Posts tagged character analysis
Posts tagged character analysis
This is a random thought & not a fully thought out meta, but the significance of songs for Sansa (and also her relationship with Sandor) is actually very interesting, if we conduct a cross comparison with Disney fairy tales.
In the traditional Disney princess films, the princesses almost always effectively “summon” their princes with songs:
- Snow White “Someday my prince will come”
- Sleeping Beauty “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream”
- Ariel “Part of your world”
- Cinderella “A dream is a wish your heart makes”
- Belle “Here’s where she meets Prince Charming. And she doesn’t know it’s him til chapter three”
Even when Ariel loses her voice and her ability to sing for herself, she enchants the prince with the aid of Sebastian and the other animals singing their rendition of “Kiss the Girl.”
Songs are effectively the thread that connects princesses and their princes, initiating and cementing the romantic bond between them. They are also the links between the princesses and their happily ever afters - note that Ariel’s happily ever after is nearly stolen from her along with her voice by Ursula (who uses the stolen songs to entrap the prince with a spell) and it is only after her voice and songs are restored to her that the princess and the witch resume their rightful places.
When Sandor uses the moniker “Little Bird” for Sansa, on a certain level, he is recognizing that Cersei and the Lannister court have effectively reduced Sansa to a songbird - a pretty singer kept in a gilded cage whose songs no longer belong to her, but are rather the property of her keeper. In their relationship, Cersei symbolically robs Sansa of her songs and her happy endings (like the proverbial sea witch). Sansa’s fairy tale has turned into a nightmare - the Queen and fairy godmother (which is how Sansa perceived Cersei up until her father’s execution) is a witch, Prince Charming is the beast.
However, birds have a second layer of symbolism in fairy tales. In many fairy tales, birds serve as messengers, helping divine the true bride from the false one.
- In “The Blue Bird,” Florine bribes a page with a pie filled with singing birds, which allows her to reveal the truth to the king
- In “The Golden Bird,” it is the prince that is revealed by the refusal of a golden bird to sing until he was found
- In “The Bird of Truth,” the royal parentage of the orphan children is revealed by gossiping birds
- In “Cinderella,” one of the versions has a pair of doves sing to the prince about how the stepsisters are false brides
In this context, Sansa turns “Little Bird” from a term robbing her of her autonomy into a term of empowerment. As Littlefinger will most likely go on to learn, birds are dangerous things in fairy tales, even when caged, because they may not sing what you want to hear.
This relationship between Sansa, fairy tales, and her nickname is especially important in the scene between Sansa and Sandor during the Battle of Blackwater. By asking Sansa for a song, we can infer that Sandor is implicitly expressing a desire to be her prince and rescuer. He wants Sansa to sing a song that will romantically connect their stories and initiate a relationship where he plays the role of her prince. He asks for the song of Florian and Jonquil, a classic fairy tale in which a valiant knight rescues a fair maiden.
However, Sansa responds by saying that she can’t sing - not only is she terrified, all of her happy endings have been stolen from her, and thus her songs as well. Moreover, by demanding a song at sword point, Sandor is enacting the role of a villain, not a rescuing prince. Part of the significance of songs in fairy tales is that they are expressions of the agency of the princesses who sing them - the princess sings a song expressing her desire to be rescued or to meet a prince, and then the prince appears. By demanding a song from Sansa, Sandor is reversing the process and treating her as if he were Cersei - engaging with Sansa’s songs as a consumer and predator.
At this point, Sansa reverses the situation with her choice of the hymn. By singing the song that Sandor needs to hear as opposed to the song he wants to hear, Sansa is establishing her role as the bird as messenger of truth. Instead of expressing a desire to be saved, she is expressing a desire to save and a recognition of what is truly occurring between her and Sandor - rather than coming to save her, Sandor is really coming to Sansa seeking salvation. At the end of her song, Sandor reiterates her nickname - “Little Bird” - but in a reflective tone, demonstrating his understanding and acceptance of her identity, not as a caged princess, but as a teller of truths.
