Writerly Things 6/22/2020: Does War Bring Out the Best in Our Characters?
You’ve seem numerous battle scenes. Men and women walking toward their doom or into victory. The question is: does war bring out the best in our characters?
Does It Make Them Stronger Individuals?
For some perhaps. Others, it makes cowards of. The cowards seem to slink off in the midst of every battle but still bray about their prowess to any who would listen. Now, I’m not saying when one of the armies about to clash realizes their outnumbered and to save their people, they retreat and regroup for another day. But when a person repeatedly uses others as shields to get away for the sake of their own lives, that shows cowardice.
To become stronger, the person must face their fate and fight to survive it. These become heroes. Legends. It’s what makes kingdoms stronger. Having a brave warrior or king who won’t back down. With few to support them at times, they stand against the darkness. Shield up, they wait for the fight to come to them and then give it their all.
Does It Make Them Better Heroes?
Heroes defend. They don’t hide. They press into battles with odds against them. Knowing their people will perish if they fail. Their world might cease to exist. They do everything in their power to win. Sometimes they stumble, a lot of times, they fall. But even on their knees, they do not yield. They live to fight another day.
What brings them back when life is ebbing from their bones? Their loved ones. Their friends. Hope. A dream. Give a hero a cause and he will rush into battle despite the cost. Or because of the cost not to do so. They care. Sometimes they gamble. At times, they plead. Never do they surrender.
Does It Break or Support Their Lives?
Think of The Last Kingdom. Uthred fights on. Even with his wife gone and his children hostage. He’s lost everything. Again and again. Still, he stands. He rushes into battle. And he saves for the good of all. Does he get honor in return? Lands and riches? Not from his King. Time after time, he loses. He is forced into giving his oath to one who never rewards him. A good man would lose hope. He does not.
In LOTR, Aragorn is a man filled with shame over what his father did. He learns throughout his journey that he does not need to fill those shoes. He can make his own path. Take back the sword and overcome the darkness that pierces the kingdom. He brings honor and hope to all even in the face of sure defeat. When he wins, so much the better for who he becomes.
So Then, Why Not Bring the Battle to Your Character? Let Them Show Their Stuff?
You might be surprised at the methods they will come up with to win. The distance they will go to save. And the hope they will inspire in those around them. Why do you think the sidekicks exist? To show the heroes spirit. To show what they’re capable of. To make a mark of their own.
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