings is a narrator. Instead, we always have an Ishmael nearby to watch them. The King in the North? Catelyn. Renly? ...Same narrator, actually. Stannis has the brave Ser Davos to spy on him; Balon Greyjoy his son Theon; and Joffrey, Cersei, Varys, Littlefinger and Lord Tywin are all attended by both Tyrion and Sansa. The pattern continues as the story does: we have no Frey narrator, the Boltons remain inscrutable, Mance Rayder is viewed from the outside; Doran Martell and Euron Greyjoy and Beric Dondarrion and Lady Stoneheart have to be talked about. ''A Dance with Dragons'' gives us someone who is ''clearly'' going to be a major player in the game of thrones, [[spoiler:Aegon VI Targaryen]], but he isn't a narrator either. Whoever turns out to be at the heart of the Oldtown conspiracy to quash magic ([[WildMassGuess if such a thing exists]]), I guarantee you he won't narrate; Sam will viewpoint for him. Even Jeor Mormant, the Old Bear who is Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, doesn't narrate.

Perhaps ''most'' damning, though, is GRRM's announcement that certain characters will ''never'' be narrators because they know too much about what's going on. I won't tell you who they are, though you can [[http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Torcon_Toronto_Canada_August_28_September_1/ find out yourself if you so desire]] (thanks, Tropers/{{deathpigeon}}, for hunting this So Spake Martin entry down for me! ~Tropers/{{slvstrChung}}), but the mere fact that such characters ''exist'' tells you a lot about how Martin plans to tell the story.

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First off, Ned is quite obviously ''not'' the main character; being KilledOffForReal will do that to ya. Second, while he has power, power-over, he doesn't have much of it (it's basically a on loan from the king), he doesn't know how to use it, and a number of other people (particularly Cersei and Littlefinger) Littlefinger, but even ''Sansa'' at one point) are able to circumvent what little the actions he does have. take. Third: the trope being deconstructed in the ''first'' place ''is'' the idea that main characters have to be Strong, have Power-Over, that only Strong Power-Over characters ''can'' affect the outcome of the story. All our narrators are the HeroOfAnotherStory, TheGreatestStoryNeverTold; the big names are going to be remembered by Westerosi historians, but the ''real'' movers and shakers--our narrators--will be left in the dust.

As the series continues, this line gets blurrier and blurrier--mostly because the big Movers and Shakers those with power-over have a tendency to attract fatal attention in Westeros, allowing some Ishmaels to themselves move into the spotlight. But notice that, during The War of Five Kings, not a ''single one'' of those five kings is a narrator. Instead, we always have an Ishmael nearby to watch them. The King in the North? Catelyn. Renly? ...Same narrator, actually. Stannis has the brave Ser Davos to spy on him; Balon Greyjoy his son Theon; and Joffrey, Cersei, Varys, Littlefinger and Lord Tywin are all attended by both Tyrion and Sansa. The pattern continues as the story does: we have no Frey narrator, the Boltons remain inscrutable, Mance Rayder is viewed from the outside; Doran Martell and Euron Greyjoy and Beric Dondarrion and Lady Stoneheart have to be talked about. ''A Dance with Dragons'' gives us someone who is ''clearly'' going seems poised[[note]]his AdaptedOut status on the show notwithstanding[[/note]] to be a major player in the game of thrones, [[spoiler:Aegon VI Targaryen]], but he isn't a narrator either. Whoever turns out to be at the heart of the Oldtown conspiracy to quash magic ([[WildMassGuess if such a thing exists]]), I guarantee you he won't narrate; Sam will viewpoint for him. Even Jeor Mormant, the Old Bear who is Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, doesn't narrate.

Perhaps ''most'' damning, though, is GRRM's announcement that certain characters will ''never'' be narrators because they know too much about what's going on. I won't tell you who they are, though you can [[http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Torcon_Toronto_Canada_August_28_September_1/ find out yourself if you so desire]] (thanks, desire]][[note]]thanks, Tropers/{{deathpigeon}}, for hunting this So Spake Martin entry down for me! ~Tropers/{{slvstrChung}}), ~Tropers/{{slvstrChung}}[[/note]], but the mere fact that such characters ''exist'' tells you a lot about how Martin plans to tell the story.