However, before his exit, Sandor leaves Sansa his white cloak. Beyond the marital symbolism of protection, the white cloak also represents an ideal - the perfect white knight who is worthy of the love and trust of a princess. So the fairy tale continues - while Sandor recognizes that he is not Prince Charming and is personally in need of saving (and consequently unequipped to do much saving), he leaves behind his white cloak both as a promise to Sansa and as a symbol of hope to himself - that perhaps, one day, he may earn the right to don the cloak again, with her hands fastening it around his shoulders.
Their song has just begun ʘ‿ʘ
(Side note: this is partly why in PotO the Phantom/Christine relationship is doomed to fail - it’s also very reminiscent of Petyr/Sansa - because he believes that he has “given” Christine her voice & adopts a possessive attitude towards it. Their story essentially ends with Christine also offering to “save” the Phantom, which moves him into releasing her, but lacks the hopeful overtones of Sandor/Sansa)
Huh… I never even considered some of these points. Well done!
Ugh, this is my absolute favorite scene featuring Paige because it’s so symbolic. It was too hard not to notice and take something from it the moment I first saw this episode (such is the life of a photographer though).
The light is vulnerability and it’s far too much for her to begin with so she has to shrink away to the state she worked so hard for: the distant, aloof commander who would never dare to let anyone cross her. She takes a step back and settles in the comfortable darkness where nobody can reach her — especially Beck — because she’s not willing to show the side of her she wishes she could show.
She can create task forces, she can easily strategize plans to take down the Renegade, recognize patterns to create harmonies, but allowing herself to connect with another Program is something that cannot be put into an orderly box like everything else in her life is. It’s something she is not yet ready to face.
Like Tron, she let friendship (with both Quorra/Ada and Beck) cloud her judgement and heavily paid the price for it. The wound has hardly healed and she’s not willing to be hurt once more, nor is she willing to let somebody else be hurt in the process.
I do not think it was a coincidence in the writing/directing because it’s such a simple line and subtle use of the lighting, but it’s so very telling of her character.
So I finally watched all of Motorcity.
At first, I didn’t like it. I didn’t dislike it either. I just felt it was mostly explosions, interesting concept, awesome animation, but that it was lacking something.
I think I started enjoying it past the halfway point to be honest. It wasn’t my favorite show. It still felt like it was missing something. There wasn’t enough congruity, still a lot of holes. Who are the rest of the Burners? What’s their life story? How’d they meet?
My two favorite episodes were the ones that dealt with Dutch to be honest because he’s the character I really got to understand. I understood Mike too but it was implied i would; he is, after all, the protagonist, the hero. When the episodes focused on Dutch, I finally saw where he was coming from. I saw him getting from point A to point B. The rest of the characters seemed to start at point B and we never advance much more than that. Sure, Chuck learns that it’s okay not to be fearless and Texas learns that Roth has feelings but still, most of the characters don’t undergo some major growth.
Maybe we would have learned more in a second season, who knows so maybe my questions are just premature. I also felt Texas was just so…standard comedy, you know? I mean the episode where he tells Tooley he’s the secret weapon is gold, but apart from that, I just couldn’t like the character. Which I suppose speaks more about my likes and dislikes than the show itself. I just expected a little bit more of a show that everyone was saying was flawless.
I am hoping for a season 2 just because I feel the show has a ton of potential and the animation really is cool. Also, the series finale (which hopefully will end up being a season finale instead) was really awesome, exciting, a good mix of action, drama, bits of comedy, and friendship.
That’s what Motorcity does really well. It talks about friendship, shows how different people can get together to have fun, can have things in common without being similar. I love Chuck and Mike’s friendship just because that’s where I felt most of the emotion.
So to wrap it up, give the show a chance and check it out. It’s short so it honestly took me 2 or 3 days. Characters grow on you and the writing does get better. I hope the show gets another chance so we see even more growth in the series.
This is basically everything I felt about the characters of Motorcity as well. Thank you for such a succinct, and well thought out post.
Honestly, Dutch is both my favorite character and perhaps the best written/developed character. But its because Dutch is so interesting and deep that the other characters feel floundering in comparison.
