As The Grand List of Console Role Playing Game Clichés #19 references, generally both the hero and his Arch-Nemesis use swords, so they can have a climactic Sword Fight. That weakens the case for Swords Are Heroic right away.
It is possible for something to have more than one symbolic meaning. That's why Bald of Evil
and Bald of Awesome
can both exist.
I'd say the heroic sword is definitely a trope. The hero brandishing a sword (rearing horse optional) is very much a part of our culture.
On the other hand, sword fights are usually considered more dramatic and exciting than most other weapon duels, which would mean that it's possible two characters are given swords for only the purpose of having them fight it out on camera.
Alternately, the main character is generally the Jack of All Stats, and swords are the Mario of weapons.
Um, what? According to who? Which swords? In what media?
Using a sword can evoke a Knight in Shining Armor, but it can also mean the opposite. While spears, bows, axes, hammers, knives, et cetera can be used as tools, swords are purely weapons, and can represent a character trained for war.
Maaaybeee. But neither a bow nor a spear is a tool, both are weapons. Axes used as tools are a very different animal than axes used as a weapon, and even a layman can tell the difference. A mace is another weapon-only weapon. I'm not sure I buy this.
Using a sword represents Good Old Ways. This falls under Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age.
This, I would buy. However, I would tie that into swords being heroic, because there is the impression that combat has become impersonal and it is somehow more honorable and heroic to face your foe with a sword in hand rather than a gun.
I don't think whether the sword is an anachronism can be the main qualifier of the trope either, since the act of using a sword can communicate something whether it's the appropriate level of technology or not.
I think this is the general consensus so far, yes.
I think we can at least agree that the sword is heavily laden with symbolism and cultural weight, moreso than most other weapons.
edited 5th Mar '12 7:41:44 AM by ccoa