Follow TV Tropes

Following

Becoming The Mask / Literature

Go To

People Becoming the Mask in literature.


  • In the second half of Addie Pray, the novel whose first half was the basis for the movie Paper Moon, Mose and Addie get recruited to help a crooked lawyer fleece a rich elderly widow by Addie pretending to be her lost granddaughter. Addie (in particular) and Mose decide they like the old lady better than the lawyer.
  • In the Anita Blake book Obsidian Butterfly, Anita is extremely concerned that her friend Edward, the sociopathic assassin, has proposed to a woman with two children under the guise of Ted Forrester, his respectable Federal Marshal identity. She quite thoroughly berates him about exactly how he managed to let his personal life get quite so out of control but relents when he manages to show her that he really does love his soon to be family. Of course, this involved Edward as Papa Wolf, Anita as Mama Werebear and a large body count when the bad guys decide it is a good idea to kidnap Edward's soon to be step children even when they know who he is.
  • Advertisement:
  • The plot of The Assassins of Tamurin centers around the Femme Fatale protagonist realizing that, contrary to what the Cult she's grown up in has taught her, she's been on the wrong side. Not only does she really fall in love with the king she's been spying on, she believes his plans, not The Chessmaster's, are best for the kingdom.
  • In The Balanced Sword series, there are multiple distinct cases of villains pretending to be heroes and choosing, or at least being seriously tempted, to give up their villainy and become genuinely heroic.
  • In the Belisarius Series, Damodara starts as a Reasonable Authority Figure, but after being in command of the honourable and noble Raput army he can't claim everything he does is based on mere practicality about not offending them. Even the Ye-Tai assigned to the army, despite the general opinion of the Ye-Tai on both sides of the conflict as being brutal barbarians, start behaving better, with the resulting increase in respect granted to them.
  • Advertisement:
  • In one Berenstain Bears book, Mama had grown increasingly annoyed with the family's lack of manners, and as a result, laid down some strict rules on how to have better manners. The cubs didn't like the idea and decided to drive Mama crazy by acting overly polite. It backfired when they began doing it naturally and even call Papa out on name-calling when he insults a driver in front of him toward the end of the book, little realizing (as the driver subsequently explained to him) that they were in front of a duck crossing.
  • "Mark Twain" from Blonde Bombshell was a probe for the Mk. II bomb, whose posing as a "Dirter" (human) turned from fitting in to becoming one. Lucy Pavlov is revealed to have done the same, as she is the Mk. I.
  • In the Boundary's Fall series, Katya is one of many agents sent to infiltrate Alrendria by Tylor Durange to act as spies and, if need be, assassins. She falls in love with Dahr but continues to pass along information until a critical moment, when Jeran, who has figured out the secret, has himself handed over to Tylor as a diversion so that Prince Martyn can escape. Manages to combine both the My God, What Have I Done? and the Heel–Face Turn options.
  • Advertisement:
  • Ignazio Silone's Bread and Wine concerns a Communist fugitive in Fascist Italy who disguises himself as a priest and grows into the role, discovering a version of socialism more consistent with religious faith. In a possible Real Life twist, although Silone's public identity was as a Marxist turned anti-Communist leftist, historians in the 1990s alleged he was an informer for Mussolini's fascist government.
  • Explicitly identified as one of the risks facing the shapeshifting secret agents of Ron Goulart's Chameleon Corps stories. Fearing the loss of his own identity one agent even spent several months as a baboon in an apparent attempt to avoid another assignment.
  • In the Clandestine Daze series, this is a danger dopplegangers face. They gain all of their victim's memories and feelings so this can bleed over. It's problematic because they've murdered the person they're now thinking like.
  • In Henri Duvernois short story "Clothes make the man", a trio of thieves has one member wear a police uniform as part of their plan. At first he doesn't like it, but after being treated like a cop he 'arrests' his fellow thieves.
  • Fidelias in Codex Alera takes a position in the First Aleran legion as the Aquitaines' spy. However, he finds that he rather enjoys being Valiar Marcus, and eventually betrays the Aquitaines to support Tavi, who he has decided would make a better ruler. (The fact that he's the rightful heir is entirely incidental). Even the sections from his perspective tend to refer to him as Valiar Marcus rather than his real name, foreshadowing how absorbed in the role he gets.
