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Playing With / The Dung Ages

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Basic Trope: A European country during the Dark Ages is very filthy.

  • Straight: Northern Tropenwald is very anti-sanitaric, infested with rats and roaches, and its inhabitants have no objections against defecating in the streets and pouring the contents of their chamber pots out of their windows.
  • Exaggerated: Northern Tropenwald is filled with rotting food leftovers and feces so much that most of the houses are built from all this trash.
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  • Downplayed: Northern Tropenwald is dirty and infested, but everyone tries to defecate in deep cesspools, which are then covered with soil.
  • Justified:
    • Northern Tropenwald has absolutely no sewer system.
    • Its inhabitants are not squeamish at all.
    • Northern Tropenwald suffers from a dysentery epidemic, and most of the population can't hold their bowels.
    • King Bobbard of Northern Tropenwald prefers not to care about cleaning, but more about big feasts.
    • Most residential homes (save perhaps those of the very wealthy) have any kind of toilet facilities; people just openly do their business in the bushes or down by the riverbank.
    • Germ theory hasn't been discovered yet.
  • Inverted: Ye Goode Olde Days
  • Subverted: Northern Tropenwald is infamous in Southern Tropenwald for being a Crapsack World. When the Southern ambassador comes to Northern Tropenwald, he sees perfectly normal and clean enough streets.
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  • Double Subverted: When he leaves, it turns out that clean streets were nothing but window dressing prepared for the ambassador's visit. The next week, they are all dirty again.
  • Parodied: Northern Tropenwald is literally made of dried feces of people and animals. Instead of water liquid feces flow in rivers, and you don't want to know what (in)famous Tropenwald Pie is made of...
  • Zig Zagged: Some of the streets in Northern Tropenwald are really dirty, some are clean.
  • Averted: Northern Tropenwald has ordinary hygiene standards.
  • Enforced: The author wants to make a really dark fantasy or cynical history book.
  • Lampshaded:
    • "Where are the street cleaners? Are they drinking or what?"
    • "Bleurgh! Geoffrey, how could she pour this bucket out of the window?! Is she mad at me?" "No, sir, it's a local custom."
  • Invoked: Northern Tropenwald's king have died, and his unexperienced son Bobbard takes the throne. But he prefers having fun to ruling his country. Then the shot of clean Tropenwald is shown, and then flash forward ten years - and it's all filthy.
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  • Exploited: When the Gleaming Kingdom of Nontropia tries to invade Northern Tropenwald, soldiers are immediately repulsed by stench and filthiness. Not only that, Tropenwaldian guerrilla warriors plant a lot of infested traps with spikes covered in their own parasite-filled faeces, and some of them hide in pools of filthy water to attack unsuspecting enemies.
  • Defied: Citizens of Northern Tropenwald proclaim the People's Day of Street Cleaning.
  • Discussed: "How can they live here?! It stinks so bad my horse will drop dead real soon! Come on, let's not stay here for too long!"
  • Conversed: "Of course, now when they have bathrooms and stuff, they can laugh upon them."
  • Implied: "Tropenwald? You don't want to go there, good sir. I've heard those people don't even wash their clothes..."
  • Deconstructed:
    • No one wants to live in such a place, so citizens of Northern Tropenwald take their belongings and flee to Southern Tropenwald.
    • Tired of such a useless authority, citizens of Northern Tropenwald engage into a rebellion against King Bobbard.
    • Lack of adequate toilet and sewer facilities, and lack of reliable clean water, mean a lot of people (especially children and elderly people) die of preventable diarrheal diseases. These diseases can easily become epidemics, if water supplies are contaminated, which can become a Depopulation Bomb, or even an outright Apocalypse How.
    • Lack of toilet facilities is especially bad for women, because they're vulnerable to sexual assault and rape if they go out to relieve themselves, as their exposed lower half may be seen (in patriarchal societies) as an "invitation," even though it's not, or the act of her relieving herself incites anger by ruining the image of women as these ethereal and delicate beings that do not produce waste. The way that women in these societies get around this is to "hold it" until after dark, when it's easier to go without being seen...which puts them at risk of attack by wild animals, getting lost, and still doesn't protect them from sexual assault, not to mention increases the risk of bladder infections. Furthermore, women have periods, and lack of toilet facilities means that when girls start menstruating, they miss school or are forced to drop out, hindering their education and keeping them in poverty. Same goes for collecting water from the nearest lake or river, which is usually coded as "women's work," leaving girls to fetch water instead of going to school, or be too tired from fetching water to focus at school.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Southern Tropenwald turns out not to be better at all, on the contrary of what people say about it. Very soon, all of the citizens return back to their country and try to do something with filthy streets.
    • King Bobbard listens to the people's demands, employs street cleaners and establishes hygiene rules. Over time, Northern Tropenwald becomes much cleaner. Not that it stopped being a crappy place, but enough to function and thrive without anything too revolting.
    • King Bobbard commissions a system of underground pipes to remove wastewater, and a separate system to bring clean water to people's homes, or at least a communal well in the center of town, so that girls and women won't have to trek miles on foot to collect enough water for the day.

Back to The Dung Ages, but prepare your broom.

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