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Symbolic Mutilation
Often a character can be mutilated. However this will often represent something about them. They might not see what is happening until they are blinded. Similar to Blind Seer, who are sometimes the result of this.


  • This is extremely prevalent in Fullmetal Alchemist, where Jerkass God's law of Equivalent Exchange dictates that the price of victory is enduring Symbolic Mutilation as a form of Ironic Hell- the Handicapped Badass main character Edward lost the arm that allowed him to perform alchemy and the leg on which he stood, damaging his pride by forcing him to depend on others. Similarly, his brother, who attempted to resurrect their mother in order to feel the warmth of her presence again, lost his entire physical being, now unable to feel anything at all. Their teacher, in mourning for her dead child, loses her reproductive organs; the action guy Havoc manages to get paralyzed; the Wide-Eyed Idealist Mustang gets blinded; the Incorruptible Pure Pureness Nina gets gruesomely fused with her dog and then murdered; the silver-tongued Kimblee gets his throat torn out; the desperate-to-help Lan Fan loses her arm; the list goes on from there.

Live-Action TV
  • The Pirate Captain from Doctor Who serial The Pirate Planet. His body is largely robotic and he is gaining material wealth ruthlessly, replacing his humanity with materials.

  • Gloucester in King Lear. There are numerous references to eyes and him in the text. He can't see the truth about his sons Edgar and Edmund, due to Edmund though he is quite gullible. Eventually he gets his eyes torn out.

Religion and Mythology
  • Samson being blinded in The Bible could be thought of as this. He gave away his secret of strength to Delilah, despite the fact she had already tried the fake methods of taking his strength he told her. His hair being cut off could also be symbolic as it was a mark of his connection to God and therefore his strength. He is captured and blinded but at least Death Equals Redemption.
  • In Norse Mythology, Odin sacrificed one of his own eyes (giving up sensory knowledge) to drink from the well of wisdom (gaining mystical knowledge).
    The fact that Odin specifically sacrificed an eye is surely significant. In all ages, the eye has been “seen” as a poetic symbol for perception in general – consider the astonishing number of expressions, both in everyday usage and in the works of the great canonical poets, that use vision as a metaphor for perceiving and understanding something. Given that Odin’s eye was sacrificed in order to obtain an enhanced perception, it seems highly likely that his pledge of an eye symbolizes trading one mode of perception for another.

Real Life
  • In Ancient civilizations they used these punishments. You steal or hit your father and get your hand chopped of, kiss a married woman and you lose your lips. Basically the Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth punishment.

Symbolic BloodSymbolismSymbol Motif Clothing
Swing Low Sweet HarrietPages Needing WicksThe Taming Of The Grue

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