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Literature / The Knight in Rusty Armor

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The Knight in Rusty Armor is a 1987 novella by Robert Fisher. It tells the tale of a knight obsessed with being a knight, so much so that he spends all his time in his armor and completely alienates his family. One day, he discovers that he cannot take his armor off, not even able to lift his visor for meals. He learns that the wizard Merlin may be able to help him, so he sets out to find him. When he finds Merlin, the magician shows him a path leading toward the summit of a mountain — the Path of Truth. He tells him that if he follows the path to the top, he will find himself without his armor.

The knight heads up the path, on the way passing through three castles: the Castle of Silence, the Castle of Knowledge, and the Castle of Will and Daring. Each one challenges him to question himself; only when he has realized some truth is he able to proceed. Along the way, the tears he sheds at these revelations rust away parts of his armor and cause them to fall off.

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Finally, after one final challenge, he reaches the summit; shedding tears of love for himself and the world, the last of his armor is rusted away.


Contains examples of:

  • Beneath the Mask: The knight hides behind his armor, literally and figuratively. Truthfully, he relies on his knightly image for self-worth because he has no love for himself.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: The knight, in the beginning. His only concerns are rescuing damsels, fighting dragons, and other knightly quests.
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Some of the damsels the knight rescued weren't happy about it.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": A squirrel called Squirrel.
  • Hates Being Alone: One of the knight's first revelations, in the Castle of Silence: he fears being alone.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: The knight's journey. The knight's king is also making the same journey, and not for the first time.
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  • Knight in Shining Armor: The knight, in the beginning, is obsessed with projecting this image, to prove that he is good and kind.
  • Rule of Three: The knight passes through three castles.
  • Talking Animal: Squirrel the squirrel and Rebecca the pigeon. Or rather, all animals talk — the knight merely learns to listen.
  • Talking to Themself: The knight converses with his inner voice, once he starts hearing it.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Dragon of Fear and Doubt exists only while the knight allows fear and doubt in his mind. As he overcomes his fears, the dragon shrinks away until it vanishes.
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