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Thread: Character Essay: Body, Mind and Spirit

  1. #41
    Seventh Year Ravenclaw
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    May 2006
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    If the shadow reflects the negative bits of oneself, then I still think Draco is Harry's shadow. It has been mentioned before, but I think Luna is Hermione's shadow, and Crabbe/Goyle are Ron's shadow. Luna might seem an odd choice, but we've talked about how her faith contradicts Hermione's dedication to reason; I think blind belief in such things is something Hermione would definitely dislike about herself. And Crabbe/Goyle are loyal to Draco to the point of mindless drones; I would imagine that Ron might fear becoming such a friend at times, but I think he has managed to support Harry but stand his own farily well thus far (I would cite his taking over the chess game in PS/SS, his intuition about Crookshanks in PoA, his anger in GoF, and his doubt of Malfoy in HBP, among other things.)

    I think Snape is most likely the shadow of James and Sirius, and not Harry; but I might also entertain the idea of him being the shadow to Dumbledore of Voldemort. However, I don't have the time to discuss it at the moment, so I will sleep on it and see what you all come up with in the meantime on that one.


  2. #42
    Okay, this is some great discussion, but I think we've gotten a bit off-base. What I was trying to understand was Peter's relationship to the Marauders. I don't think anyone has suggested that he's their shadow--that is obviously Snape. So what is he? It's easy to call him a Body, but then why was he in the group, when it already has a Body (Sirius)? What was his purpose, before he betrayed them? What are the similarities and differences between Peter, Salazar Slytherin, Neville and Hagrid? I don't think they all fit into a category together, but maybe they are complements of each other somehow. Or maybe they are similar archetypes or something.

    Shadows are tricky. I just happen to like them, so I've thought more about them than most people probably have. They *seem* evil. If you were to make a list up of all the worst qualities a person could possibly have and then made a character based on that -- that would be *your* shadow.

    For example, I'm a very patient and honest person, so things in *my* shadow would be impatience and dishonesty. However, there are times when I am impatient. Instead of acting angry at all impatient people and feeling superior to them, I need to remember that there are times that I am also impatient. As for dishonesty, there are times when it really is the best thing. For example -- I now feel justified in calling in "sick" when I need (and truly need, not just pretend need) a mental health day. This isn't entirely honest, but my boss doesn't need to know about my mental problems/stress levels/way I manage stress.
    Vorona, this is an excellent explanation of the shadow. I hope everyone made note of this to use it in their own writing. Your heroes need shadows. Trust me.

    Finally, regarding the discussion of Voldemort as the hero of his own story: This is true of all good writing. If your villain is to seem like a realistic person, he has to believe he is the hero of the story. Many stories can be read from the point of view of the villain as the (tragic) hero. The qualities of a tragic hero are interesting, but probably deserve their own thread. My point is that the fact that Voldemort thinks he's his own hero doesn't relate to his position in the Body/Mind/Spirit triad; it only reveals that JKR is a brilliant author (A shocking thought, I know).

    As I tried to explain before, the Body/Mind/Spirit triad is only a prism through which we can analyze the story. The characters are not fixed in their places and many of them will have different roles depending on which other characters are in the room. Real people act differently around different friends, so this is not an unrealistic way of looking at things. Lucius Malfoy is probably the Mind part of the Voldemort/Lucius/Bellatrix trio, but he might be the Spirit part of a Lucius/Narcissa/Draco trio, depending on how you write the fanfic. To return to Star Wars as our non-canon example, Chewbacca might be the Body of a Han Solo/Princess Leia/Chewbacca trio, but he'd be the Spirit of a Chewbacca/C-3PO/R2-D2 trio.

    In other words, there's no need to decide definitively whether Snape is James Potter's Shadow or Harry's; he might be both, or he might be one thing to James and another thing to Harry.

    To bring this back to the purpose of the Character Clinic, does everyone understand how to use these concepts in their writing? When I first learned about Body, Mind and Spirit, I was shocked to discover that these archetypes already existed in my original novel. Do any of you see similar parallels in your own work?

    In my fan fiction, my OC, Theresa, was a Body when she was a kid, but has grown into a Spirit. It might be possible for me to write a story about her childhood where she is the Body, Snape is the Mind and Lily Evans was the Spirit. As an adult, she becomes a Spirit character, and Sirius and Snape are her Body and Mind, which provides no end of conflict for me to write about. Do you all see how this can help you think about the characters in your own fan fiction?


  3. #43
    Good points about how it depends on the people involved. I didn't realize that the only question being discussed was Peter, though, so I apologize for getting off track -- I thought we were discussing trios and foursomes as a whole, and seeing what a fourth category might be if there is a foursome, or whether we don't need one.

