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The Stoic / Literature

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  • Michael in Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage, so much so that it causes a lot of tension between him and his Genki Girl wife Pauline. He ends up divorcing her and marrying a female Stoic. Macon in The Accidental Tourist also qualifies (in fact, he comes from a family of Stoics), as does Sam in Ladder of Years, although he's Not So Stoic after his wife walks out.
  • Shadow from American Gods is a stoic who sees the most remarkable things and doesn't even care enough to wonder about what they are or why they happen.
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  • Tobias of Animorphs. Since he’s used to living in the body of a hawk, which has no facial muscles, people are often disturbed when he shows no reactions to anything while in his human morph. He does legitimately experience the wide emotional range one would expect from a dysfunctional teenage boy but is physically unaccustomed to demonstrating it. The one time he weeps, when Rachel is dying, she is deeply moved that he would “do that for [her]."
  • Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days.
  • Colonel promoted to Lieutenant Brendig from David Eddings' Belgariad shows Flat Joy.
    Ce'Nedra: Don't you ever smile?
    Brendig: [perfectly straight face] I am smiling.
  • Victor in John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos. Even capable of announcing that how much pain an event would cause is not a factor in making decisions.
    • This is a type Wright is fond of: from his Golden Age series, we have Helion, who unflinchingly faces being repeatedly burned to death in pursuit of a memory and Atkins, who only loses his temper once.
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  • Dark Heart: Rahze almost never shows emotion (and even then it's very mild). His calm manner is near unwavering.
  • In the Soviet novel Definitely, Maybe, Vecherovsky, who managed to remain calm throughout the whole ordeal and is the only one who is still resisting laws of entropy by the end.
  • Discworld:
    • Lord Vetinari has only shown himself to be Not So Stoic in one circumstance; his ongoing battle with the Crossword Puzzle in The Ankh-Morpork Times. Situations he has reacted to with a raised eyebrow and a deadpan comment include being overthrown and cast into the dungeons, facing the impending destruction of the Disc as we know it, and various attempts on his life, but the crossword is Serious Business.
    • In Unseen Academicals, the wizard formerly known as the Dean reveals an unexpected awareness of international politics and adds "You needn't look surprised, my lord." The Patrician replies "I didn't. I am surprised, but kindly credit me with not looking surprised unless there is some advantage to doing so."
  • The Divine Comedy:
    • The heretic Farinata stands upright and composed in the middle of his flaming tomb, expressing more disdain than horrific suffering. The closest he gets to emotion is when he hears that his descendants have all been defeated and exiled from the city he died for, a fate he previously admitted would be more torturous for him than Hell itself. In response to this great misfortune, he sighs and shakes his head.
    • Dante sees the Greek hero Jason being punished in the eighth circle of Hell. Unlike all other souls, Jason is described as enduring his punishment without any sign of pain.
  • Mildmay from Sarah Monette's series Doctrine of Labyrinths. Even in an underground labyrinth made by ancient worshippers of an evil goddess, he stays completely calm.
  • The Dresden Files: Mac barely talks, and when he does it's bare-bones, no-nonsense straight talk. He's been beaten up and shot and still remains emotionless. The only things that seem to bother him are messing with his beer and mentioning whatever "game" he got out of. He also appears to have some pretty strong powers that he avoids using.
  • Edilio from Gone. He has occasional but effective Not So Stoic moments.
  • In Harry Potter Firenze comes off as exceptionally stoic, especially when factoring in his tolerance compared to the other centaurs Harry meets as far back as Philosophers Stone. Even after Dean Thomas unintentionally wonders if Hagrid breeds the centaurs like cattle in Order of the Phoenix, he merely corrects him and continues the lesson, whereas far lesser insults send the other centaurs into violent indignant rage.
  • The Hearts We Sold: Most of the time, the only emotion the Daemon shows is mild annoyance or bemusement with his charges. If he shows any feeling beyond that, you either did something really impressive, or you really, really fucked up.
  • Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games. Peeta sometimes fits the bill too, though mostly he's the emotional, sensitive one.
  • Major McNabbs from Jules Verne's "In Search of Castaways".
  • Jeeves and Wooster: Jeeves has complete and utter imperturbability as his chief character trait, probably because he's usually fully in control of whatever Zany Scheme is going on at the moment. His rather excitable master constantly wonders how he does it. Notably, he doesn't smile -— he "muscle spasms".
  • Journey to Chaos: Siron of Esrah tries to give the impression that he's this unflappably polite gentleman who cannot be roused either by the bad manners of others or the violence of the battlefield, but he is unable to fully hide emotions like anger, disappointment or worry.
  • Perhaps the greatest example of this trope is Hans from Journey to the Center of the Earth. He not only agrees on the spot to go with the main characters down a giant lava tube to hell, but isn't even fazed by it. He saves the two other explorers several times, and manages to remain deadly calm even when almost dying of thirst.
  • Legacy of the Dragokin: Lydia comports herself in a calm and professional matter; it's a point of pride because she is a leader of soldiers and is expected to.
  • The Legend of Drizzt: Drizzt Do'Urden is often described in-text by his author as being stoic. While he does indeed power through setbacks and defeats, he feels quite deeply, and in battle will wear rage on his sleeve. Further, while he doesn't talk to many outside of his friends, he is very eloquent when speaking with them.
  • British statesman Lord Chesterfield recommended being this several times in Letters to His Son: "It is very often necessary, not to manifest all one feels." — "I am sure that since I have had the full use of my reason, nobody has ever heard me laugh." — "A man who does not possess himself enough to hear disagreeable things without visible marks of anger and change of countenance, or agreeable ones, without sudden bursts of joy and expansion of countenance, is at the mercy of every artful knave or pert coxcomb; the former will provoke or please you by design, to catch unguarded words or looks by which he will easily decipher the secrets of your heart, of which you should keep the key yourself, and trust it with no man living. The latter will, by his absurdity, and without intending it, produce the same discoveries of which other people will avail themselves."
  • Lonesome Dove has Woodrow Call, who makes a good foil to Gus McCrae, the boisterous cowboy.
  • Conrad Hensley from Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full is a literal stoic, having embraced the philosophy during his stint in prison.
  • Cato from Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome wants to be this. The real Cato was a stoic philosopher who was/is famous for being incorruptible and an ardent defender of Republican ideals during Rome's transition into an Empire. In contrast McCullough's portrayal of him is extremely negative. He is portrayed as a fanatical stoic who single handedly leads Italy into Civil War due to his irrational hatred of Caesar and rabid obsession with the mos maiorum. In his private life he is a deeply unhappy alcoholic who suppresses his emotions out of fear of being hurt.
  • It may have something to do with the fact that many of them are centuries old, while others are thousands of years old, and some are even older than God, but probably the main reason that Merry Gentry's immortal guards seem so stoic is the fact that they've been at the mercy of a sadistic autocrat for several thousand years.
  • Inspector Javert in Les Misérables is presented this way as a manifestation of his absolute dedication to the law. Even right before his suicide, he calmly walks into a police station, leaves a note for the officer on duty, and calmly walks out again. It's downplayed in the musical, as he does get quite emotional at times.
  • Parker, from the novels by Richard Stark.
  • Though Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe does have his more human moments, these mainly occur when he's been truly pushed over the edge, as when, in one novel, he is kidnapped and shot full of narcotics by a quack doctor. The rest of the time, though, he manages to remain completely deadpan even as he's being beaten up by crooked cops or having guns waved in his face.
  • In Psy Changeling, the Silence Protocol aims at making the entire Psy race this.