This brings us to some of the few exceptions to the rule. On occasion, we'll have characters who are narrators ''and'' Movers & Shakers. One was Ned; obviously, he didn't stay that way for long. Another is Cersei, who comes into the dawn of her regency at the same time she becomes a narrator. The solution ''there'' is that Cersei loses her agency right quick; being a SmallNameBigEgo will do that to ya. But the last two are by far the most questionable, because either they're going to toss our theory on its head or be upended themselves. There ''are'' two Movers & Shakers, two characters with power, two Strong characters, who are also narrators, and have been ''from the beginning''. One is the Bastard of Winterfell, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch: Jon Snow. The other is the Stormborn, the Unburnt, Rightful Queen of Westeros, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons: Daenerys Targaryen.

First off: what's the first thing the fandom did? Elect them as Main Characters. There are a lot of people who believe that, if ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' HAS a single central character, it's Daenerys; if it has two, the second is Jon. (If there's a third, it gets muddier; my money's on Tyrion, but it could be Sansa or Bran or Arya or, in light of the events of ''Dance'', the new character, or even Davos.) Second: how does this jive with GRRM's ongoing habit of ''not'' letting us see what's going on in the minds of the Movers and Shakers, so as to keep them inscrutable and interesting? Well, part of it is that we (the readership) are expecting Jon and Dany to learn how to wield their power and authority properly, which is basically the one thing every other Mover & Shaker has ''not'' figured out at this point; Daenerys certainly has that goal in mind, and Jon (who is rocking the boat up north) is taking the long view, and the right view too, though a lot of his associated characters won't admit it. These two Strong characters who are learning (or at least trying) to wield their power WithGreatResponsibility. These two Strong characters are trying to do what Ned did--be both Strong ''and'' Good.

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This brings us to some of the few exceptions to the rule. On occasion, we'll have characters who are narrators ''and'' Movers & Shakers.have power-over. One was Ned; obviously, he didn't stay that way for long. Another is Cersei, who comes into the dawn of her regency at the same time she becomes a narrator. The solution ''there'' is that Cersei loses her agency right quick; being a SmallNameBigEgo will do that to ya.you, and she almost instantly runs her own regency into the ground. But the last two are by far the most questionable, because either they're going to toss our theory on its head or be upended themselves. There ''are'' two Movers & Shakers, two characters people with power, two Strong characters, power-over who are also narrators, narrators and have been ''from the beginning''.start''. One is the Bastard of Winterfell, the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch: Jon Snow. The other is the Stormborn, the Unburnt, Rightful Queen of Westeros, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons: Daenerys Targaryen.

First off: what's the first thing the fandom did? Elect them as Main Characters. There are a lot of people who believe that, if ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' HAS '''has''' a single central character, it's Daenerys; if it has two, the second is Jon. (If there's a third, it gets muddier; my money's on Tyrion, but it could be Sansa or Bran or Arya or, in light of the events of ''Dance'', the new character, or even Davos.) Second: how does this jive with GRRM's ongoing habit of ''not'' letting us see what's going on in the minds of the Movers and Shakers, those with power-over, so as to keep them inscrutable and interesting? Well, part of it is that we (the readership) are expecting Jon and Dany to learn how to wield their power and authority properly, which is basically the one thing every other Mover & Shaker Power-Over character has ''not'' figured out at this point; Daenerys certainly has that goal in mind, and Jon (who is rocking the boat up north) is taking the long view, and the right view too, though a lot of his associated characters CastHerd won't admit it. These two Strong Power-Over characters who are learning (or at least trying) to wield their power WithGreatResponsibility. [[ComesGreatResponsibility With Great Responsibility]]. These two Strong Power-Over characters are trying to do what Ned did--be both Strong did--both have Power-Over ''and'' be Good.



I have to say that, personally, I don't think so. First off, the readership would murder GRRM in his bed if he did that, and he knows it. Second, it goes against the narrative direction of the story; there's a reason fans have ''also'' accused both Jon and Dany of being {{Mary Sue}}s and having the author's favor. Third, there is personal correspondence from GRRM (more [[http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Many_Questions2/ So Spake Martin]]) that Jon's parentage will come out over the course of the story. Since it hasn't yet, it seems to me that Jon's arc isn't finished. (Though it might be posthumous, as much of other characters' development has.) And fourth: who else would feel TheChainsOfCommanding? Because if there's AnAesop to the series at all, it's this: ''no one'' wins the game of thrones. At least, not in a CrapsackWorld like Westeros. That's why the narrator/Mover divide is set up the way it is. Through our Ishmaels, we not only see how the pieces in the game suffer, but how the ''players'' are undone as well; in that sense, Jon and Dany are only the cherries on top. But the fact that they ''are'' feeling those chains is the one thing that sets them apart from every other character; the Movers have power, the narrators feel responsibility, but only Jon and Dany deal with both. Again, they are both Strong and Good. And that's why the fandom, who still can't get past the old ways of doing things, have nominated them as main characters.

