Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Limp and an Eyepatch

I like the idea of distinguishing tags for certain characters. Whether the character has a limp, drawl, compulsive habit and very common these days a catchphrase, these tags help us know who is who and what to expect. I think there is always a certain amount that readers expect/anticipate from a certain symbols i.e. tags.
A prominent one that comes to mind is the eye-patch. While my visual examples today will be from film, it illustrates the very idea of archetypal character for the sake of story resonance.

You pretty much know when you see these guys-he's tough!

 Whether filthy buccaneer or grizzled gunslinger, someone who lost an eye is a bad ass.

I pondered while driving yesterday (where I do a lot of my best thinking) that the root of this could be Odin chief of the Norse gods and for whom Wednesday is named = Woden. He traded an eye for wisdom and he slew a lot of frost giants. This collective archetype could be the reason we think eye-patch = tough guy.

What are some of your favorite tags?


Angie said...

Interesting. I have never thought about the connection between Odin and men with eye patches. Very true. Great post!

David J. West said...

Thanks Angie-all the best with your current endeavors.

The Wasp said...

The eye patch is pretty great as tags go and the Odin connection's a pretty sound seeming one. It really does seem to connote toughness and experience.

Now you just need a shot of Christopher Lee as Rochefort.

David J. West said...

Ha! And I just recently watched Christopher Lee as Rochefort too! Far too many cool tough guys with eye-patches for me to post them all.

Charles Gramlich said...

Eye patches may be the most prominent. I don't think I've ever used that one, although I had Khales losing an eye in "Harvest of War." I had Ginn Hollis suffering with an addiction in "Under the Ember Star," and I kind of like how that turned out.

David J. West said...

Charles, I recall Khales suffered an awful lot. Again nice job on that.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Good pick up on the Odin connection.

Although it's not a tag I've seen elsewhere, I must (of course) hark back to Robert E. Howard and the description of Conan as moving like a panther. It's more than just saying he's muscular. It's almost an instant visual and indication of muscles and compressed power waiting to explode into action.

Though certainly not as large, Bruce Lee gives me the same impression.

David J. West said...

I can totally see that Paul, great example.

Ty Johnston said...

I have to wonder if this trope doesn't go back even further, perhaps being related to ancient Greece. In Greek mythology, blindness was common among oracles and the like, likely the one best remembered today being that of Oedipus.

It makes me think, could Odin losing only one eye be a sign of his wisdom. It sounds kind of snarky, I admit, but maybe the fact Odin was smart enough to give up only one eye instead of both was meant to show how smart he was, as well as proving that he was a bad ass.

My John Dee character has a limp, which might surprise some readers because Dee is immortal and though he can be wounded or injured, he always heals from even the most grievous of such. So how did he get hurt to cause himself a limp? What was bad enough to cause this being a permanent limp? As can be expected, there's a story there (I'll get to telling it eventually), but I always try to work in a mention of the limp in any of my Dee tales.

David J. West said...

Ty, I also recall Homer supposedly being blind.

I look forward to that Dee tale.