Tears of Weakness
Character cries for being weak. [Formerly called Water Works]


(permanent link) added: 2011-12-22 15:25:01 sponsor: LordGro edited by: MyTimingIsOff (last reply: 2012-04-04 14:14:34)

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This is the page cut and sent to YKTTW on the basis of this TRS thread. Couldn't come up with a proposal how to improve the trope, so I just put the old page here unedited.

The trope is too vaguely defined. One of its problems is (in my eyes at least) that there's too much subjectivity as to what are "Tears of Weakness" as opposed to (for example) "Tears of Despair" or "Tears of Pain". The current description seems to aim for crying that makes a character seem immature and/or ridiculous, but disregards that characters can cry "for their own problems" and yet come around as sympathetic to the audience, because we can understand them and/or think their emotional breakdown is justified.

This is also apparent in the example list, where different interpretations of the trope collide with each other.

Up for Grabs.
" 'You ought to be ashamed of yourself,' said Alice, 'a great girl like you,' (she might well say this), 'to go on crying in this way! Stop this moment, I tell you!' But she went on all the same, shedding gallons of tears, until there was a large pool all round her, about four inches deep and reaching half down the hall."

We have Manly Tears for when even a strong man would cry, and Sand in My Eyes for when even those tears are (mostly) suppressed, and Tender Tears for proof of exquisite tenderness of heart, Tears of Remorse for overwhelming guilt, and Tears of Joy for indicating a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.

This is for tears that really are a sign of weakness. May range down to being utterly contemptible. Especially when men cry them, but even women who engage in them may be despised. Small children are generally safe, but even older ones may be told "Big boys don't cry."

If the character apologizes for the weakness, the effect can be minimized. Especially if the character has been through trying experiences that would weaken anyone. Characters who haven't eaten in three days or slept in two may start to cry as a sign that they are very near breakdown.

Tears Of Weakness are generally characterized by being for the person's own problems, and often by crying instead of doing something useful or even necessary. Frequently Inelegant Blubbering. (Note if the tears are for what he has done, they are Tears of Remorse.)

On the other hand, scorning the tears as Tears Of Weakness may also be used to characterize others as cold-hearted and callous. Tender Tears, Manly Tears and even Sand in My Eyes can thus inspire the invocation of this trope.

See also Cry Cute and Your Makeup Is Running.
Needs Examples.
replies: 26

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