troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Anvilicious: Literature
  • Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books often have rather jarring pauses where characters suddenly ponder the evils of humanity's attacks on the environment. A fair message, but very unsubtly dropped.
    • Verges into Clueless Aesop territory when the super awesome elves chide the humans for their "disgusting" sewage treatment. There is a very good reason humans treat sewage, namely that not treating it tends to lead to little things like "typhus" and "cholera."
    • And fairies are still using gas engines in the first book, and presumably have been for longer than the humans have, so they would be responsible for most of the pollution in the world, not humans. And fairies are supposed to be way more advanced than humans, so they have no excuse - we, at least, are starting to phase fossil fuels out.
  • Louisa May Alcott had anvils to spare in her books for children. One book had an adult directly telling the main character that it's a good thing to read wholesome books that instill good morals. Considering that bit of text was within a wholesome book obviously meant for instilling good morals, it kind of creates an illusion of infinity like you get in a mirror. Infinite anviliciousness.
  • Steven Barnes Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart are essentially one long "HEY! RACISM IS BAD!" — Anvil — "IT'S ALSO STUPID!" — Anvil
  • Philip Roth has a natural talent with the anvil in that he is apt to use it at the slightest opportunity and for any reason at all. This typically manifests as "Character/Narrator happens to mention [concept] in a sentence > Long, florid, Wikipedia article-length explanation of concept ensues > As many as a dozen synonyms for [concept]'s title, delivered in fragmented bursts, presumably to erase any confusion as to what [concept] is > The character/narrator diverges entirely from the plot and spends the next two pages talking about some anecdote related to the [concept] > The plot suddenly resumes and you have to go back four pages to get a refresher course on what's supposed to be going on now". The Human Stain, as an example, used ravens, augers, and the lack of clutter on a lawyer's desk as [concept]s in this exercise, among many others.
  • Charles Dickens' Hard Times: If you don't get that Dickens was against utilitarianism and rampant industrialism by the end of the book then you should probably go get an eye exam because you are not reading into those smoke and snake metaphors correctly. M'Choakumchild? Yes, he's choking kids with facts.
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, at least at the end. The "punishment" that the title refers to is for Raskolnikov to be exiled to Siberia, where he rediscovers Christianity.
  • This occurred, unsurprisingly, in the Inheritance Cycle. In a scene in the second book, Eldest, has a discussion with a dwarven priest about religion. Arya, who is arguing against religion, is portrayed as quiet, polite, reasonable and ten times as rational in her arguments (even though she started the argument, pretty much for no reason, in the first place). The dwarven priest, who supports religion, is portrayed as wild-eyed, fanatical, and ranty. Later, it's revealed that the flawless elves are an atheist race.
    • Of course, her argument falls flat when you realize that the series has demonstrated several times that the dwarves' god is real. If you're feeling generous, the anvil changes to a more subtle "No matter how well you make your point, you can be wrong". If you aren't, the book series can't even keep its own anvils straight.
  • The novels of Ayn Rand, such as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, are truly notorious for their unrelenting anviliciousness. In Atlas Shrugged, Rand doesn't merely demonstrate an idea, she demonstrates it repeatedly, then lampshades it, then has her character give a long and detailed speech explaining the principle and its philosophical implications. The Fountainhead is significantly less extreme in its dropping of anvils because it has significantly fewer and shorter filibusters.
  • The Sword of Truth novels, by Terry Goodkind, who—yup—is an Objectivist and considers Rand the most important philosopher since Aristotle. His works tend to exhibit a similar level of anviliciousness to Atlas Shrugged. It would also seem that each successive book is more anvilicious than the last; by the final entry in the series, your greatest reward is that Richard has nothing left to morally criticize.
  • This is Older Than Feudalism. Aesop's Fables were very straight-forward, and anvilicious. Mostly the tales don't go longer than a single paragraph before the moral. When confronted with the much subtler La Fontaine et al modern novelizations, one can surely feel the weight of the aesops.
  • The character Clarisse in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Never mind, just count the whole book. To specify: libraries are the only good form of entertainment around and are the only thing that is keeping civilization from destroying itself.
  • Much of the work of John Ringo tends to be somewhat on the unsubtle side, to put it mildly, but one of his works, The Last Centurion, isn't an anvil, it's an M1 Abrams tank (about 70 tons, for the record).