There's still two books to go and my entire analysis may be undone by their events. But that's is my read on the story. This is Tropers/{{slvstrChung}}, signing off.

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I have to say that, personally, I don't think so. First off, the readership would murder GRRM in his bed if he did that, and he knows it. Second, it goes against the narrative direction of the story; there's a reason fans have ''also'' accused both Jon and Dany of being {{Mary Sue}}s and having the author's favor. Third, there is personal correspondence from GRRM (more [[http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Many_Questions2/ So Spake Martin]]) that Jon's parentage will come out over the course of the story. Since it hasn't yet, it seems to me that Jon's arc isn't finished. (Though it might be posthumous, as much of other characters' development has.) And fourth: who else would feel TheChainsOfCommanding? Because if there's AnAesop to the series at all, it's this: ''no one'' wins the game of thrones. At least, not in a CrapsackWorld like Westeros. That's why the narrator/Mover narrator/power-over divide is set up the way it is. Through our Ishmaels, we not only see how the pieces in the game suffer, but how the ''players'' are undone as well; in that sense, Jon and Dany are only the cherries on top. top, the people who prove it ''by'' winning. But the fact that they ''are'' feeling those chains is the one thing that sets them apart from every other character; the Movers character. The Power-Over characters have power, the narrators narrator characters feel responsibility, but responsibility; only Jon and Dany deal with both. Again, they are have both Strong power-over and Good. a moral code. And that's why the fandom, who still can't get past the old ways of doing things, have things--and may not need to--have nominated them as main characters.

There's As of this writing, there's still two books and/or seasons to go go, and my entire analysis may be undone by their events. But that's is my read on the story. This is Tropers/{{slvstrChung}}, signing off.
18th Nov '15 4:22:49 PM Mr.Phorcys
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Of all the noble houses, House Stark is the one the fans love most. That is why they die -- to pack an emotional punch. But also, they have the most characters that are moral and honorable, like Ned Stark and John Snow. These people are the least likely to resort to underhandedness, although they are not above it. So, if they won, it would be like most fantasies with one good and one evil side -- the good guys win. But in real life, this doesn't always happen. And ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' is brutally realistic in this respect. The noble who does not make tons of underhanded plots and is morally grey is outplanned. The honorable noble with no conspiracies dies easily, because he is predictable and it is unlikely he will introduce any new variables. Ned Stark spares the children, and is killed by one of them. Jon Snow realizes that the wildlings are humans and tries to warn everyone about the oncoming threat of a GreaterScopeVillain, only to die because the aforementioned realization brands him a traitor. And the Wall itself deconstructs the concept of "ancient guardians facing a returning evil" -- its been so long, they have, in

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Of all the noble houses, House Stark is the one the fans love most. That is why they die -- to pack an emotional punch. But also, they have the most characters that are moral and honorable, like Ned Stark and John Snow. These people are the least likely to resort to underhandedness, although they are not above it. So, if they won, it would be like most fantasies with one good and one evil side -- the good guys win. But in real life, this doesn't always happen. And ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' is brutally realistic in this respect. The noble who does not make tons of underhanded plots and is morally grey is outplanned. The honorable noble with no conspiracies dies easily, because he is predictable and it is unlikely he will introduce any new variables. Ned Stark spares the children, and is killed by one of them. Jon Snow realizes that the wildlings are humans and tries to warn everyone about the oncoming threat of a GreaterScopeVillain, only to die because the aforementioned realization brands him a traitor. And the Wall itself deconstructs the concept of "ancient guardians facing a returning evil" -- its been so long, they have, in the words or Mormont, forgotten what they were for, and have been reduced to scuffling with wildlings, ignoring the coming doom just over the horizon.
18th Nov '15 4:14:29 PM Mr.Phorcys
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Of all the noble houses, House Stark is the one the fans love most. That is why they die -- to pack an emotional punch. But also, they have the most characters that are moral and honorable, like Ned Stark and John Snow. These people are the least likely to resort to underhandedness, although they are not above it. So, if they won, it would be like most fantasies with one good and one evil side -- the good guys win. But in real life, this doesn't always happen. And ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' is brutally realistic in this respect. The noble who does not make tons of underhanded plots and is morally grey is outplanned. The honorable noble with no conspiracies dies easily, because he is predictable and it is unlikely he will introduce any new.