    • This has been noted two times by characters. Marcus/Fidelias chides the outwardly perfect, but incomplete disguise of Gaius Sextus and later by Octavian, when he notes that real difference between Valiar Marcus and Fidelias is not in facial features, but in subtle things like speech patterns and intonations, stances and movement. Also, Fidelias smiles.
  • In Colonel Butler's Wolf by Anthony Price, the plot is kicked off by a Russian deep cover agent who attempts a Heel–Face Turn after discovering that he prefers his cover identity to his original identity. He winds up dead shortly afterward, leaving the heroes knowing that he existed but having to figure out what his mission was.
  • The Cosmere:
    • The Stormlight Archive: Dalinar Kholin did this on purpose, with the Alethi Codes of War. As the Blackthorn, he was little better than a bloody cudgel in his brother's hand; with Gavilar's death, Dalinar realized he needed to be something else. He followed the Codes for long enough that it became as natural as breathing. Kaladin gets close to this truth when he wonders if his gesture at the end of the first book is just him pretending to be honorable. He decides that if you're willing to give up a Shardblade to "pretend" to be honorable, you're not really pretending any more.
    • Shai, of The Emperor's Soul, possesses five Essence Marks (powerful magic items that rewrite a person's history). Four merely grant useful skills and some physical changes, while allowing her to remember who and what she really is. The fifth is different. If she ever uses that Mark, it will totally erase her old life. As far as she would then know, the simple farm-girl life that Mark gives her would be the only life she ever had.
  • Happens to Vlad Tepes in Count and Countess, who initially just wanted revenge against his father and the Ottoman Empire for the deaths of his brothers. At first his cruel practices (especially the impalement) are meant to psyche out the enemy army, with whom he spent some time as a child, but the more cruelties he undertakes, the more commonplace he finds them.
  • Discworld:
    • Moist Von Lipwig in Going Postal initially only pretends to like his new post but ultimately gets his criminal thrills by being a Large Ham showman for the post office. At the end of the book he decides that as long as he never actually admits to himself he's become the mask, he never has to stop wearing it.
      • As we see later in Making Money, though on the surface he seemed to embrace his new job, his criminal's instincts have never left, and he becomes more and more dissatisfied with it as time goes on. His criminal instincts remain, but he acquires a strong drive to use them for good. (He was a sort of Anti-Villain before, but has definitely graduated to Loveable Rogue over the course of his new career.)
    • Walter Plinge in Maskerade eventually Became The Mask permanently, with a little help from Granny Weatherwax.
    • In Monstrous Regiment Sergeant Jackrum. Not only has she been in disguise long enough to make a detailed account of most of the other women hiding in the ranks of the army, she also has evaded her service papers discharging her from the army for years. As the war ends, she admits to Polly that she doesn't want to return home to just be an old biddy. Polly suggests that she keep the mask and return home as a respected retired sergeant instead.
      • From the same book, the command staff who became just as eager to punish women, as Jackrum eventually warns Polly to avoid the same pitfall.
      • Earlier, Polly herself, when she has infiltrate the fortress recursively Disguised in Drag, gets caught because she still walks like a boy.
    • The Auditor from Thief of Time who becomes Lady Myria. In fact, a lot of the Auditors who take on human form start to act gradually more and more human. Lady Myria is just the only one to make a genuine Heel–Face Turn.
      • Which makes her fate at the end something of a Tear Jerker or Downer Ending, a rare event in Discworld.
      • As well as the Heel–Face Turn, she acquires a soul, proving in the end that she's become a human.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star is about an actor who is hired to impersonate a kidnapped politician so that an election won't be disrupted. As time goes on the job gets stretched longer and longer and then the politician dies, with the masquerade still in place. He has to keep up the impersonation for over 25 years, and pretty much becomes his role. (He was an anti-Martian before the job, and is hired to impersonate one of the biggest pro-Martian activists. By the end of the 25 years, he has completed all the causes of the politician, and more.)
  • In The Dresden Files, as revealed in Changes, Martin becomes this. He was initially sent by the Red King to infiltrate the Fellowship of St. Giles, but eventually comes to sympathize with them. Doesn't stop him from eradicating them to achieve his goals, though.
