Created By: Beed28 on April 28, 2012 Last Edited By: Beed28 on October 10, 2012
Troped

Eye Motifs

Eyes used as a recurring subject, theme, symbols, etc.

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Trope
The eyes are the window to the soul, or so we're often told. It's probably not surprising, then, that eyes are one of the most common Body Motifs. When eyes turn up in a symbolic role, they are normally linked to themes of perception, vigilance, and, occasionally, psychic powers (as in "the third eye"). On a more ominous level, eyes can be linked to deception, illusion and being under constant surveillance. They are also linked to appearances -- both the superficial and the ability to see something's true nature.

As with all motifs, the motif can take the form of an actual eye, or simply a symbol of one: for example, a tattoo, a piece of jewellery or other MacGuffin, or a sign on a wall. It's also worth remembering that eyes are extremely vulnerable, so the motif might be the absence of an eye. In such circumstances, the theme may become blindness (both literal and metaphorical) and compromised perception.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Each Millennium Item in Yu-Gi-Oh! has an eye on it somewhere.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion and Rebuild features several including: SEELE's logo, Asuka's Eye Scream of EoE (and it's reference to it in Rebuild), Sahaquiel and several more if one looks for them.
  • In Soul Eater Asura the Kishin has a symbol which consists of three eyes turned on their sides. Pretty relevant since his "thing" is madness (distorted perception) born from paranoia (hence the extra eye). People who're going insane frequently hallucinate faces (their own and others) being replaced with one with the symbol in place of its eyes.
  • Pride in FMAB. Most of his attacks involve shadows, which are depicted as covered in eyes.
  • The Jagan Eye in YuYu Hakusho is one of Hiei's major themes - it gives him several mental powers, as well as glowing when he uses Dark Flame techniques.

Film
  • In Blade Runner, the use of a 'shining eyes' technique is deliberately used by the film directors to denote replicants (Androids) and man-made animals giving the aesthetics view of a lens' flare.
    • The film opens with the futuristic landscape reflected in the close-up of an eye. When the Tyrell building comes into view, it evokes the image of the pyramid with the all-seeing eye above it. Replicants can be recognized by an eye exam. Photographs (the eye of the camera) are important to Replicants. Pris' makeup is all white, except for a strip of red across her eyes. The Replicants locate Tyrell via the man who made their eyes. When Batty finally meets Tyrell, he gouges his eyes out. When Batty dies, he tells Decker of the wonders his eyes have seen.
  • In 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL communicates via the red eye of its camera, and we see the lightshow of the stargate reflected in Bowman's eye.
  • Eyes are a motif in Minority Report. Among them:
    • The pre-cogs "see" crimes before they happen in their mind's eye.
    • People's eyes are constantly scanned at checkpoints for identity verification.
    • Anderton has his eyes replaced to hide his identity from scanners and the spiders.
    • In the opening sequence, the "pre-criminal" Howard Marks returns home for his glasses ("You know how blind I am without them"), only to find his wife in bed with another man.
      • Earlier his son plunges a pair of scissors through the eyes of a cardboard picture of Abraham Lincoln, the same instrument Howard later attempts to drive into his unfaithful wife's eyes.
    • The drug dealer who sells Anderton his narcotics has no eyes so he cannot be identified.
    • Agatha asks Anderton several times throughout the film, "Can you see?", a physical as well as metaphysical question.
    • "The eyes of the nation are upon us," Director Burgess tells Anderton in warning him about the upcoming vote on the Pre-Crime Unit.
    • Whenever the cops see Anderton (or any other pre-criminal), they say, "We have eyes on him."
  • In Coraline, the titular character discovers an alternate, seemingly perfect version of her own world in which everyone's nicer, the food's better, and everyone has buttons for eyes. She's given the chance to stay forever if she sews buttons into her own eyes. A recurring motif throughout the film isn't a human eye, but rather a doll's eye- a round, black, button with four holes in the middle.

Literature

Live Action TV

Music

Mythology
  • Argus Panoptes from Greek mythology; the giant with many eyes (different account give him from 4 to 100 eyes), who was the watcher of Io.
  • The Eye of Providence is an eye symbol usually combined with a pyramid or triangle, which was originally used by the Horus cult of ancient Egypt. It was adopted by gnostic Christianity, and has since become representative of the Illuminati and later Freemasonry. It is part of the Great Seal of the United States of America. The idea of the eye as symbolic of omniscience or mystical intelligence probably originates from this.

Video Games
  • The Reaverbots of Mega Man Legends are usually accotiated with their round red eye, with Reaverbot bosses having the eye shown in their health bars. Eden at the end of the first game also has a large eye symbol on its underside.
    • These Reaverbot eyes also show up in Hyleg Ourobockle's and Burble Hekelot's stages in Mega Man Zero 2.
  • In the Legend of Zelda series, Ganondorf, Agahnim, and the Sheikah Tribe tend to have a recurring eye motif. Vaati, however, takes the cake, with most of his One-Winged Angel forms being based around an eye. In The Minish Cap, when he takes over Hyrule Castle, he even decorates the place with eye markings.
  • Many Kirby enemies and bosses have prominent eye motifs; ex. Kracko, Waddle Doo, Wheelie, etc. They are especially prominent in a number of final boss One-Winged Angel forms; ex. Drawcia Soul, Magolor Soul, Zero, and Dark Nebula.
  • In the Diablo franchise, the seal of the Horadrim order includes what could be a pair of very stylised eyes, dripping, within a triangle.