  • In David Weber's Honor Harrington series, Haven goes through a revolution [its first of three in the same few centuries] that sees a man named Rob S. Pierre head of the Committee for Public Safety, which is now running the whole country. "Rob S. Pierre". To top it all off, the capital is called Nouveau Paris. Also, every Liberal, Conservative, or anyone with anything but loyalist or centrist credentials except for one or two canon immigrants tends to be textbook Strawman Political with the subtlety in delivery of several dozen anvils. Not feeling that the point of State Sec being fascist had been made clearly enough, David Weber attempts to make things crystal clear:
    "Some of the foulest people who ever lived are wearing SS uniforms, especially the ones who volunteer for duty in concentration camps."
  • Many of the works of Hans Christian Andersen, who in addition to being severely depressed and self-doubting was also a devout Christian. Here's the end of the original "The Little Mermaid", with the nameless protagonist in Purgatory:
    "Unseen we can enter the houses of men, where there are children, and for every day on which we find a good child, who is the joy of his parents and deserves their love, our time of probation is shortened. The child does not know, when we fly through the room, that we smile with joy at his good conduct, for we can count one year less of our three hundred years. But when we see a naughty or a wicked child, we shed tears of sorrow, and for every tear a day is added to our time of trial!"
  • Stephen King addressed this issue as a whole in On Writing; he believes that to avoid this, the story should come first, and the theme should be developed and polished afterwards based on the general overtones that form naturally within the story. (He cited the sole exception that turned out well as being Animal Farm, and even there, he's not entirely sure if it is an exception.)
    • This however does not make King wholly immune from dropping a few anvils of his own over the course of his long career. The most amusing example is probably the Take That to his critics found in the the chapter detailing Stuttering Bill's rise to fame as a horror novelist in IT. Bill delivers an impassioned speech to a creative writing class, denouncing pretentious literary types who value style and social commentary over story. Later When he sells his first story, Bill gleefully gloats to his stuck up Professor who had previously denounced his writing as "pulp crap".
  • The Karen Traviss-authored Gears of War novel Aspho Fields repeatedly drops the anvil that "weapons developers = war criminals" over and over and over again. Which seems like a very strange moral for a setting in which humans are only still alive BECAUSE they have satellite lasers, chainsaw bayonets, humongous tanks and other ultra-powerful weapons.
    • Her history in writing Star Wars and Halo novels telegraph her opinion that Child Soldiers are bad unless it's some kind of "voluntary".
    • In general, Proud warrior races are ideal societies and if you're not in the military as a frontline soldier, you are inherrently morally inferior to someone who is. Pacifist or antiwar? EVIL!! Politicans = Evil. Intel = morally bankrupt. Diplomat = Fat Bastard. Journalist = waste of space. Don't support the military? Get out! Just not fit or cut out for service? You should have never been born. Everyone should have to go into the military and fight on the front lines. She makes John Ringo look moderate, if only because he doesn't push militarism as the only way to be a good person.
      • As a guy who has seen combat, the thought of universal conscription for 'combat' roles makes me scream; most people just aren't cut out for it, and then the actual warriors would be hampered by needing to police others whose talents would truly be much better spent elsewhere. It's not because they're wimps, but because few people actually take well to war.
  • Many books in Africa are stories that teach kids about AIDS, predictably there's a character who wants to go be with girls so he can be a "man" and chiding his friend for not doing the same, and you can see where this goes...
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, seems to be an anvilicious condemnation of slavery with its stereotypes of Southern slave traders and even sections where the (third-person) narrator speaks about how "miserable" the slaves are or how "no good characters ever seem to like slavery or the Southern slave traders". Bonus points go to the fact that it isn't clear Stowe ever saw much of slavery firsthand (though, she definitely Did the Research). At the time, however, this was very much an anvil that needed to be dropped.
  • Anything by Jonathan Swift, though he usually intended his messages to be Anvilicious, since he tried being diplomatic and got nowhere. Even then, some people believed his satire was serious. Even more, most of the anvils he dropped needed to be.
  • The first chapter of Everlot, by Neal Shusterman. He wants to tell us to wear our seat belts...
  • Sheri S. Tepper's books tend to have a rain of hardline eco-feminist anvils; especially The Gate To Women's Country and The Revenants. Along with the pervasive eco-feminism, some of her work, such as the Arbai trilogy, drops the occasional anti-religion — specifically, anti-Mormon — anvil.
  • Pretty much everything written by Robert A. Heinlein is guaranteed to be sprinkled liberally with anvils; although many critics disagree on what some of those anvils are, and the positions creating the anvils changed over the course of his writing career.
  • The Redwall series says "vermin are bad", and they are because ... they are. Mice, shrews, otters, squirrels, rabbits, watervoles, badgers and hares are good. Rats, foxes, stoats, weasels, frogs and lizards are evil. OK, a lot of fantasy has clearly distinguished good and evil races, but attention is frequently drawn to the distinction and every time the lines are flirted with in Redwall books, the character dies soon after. Note, the reason vermin are bad — they lie, steal and murder — make no sense in a real world setting.