  • An example in older sci-fi, Dune has the Facedancers, Tleilaxu shapeshifters that penetrate all layers of galactic society to act as informants, spies and saboteurs for their masters by killing and replacing strategically placed personnel. When they are all upgraded to absorb the personality of whoever they replace, in order for them to become entirely undetectable to conventional ways to find them, the Tleilaxu find that after a while they simply become the person they replaced entirely, going so far as to ignore and defy outright orders, which their programming should not have allowed. In an act of spite, the Tleilaxu then activate a global kill-switch, killing all of them at the same time. The entire galaxy is shocked when a disturbingly high number of important people suddenly drop dead.
  • In The Empress Game, Kayla fears that this will happen after the person she's impersonating is put in a coma by an attack, since Kayla's temporary imposture then becomes indefinite. She doesn't want to have to be Isonde forever, since she'd get too used to it and therefore stop being her.
  • In Ender's Game, Valentine starts to worry about adopting "Demosthenes's" more radical, hard-line opinions after writing too many columns under that name. (Whether Peter is similarly worried about becoming "Locke" is unknown.) She uses that as the basis of another article - that people who give in to the Warsaw Pact will end up giving up everything (note that there's some historical evidence for this idea - just ask Neville Chamberlain).
    • Whether Peter is worried about the possibility, this occurs to him throughout the Ender's Shadow series. Contrasting the sadistic boy in Ender's Game to the non-aggressive Hegemon in Shadow of the Giant displays how Locke's persona changes Peter Wiggin.
      Valentine: Perhaps it is impossible to wear an identity without becoming who we pretend to be.
  • Flashman: In his adventurous life, Harry Flashman has had to assume many roles, ranging from an Apache brave to a native soldier-turned-butler in India to a Danish prince, and often found himself thinking like the person he was supposed to be.
  • In C. J. Cherryh's Foreigner series, a wandering starship's crew are marooned on a planet of nine-foot-tall humanoid aliens, called 'atevi'. Unable to understand human emotions or the idea of love and friendship, they went to war against the perceived threat to their way of life. Human annihilation was only prevented by scholars on both sides equating the "English" (or should that be Basic?) word for treaty, with man'chi, the ateva word for association, a hard-wired homing instinct under fire. Since then, humans live on the island of Mospheira and the atevi of the Western association remain on the continent. No one is allowed to make contact between the two except the interpreter, or 'paidhi'. Bren Cameron becomes so attuned to atevi mindsets and language that he eventually becomes aligned with their point of view and begins to lose human feeling. He cannot show any form of emotion, because that would be deemed extremely threatening by atevi, whose legal recourse in disputes is assassination via an Assassins' Guild. He gradually takes on their mannerisms and can no longer remove the bland, impassive expression on his face - literally becoming the "mask" that he has to wear in public on the mainland.
  • In Good Omens it's repeatedly pointed out by other demons that this seems to be what happened to Crowley; he's spent so much time making sure he fit seamlessly into the role of the human he's supposed to be that he became that person over time, and eventually comes to really love humanity. Aziraphale does this as well, integrating into humanity well enough that he becomes enough of a bastard for Crowley to spend several millennia with.
    • Likewise, at one point, Adam the young Anti-Christ is sent a massive Hellhound that takes the form that Adam most desires for it, which just so happens to be a small yapping dog. While it initially struggles with the new instincts it gets as a result of The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, it grows to enjoy its new form and carefree life of catching sticks more than it ever enjoyed chewing up the souls of the damned and such. The presence of female dogs probably didn't hurt much.
  • Inverted and played straight in Goosebumps with the Haunted Mask. When Carly Beth wore the mask, she became crueler and more menacing. According to Word of God, the Mask itself only became hideous when the maker covered his own hideous face with it.
  • Occurs in reverse in C. S. Lewis The Great Divorce. A man who keeps trying to emotionally manipulate his love interest slowly becomes "The Tragedian", a false personality given to hackneyed dramatic gestures, and his real, honest (if average) personality gradually shrinks away to nothing. Ironically, she loved him as he was.
    • In his other works, Lewis also discusses this trope in action (sort of) when explaining how he saw Christianity: by "acting like" Christ, you enable the inward transformation process to happen faster.
