Rambling Thoughts On Historical Fiction and Storytelling Inspired by The Black Arrow

I’m not sure what to write about Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Black Arrow (1888). It’s a fun story, and it makes me want to either read Shakespeare or re-watch The Hollow Crown: War of the Roses. Or both — both would be good. But I don’t feel like there’s a whole lot to talk about for a Classics Club book post.

Maybe I should write a post about BlacKkKlansman instead, since I just watched that movie yesterday and I have lots of thoughts about it swirling around. (In short, I thought it was a very well-done movie about an important subject, but I felt the director undermined its message by adding news footage on the end that tied this story of the past to a specific incident and president of today. You don’t need to spoon-feed viewers your ideas. Let us make the connection ourselves.)

Rambling Thoughts On Historical Fiction and Storytelling Inspired by The Black Arrow | LikeAnAnchor.com
Adam Driver and John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman (2018)

Anyways, that’s off-topic. The Black Arrow is about political and ideological groups fighting each other, characters who feel torn between two sides of an issue, someone who’s pretending to be something they aren’t, villains who think they’re better than everyone else, and a crusader-type character avenging oppression and injustice.

Actually you could use all those descriptions of BlacKkKlansman, too, even though the two stories are really nothing alike. I guess it just goes to show how themes in story telling can span different cultures and centuries. I’m fascinated by this phenomenon. Take fairy tales, for example. There are over 900 versions of Cinderella and nearly every culture has its own take on the story. Why? Did the story start one place and somehow travel that much? Or is it due to something like Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious?

Rambling Thoughts On Historical Fiction and Storytelling Inspired by The Black Arrow | LikeAnAnchor.com
Cinderella stories from around the world

And we’re off-topic again. Back to Stevenson. The Black Arrow is a loosely historical story set during the War of the Roses. The main character is Richard “Dick” Shelton, who i’m afraid I didn’t care about at all for the first couple chapters. Actually, I didn’t care much about him by the end of the book either even though he does experience some basic character growth. He seems stubbornly determined not to think about what’s going on around him and that irritates me.

Initially, young Shelton picks a side in the political conflict just because that’s the side his guardian is on. Then, after he learns his guardian killed his father, Dick declares for the other side. And he sticks with that decision because it’s dishonorable to flop back and forth even though he hasn’t got a clue what he’s fighting against or in support of. I know lots of people fight for causes they don’t really understand, but should the hero of a book be killing people based on what was for him a mostly arbitrary decision?

In similarly oblivious fashion, Dick Shelton seems to be the only character who doesn’t know John Matcham is actually a disguised woman even though he spends several days traveling alone with her. As soon as he finds out John is actually Joanna Sedley, though, Dick promptly proposes marriage. He doesn’t know much more about her than that she’s female and they have a common enemy in their mutual guardian, but apparently it’s enough to avow undying love. I’m not impressed with him.

Rambling Thoughts On Historical Fiction and Storytelling Inspired by The Black Arrow | LikeAnAnchor.com
illustration by N.C. Wyeth

My few complaints aside, The Black Arrow is a fun adventure story and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Still, this probably isn’t a book that I’ll re-read again (I’d read it once around high school) nor one of the classics that I’ll think much about. On another side-note, I appreciated the author’s notes about where he changed historical facts to fit his story. I have no problem with writers taking a certain amount of creative liberties with history, but if you’re going to write historical fiction it’s nice to know when and how you’re stepping away from the facts.

Honestly, this is my favorite way to learn history — read it in fictional form, then look-up how close it is to being accurate. Mara: Daughter of the Nile (while not historically accurate) got me interested in ancient Egypt. I really didn’t care much about the founding fathers (though my history-loving mother made sure I read plenty of non-fiction while we were homeschooling) until listening to Hamilton. I guess I’m just more intrigued by stories and characters than by descriptions of events and people, so when someone offers me real events as stories and historical people as characters I’m hooked.

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Ficitonal MBTI – The Librarians

The Librarians is one of my favorite TV shows. What could be better than a team of bookworms saving the world from runaway magic? Sure it’s campy and can’t be taken too seriously, but isn’t that part of the appeal?

Typing fictional characters is one of my favorite things to do in blog posts. I’d started writing this one for last week, but when I realized how many of the Librarians characters are Sensing types I thought it’d be a great follow-up to my “Myths About Sensing Types” post. One of the more pervasive myths about Sensors is that they’re neither intelligent nor imaginative. Since all the main characters in this show except Flynn are Sensors, The Librarians provides a perfect example to the contrary.