Webcomics
  • In Drowtales, the [[http://wiki.drowtales.com/index.php/Val'Kyorl'solenurn Val'Kyorl'solenurn clan]]'s symbol is the eye of an aware. It's embrouidered onto the front lower panel of clothing and battle flags, as well as tattooed onto the forehead.
    • The symbol of the imperial family is nine gemstones shaped like eyes.

Other
  • CBS's corporate logo is a simplified eye. Sometimes played with in CBS Sports CGI, where the outer circle becomes a basketball, the cornea a football, and the iris a baseball or soccer ball.
  • The ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus was a symbol of protection.
    • It morphed into the physician's "Rx" logo, at least according to some theories.

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • April 28, 2012
    Koveras
  • April 28, 2012
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Webcomics
    • In Drowtales, the Val'Kyorl'solenurn clan's symbol is the eye of an aware. It's embrouidered onto the front lower panel of clothing and battle flags, as well as tattooed onto the forehead.
      • The symbol of the imperial family is nine gemstones shaped like eyes.
  • April 28, 2012
    FantiSci
    Covered in Body Motifs, where eyes feature heavily.
  • April 28, 2012
    kwaksters
    In The Seriesof Unfortunate Events , Count Olaf has an eye tatoo on his ankle
  • April 29, 2012
    Routerie
    ^^ Definitely deserves splitting off from that over-broad page.
  • April 29, 2012
    Beed28
    Uhh... why isn't the Val'Kyorl'solenurn clan hyperlink working properly? O_o
  • April 29, 2012
    FantiSci
    That will make Body Motifs a supertrope. Definitely workable, but what about the other body parts? I can see hands being deserving of a subtrope but what about the others (Collarbones? Reproductive organs)? And we'll have to remember to adapt the Wicks.

    If Eye Motifs is a goer, I think it needs a bit more description - I know Analysis in the main page is frowned upon, but motifs are symbolic by nature - they need a bit of elaboration.
  • April 29, 2012
    Beed28
    ^ Gah, I can't think of a good description now. Is it one of my weaknesses?
  • April 30, 2012
    FantiSci
    Something like this? :

    The eyes are the window to the soul, or so we're often told. It's probably not surprising, then, that eyes are one of the most common Body Motifs.

    When eyes turn up in a symbolic role, they are normally linked to themes of perception, vigilance, and, occasionally, psychic powers (as in "the third eye"). On a more ominous level, eyes can be linked to deception, illusion and being under constant surveillance. They are also linked to appearances -- both the superficial and the ability to see something's true nature.

    As with all motifs, the motif can take the form of an actual eye, or simply a symbol of one: for example, a tattoo, a piece of jewellery or other Mac Guffin, or a sign on a wall. It's also worth remembering that eyes are extremely vulnerable, so the motif might be the absence of an eye. In such circumstances, the theme may become blindness (both literal and metaphorical) and compromised perception.
  • May 22, 2012
    Rytex
    To be fair to the Zelda series, it isn't just Vaati. Ganondorf, Agahnim, and the Sheikah Tribe tend to have a recurring eye motif.
  • May 22, 2012
    chicagomel
    The Eye of Sauron in Lord Of The Rings?
  • May 22, 2012
    HyperTurbina
    Many Kirby enemies and bosses have prominent eye motifs; ex. Kracko, Waddle Doo, Wheelie, etc. They are especially prominent in a number of final boss One Winged Angel forms; ex. Drawcia Soul, Magolor Soul, Zero, and Dark Nebula.
  • May 24, 2012
    Frank75
    We really don't have this yet?
  • May 25, 2012
    HyperTurbina
    ^ Nope, doesn't look like it. We've got mentions of eyes in the Body Motifs page, and a big ol' list of eye tropes, but no page specifically for eye motifs.
  • May 25, 2012
    WizardOutOfOz
    honestly I think a lot of works use the symbolism of the eye just because it looks cool, and not to actually invoke any of the symbolism implicit here. Could we make that a trope and then call it "because eye can?"