  • Older Than Television: Max Beerbohm's The Happy Hypocrite (1896) features a literal mask to hide the signs of dissipation in the villain's face; when the villainess realizes the truth and pulls off the mask, the face beneath has literally been molded into the mask's form.
  • In The Hunger Games, this occurs when Katniss pretends to be in love with Peeta just to keep them both alive in the arena. At the end of the first she's prepared to kill him to save herself. Contrast the end of the second, where she's totally prepared to die so he can continue living. At the end of Mockingjay, she chooses Peeta over Gale.
  • In the Hurog duology, Ward has been Obfuscating Stupidity in front of everyone, for years. Even the ghost that haunts the castle almost believes it, implying that Ward has been acting stupidly even if he thought he was alone. While he didn't become stupid in the process, he finds it very difficult to stop acting, and eventually reveals to a close friend that he suffers from an identity crisis, as the persona he shows instead of his stupid one is also a mask, in which he imitates someone else, and he has actually no idea what his true self is.
  • The Impairment features two examples of this Meleeo and Allie Parker and both are an interesting contrast from one another. Whereas Allie Parker, the human, dons a monster suit of which she commits murders on Mildwood University and grows to believe herself to be a "mother" of sorts to the Nytera, the creatures running amuck at night, Meleeo, the alien, adapts to life on campus in the form of a mild mannered human college teacher named Norman Oswald and plays the role of a helpful mentor to students, including Kyle and Mark especially.
  • In the series Instrumentalities of the Night, by Glen Cook, protagonist Else Tage is sent on a mission to spy on the west for the kingdom of Dreangor (i.e., Muslim Egypt). Pushed along by the fact that the Evil Chancellor responsible for sending him on the mission is trying to have him killed, he starts questioning his loyalty. This process is clearly indicated by the fact that after spending the first book referring to him as Else, the narration switches to calling him by the pseudonym he's using.
  • In the James Bond novel Moonraker; Gala Brand, an undercover government agent, is nevertheless passionate about her work as Hugo Drax's security officer.
  • In Eric Ambler's Journey Into Fear, Mathis, a fellow passenger of the protagonist on the eponymous journey, is a French socialist. Towards the end of the book, he reveals that by origin he was from the impoverished fag-end of the French aristocracy and a royalist who was henpecked by his snobbish petite bourgeois wife. After accidentally mortifying her in front of her friends by repeating the opinions expressed at a socialist meeting he attended out of curiosity, he started adopting deliberate public espousal of socialist views whenever she was unreasonably vicious to him. In the course of reading the books and pamphlets he buys to make his arguments more damaging (coupled with his experiences as a combatant in World War I), he comes to believe in the truth of his pretended views and becomes a socialist by conviction (to the extent of being dismissed from his post of the manager of a factory when he supports its striking workers).
  • Eleanor Farjeon's "The Kind Farmer" was a Jerk Ass who did some routine courtesy for a poverty-stricken widow who didn't know him. She told the whole town about his kindness and kept hanging around helping him out until he married her. For her sake, he kept up the "kind" façade. When she died in childbirth, he had to go right on being "kind" because of his daughter.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Zarracka pretends to be Benji's sympathetic 'Auntie Zarracka' to enlist his help in escaping her tailor-made cell. Once she was in the clear she planned on killing him for knowing too much. By that time she's become genuinely fond of him.
  • Isobelle Carmody's The Legendsong Saga. Despite losing his usefulness to the Shadowman, Solen is quite glad when his 'death'/exile allows him to discard his wastrel persona. He is afraid that if he pretends too long and too deeply he will lose who he really is.
  • Jack London's short story "South of the Slot" features a sociology professor who adopts a working-class persona to write about the culture from a scholarly standpoint, but finds himself spending more and more time as the rowdy labor-hero, until he eventually forsakes his career and impending marriage to become the other persona full-time.
    • This, sort of, the plot of both his "The Call of the Wild" and "Whitefang." In the former a pampered pet dog is dognapped and becomes first a sled dog and then alpha wolf of a pack of Alaskan wolves; in the latter a wild wolf becomes a beloved pet. These would not really fit except that both stories are essentially told from the first person perspective.