  • Captain Ed Morris of the US Navy frigate USS Reuben James (formerly of the USS Pharris), as depicted in Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy. After losing his ship to a Soviet submarine, he assumes command of a new ship. Though he plays his role as The Captain to a stoic extreme, he is plagued by nightmares and his performance suffers. After a near experience with a Heroic BSoD, the helicopter pilot takes him to a waterfront bar to Drown His Sorrow, in true Sergeant Rock fashion. After reliving his experience and letting his sadness and anger out, Captain Morris gets his He's Back moment and sails again in fighting form to deliver death to Dirty Communists.
  • Isengrim from The Reynard Cycle is consistently described as being stony-faced, grim, and almost-supernaturally calm. He is very much the Blue Oni to Reynard's Red Oni.
  • In Scavenger Alliance, Ice, leader of London division and Blaze's mother's cousin, gets his name from being this. He's Not So Stoic when it comes to family ties, though, and cries when forced to reveal that he carried Blaze out of her burning home during the London firestorm, at the cost of leaving her mother to die. He kept the secret and allowed Cage to blackmail him to protect Blaze from Survivor's Guilt.
  • Second Apocalypse: Members of the Dunyain are a subversion. They have all been conditioned to be ruthless, emotionless, and rational human calculators, but in being so, they're very good at simulating social interaction to come across as passionate and charismatic when it suits their ends.
  • Sherlock Holmes. He gets shaken up only twice in all of canon, once when he is exposed to a hallucinogenic drug and once when Watson gets shot. (When that happens he really flips out, though.)
    • There's also that moment at the end of "The Six Napoleons" when Lestrade tells him that Scotland Yard is proud of him. Watson's narration: " seemed to me that he was more nearly moved by the softer human emotions than I had ever seen him."
  • Asher in Someone Else's War. Matteo himself initially seems like one; it turns out to be a facade hiding his reckless nature.
  • Roose Bolton from A Song of Ice and Fire is notable in a series full of stoic characters, speaking with a quiet monotone and having a face that looks like a pale timeless mask for which all emotions appear similar. Bolton uses leeches to suck away the "bad blood" of anger and other messy emotions, and calmly mentions the certainty of his future sons being killed by his bastard intent on succession. He's not concerned by this as he knows he will not live long enough to train his future sons to manhood, and "boy lords are the bane of any house."
  • Lt. Kirihara Azusa in Stone King comes across as very stoic to those who aren't skilled at reading her minimal expressions.
  • The Stormlight Archive: The Alethi, as a race, are known for being very reserved at all times. Public displays of any form are frowned upon, from affection to demanding duels for insults. It's to the point that in the second book, Dalinar can't do anything to Sadeas despite Sadeas very explicitly trying to get Dalinar's entire army killed in the previous one.
    "I'll have your throat in my hands, Sadeas," Adolin hissed. "I'll squeeze and squeeze, then I'll sink my dagger into your gut and twist. A quick death is too good for you."
    "Tsk," Sadeas said, smiling. "Careful. It's a full room. What if someone heard you threatening a highprince?"
    The Alethi way. You could abandon an ally on the battlefield, and everyone could know it — but an offense in person, well, that just wouldn't do. Society would frown on that.
  • Meursault in The Stranger. What emotion he does have, he doesn't really display. It doesn't end well for him.
  • In C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the Fox is a philosophical Stoic and so aspires to this. He goes so far as to argue against grieving over the Human Sacrifice of Istra/Psyche on the ground that she escaped the miseries of life under her father's thumb, and had attained all the virtues that anyone could — before breaking down.
  • From the Tortall Universe by Tamora Pierce:
    • Keladry, protagonist of Protector of the Small, spent her first ten years in Yaman, where overt displays of emotion are shameful. She acts like a stone to avoid blowing up or melting down in the face of the vicious misogyny and regular training woes she has to endure. Her peers mockingly call her a "Yamani lump," but the trait serves her well as a leader. In the final book, she argues but remains calm when Wyldon orders her not to pursue the abducted refugees. Having avoided rousing suspicion, she very quietly turns her horse and rides into Scanra.
    • Junai of the Trickster's Duet makes a total of three facial expressions. Each time, everyone is shocked.