  • The Anita Blake books 10-13: "It's OK to have sex outside of marriage. In fact, homosexuality, polygamy, one-night-stands and BDSM are also totally cool, as long as everyone consents. So don't spend hours worrying about sexual ethics when someone's life depends on you having sex in the next half hour." Anita spends three books angsting over this (and a couple more about the first bit), when the intended answer is obvious. It makes sense given her Catholic background, but is extremely irritating.
    • Also the vast anvil that is the idea of women being useless (unless of course, they're Anita Blake). Almost no other female in the books from the get-go is written as comparable to Anita in any respect: they're either disregarded as useless, emotional, jealous, fanatic, or a victim. It got worse after the aforementioned book 10, after Anita (and the author) apparently decided to embrace a different lifestyle, which meant any female (and the emphasis can't be understated) who disagreed with Anita's sudden (and almost completely uncharacteristic) shift into a polyamorous individual was immediately written into a hag. Even Anita's best friend since book 1. If a woman doesn't act like a man, she's a victim.
  • In Iain Banks's novel Transition one of the characters is a stereotypical, extremely materialistic hedge fund trader. At the end of the novel he sells up and moves to the Cayman Islands (to avoid tax) where a tropical storm seriously damages his villa and he ends up, in a piece of symbolism which would be heavy handed in a short story written by a teenager, being crushed to death by his possessions. The main problem is that Banks clearly considers this to be a karmic death but the character, despite being something of an asshole, is not an especially bad guy. Certainly not as bad as the designated hero (an assassin who admits he's lost count of the number of people he's been required to torture or kill over the years and who is allowed to survive) who would not have succeeded without this character's help.
  • There's No Such Thing as a Dragon. Saying the titular phrase only makes the dragon grow bigger. Finally, when they acknowledge its existence, it shrinks back down at the end. An "elephant in the room" Anvilicious; ie ignoring or denying a problem only makes it grow bigger.
  • The Millennium Trilogy, both the books and movies, is highly anvililicious on the themes of the evils of violence against women and misogyny.
  • The Twilight books are made of anvils. Don't give into those base desires or you'll die! Sex before marriage will kill you! Blood equals sex equals death equals don't do it! The clearest anvil was when Edward told Bella that her number was up, the moment they meet. Before that Bella hurt herself a lot but she didn't have many close encounters with death. After meeting Edward she gets a series of events that only lead to her death, being saved by Edward most of the time. Till in the last book she dies, she is just reborn as a vampire.
    • Considering that Twilight is essentially a long Author Tract on gender roles in relationships (with quite a bit of Values Dissonance for many people), the original cover for the paperback is a bit Anvilicious in retrospect. The publisher apparently thought that the "men are moral, women are weak" message was a little too subtle, so the cover featured an image of a woman's hands offering an apple, which of course otherwise had absolutely nothing to do with the plot.
    • There's also the huge importance Meyer places on finding your soul mate. Almost every good character in the book finds their one true love while the bad characters either don't find one or lose their mate.
    • Breaking Dawn descends for a while into being a diatribe against abortion, with heretofore perfect soul mate Edward abruptly turning into an absurd strawman who insists on aborting his own child in the most patronizing manner possible, insisting on calling it nothing but "it."
      • The whole anti-abortion tract is actually debatable; it's more like Meyer dropped in that plot point to demonstrate how selfless and motherly Bella is for refusing abortion without actually realizing the Unfortunate Implications she had put in the story as a result. After all of the pregnancy drama is over, abortion is never mentioned again nor does anyone comment on Edward wanting to kill his own child. This is a prime example of why the Twilight series is so full of Unfortunate Implications and confusing anvils; Meyer honestly doesn't seem to realize how disturbing the series is if one looks between the lines.
  • Cory Doctorow's novels invariably include a character ranting about Cory's favorite anvils. Look for the big fat anvil in Little Brother regarding young protagonist's verbal battles with his pro-surveillance, pro-Homeland Security strawman classmate, or how the protagonist in Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town just happens to be totally into building free wifi.
  • The "Guns are bad" message in the Discworld novel Men at Arms comes across this way to some readers, particularly those in the United States, which has a different attitude towards gun control than most of the world. It's indisputably the case that the "religion is bad / Belief Makes You Stupid" view in The Science of Discworld 3 gets hammered for all it's worth; luckily, only the non-Pterry chapters are preachy, making them much easier to avoid. The 'guns are bad' message seemed like Crossing the Line Twice, much like the message in Soul Music. It involves the usual phrases against guns and rock music respectively that these subjects got in real life, and the critics are right, but mostly because on the Discworld the guns and rock music are both sentient and actively malevolent themselves. The also rather Anvilicious pro-gun message in Night Watch seems a lot more applicable to earth.