Please note: I type using cognitive functions, which are the basis of Myers-Briggs theory. If you’re not familiar with this concept or want a refresher, check out this articles: The Simplest Guide To Myers-Briggs Functions Ever

Eve Baird: ESTJ

Ficitonal MBTI – The Librarians | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Eve is the easiest character to type, partly because she’s such a stereotypical example of the type nicknamed “Supervisor” or “Guardian.” ESTJs are known for their blunt demeanor, no-nonsense attitudes, and ability to keep things moving forward. They also care about keeping the world running as it should be, a trait Eve devotes to keeping the Library safe and magical artifacts out of the wrong hands.

ESTJs lead with a judging function called Extroverted Thinking/Effectiveness. That means Eve’s preferred mental process involves measuring and managing impersonal criteria when making decisions. There are examples of this in literally every episode. Read more

Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains

Note: an updated post about Kylo Ren’s Myers-Briggs type can be found on my Star Wars blog, Costumes and Characters.

If you were reading this blog two years ago, you know Kylo Ren is the new Star Wars character I found most intriguing. While most other fans were debating who Rey’s parent’s could be and what we might learn about Snoke’s origins, I was in the smaller group analyzing Kylo’s character arc and reading every in-canon novel looking for glimpses of his backstory.

Honestly, the thing I was most excited for going into The Last Jedi was seeing whether or not I’d still type him as an ENFJ after learning more about his character. My siblings seemed to think that was weird, but what can I say — I love a good Idealist-type villain and writing/thinking about personality types is what I do. Can you blame me?

And so this is my second post about Kylo Ren on this blog. If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet now’s the time to stop reading because

SPOILER WARNING

Seriously, if you don’t want to learn about major plot points and character arcs in The Last Jedi then get yourself to a theater before you read this blog post.

Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

 

Where Are The Knights of Ren?

This might be my biggest question coming out of the film. We caught a brief glimpse of the Knights of Ren in The Force Awakens and learned that Kylo is “master of the knights of Ren,” but that’s about it. People weren’t even sure whether the Knights of Ren were an order Kylo joined or one that he founded (I was on the “founded” side of the argument, suggesting “Knights of Ren” should be taken as “Knights who follow/belong to Ren”).

In The Last Jedi, Luke reveals that he was training 12 students when Kylo destroyed his new Jedi academy. A “handful” of the students joined Kylo and he slaughtered the others. It’s not too much of a leap to say that those students became the Knights of Ren, which would support my favorite theory for their origin, but where are they now? They’re not mentioned by name in this new film and it seems that if Kylo had a half-dozen force wielders sworn to follow him he should have been using them to hunt down the last of the resistance as well as Rey and Luke.Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

ReyLo Drama

I really can’t talk about Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi without talking about what happened between him and Rey. When they started communicating across the galaxy with each other I was really expecting a sibling reveal. It just so neatly parallels Luke and Leah’s Force-assisted communication. But then we find out Snoke was behind the connection and Rey’s parents are “nobodies.” I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t more of a reason for her connection with Anakin’s/Luke’s lightsaber, but I’m okay with this direction for her character’s story. She doesn’t have to be a Skywalker to be strong in the Force — the thousands of Jedi who existed prior to there even being a Force-sensitive Skywalker proves that.

Anyway, back to Rey and Kylo. It really wasn’t clear there for most of the film whether he would turn to the Light or she would turn to the Dark. I loved that edge-of-your-seat emotional drama. The moment where they touched hands (you know that one I’m talking about) gave me all the feels and watching them fight Snoke’s guard together might have jumped into my top-3 favorite lightsaber battles (I’ll have to watch it again, probably very soon, to be sure).

Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

I Still Think He’s An ENFJ

I’m beyond happy that my post from two years ago speculating about Kylo’s origins and personality type is still relevant after what we learn in The Last Jedi. I don’t think they contradicted any of my guesses, and when we learn that Kylo destroyed Luke’s academy after waking to see his mentor holding a lightsaber over him … well, that just supports my theory that Kylo was desperate for a mentor figure who would actually be there for the “real” him instead of one that was so terrified of his potential to be like Vader that he thought about killing him.

Also, I still think Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is an ENFJ personality type, albeit a very unhealthy version. He’s still showing a strongly idealist (NF) streak and his pitch to Rey when asking her to join him is right out of the NFJ villain textbook. It’s the same kind of argument you see in INFJ Ra’s Al Ghul use: the world is broken, so we need to wipe it clean and rebuild something that actually works.