We are shown a great deal about Dutch’s past and why he joined the Burners. We meet his entire family and there’s a subplot about his brother which both served to develop Dutch further and helped to flesh out the larger conflict between how Deluxe views The Burners/Motorcity and the reality of the situation. Meanwhile, we know exceedingly little about Chuck’s, Texas’, or even Mike’s family situation. Dutch had talents and hobbies which were brought up consistently throughout the season and tied into his backstory. Compare and contrast Dutch’s love of art to Chuck’s LARPing, for example. Dutch had a love interest in Tennie, who was also fairly well developed, had a family, had hobbies, and had a life/backstory outside of Dutch and the Burners which got referenced. Compare what we know about Tennie’s personal life history to what we know about Tooley’s, or Claire’s. Dutch went through a character arc within season one, starting out quiet and generally put upon, but rising to the role of temporary leader when Mike was kidnapped.
I too hope this show survives in some form or another, because I’d honestly love to see the rest of the cast get the sort of attention Dutch did. But for now: Dutch is the greatest character in the show.
“Lin, with so much on the line… It’d be nice if we could help each other out, at least for one night…”
“Like old times?”
“Like old times.”
Let’s analyze this exchange a little here. It’s one of the few occasions in The Legend of Korra that anyone directly calls Lin Bei Fong on her aggressive behaviour, and yet it has a surprisingly progressive outcome. Indeed, Lin does become much more reasonable and productive with Tenzin, strikes up a good working relationship with the Avatar, and is able to eventually fight for the protection of Pema/Tenzin’s children. For such a brief conversation, it has some pretty powerful effects.
And then, I got to thinking… Has Tenzin never tried this approach before with Lin? Did he just spend all this time between the dissolving of their romance some odd years ago and this point letting their relationship remain rocky and poor? He’s one of the council members of Republic City, but the chief of police acts as though she’d like to bury him 6 feet under, and generally makes life difficult for his family. Yet, all he has to do is show a little openness, backbone, and humility, and she’s willing to bury the hatchet and move on? Well, why didn’t he do so sooner?
I don’t think this is accidental. Tenzin may be cool, have a sky bison, and be voiced by JK Simmons, but he has his flaws just like any other human being. And Tenzin is just not very good at dealing with life’s obstacles.
So let’s discuss, shall we?
See, I’d always put Lin’s crankiness at him down to “earthbenders are stubborn” (although the way Tenzin minced around matters didn’t exactly help).
The idea that he might have been a wimp about the breakup—pulling a Mako, as it were—never really occurred to me; he always came off as more honorable than that. I’d always thought it had simply been acrimonious.
I don’t think he would’ve pulled a Mako. I don’t know how the breakup happened, but I’m assuming there was some sort of discussion. Likely one that made Tenzin extremely uncomfortable, hence his reluctance to really face Lin since then. The above analysis is really solid, imo. I think it makes sense.
I just want to note that I agree with both of you. I do not genuinely think Tenzin did to Lin the sort of stunts Mako pulled. There was probably some level of discussion, but as you both said, it probably did not go well due to Tenzin’s difficulty in facing things head-on and Lin’s own powerful personality. This most likely uncomfortable and unproductive falling out then leading to their present day difficulties.
A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on the evolution of Optimus Prime, both as a character and as a general concept from G1 to Transformers Prime. But now, let’s take a step back, and examine one of my favourite team leaders; Optimus Primal.
Yes, good old Fearless Leader from the great, glistening palace that is Beast Wars. But beyond my nostalgia fueled ramblings, I genuinely do find the character fascinating in an anthropological sort of way, particularly when compared to the future legacy of what Prime would become. Unlike the ever stout G1-verse Optimus, Primal is a very humble and down-to-earth character. He’s smart, brave, strong, and capable… but you’re never really called upon to worship him like a classical hero the same way G1 Optimus was talked up in-universe. He was very much so a product of his time, an ordinary man dealing with the extraordinary problems of the world as best he could.
In spite of his amazing exploits, Primal was always… well, primal. He was always human. As a character concept, it seems crazy, I know…
But sometimes crazy works.