  • May 25, 2012
    randomsurfer
    CBS's corporate logo is a simplified eye. Sometimes played with in CBS Sports CGI, where the outer circle becomes a basketball, the cornea a football, and the iris a baseball or soccer ball.
  • June 1, 2012
    astryll
    In Ridley Scott's film adaptation of BladeRunner the use of a 'shining eyes' technique is deliberately used by the film directors to denote replicants (Androids) and man-made animals giving the aesthetics view of a lens' flare.
  • June 1, 2012
    desdendelle
    • The ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus was a symbol of protection.
  • June 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^It morphed into the physician's "Rx" logo, at least according to some theories.
  • June 3, 2012
    astryll
    Could we change the name to 'Eye See What You Did There'? ;) punomenon do do do do. /muppet's theme was necessary
  • June 3, 2012
    JonnyB
    The eye motif in Blade Runner goes way beyond just the shining eyes. The film opens with the futuristic landscape reflected in the close-up of an eye. When the Tyrell building comes into view, it evokes the image of the pyramid with the all-seeing eye above it. Replicants can be recognized by an eye exam. Photographs (the eye of the camera) are important to Replicants. Pris' makeup is all white, except for a strip of red across her eyes. The Replicants locate Tyrell via the man who made their eyes. When Batty finally meets Tyrell, he gouges his eyes out. When Batty dies, he tells Decker of the wonders his eyes have seen.
  • June 3, 2012
    JonnyB
    There's an eye motif in 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL communicates via the red eye of its camera, and we see the lightshow of the stargate reflected in Bowman's eye.
  • June 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In Hercules The Legendary Journeys Hera, the queen of the gods, appears as a pair of floating eyes, which are also peacock feathers. [1]
  • June 9, 2012
    LittleLizard
    Neon Genesis Evangelion and Rebuild features several including: SEELE's logo, Asuka's Eye Scream of Eo E (and it's reference to it in Rebuild), Sahaquiel and several more if one looks for them.
  • June 13, 2012
    jkbeta
    Mythology:
    • Argus Panoptes from Greek mythology: The giant with many eyes (different account give him from 4 to 100 eyes), who was the watcher of Io.

    Literature:
    • Illuminatus: The eye in the pyramid is the symbol of the Illuminati

  • June 13, 2012
    Bisected8
    • In Soul Eater Asura the Kisin has a symbol which consists of three eyes turned on their sides. Pretty relevant since his "thing" is madness (distorted perception) born from paranoia (hence the extra eye). People who're going insane frequently hallucinate faces (their own and others) being replaced with one with the symbol in place of its eyes.
  • June 22, 2012
    Duncan
    Eyes appear as a motif in The Great Gatsby, especially those of a billboard.
  • July 22, 2012
    JonnyB
    • Eyes are a motif in Minority Report. Among them:
      • The pre-cogs "see" crimes before they happen in their mind's eye.
      • People's eyes are constantly scanned at checkpoints for identity verification.
      • Anderton has his eyes replaced to hide his identity from scanners and the spiders.
      • In the opening sequence, the "pre-criminal" Howard Marks returns home for his glasses ("You know how blind I am without them"), only to find his wife in bed with another man.
        • Earlier his son plunges a pair of scissors through the eyes of a cardboard picture of Abraham Lincoln, the same instrument Howard later attempts to drive into his unfaithful wife's eyes.
      • The drug dealer who sells Anderton his narcotics has no eyes so he cannot be identified.
      • Agatha asks Anderton several times throughout the film, "Can you see?", a physical as well as metaphysical question.
      • "The eyes of the nation are upon us," Director Burgess tells Anderton in warning him about the upcoming vote on the Pre-Crime Unit.
  • August 4, 2012
    JonnyB
    Oh, another one from Minority Report: Whenever the cops see Anderton (or any other pre-criminal), they say, "We have eyes on him."
  • August 5, 2012
    erforce
  • August 11, 2012
    Generality
    Mythology
    • The Eye of Providence is an eye symbol usually combined with a pyramid or triangle, which was originally used by the Horus cult of ancient Egypt. It was adopted by gnostic Christianity, and has since become representative of the Illuminati and later Freemasonry. It is part of the Great Seal of the United States of America. The idea of the eye as symbolic of omniscience or mystical intelligence probably originates from this.

    • In the Diablo franchise, the seal of the Horadrim order includes what could be a pair of very stylised eyes, dripping, within a triangle.
  • August 18, 2012
    tweediddyda
    Film:

    • In Coraline, the titular character discovers an alternate, seemingly perfect version of her own world in which everyone's nicer, the food's better, and everyone has buttons for eyes. She's given the chance to stay forever if she sews buttons into her own eyes. A recurring motif throughout the film isn't a human eye, but rather a doll's eye- a round, black, button with four holes in the middle.
  • August 19, 2012
    qazwsx
    Wait, no one's mention Harry Potter having his mother's Green Eyes yet?
  • August 27, 2012
    Manateehugs
    In literature, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison the main character longs to have blue eyes. Eyes also appear symbolically in the story in the form of a flashlight and film projector.

    Hayley ^_^
  • August 27, 2012
    rodneyAnonymous
    Should its name be singular? (Eye Motif)
  • September 16, 2012
    captainsandwich
    We could make the amount ambiguous Eye(s) Motifs, but that doesn't flow right.
  • October 8, 2012
    Vamplord392
    Anime and Manga
    • Pride in FMAB. Most of his attacks involve shadows, which are depicted as covered in eyes.
    • The Jagan Eye in YuYu Hakusho is one of Hiei's major themes - it gives him several mental powers, as well as glowing when he uses Dark Flame techniques.

    Literature
    • Eyes have become a symbol of George Orwell's 1984.
    • In Dune, a side effect of using the drug Melange is that your eyes turn blue.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=xztwvn9gx8wiec7t5kcjln4o&trope=EyeMotifs