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Barefoot Sage

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The archetypal character of a sage, a mentor, an oracle, a wise man/woman is sometimes given an unusual additional trait: an aversion to shoes. It may be because of religious asceticism, special connection to nature, or just general eccentricity. Whatever the cause is, the lack of footwear (especially in public places) makes the character look singular and different from everyone else, and therefore may serve to emphasize that (s)he knows and sees more than an ordinary person does, and is just too wise to care about social conventions. The religious connotations (like the said asceticism, or "bare feet on holy ground") may also come in handy.

There is also a seemingly practical thought regarding one particular issue; if the character has a hermit-like mentality and depicted as never really moving from one spot (like meditating in one particular spot), then the need for having shoes is kinda moot and they'd might as well air out their feet. This logic however is fairly Fridge Logic-inducing since it implies that they are so far into their religious or academic pursuit that they never need to move around even to satisfy the most basic of human needs such as eating, sleeping or pooping. This can arguably be seen as a weird combination of Conservation of Detail and Establishing Character Moment, since if we'd only see these isolated characters as they interact with other people who sought them out, then it would be easier and quicker to establish their devotion to the particular lifestyle by catching them exactly in the act of the aforementioned lifestyle that makes them stand out to the rest of society.

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See also Barefoot Poverty; compare and contrast with Barefoot Loon. Very often overlaps with Magical Barefooter; may also overlap with Granola Girl or New-Age Retro Hippie, if the character's wisdom is of "New Agey" type.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • The Oracle of Kandrakar, from the W.I.T.C.H. franchise.
  • Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean comics matches this to a certain extent (it is unclear whether she wears any shoes in the movies).

    Film 
  • Yoda from the Star Wars franchise. Wise, he is. Wear shoes, he does not.
  • Hypatia from Agora is an unusual example: she's not always barefoot, but she seems to have a habit of taking off her footwear when indoors (in particular, teaching her students barefoot).
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    Fanfiction 

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dojjen, the desert-dwelling Hermit Guru in the Doctor Who story "Snakedance", is noticeably barefoot.
  • Cody from Dual Survival regularly displayed a vast understanding of both survival skills and scientific knowledge. He was also barefoot in nearly every survival scenario, only wearing shoes when necessary to protect his feet.

    Mythology 
  • The wise wizard Merlin from the Arthurian lore is frequently depicted barefoot in illustrations.

    Video Games 
  • Shy-Ann from Julia's Time Adventures has shades of this. She's a spiritual Native American hippie, who always seems to be in meditation and doesn't wear shoes. She is also a time traveler like the main character, and gives her hints on the gameplay.
  • The mentor of the main character in Avencast: Rise of the Mage is shown barefoot. The rest of the mages of the setting seem to have a penchant for sandals and unconventional footwear.
  • Voodoo Lady in the two first Monkey Island installments.
  • Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink: Strangeblood, who is originally considered an evil warlock, but turns out to be a good and wise magician. He is always seen without shoes.
  • Dahlia Gillespie from Silent Hill seems to be a mixture of this, Barefoot Loon, and Mad Oracle with her cryptic/prophetic speeches and her seeming willingness to help the protagonist. A very dark subversion actually. She is the Big Bad who deliberately played up this image (including cryptic predictions, etc.) in order to make Harry her unwitting accomplice.
  • The Wiseman from The Trader of Stories.

    Western Animation 

    Theatre 
  • Friar Lawrence from Romeo and Juliet is very often portrayed barefoot. However, as "sagey" as he is, he still makes a fatal mistake.

    Real Life 
  • Bodhidharma is depicted in art as being barefoot. The Daruma doll is an aversion — his arms and legs are gone from nine years of meditation.
  • Socrates, probably the Ur-Example. The most famous depiction of his life is actually called Barefoot in Athens.
  • Many saints and blessed ones, of both Christianity and Eastern religions like Hinduism.
  • The Muslim saint Bishr ibn Hareth, nicknamed Bishr al-Hafi (Bishr the Barefoot).
  • Some Christian religious orders go barefoot or wear only sandals as an ascetic practice. They are referred to in Catholicism as "discalced", which is an elaborate pseudo-Latin translation for "shoeless".
  • Some hippies/New Age practitioners. Many of them are just pretenders, but a few really possess some sort of spiritual insight.
  • There is a story that John Chapman, a.k.a. "Johnny Appleseed", once came across a frontier sermon where the preacher asked "what happened to the old Christians who went barefoot to do the work of Christ?", to which Chapman picked up his foot and said "here he is".

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