  • Fulbert from the post-Apocalypse novel Malevil. He claims to be a priest but almost certainly wasn't one from before World War III. However, after he is seen in action it's revealed that even if he wasn't one before, he's certainly believes himself to be one since adopting the role. Unfortunately for La Roque, there is no change of heart with Fulbert and he is their Sinister Minister, believing his cruelty and harboring Vilmain's marauding army to be punishment from God.
  • G. K. Chesterton's book The Man Who Was Thursday has a character who was an actor that portrayed an anarchist philosopher as a joke, and did such a good job of it that he convinced everyone watching that he really was the philosopher and even bested the philosopher himself in a debate, resulting in the real philosopher getting tossed out into the street. He is then forced to continue playing his role, even when he was elected to the Council of Days. By the time he meets the protagonist, he's been playing the part of an old man for so long that he can't stop.
  • In The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff, Phaedrus the gladiator impersonates Midir the king even dying to save his people.
  • MARZENA: Subverted, knowing that Lauren is a Body Double, you'd probably fancy that she got into that role by becoming the mask, but according to the Narrator's super sciency explanation, Lauren was already the mask before putting it on.
  • "If at Faust You Don't Succeed" (Millennial Contest, #2) By Roger Zelazny and Robert Sheckley: The harried archdemon Mephistopheles mistakenly signs up a medieval cutpurse named Mack the Club for the do-over of the Millennial Contest, thinking him the learned Dr. Faust- And Mack doesn't argue his identity, as he doesn't want to get in trouble with Hell itself for trying to rob the great magician Faust. Mack eventually becomes the historical Faust by being better at being Faust than Faust himself- much to the original's wrath.
  • The title character of Montmorency starts out as a thief in the Victorian era, who concocts an upper-class identity so he can fully savor the profits of his crimes. Eventually, he finds life as a respectable gentleman so satisfying that he goes legit, retiring the original thief-persona he's grown ashamed of, and anonymously making amends for his crimes.
  • In The Obernewtyn Chronicles, supporting character Domick becomes a spy and works as a torturer under the name 'Mika'. As Mika, he is much crueler and selfish, to the point that it destroys his relationship with his partner Kella. Later, when he is under mental attack, he flees into his own mind and Mika, who has evolved to become his own personality, takes over.
  • The Postman: A lone traveler After the End finds a dead postal worker and takes his jacket and clothes for warmth. People he meets treat him like his actually is a postman, which he goes along with because it keeps him fed and sheltered. He eventually becomes an actual Unstoppable Mailman and creates a network of post offices.
  • Happens to Holly in Princess Holy Aura in her new-found role and situation, which partly horrifies her. She even comes to hate her old identity.
  • In the little known sequel to The Prisoner of Zenda, Rupert of Hentzau, the protagonist who had impersonated the King of Ruritania in the first book finds himself forced to masquerade on a permanent basis in the sequel although he is assassinated shortly after this happens.
  • In the classic SF story "Private Eye" by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, the main character radically changes his identity in order to give himself an alibi for a murder he is planning. Since the police have chronoscopes in the future, he needs to play the role to the hilt. At the end he realizes he liked his new identity better.
  • In REAL, Likaï befriends Neru to steal his account and enter the Future Tournament in his place, and Neru, in turn, joins the tournament as Likaï's partner in order to sabotage their game, but instead the two of them develop a genuine bond of trust as they play together - mostly because Neru is actually trying to figure out whether or not their friendship was all a lie and why Likaï is so desperate to win.
  • O. Henry's "A Retrieved Reformation". Master safecracker Jimmy Valentine poses as an ordinary salesman in a town, and becomes the mask to the extent that he gives up his old life and plans to marry the banker's daughter. He even arranges to get rid of his trunk of safecracking tools. And then, on the day he hauls the trunk into town to get rid of it, the one cop who might recognize him shows up hunting him. And a child gets trapped in the bank's vault in such a way that only a master safecracker could possibly get her out before she suffocates.
  • One Sesame Street short story had Big Bird pretend to be sick, only to fall sick for real the next day. He does get better by the end of the story, though.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sansa Stark undergoes this when masquerading as Littlefinger's bastard daughter. She starts thinking of herself as Alayne Stone, her fake name, and refers to Littlefinger as her father, even while he's making sexual advances on her.