I really do wish for the life of me that I could quickly articulate or analyse the attraction of Lockdown. He has more fangirls than you would expect for such a vile character. And fanboys too. And whatever I am. This is going to be a thinking aloud analysis, but here we go.
Very informative and concise essay. I’d like to add a few complimentary points on why I feel Lockdown works so well as a character.
Ah… Arcee of Transformers Animated.
I’ve talked in the past about my disappointment with Blackarachnia’s incarnation within this series as well, and now it’s time to address the other pink elephant in the room.
A highly traditional example of a distressed damsel and passive female character, TFA!Arcee does indeed have some unique character elements, too bad they’re woefully underused. Like BA, she mostly exists to prop up the development of the male characters around her, provide something to drive the plot (all without her needing to be conscious or offer input, of course), and that isn’t even the worst of the… odd things… her character comes to symbolize as the show goes on.
Click the ‘Read More’ for an extensive analysis into the character, her role in the plot, her indirect comparisons to Blackarachnia, interpersonal relationships, and general criticisms I have.
As before, I highly advised fans of Transformers Animated to avoid reading this posting. This is a rather acidic, critical, and unpleasant breaking down of the series and I don’t want to come off as trying to personally insult the show or its fans directly. Furthermore, I must also warn readers that this essay is going to touch on some uncomfortable topics such as abduction and physical coercion, albeit briefly, and only the context of cartoon characters. This is going to go in some weird directions, and I want to provide a fair heads up.
With that out of the way… let’s think too hard about children’s cartoons, yet again…
But seriously this is a great analysis as usual from Draqua!
Oh boy! Internet from Lockdown!
cruelfeline: I’ve always found it interesting how the Decepticons all seem to be obsessed with rank. Weren’t they the ones who wanted to abolish the old caste system? Y’all have lost sight of your goal, haven’t you?
krakenbell: So I’m inclined to think the obsession with rank is no longer a matter of caste. Any member of the named rank and file (I’m excluding the Vehicons – I’m still not really sure what to do with them) has the opportunity to advance, regardless of caste – provided they have the firepower, the ruthlessness, and the pain tolerance to back it up.
And don’t happen to be around Megatron when he’s on dark energon. Or when he’s in a bad mood. Or when it’s Tuesday. And I’d be willing to argue that, in Megatron’s mind, this is a significant improvement over the way it used to be. Especially given his gladiatorial background – the strong survive, the weak perish. But hey! It’s not a caste system anymore.
(Yeah, the goal went off a cliff a while back.)
draqua: Yup. This is a Megatron no longer actively pursuing his original cause. This is a Megatron obsessed with some basic wants, and they’re not focused on making earth the new vacation spot for all Decepticons. Its all about, like so many things in this world, shoving pointy things into Optimus Prime’s dark places.
Murder! I mean murder!
*claps* Beautiful analysis, Draqua. Just beautiful. And I enjoyed how you tied the two seasons together in a timeline from sick mind to the current infestation. (I also enjoyed the mental image of a harem of Soundwaves.) The infestation of insecticons truly is symbolic at this point, because their arrival has put the rest of the army on a side burner. The Vehicons no longer matter, Knock Out no longer matters, and the insecticons are willing to as a hive follow Megatron’s every whim.
Its almost a sort of meta commentary on the slavish manner to which the Transformers franchise (and by greater extension, the longtime fans of said franchise) venerates the archetypes of Optimus and Megatron.
With season 2 of Transformers Prime just around the corner, I wanted to take some time here to discuss one of my favourite episodes of the FIRST season, “Rock Bottom” (and a bit of “Partners” too, for reasons that will become clearer as we move on).
“Rock Bottom”, as an episode, is a bit of an odd beast in the grand scheme of the show itself and with regards to children’s action cartoons in general. It contains almost no combat scenes or transformation sequences, is highly limited in sets/cast members, and also features a 15 year-old girl nearly suffocating to death: quality kid’s entertainment! Mind you, I like shows which mix up their own formula, and also which discuss things beyond the events of the plot (see my self-indulgent postings discussion on metaphors for teenage sexuality in “Speed Metal”).