    • Night Watch does indeed drop the anvil "If you outlaw weapons, only outlaws have weapons, and ordinary citizens can't defend themselves" rather hard, but it is not a pro-gun message. Men at Arms is the only book to deal specifically with guns, and the message in Night Watch is confined strictly to those weapons which use human strength, such as knives, bows, clubs, etc (and in the Discworld universe, people are pretty uneasy about bows). It also drops the anvil "Sometimes, if you draw a weapon, things escalate and it ends badly for everyone" several times. Hard. The "pro-weapon" message is confined pretty much to self-defense- and even then, it is explicitly stated that it would be preferable to defend yourself "without hurting [the other party] much, if possible."
  • Ralph Nader's "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!" — as if any novel by Nader would be a light-hearted romp.
  • In the world of Deltora Quest, gambling and dishonest moneylending are very, very bad. Bad things tend to happen to those who indulge in them... bad things like one man being forced to take the place (alone!) of the now-undead pirate crew he screwed over, for example.
  • Erin Hunter's Seekers, a novel about bears, takes pains to illustrate how human encroachment is making life difficult for bears. It doesn't get really bad until later on, though, when we meet Ujurak, a shape-shifting grizzly cub. Whenever Ujurak becomes another creature he sees the world through their eyes, and all of them, from wolves to deer to eagles, think of nothing else other than the fact that "Flat-Faces" are ruining their lives. We have yet to see that it feels like when he becomes a human (which has happened), but odds are low that it will be sympathetic.
  • Mystic And Rider: The message of these books? Don't discriminate against anyone. Especially not minorities who live as second class citizens in the south-eastern part of your massively powerful country which could kick the ass of all its neighbouring countries, and occasionally does. Racism is baaaad, kids.
  • Persuasion: Jane Austen almost kills the heroine Anne's romantic rival Louisa just to hammer home the message that "Stubbornness is not always a virtue" and to (unnecessarily) show off how resourceful and clear-headed Anne is in a ridiculously forced way. The complete lack of subtlety and the characters' rather absurd reactions to Louisa's accident make it one of the most widely disliked scenes of one of Austen's most popular novels.
    • Hey, you see your sister/sister-in-law/best girl apparently killed before your eyes and see how calm and collected you are.
  • This is the longstanding appeal of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. Generalized, conceptual names are used for most of the characters (Christian, Hypocrisy, Envy, etc.) and locations (The Valley of the Shadow of Death, Vanity Fair, etc.) The message is so heavy-handed that it's just as pertinent today as it was in 1678.
  • The Ender's Shadow series would seem to have at least one, babies are what makes you a real member of society.
    • Bean feels disconnected from everything and only reluctantly agrees to father children, but once he does he suddenly has a whole world to protect just to keep his children safe, even the unborn fertilized eggs.
    • When we first meet Anton, he is depressed to the point of suicide and dealing with a huge psychological dissonance; when we see him again he is calm and happy. What changed? He decided to get married, and have children, even though he openly states that he isn't attracted to his wife in the slightest.
    • This pops up in the Homecoming series, when two characters (a woman who was previously uninterested in children and relationships and a homosexual) decide to have children, to 'join the community' of their traveling companions.
    • In the sequel Shadow Puppets, we meet Ivan Lankowski, a Russian-born Muslim who serves the caliphate. Some time is taken away from the main point of the story so Ivan can wax on about how evil and lost Islam used to be (i.e. in our present day), and how nuclear bombs needed to fall on Mecca and other important centers of Islam so that its successors could "find their way" again.
  • Millions of Cats, about overpopulation.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia started out garden-variety Trapped in Another World fantasy with very, very small (but significant) metallic impact to the reader, but by The Last Battlenote , the religious allegory and assorted related messages were about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the solar plexus.
    • Aslan sacrificing himself to save Edmund from slavery to the White Witch is hardly what you would call subtle religious allegory. The Chronicles of Narnia were intended to be heavy-handed religious instruction from beginning to end. They were written for children, after all. For religious allegory by Lewis that is significantly less heavy-handed, see his "Space Trilogy."
  • The Aesop from the story of Numenor told in The Silmarillion is particularly Anvilicious: death is a fate intended by God for humans, and you should not try to escape that fate.
    • To be fair, that is kind of qualified with statements like,"...by becoming utterly obsessed with overcoming death and throwing aside morality and common sense while doing so." But yes, the core Aesop is that.