    • This happens to several characters as the story goes on. Before book 4, the title of each chapter is the point-of-view character's real name. Starting in book 4, the titles of most chapters have changed to whatever alias or title the point-of-view character may be using at the moment.
  • In Outcaste, first of the Spaceforce novels, the protagonist Jay is born into a world where everyone's occupation is absolutely determined by birth, or 'caste'. Dissatisfied with his fate as a lowly blacksmith, Jay sheds his identity and masquerades first as Priest Caste, and then as Swordbearer Caste. He spends many years as a swordbearer, is evidently comfortable with this identity, and presumably would have lived the rest of his life like this if events hadn't conspired against him.
  • This happens to Clover Lappina in Spectral Shadows. At first she arrives seeking only social status and money, feigning her love, but slowly...
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In The Old Republic: Annihilation, Kana Tarrid was a promising Jedi padawan under Jedi Master Gnost-Dural. Even then she was a thrill-seeker less concerned with Jedi code and more concerned with action. In order to better channel her desires, Gnost-Dural sent her to infiltrate the Sith Empire under the guise of a fallen Jedi who wishes to study under Darth Malgus. Naturally, she ends up being corrupted and turns to the Dark Side, changing her name to Darth Karrid and becomning one of the biggest enemies to the Republic after building and commanding the Ascendant Spear, managing to get herself appointed to the Dark Council despite not being human or True Sith.
    • Boba Fett occasionally mentions that this is how he became the bounty hunter he is, by working out how a hunter "should" act and sticking with it until it became second nature. Understandably, it wasn't very good for his social skills.
    • In Aaron Allston's Wraith Squadron, former Imperial Intelligence agent Gara Petothel fits this trope to a "T". She infiltrates Wraith Squadron as Lara Notsil, but soon finds that Good Feels Good and she prefers her Rebel identity. She even falls in love with fellow pilot Myn Donos, the Sole Survivor of a squadron her information work helped destroy! She gets to declare her love before her identity as The Mole is exposed, and even with everyone believing her to be an Imperial, she still goes on to do the right thing and bring down Zsinj. Afterward she adopts her old training persona of Kirney Slane and settles down with Myn.
    • The Hand of Thrawn Duology has the Devist family, a number of clones of Ace Pilot Soontir Fel who kept together and secretive to avoid the Fantastic Racism that comes with being a clone. They were set up as a cell of sleeper agents, supposed to answer the call when the Empire needed them, and in the meantime they became farmers. But like Soontir before them, they loved the soil, and loved it more than the Empire. When they scramble in their TIE interceptors and save Han and Leia, they don't report them, and are eventually talked into helping the New Republic with the Camaasi Document crisis.

      Fel himself states that they and the other cells were designed to do this—to develop stronger loyalty to each other and their world than to the Empire that quite literally created them. This way, when a threat came past the galaxy's edge, they would be able to fight it without too much worry about ideological ties. Pity the villains dug most of the cells up to act as cannon fodder well before that...
    • Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has Luke half-awake during an eternity after the heat death of the universe, after all the stars have burned out. He escapes the projection of this eternity before he can despair enough to let his body be stolen, but for quite some time later he's cynical, depressed, even nihilistic, believing that all of his friends are using him and nothing will matter in the end. He's Luke Skywalker, so he very consciously decides to act exactly like he would have before going through that, hoping that eventually it will stop being an act and he can "fall back into the dream of the light". Fortunately he doesn't have to wait that long before regaining his faith during a Mind Screwy metaphor-heavy sequence.
    • Luke seems particularly prone to this trope. It's the only thing anyone remembers about Dark Empire. That and the Emperor's clones.
    • Lowbacca in Diversity Alliance. He isn't racist, but he can see where the Alliance gets their ideas from. Even though they're basically the Flanderized version of the Black Panthers.
  • Lucky deals with this when he joins the Wild Pack as a spy in Survivor Dogs. He's supposed to betray them but he finds it harder and harder with each passing day. To add to the conflict, Lucky is in love with the Wild Pack beta, Sweet, but he also feels loyalty towards his litter-sister Bella back in the Leashed Dog Pack.