I had a few people argue on my last post that Kylo is an introvert, but I’m still going to go with Extrovert. I feel like he’s leading with his Extroverted Feeling rather than Introverted Intuition, and when we see him go into “stress mode” it looks more like the ENFJ’s inferior Thinking than the INFJ’s inferior Sensing. I’m sure General Hux would say Kylo is excessively critical, displays convoluted logic, and has obsessive behaviors when in the “the grip” of his 3-year-old mental process. In contrast, a stressed INFJ is usually characterized by obsessive focus on external data (Kylo ignores such data), overindulgence in sensory pleasure (not something we see from Kylo), and adversarial attitude to the outer world (his rage is more focused on specific people than the idea that the world is out to get him).Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

An Emotion-Driven Villain

I love that as a villain, Kylo’s driving motivation is far more about connection (or lack thereof) than power (which is another reason to type him as a Feeling-dominant ENFJ). His major choices in this film all have to do with who he is and isn’t connecting with. We learn that in the past he lashed-out at Luke and all his students when he believes his mentor was about to kill him, and we see a similar thing happen when he kills his current mentor Snoke. Snoke has been telling Ren the whole movie that he’s pathetic and easily controlled, so when Snoke demands Kylo kill the one person he’s formed a new bond with (Rey), Kylo kills Snoke instead.

It’s a very Sith-like move to kill your mentor and take an apprentice, but that’s not exactly what Ren is trying to do. He’s been building an emotional connection with Rey and his pitch to her is less rule-the-galaxy-and-bring-order (like ENTJ Vader) than it is bury-what-hurt-us-and-build-something-new. And that’s on top of his assurance that she means something to him personally after they learn that she comes from nowhere and is a “nobody” (Update: director Rian Johnson has confirmed that Kylo, at least, believes he’s telling the truth). Even if the rest of the universe doesn’t care about them they could share a connection that would reshape the entire galaxy. It’s about relationship, not just power. And when Rey leaves him too, Kylo lashes out with such violence that even Hux thinks it’s excessive. When the red-headed Nazi thinks you’ve gone too far it might be time to reign yourself in.

It’s going to be really interesting to see where this goes next. Much as I would love to see him truly follow in the steps of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker by turning back to the Light, I’m not really expecting a redemption arc for Kylo at this point. It’s probably more a toss-up whether Rey or Hux manage to kill him first (maybe Rey will best him in a duel, then Hux will shoot him as she’s struggling to decide whether or not to spare Kylo).

Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

 

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart – Part Two

Last week I posted my chart with Disney villains Myers-Briggs types. It turned into such a big post that I finally split it in half — Sensing types in Part One and Intuitive types today in part two (some of you probably saw the whole post last week. It was live for a few hours before I decided splitting it up would be more manageable). To re-cap, here’s my criteria for which villains are included in this chart:

  • All Primary Members of the Disney Villains franchise show up here, except Chernabog.
  • I then added a few other popular villains, paying special attention to the villains from films where I’ve already typed a Disney heroine.
  • To keep the number of villains manageable, I decided not to type any of their side-kicks or secondary villains.
  • I’m only typing the animated versions. This is mostly to maintain consistency, since sometimes the type changes in live-action reboots (such as Maleficent becoming more INFJ when she got her own film).

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart | marissabaker.wordpress.com

As I mentioned last week, if you compare this chart to the ones I made for Disney Princesses, you’ll see they’re almost opposite each other. The spots on the chart that stood empty for the Princesses (ENFJ, INTJ, INTP) now have at least one occupant and some of the spots bursting with princesses don’t have any villains at all. The biggest trend seems to be Feeling types equal “good” and Thinking types equal “evil” (which really bugs me, but that’s a rant for another time).

There’s not much to go on for typing some of the villains. They’re often caricatures of personality types rather than fully-fleshed out characters. By necessity, associating a villain with a certain types means looking at the most negative stereotypes of that type. But Disney typing is fun, so even when we don’t have much to work, I’m going to take a guess at the character. You’re welcome to shout-out in the comments about what you do and don’t like! Have fun 🙂

Hans — ENFJ

Hans - ENFJ. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesI love NF type villains. They’re not the typical choice for a fictional bad guy and their motives aren’t always immediately understandable, which is part of makes them an unexpected and unpredictable character.

  • Fe: Types that lead with Fe often have the easiest time connecting with people. Which means they can be the most charming, manipulative villains you’ll ever see. Hans’ entire plan is based on charming one of the sisters into marrying him (which he does easily by creating an instant connection with Anna). He’s also writing a narrative that makes him “the hero that’s going to save Arandel” as he manipulates all Elsa’s advisors until they’re begging him to be king.
  • Ni: This shows up in his long-term thinking. As the youngest of 13 brothers, he decided that taking over a different kingdom was better than the life he could see continuing on in the future at home.
  • Se: Typically a fun-loving and risk-taking aspect of personality, which helps him charm Anna initially and also shows up in his physical skills like dancing and swordfighting.
  • Ti: Logic is not an ENFJ’s strongest suit. Hans’ entire plan rests on getting people to feel the way he wants them to rather than not on something concrete and he doesn’t have a backup plan.

