Created By: shimaspawn on August 30, 2010 Last Edited By: shimaspawn on August 30, 2010
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The Oath Breaker

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In fiction, oaths are powerful things. They bind demons. They bind honour. They create pacts that grant great power. They are things to be respect, feared, and fulfilled.

And then there is the Oath Breaker.

This is the character that has broken a oath of some sort be it magical or mundane and now is forever branded by his misdeed. Sometimes they see this as almost a trophy. Sometimes this is seen as a mark of shame. It almost always brands the character as a pariah until they manage to restore their lost honour.

This is not just a character that has broken a social taboo. They need to have broken something that they have personally sworn.


Examples

Comic Books
  • In Planet Hulk, Hiroim the Shamed is a member of the Hulk's Warbound, sworn allies for life. Hiroim, however, was ostracized from his people for breaking a previous Warbound pact, and accordingly given the appellation of "the Shamed" to forever mark his treachery.

Literature
  • Jaime Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. He killed the king he was sworn to protect, and everyone treats him like the lowest of the low, even in a Crapsack World full of Complete Monster child rapists, Torture Technicians, and mad kings (like the one he killed).
  • Marietta from Harry Potter, told the location of their secret hideout to The Umbridge after signing a magical contract claiming she wouldn't do that. As a result she had the word "SNEAK" appear on her face made out of pimples and was shunned by her classmates.
  • Merry Gentry's cousin Cel has broken his oath. It's a huge scandal because among the fey this carries a death sentence, but everyone is so afraid of his mother that they don't do anything about it.
    • Merry also becomes head of the Wild Hunt for a night in order to punish an oathbreaker.
  • In typical fashion, the Vorkosigan Saga has an example of this, but it's not that simple. Ekaterin's husband was killed in a accident immediately after she told him she was leaving him. Because she never went through with the divorce her honor remains intact in everyone else's eyes; but she knows she's an oathbreaker, and suffers the shame of it.
  • The Dead from Lord of the Rings. Isildur cursed them when they swore to help him fight and then refused; three thousand years later, they break the curse by helping Aragorn -- the Heir of Isildur -- instead.

Tabletop Games
  • In Deadlands: Hell on Earth, Oathbreaker is specific disadvantage sykers can take. It means that they have broken 'the Oath of Unity', a promise to never attack a brother syker (generally interpreted as a syker from the same unit or one of its allied units).

Mythology
  • As The Other Wiki says, the most commonly accepted etymology derives the word "warlock" from the Old English waerloga meaning "oathbreaker" (from waer "promise, agreement" and loga "deceiver").
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • August 22, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    The dwarf Mulch Diggums in Artemis Fowl is this. He lost his magic for refusing to conform to The Book, and invading human houses.
  • August 22, 2010
    shimaspawn
    ^ That example doesn't have him swearing any oath.
  • August 23, 2010
    Superior
  • August 23, 2010
    Vree
    I don't see a lot of examples of breaking magical oaths actually - I thought the idea of magical contracts was that they are compelling and cannot be broken.
  • August 23, 2010
    shimaspawn
    Magical oaths tend to be broken because of loopholes, but it can still cause some of the same stigma. Or it can cause the Oath Breaker to become cursed which adds to the stigma. Magical oaths aren't always impossible to break. Sometimes they just have grave consequences.
  • August 23, 2010
    Superior
    ^ A good example of that would be Marietta from Harry Potter, who told the location of their secret hideout to The Umbridge after signing a magical contract claiming she won't do that, and had the word "SNEAK" appear on her face made out of pimples.
  • August 23, 2010
    shimaspawn
    ^ Yes. She'd be a prefect example.
  • August 23, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    As The Other Wiki says, the most commonly accepted etymology derives the word "warlock" from the Old English waerloga meaning "oathbreaker" (from waer "promise, agreement" and loga "deceiver").
  • August 23, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Adventure Time: When Finn breaks a royal promise, two giant gumball guardians freeze time and subject him to trial by fire.. which at Princess Bubblegum's insistence, is reduced to trial by math.
  • August 23, 2010
    shimaspawn
    ^ That may be an example of someone breaking a promise, but it doesn't demonstrate the character archetype.
  • August 23, 2010
    callsignecho
    • Merry Gentry's cousin Cel has broken his oath. It's a huge scandal because among the fey this carries a death sentence, but everyone is so afraid of his mother that they don't do anything about it.
      • Merry also becomes head of the Wild Hunt for a night in order to punish an oathbreaker.
    • In typical fashion, the Vorkosigan Saga has an example of this, but it's not that simple. Ekaterin's husband was killed in a accident immediately after she told him she was leaving him. Because she never went through with the divorce her honor remains intact in everyone else's eyes; but she knows she's an oathbreaker, and suffers the shame of it.
  • August 25, 2010
    FalconPain
    71-Hour Ahmed, from the Discworld book Jingo. The D'regs are culturally known for offering three days of hospitality to their captives before killing them. He didn't wait.

    Edit: Didn't see the "social taboo" bit.
  • August 25, 2010
    Thormy
    • Another Harry Potter example: Peter Pettigrew breaks the Potters' secret, loses the tip of his finger as a direct result.
  • August 25, 2010
    shimaspawn
    ^ Not really an example as written. He cut off his own finger. He didn't break an actual oath he swore.
  • August 26, 2010
    Ronka87
    • Hercules, according to legend: He swore a vow (don't know about what, the other wiki might know), broke it, and ended up in a deathlike sleep for years. The Greeks apparently used this story educationally-- since ancient Greece didn't have any lawyers, all you had when making a contract was someone's word. If even Hercules can be punished for breaking his vow, imagine the hell you'd be.
  • August 26, 2010
    Micah
    • The Dead from Lord Of The Rings. Isildur cursed them when they swore to help him fight and then refused; three thousand years later, they break the curse by helping Aragorn -- the Heir of Isildur -- instead.
  • August 28, 2010
    foxley
    In Deadlands: Hell on Earth, Oathbreaker is specific disadvantage sykers can take. It means that they have broken 'the Oath of Unity', a promise to never attack a brother syker (generally interpreted as a syker from the same unit or one of its allied units).
  • August 29, 2010
    EponymousKid
    In Planet Hulk, Hiroim the Shamed is a member of the Hulk's Warbound, sworn allies for life. Hiroim, however, was ostracized from his people for breaking a previous Warbound pact, and accordingly given the appellation of "the Shamed" to forever mark his treachery.
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