What makes “Rock Bottom” stand out, at least for me, is how it presents itself as a highly introspective look into the minds of several important characters in the show. While on the surface, very little appears to happen within the overall plot, (2 bad guys and 4 of the good guys get trapped under ground… then they get out: the end) we actually end up learning a great deal about what is going on under the hoods’ of these people. Much like how the characters end up trapped beneath the earth within a dark cave, we as the audience are pulled deep into the minds’ of the cast and we are shown some interesting pieces of information about them.
I don’t really have a lot to say about Megatron that I haven’t either already brought up elsewhere or has already been discussed much more competently by others.
The only thing I’d really like to note is the parallels between Megatron and Optimus in-show with respects to selflessness versus selfishness. Optimus does everything for the good of a whole, Megatron does everything for his own benefit and demands others contribute to his benefit when he sees fit. Optimus has family members, Megatron has servants and subordinates. Optimus rarely does anything independently, Megatron does very little as part of a group. In fact, this might be the most “Do it Yourself and Never Delegate” Megatron we’ve had thus far.
One could potentially spread out all TFP characters along a spectrum of “selfless versus selfish” come to that. Of course, not all heroes and villains might end up on what feels like the “right” side, but I think that’s what makes this show neat.
draqua: I think you’re spot on with your assessment of Optimus as the classic father figure. And I also think the character as a whole represents some rather uncomfortable, but nevertheless interesting conclusions about what it means to live under the weight of being “the perfect dad and general”. Read More
Okay, I was waiting to hear Draqua’s essay on father figure prime before I chimed in because I didn’t want to be repeating points. Liz, your essay was very astute, and I liked that you pointed out all the times that Optimus was shown to be weak, cracking that perfect father figure disguise. Draqua your father figure analysis made me want to press the like button ten million times. I’m just going to post one quote up above the read more cut here because everyone needs to have this banged into their heads:
See, when your first year Sociology professor was talking about how patriarchal gender roles hurt both men and women’s ability to achieve their full potential, this [Optimus in TFP] one was of the things they were talking about…
It’s wonderful that this show lets us see the effects of this constricting patriarchal role. Adults watching this show from the very first episodes noticed that there was something off about Optimus. He was so dry, so lifeless, such a cardboard cutout of platitudes. There’s a reason that TFP in 5 seconds is Jack asking if Optimus wants to see something funny, then Optimus responding “no” with flat affect. (Note to the internet : that’s the only time you’re allowed to use affect as a noun.) Since Optimus as the father figure has been dealt with, I, Obfuscobble, last member of the analysis trine, will deal with The Frailty of a Prime.
That’s not skywarp, it’s me.
Excellent points. Indeed, the whole theme of “Autobots are a family, Decepticons are co-workers” has been around since G1. I think the underlying communication in this is that the Autobots are automatically morally superior to the Decepticons because they have a more basic, natural relationship with one another. However, I think TFP is the first to really dig into the deeper implications of what it would mean to live like that in a war zone, and (like you said) examine the positive and negative aspects of both lifestyles.
Awesome, I’ve been looking forward to this one. I’ve got a lot to say about June and the representation of parents (mothers and fathers) in this show which will have to wait another 8 hours or so. However, I do wish to comment on your statement about June’s physical design.
I think there’s a lot to be said about Ratchet, Optimus, and the type of friendship/subordinate relationship they share. BUT, I want to hold off on discussing that until you make your June Darby post oddly enough, since my thoughts tie into the umbrella theme of parenting. In other news, I’m surprised no one reblogging here has called Ratchet Optimus’ wife or something of the like (they certainly wouldn’t be in the wrong…).
What really stands out to me with regards to your analysis and my own feelings regarding Breakdown is that he really doesn’t make that big of an impression compared to other characters… And I get the feeling this might be intentional.
And thus it becomes official; Jack is playing out the hero story.
Very nice analysis; I tend to overlook all the other elements in Speed Metal because my fangirling for Knockout tends to get in the way :T so it’s nice that this was actually brought to my attention.
I’d just like to add that “Speed Metal” is pretty brilliant in terms of how it structures the actions of its central characters thematically around the colour red.