Hades — ENFP

Hades - ENFP. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesThere’s little disagreement that Disney’s Hades is an NP type and none at all that he’s an extrovert. People just can’t agree on Thinking or Feeling. Both ENxP types lead with Ne, so it comes down to whether he uses Fi/Te (ENFP) or Ti/Fe (ENTP) to make decisions. Read more

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart – Part One

It’s finally here! The baddest evildoers to ever oppose animated Disney heroism — now with Myers-Briggs types. There are a lot of villains that show up in Disney stories so I had to whittle it down to a fairly short list. Here’s my criteria:

  • All Primary Members of the Disney Villains franchise show up here, except Chernabog.
  • I then added a few other popular villains, paying special attention to the villains from films where I’ve already typed a Disney heroine.
  • To keep the number of villains manageable, I decided not to type any of their side-kicks or secondary villains.
  • I’m only typing the animated versions. This is mostly to maintain consistency, since sometimes the type changes in live-action reboots (such as Maleficent becoming more INFJ when she got her own film).

Disney Villains Myers-Briggs Chart | marissabaker.wordpress.com

If you compare this chart to the ones I made for Disney Princesses, you’ll see they’re almost opposite each other. The spots on the chart that stood empty for the Princesses (ENFJ, INTJ, INTP) now have at least one occupant and some of the spots bursting with princesses don’t have any villains at all. The biggest trend seems to be Feeling types equal “good” and Thinking types equal “evil” (which really bugs me, but that’s a rant for another time).

There’s not much to go on for typing some of the villains. They’re often caricatures of personality types rather than fully-fleshed out characters. By necessity, associating a villain with a certain types means looking at the most negative stereotypes of that type. But Disney typing is fun, so even when we don’t have much to work, I’m going to take a guess at the character. You’re welcome to shout-out in the comments about what you do and don’t like! Have fun 🙂

  • Please note: there were so many villains to type that I split them up into two blog posts. Part One covers the Sensing Type villains and Part Two will cover the Intuitive types.
  • One more note: I mostly type by function stacks, so if you’re not familiar with that part of Myers-Briggs theory you can click here to read The Simplest Guide To Myers-Briggs Functions Ever.

Lady Tremaine — ESTJ

Lady Tremaine - ESTJ. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesMost people type her as a TJ type (at least in the animated version), but beyond that there isn’t any agreement about her I/E or S/N preference. I’m pretty sure she’s a Sensor, but I’ve gone back and forth between introvert and extrovert. I’ve gone with extrovert because she’s very inclined to take-charge in the outer world and we don’t really see her spending any time alone.

  • Te: The opening narration describes her as “cold, cruel, and bitterly jealous of Cinderella’s charm and beauty.” While not a fair representation of TJ types, “heartless” is an accusation stereotypically leveled against them, especially women. She’s very outwardly judgemental and her communication consists of authoritative orders.
  • Si: My guess is that Lady Tremaine married Cinderella’s father for security. She already had a “good family” so she wasn’t social climbing. While we do see her trying to forward her daughters’ interests, it’s not really as part of a N-type’s long-term planning. She’s working within traditional roles to control and manipulate people.
  • Ne: A pattern-recognition function, Extroverted Intuition helps Lady Tremain put the pieces together and realize Cinderella was the mystery woman at the ball.
  • Fi: As an inferior function, Introverted Feeling can show up as outbursts of emotion and a fear of feeling. Lady Tremain is a very detached character, never showing her feelings for the people around her unless it’s in an angry outburst.

Queen of Hearts — ESTJ

Queen of Hearts - ESTJ. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Disney villain typesThe Queen of Hearts is one of the more exaggerated Disney villains. ESTJ nicknames include Supervisor, Executive, Overseer, and Enforcer. Take that to a villainous extreme and you just might get someone who lops off subordinates’ heads when things don’t go as they ordered. Read more

The Promise

Exactly 102 years ago today, Ottoman authorities arrested and executed several hundred Armenian intellectuals and community leaders from Constantinople. April 24, 1915 became the start date for what the relatively few people who even know about it now call the Armenian Genocide. When the massacres and deportations finally ended in the early 1920s, about 1.5 million of Turkey’s 2 million Armenians were dead. That’s 3/4 of the entire population.

I wasn’t planning on writing about The Promise. After first seeing the trailers, I hadn’t even planned on seeing it until it was out on DVD. Then I found out that there were tens of thousands of negative reviews for the film online when it hadn’t even been released yet. That caught my attention, because often the stories people work hardest to silence are the ones it’s most important to tell.sometimes the stories people work hardest to silence are the ones it's most important to tell | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Having seen the film now I’d say that’s definitely the case here. And not only is it an important story, it’s a well done film despite what critics are saying. Read more