    Anyway, as for Peter, it's true, we haven't talked as much about him as we have the House foursome. And it's also true that he's not a Shadow...

    I think we haven't talked about it because I know I can't figure it out. He could be a Mind character, since although he wasn't in their league talent-wise (according to McGonagall), most of his exploits have had a huge amount of strategy/thinking.

    Then, there are two Mind characters...

    It's too bad we don't have more information on how that foursome operated. We have a sense of the Houses, but that puts Slytherin as a Shadow...

    But maybe there is a different scheme for foursomes. I personally think it's clear that the Houses are meant to be a foursome, and are not an unbalanced threesome. The Sorting hat is clear that the four are supposed to work together. The situation with the Marauders is less clear since Peter did end up betraying them... but I think he did it under duress -- I don't think he ever intended to become a traitor. I don't think he did it consciously. So, I think that before Voldemort entered the picture that the Marauders functioned very well.

    So, let's look at roles in terms of houses (this is *roles*, I'm not trying to say these characters should be in these houses).

    Hufflepuff -- Loyalty -- Sirius (body)

    Gryffindor -- Courage -- James (spirit)

    Ravenclaw -- Intelligence -- Remus (mind1)

    Slytherin -- Cunning -- Peter (mind2)

    That still doesn't quite work, but it's true that the type of mental activity of a Ravenclaw is very different from the mental activity of a Slytherin.

    Any thoughts?

  4. #44
    Originally posted by Vorona:
    Anyway, as for Peter, it's true, we haven't talked as much about him as we have the House foursome. And it's also true that he's not a Shadow...
    Ok, since I am pretty new to this conversation, let me get things straight:

    I'm assuming that we have already determined that the Marauders comprise of a foursome, even though there are clearly three definitive categories: Mind, Body, and Spirit. So what is the fourth category?

    I have read in several posts about the idea of Shadow, which is a very clever point. It almost seems as though a Shadow character has to be involved, otherwise there would be no conflict within the story. Even so, a Shadow character cannot be within a trio, but should rather act as a foil against the trio. Like Harry, Ron, and Hermione, with Draco being the Shadow--he is not in the trio, but closely interacts with them in a negative way.

    However, with all this talk of a Shadow character being the fourth category, I'm going to mess things up a bit and say that when I read through this conversation, I thought of something entirely different. I don't exactly know what name to place it with, but I like to call it "Follower". Let's think about this a bit. A Follower character would be someone who is an outcast of society, kind of like the nerdy little kid who no one wants to talk to. He would have a thirst to prove to everyone that he is not worthless, but in fact capable of accomplishing anything he sets his mind to.

    Now, for characters that fall under this category: Neville--we all know Neville's story. He is nearly a Squib, and blunders about, always losing or forgeting things. It is by mere happenstance that he even becomes Harry, Ron, and Hermione's friend. We all know that Neville grows immensely throughout the books, especially in the DA in Order of the Phoenix. But even so, he still cannot overcome that childhood awkwardness. Peter--he is very much like Neville---clumsy, picked on, inwardly clever (as I believe Neville truly is), and inclined to surround himself with "popular" people. You saw how he simply "idolized" James in Snape's Worst Memory. Now, mind you, his story turned down the opposite path of Neville's, but that was due to his weaknesses and choices. Snape--Snape is the freaky little kid that everyone picked on. Terribly clever, but incredibly lax in control of his emotions, which proved to be his "blundering" side. He chose to "follow" Lord Voldemort, than to "follow" Dumbledore. As for the founders, I'm not sure who would fall under the Follower category, probably Rowena, or Helga---but I'll leave that to debate

    So as you can see, I think Shadow is an entirely separate category from Mind, Body, and Spirit. I immediately thought of Follower instead. Someone who is not capable of leading, does not have a bad mind, but is not in control of their emotions.

    In addition, a Follower would complete the whole, in a manner of speaking, because that would provide the "weakness" of the whole. Let's face it, we can't have a perfect whole, can we? Any thoughts?


  5. #45


    So I stumbled across this thread and wondered why no one has posted in so long. So hopefully this wasn't supposed to be locked or something.

    I was considering this idea and am wondering if it applies to non-Western literature. So I tried thinking about a trio in non-Western lit... but only managed to come up with the Brothers of the Peach Courtyard Oath from Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Liu Bei, Zhang Fei and Guan Yu. Admittedly, they are real people, but Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a novel, not a history.

    Liu Bei is the easy one. He's the leader of both the Brothers and the country, so he's the soul character.

    The next two are tricky. Zhang Fei and Guan Yu are both fighters and known for their fighting ability, particularly Guan Yu.

    Zhang Fei is more known for being hot-headed and not thinking things through. So, I suppose that makes him the Body character, leaving Guan Yu as the Mind character.

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