Alignment and Symbolism, are they separate or intermingled?

Character alignment could be considered a defining part of what makes up a character, or even what the character represents. Of course it could be argued that if a character,or  group of characters belong to a organization with a set of rules/mantras that they represent that the alignment of that particular group. In my last post I talked about creating a warrior’s mantra, if you didn’t see that click here. This post borderlines on being extension of that, or at least feels that way.

Of course while most of the world see alignment as three branches; good, neutral, and evil,  with little to no gray area in between. However one might say that “rogue,” characters are an exception to that. Which is something I partially understand since mercenary, pirate, bounty hunter, sellswords, etc; characters by definition(s) are driven more by greed than by morality.  That being stated I’m choosing to ignore those style of characters, in this post. Otherwise this post could be gigantic.

Given how alignment is seen in things outside of literature including dungeons and dragons, video games, TV, movies, and of course comic books. I imagine given the elections that are taking place right now, I could probably find one about the political candidates if I searched hard enough. As much as that would be amusing, I’m going to ignore the opportunity for now. However given the exposure of comics books based television shows, and movies; it seems fitting that someone who knows maybe a little too much about superheros/ and super-villains would use that medium as an allegory for alignment choices.

alignementI will admit the idea of adding steps in between good and neutral, and neutral and evil makes sense. Even in adding separation between Lawful Good, Neutral Good, and Chaotic Good seems reasonable. The intentions between the five groups are the same, but the methods of the individual characters differ vastly. Even if you choose to ignore that, there is a massive difference between the Lawful Good of Superman, and the Lawful Moral of Batman.  Superman for instance is seen as a symbol of hope, while Batman in contrast is a symbol of fear.

Even if you compare the other side of the scale,evil. While the Lex Luthor could be argued as a symbol of lawful impure, since as a character he more driven by a desire to destroy Superman, than to improve society. Than on the other side of the spectrum we have the Mister Mxyzpltlk, who is pretty much the equivalent of a omni-powerful mischief loving imp. I would say he definitely fits the chaos impure label. Even the next level down icon of the extremely anachronistic violent Joker, is an almost embodiment of what chaotic evil should be. Someone without reason, rules, or a sense of morals.

Maybe that is why some characters have left such an impression on fans and society alike. Not so much who they are but, what they embody. What do you my followers think? Are alignment and symbolism similar, or different? Can one represent something like fear, but still be considered good? Could alignment and symbolism be intermingled, or should they be separated?

2 thoughts on “Alignment and Symbolism, are they separate or intermingled?

  1. I think it depends on what you want to accomplish with the story. For me, the characters themselves determine their alignment, not me. The symbolism comes much later, with thematic stuff. So for me, I don’t really think about these things but give my characters the freedom to be who they are and accept them. As a result, I end up with a lot of gray-area characters who may seem evil but are actually good and struggling like everyone else to find the way to live a good life. Cinda


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