  • There is a Sweet Valley Twins book where the twins invent a triplet named Jennifer and have Jennifer become friends with mean girl Brooke in order to lure her into humiliation. However, the longer Elizabeth stays in the "Jennifer" role, the more she starts to sympathize with Brooke and genuinely wants to be Brooke's friend.
  • Agatha Christie pulled this one with Dr. Rathbone from They Came to Baghdad: a con man who established a philanthropic society to make money, but ended up believing in what he preached.
  • Rose Lerner's aptly named True Pretenses is the romantic version: a fortune-hunting con man marries a rich heiress whose father has just died, only to find himself actually falling in love with her. An interesting twist being that it turns into a mutually beneficial agreement; she learns about the con before they marry and still goes through with it, making a deal with him that he'll take a certain sum of the money and leave her the rest, which the terms of her father's will prevent her from accessing until she's married. Being that she's accustomed to independence, an absentee husband isn't a problem.
  • Under Alien Stars : Main Character Jason Sykes's mother is The Mole for a resistance cell acting as the human liaison for the Tsorian military commander. While this might not be such a problem if the man was your typical evil alien, he's actually a good man with a deep respect for the native civilization. When her friends use a plan to kidnap the commander that gets him injured, Jason finds his mother softly crying I a corner. Though at first he thinks the alien hurt her during his capture, it turns out she's actually lamenting the betrayal of trust she'd had to perform to lure him into the trap.
  • Aeril in Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle infiltrates the Seven Dragon Paladins as the friendly and helpful "Coral". She grows to like her new role and to value the lives of common people, eventually doing a Heel–Face Turn. Downplayed as she was already the White Sheep of her family.
  • Kurt Vonnegut:
    • The novel Mother Night is about an American living in Germany who was recruited to work as a Nazi propagandist so he could pass information to the Americans. While he never converts to Nazism, he has to act like one for so long that he's actually unsure of which side he belongs to. Near the end, one of his German relatives tells him that, even if he turned out to be a spy, it wouldn't matter because he'd done so much for the Nazi party that it would outweigh any work he did for the Allies. The introduction of the novel lampshades the theme when it says "We are what we pretend to be."
    • Cat’s Cradle, by the same author, has a religion created by two men to keep a country happy. They decide to have the religion outlawed, with one playing the role of President, the other Messianic Archetype. Eventually, of course, the President gets too deep into his role and starts executing heretics.
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Miles Naismith Vorkosigan finds himself becoming Admiral Naismith (his fictional identity) more and more, and Lord Vorkosigan, his actual identity, less and less. This is helped by the fact that the reason he created and maintained his fictional identity was to have an outlet for the drives and urges his true identity is not permitted to indulge in. However, Memory happens and Miles finds his alter ego destroyed — and he realizes that after everything else has been stripped away, he's still a Dendarii hillman in his bones. In other words, his Naismith persona had to always succeed, but his Vorkosigan persona simply didn't know how to lose. Miles successfully adjusts by finally allowing his true identity to fulfill the impulses his alter ego had been satisfying, though his mother claims she thought he'd flee Barrayar and "choose the little admiral".
    • His clone, Mark, was brainwashed and trained from birth to impersonate Miles, and after breaking free of his captors he struggles for years to find his own personality and avoid Becoming the Mask.
    • Sergeant (then Armsman) Bothari becomes whoever his commanding officers need him to be. Torturer (for Ges Vorrutyer). Soldier (for Admiral Lord Aral Vorkosigan). Bodyguard (to Miles). Cordelia thinks of him as a hero, so he makes himself one for her.
  • There's an interesting variation of this trope in the Warrior Cats series. It turns out that Scourge was a product of this, but in the reverse of the norm: See, when he was little, he was tricked into running away from his home and happened to end up in the city. To survive, he managed to fool the other rogues residing there into believing that he was a cold-blooded killer so they would fear him and bring him free food. However, by the time he actually kills someone, he slowly starts to become the unfeeling, cold-blooded monster he was portrayed as in his debut.
  • In The Witcher books doppelgangers suffer from this (or enjoy this) to a degree. Unlike most examples here this is instant rather than gradually increasing. When disguised they get much the same feelings the original would in the same situation. The one impersonating Geralt knew that Geralt would rather take him alive than kill.


Top

Example of:

/

Feedback