to:

Of all the noble houses, House Stark is the one the fans love most. That is why they die -- to pack an emotional punch. But also, they have the most characters that are moral and honorable, like Ned Stark and John Snow. These people are the least likely to resort to underhandedness, although they are not above it. So, if they won, it would be like most fantasies with one good and one evil side -- the good guys win. But in real life, this doesn't always happen. And ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' is brutally realistic in this respect. The noble who does not make tons of underhanded plots and is morally grey is outplanned. The honorable noble with no conspiracies dies easily, because he is predictable and it is unlikely he will introduce any new.new variables. Ned Stark spares the children, and is killed by one of them. Jon Snow realizes that the wildlings are humans and tries to warn everyone about the oncoming threat of a GreaterScopeVillain, only to die because the aforementioned realization brands him a traitor. And the Wall itself deconstructs the concept of "ancient guardians facing a returning evil" -- its been so long, they have, in
18th Nov '15 4:06:05 PM Mr.Phorcys
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Added DiffLines:

!! House Stark as a DeConstruction of Classic Heroes
Of all the noble houses, House Stark is the one the fans love most. That is why they die -- to pack an emotional punch. But also, they have the most characters that are moral and honorable, like Ned Stark and John Snow. These people are the least likely to resort to underhandedness, although they are not above it. So, if they won, it would be like most fantasies with one good and one evil side -- the good guys win. But in real life, this doesn't always happen. And ''A Song of Ice and Fire'' is brutally realistic in this respect. The noble who does not make tons of underhanded plots and is morally grey is outplanned. The honorable noble with no conspiracies dies easily, because he is predictable and it is unlikely he will introduce any new.
18th Nov '15 3:42:51 PM Mr.Phorcys
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** The Night's King resurrects the dead so they will join his army as wights-- they are dead but cannot die, and they themselves are not harder and stronger, but the legions of the Night's King are...Not to mention the Endless Winter's ending being the "death" of white walkers as a threat, and the Night's King's

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** The Night's King resurrects the dead so they will join his army as wights-- they are dead but cannot die, and they themselves are not harder and stronger, but the legions of the Night's King are...Not to mention the Endless Winter's ending being the "death" of white walkers as a threat, and the Night's King's
King's defeat at the Wall seemingly ended in his death. All of them are dead -- not just in the physical sense, but they are all thought of as legends. And they are coming back, harder and stronger...
18th Nov '15 3:23:58 PM Mr.Phorcys
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** The Night's King resurrects the dead so they will join his army as wights-- they are dead but cannot die, and they themselves are not harder and stronger, but the legions of the Night's King are...Not to mention the Endless Winter's ending being the "death" of white walkers as a threat, and the Night's King's
14th Aug '15 1:36:11 AM Nikita123
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!!Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen - by Nikita123
Dany's time in Meereen, in ''A Dance With Dragons''
14th Aug '15 1:26:37 AM Nikita123
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Added DiffLines:

!!Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen - by Nikita123
Dany's time in Meereen, in ''A Dance With Dragons''
28th Apr '15 1:12:03 PM qazwsx
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5th Apr '15 8:03:31 AM ACW
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The thing about fiction is that it typically concerns itself with the struggle between Good and Evil, or at least OrderVersusChaos. This is how we can have good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, TheCape against the CompleteMonster: one protects others, or at least tries to do no harm, whilst the other advances a personal agenda regardless of others (or even to the direct detriment of others). This ups the ante for our heroic types, who are now involved in a SaveTheWorldClimax from the BigBad's depredations; but the point is that some characters are sympathetic, and others not.

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The thing about fiction is that it typically concerns itself with the struggle between Good and Evil, or at least OrderVersusChaos. This is how we can have good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, TheCape against the CompleteMonster: Complete Monster: one protects others, or at least tries to do no harm, whilst the other advances a personal agenda regardless of others (or even to the direct detriment of others). This ups the ante for our heroic types, who are now involved in a SaveTheWorldClimax from the BigBad's depredations; but the point is that some characters are sympathetic, and others not.
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