  • Dean Koontz has been adding more and more anvils to his works, rendering them almost too heavy to read, as he spells out how Science is Dehumanizing, Atheism is Hopeless, Molesting Children is Evil, Golden Retrievers Are A Gift Directly From God... okay, okay, Mr. Koontz, we get the point!
  • Two children's book series entitled "Help me be good" and "Let's talk about..." are nothing but this trope. There is nothing else to them. For example, "Let's talk about fighting" is nothing more than "When people fight, their feelings and bodies get hurt" repeated over and over for 17 pages.
  • Most books about future dystopias tend to be pretty anvilicious out of necessity. 1984 is pretty unambiguous about what Britain would look like under a Soviet-style government, and Brave New World is likewise anvilicious about the consequences of shallow materialism and limitless hedonism.
  • Beowulf isn't very subtle when it's discussing how an ideal ruler should behave. Numerous times throughout the poem, someone brings up a historical king (usually the Danish king Hermod) and proceeds to point out exactly what he did wrong and how any prospective ruler should avoid it. There's one instance where it's justified in that Hrothgar is telling Beowulf how to be a king, but most other times it just worms into the narrative on its own.
  • Tuf Voyaging - You think George R.R. Martin might be a wee bit against overpopulation or blood sport?
  • Plague of Memory: Based on the Hawk/Qonja subplot and its associated drama, S.L. Viehl most likely supports same-sex marriage.
  • The fourth book in the Maximum Ride series. The entire thing is about how Max needs to save the world by preventing global warming, and it focuses on that to the point where it doesn't even bother to give details on the villian. The book ends with Max making a speech to congress about global warming. Book five focuses on pollution, though it's not as bad as the fourth.
  • Youth in Sexual Ecstasy with it's main message: "Sex without love will ruin your life", all while promoting sexual abstinence and Pro-Life choices.
  • German author Erich Kästner was infamous for this. In one book (Anna Louise and Anton) he even added two pages of Author Tract after each chapter.
  • The Star Trek novel "Ship of the Line" by Diane Carey has a few Take Thats to the episode "The Neutral Zone". Will Riker argues with Morgan Bateson, who is from 90 years before TNG. When Riker says the Picard line "We strive to better ourselves", Bateson snaps back "Who do you think you're 'better' than?" Bateson points out the arrogance of 24th Century Starfleet members. Picard also gains new appreciation of Jim Kirk through some interactive historical holodeck programs, leading to a CMOA against Gul Madred.
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory could be renamed Charlie and the Anvil Factory, since the story generates Aesops in industrial quantities. In fact the very first page, which introduces the kids, already presents morals by reducing the description of the bratty kids to their vices. And what morals the book has are hammered in with brute force, including moralising songs by Oompa-Loompas. So remember kids: Chewing gum is bad. Being fat is bad. Being greedy is bad. Watching TV is bad.note  Oh, and horribly punishing little children for these vices is A-OK! (This is the basis for a joke in the 2013 stage musical adaptation, which turns up the Black Comedy by applying Death by Adaptation to a few characters — as Willy Wonka prepares to end the tour he notes "True, we did lose a few children along the way...but we all learned something and that's the important thing!")
  • Terry England's Rewind (Terry England) uses the plight of seventeen adults who get 'rewound' to the tender age of nine to drive home the idea that children have absolutely no rights and are utterly dependant on others to do the right thing. Most of the other adults in the series don't.
  • The Holiday of Disobedience is a Spiritual Antithesis to this. After the children of a city collectively refuse to obey, the exasperated adults leave them and before long, the city descends into chaos and mayhem. This is then used to drive home the idea that children need to be controlled by adults, or else the society will immediately degrade into anarchy and before long the children will succumb to hunger and illnesses.
  • The House of Night: Slightly mitigated by the fact that the books largely are in her point of view, and some of them later prove to be ironic or character developing as Zoey matures, but it still constitutes bad writing when the narrative is suddenly derailed for a few paragraphs to talk about how blowjobs are only something done by skanks and means the girl is being used.
    • Pot usage gets it really bad as well. In Betrayed, there's one point where the conversation about a missing teenage boy is put on hold to talk about how un-cool he is for experimenting with pot.
    • Not to mention how Aphrodite is constantly put down for being a "slut", despite only being involved with two guys in the whole series, the second with whom the relationship is incredibly serious. Compare that to how many boys the main character is stringing along at any given moment...
  • State of Fear is is the most anvilicious book written by Michael Crichton and is largely a vehicle for him to promote is views against Global Warming science, though several of his other books veer into this territory

FilmAnviliciousLive Action TV

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
51406
40