purplecat: (roleplaying)
A couple of incidents recently have caused me to ruminate upon the Tragic Heroes of my youth.

I was leaving a comment on a piece of Hamlet fanfic which I realised amounted to "wasn't Hamlet an idiot and trying with it! I'm sure he deserved all he got.*" I don't think this was my view of Hamlet as a teenager and its possible that I would think differently were I actually to re-read the play. I don't think I've read or watched Hamlet in a decade and that means, of course, that my memory of the poor man has become filtered through the lens of the Twilight phenomenon. I can't help feeling, though, that Hamlet would have been somewhat at home among sparkly vampires.

In a related incident I've been slowly GMing my way through an old MERP module based on Gondor's Kinstrife. One of the central NPCs in this module is Neithan, who tragically disobeyed his father, got manoeuvred into a situation where he was forced to behead his best friend, and then more or less accidentally fell in with the forces of darkness. My party took a somewhat different view of Neithan's tragic history than I recall having when I first played through the module or indeed, as the character was originally described to me. In the party's view, Neithan had entirely brought his troubles on himself, was petty, vindictive and would make a terrible ruler. After several years of clearing up his messes they took the step of challenging him to a duel and then burying his body in an unmarked grave. This single action has, in fact, vastly simplified matters.

I'm wondering how many of the heroes of my youth are doomed to this kind of re-evaluation in the light of impending middle age. Or is it just me? I do recall horrifying a cousin of mine years ago by describing Anna Karenina as a very silly woman: "The greatest tragic heroine in western literature!!" he stuttered in outraged tones...

*I believe Very Bad Things happened to him in the fanfic in question, though I skipped those bits so I couldn't say for certain.

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purplecat

August 2017

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