  • The Traveler's Gate: King Zakareth is almost supernaturally calm at all times; when Leah reports on how she screwed up her mission and tried to recover, he spends the entire conversation completely stone-faced, and Leah has no idea whether he approves or disapproves of any of it. When he names her his Successor, he smiles once or twice and even apologizes. Leah is so shocked she wonders if he's been replaced with an impostor.
  • Helen, of Twig, is an interesting example in that she is an (In)Human Weapon whose emotions seem to be disconnected from her physical instincts, meaning that for her, stoicism is not a choice so much as a default, and when she does express emotion it is in her capacity as Little Miss Con Artist rather than being genuine feeling.
  • Dimitri from Vampire Academy, is known to be calm, cool, collected and he rarely loses his cool or his temper.
  • Villains by Necessity: Kaylana starts out this way. She's cold, stern and aloof. However, eventually she warms up to Sam, and even laughs at the end.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Only in Death, we are explicitly told that Ezsrah's people show no emotion and particularly no sorrow. Then, this is borne out by his actions throughout, and in particular in that scene. Ludd, his eyes red and tearful, told him of Gaunt's death, and he just nodded and walked away.
      Sleepwalkers showed no emotion. It was part of their way.
    • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, Sendek prized his self-control, and had a friend who jested about how he took "stoic" to new levels. Making his Not So Stoic moment at The Reveal a deep underscore of how little they believed it.
  • Rand Al'Thor from the Wheel of Time series is slowly transforming into this. His reaction to having his hand burnt off is "I'll have to learn the sword again". A old friend who had not been present to witness his transformation as it occurred over time assumed he was simply in shock, to be sadly told otherwise by someone who feels Rand's emotions. He just knew the hand was gone, he could do nothing about it and so felt nothing more about it.
    • Even from the beginning, there was Lan, who generally doesn't show any emotion; he once laughed, and Rand thought it was like a stone laughing. Then there's the Aiel, who are a race of stoics in the classic sense, having the attitude that the world is going to do terrible things to people and the only sensible thing to do is endure them without complaint; Perrin once cut the hand off a captive Aiel, who only grunted softly.
    • On the villains' side, Demandred is noted for his stoicism; he never smiles or laughs, and most of the other Forsaken are of the opinion that he's so full of hate for the Dragon that he simply doesn't have room for any other emotions, and other characters will often note his lack of expression. Then, when he feels his revenge is actually in his grasp, he finally lets all that hate out and turns into a Large Ham.
  • Chapter 7 of Broken Gate implies that Emotionless Girl Nezumi was this at some point before becoming emotionless, as Miyako doesn't remember Nezumi expressing her emotions outwardly but knows that her sister wasn't always emotionless, regardless, "Nezumi's tears dried a long time ago".
  • Subverted in The Count of Monte Cristo, when Andrea gets called "the stoic" by other inmates due to his high-society manners... who have no idea what it means. Andrea himself is a zigzagging version: while he is perfectly cool from time to time (in the thirty seconds it takes for him to go from being affianced to the richest young woman in Paris to being the most wanted criminal in France, he's already escaping out the window with the biggest jewel in the dowry, and is already plotting his next move), he also has bursts of emotion like demanding to know who his father is.
  • "If-" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling that basically defines Stiff Upper Lip. Although some see it as a Stealth Parody, if you actually were able to do everything the poem says you'd be beyond human.
  • Nero Wolfe is not a perfect example of this trope — he can be quite bombastic, petulant and/or expressive when sufficiently provoked — but he attempts to practice as stoical and reserved a persona as possible, much to the frustration of his much more emotionally expressive leg-man Archie Goodwin. On multiple occasions, Goodwin has been faced with a dead body on the floor in front of him and some kind of incriminating or inconvenient evidence in his pocket, called up his boss to report the situation only to, on completing his report, field a question about whether he's eaten or where the current orchid germination reports are.


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