|Stories - Part Six: Problems and Power
We all have opinions of ourselves, and by our attitudes are saying
It comes over in the way we dress, speak, act, posture, and gesture. When James Bond asks for his drink to be 'shaken, not stirred' he is indicating that he is sophisticated in his drinking habits. When Sherlock Holmes says "It's elementary my dear Watson", he is indicating that he is more clever than Dr Watson.
It is a common story theme to have characters that think they are better than others, and get it proved wrong. Many mastermind criminals think they have worked out every move, only to be foiled by someone smarter. Snow White's stepmother thought she was the most beautiful of all, only to find that she was not.
Games and competitions are to find out who is best. But whereas it is easy to find who is the fastest runner, highest jumper, best chess player, and perhaps even the most beautiful girl in the world, we can never know who is the best parent, the best friend, or the kindest person in the world. These attributes are not measurable. Also, being the fastest runner in the world is not a particularly useful skill unless you can make a living out of it. Whereas being the best parent in the world would have good effects on many people.
Stories are often about people trying to find out about themselves. They achieve this by testing themselves, and by finding how people relate to them. Cinderella obviously thought she was beautiful otherwise she would not have had the confidence to present herself to the Prince. Captain Ahab was totally confident that he could catch Moby Dick; and Robin Hood had no doubts about beating the Sheriff of Nottingham, in spite of the overwhelming odds against him.
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