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Conflict of WoT


Bromo Sapien
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For some reason, at this late hour of the night (3 am EST right now), I got to randomly thinking about WOT and Rand and the overall story. For most of the thirteen (not counting NS since it isn't about Rand specifically) books, I've always seen the overall, general storyline as fairly straightforward: Rand trying to unite the lands in order to fight the DO and Darkfriends at Tarmon Gai'don. It was a simple Man vs. Supernatural conflict setup.

 

For clarification purposes, I'm going to define what I mean when I say "conflict setup". I'm using the six basic ones that I found readily on Wikipedia:

 

Man vs. Man - Most basic. Protagonist vs. Antagonist. Mano a Mano. Straight fight.

 

Man vs. Nature - Think The Perfect Storm. Protagonist against whatever is out there in the wild, whatever is "uncivilized" and non-human.

 

Man vs. Self - An internal battle with one's thoughts, ie A Beautiful Mind.

 

Man vs. Supernatural - Aliens, Ghosts, anything non-tangible in our reality.

 

Man vs. Society - Think Fahrenheit 451.

 

Man vs. Destiny - Fate vs. Freewill.

 

Those are the six ones I found. They seem to be a fairly decent list. But anyway, with that in mind, I was thinking about WoT and the overall storyline. As I said, I thought of it as Man vs. Supernatural: Rand vs. the Dark One. There were some minor other conflicts in there (Bowl of the Winds and the extended summer/winter=Man vs. Nature, a whole hell of a lot in Man vs. Destiny what with the Dragon Soul debate) but if you had to define one central conflict, that would be it. But what about Man vs. Self. More and more, the battles Rand has faced have had more to do with himself than his enemy. Early on, Rand & co. had a (comparatively) easy ride. EotW only had him facing some Trollocs, Ishamael with a built-in OHKO(the cords), and Aginor, which he got lucky with a huge pool of clean saidin to use. From there until VoG, every single opportunity for things to get worse usually ended with it going bad for Rand's mind. Look at the biggest turning point until VoG: Dumai's Well. It's a huge battle on the field, but if you look at it, that was a mere mirror to Rand's struggle with his sanity in the form of "LTT" in the box. Notice that it's the Dreadlord Taim who ends up winning the battle. As the series progresses, yes we see the battle against the Forsaken and the battle to unite the East and West and the battle to claim Caemlyn for Elayne and all the other Man vs. Man/Supernatural battles more often than we see any other, but that doesn't mean it's central.

 

The three main characters have all undergone major changes in their personalities, Rand simply being the largest (both as a character and in terms of the change). Perrin's entire storyline series has been about him coming to grips with his Wolfbrotherness. With on the surface level it is a story of Rand vs. the Dark One, when you dig deeper, it seems that the rise in the Dark One comes with a rise in Rand's insanity and mistrust of those around him. Now that Rand has conquered himself, the DO is starting to retreat and Rand is storming back, like in Maradon.

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For some reason, at this late hour of the night (3 am EST right now), I got to randomly thinking about WOT and Rand and the overall story. For most of the thirteen (not counting NS since it isn't about Rand specifically) books, I've always seen the overall, general storyline as fairly straightforward: Rand trying to unite the lands in order to fight the DO and Darkfriends at Tarmon Gai'don. It was a simple Man vs. Supernatural conflict setup.

 

For clarification purposes, I'm going to define what I mean when I say "conflict setup". I'm using the six basic ones that I found readily on Wikipedia:

 

Man vs. Man - Most basic. Protagonist vs. Antagonist. Mano a Mano. Straight fight.

 

Man vs. Nature - Think The Perfect Storm. Protagonist against whatever is out there in the wild, whatever is "uncivilized" and non-human.

 

Man vs. Self - An internal battle with one's thoughts, ie A Beautiful Mind.

 

Man vs. Supernatural - Aliens, Ghosts, anything non-tangible in our reality.

 

Man vs. Society - Think Fahrenheit 451.

 

Man vs. Destiny - Fate vs. Freewill.

 

Those are the six ones I found. They seem to be a fairly decent list. But anyway, with that in mind, I was thinking about WoT and the overall storyline. As I said, I thought of it as Man vs. Supernatural: Rand vs. the Dark One. There were some minor other conflicts in there (Bowl of the Winds and the extended summer/winter=Man vs. Nature, a whole hell of a lot in Man vs. Destiny what with the Dragon Soul debate) but if you had to define one central conflict, that would be it. But what about Man vs. Self. More and more, the battles Rand has faced have had more to do with himself than his enemy. Early on, Rand & co. had a (comparatively) easy ride. EotW only had him facing some Trollocs, Ishamael with a built-in OHKO(the cords), and Aginor, which he got lucky with a huge pool of clean saidin to use. From there until VoG, every single opportunity for things to get worse usually ended with it going bad for Rand's mind. Look at the biggest turning point until VoG: Dumai's Well. It's a huge battle on the field, but if you look at it, that was a mere mirror to Rand's struggle with his sanity in the form of "LTT" in the box. Notice that it's the Dreadlord Taim who ends up winning the battle. As the series progresses, yes we see the battle against the Forsaken and the battle to unite the East and West and the battle to claim Caemlyn for Elayne and all the other Man vs. Man/Supernatural battles more often than we see any other, but that doesn't mean it's central.

 

The three main characters have all undergone major changes in their personalities, Rand simply being the largest (both as a character and in terms of the change). Perrin's entire storyline series has been about him coming to grips with his Wolfbrotherness. With on the surface level it is a story of Rand vs. the Dark One, when you dig deeper, it seems that the rise in the Dark One comes with a rise in Rand's insanity and mistrust of those around him. Now that Rand has conquered himself, the DO is starting to retreat and Rand is storming back, like in Maradon.

 

I am not sure what you are trying to put forward, but your point is true. The battle has never been about trollocs v man. It has never been about the "war" in the tradtional sense. That is why the DO spent so much time trying to convert Rand, rather than just killing him. It is psychology. Somehow, the DO is better off with the Dragon on his side, so much so that he would risk everything to turn him to the "dark" rather than kill him. I think you hit spot on, its more about the emotional conflict that goes on, rather than the physical battle.

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In my alternate, crazier, and more fun timeline it is Man vs. Supernatural, where a simple man tries to stand up against the tyranny of a mad supernatural being and his avatar who promote a system in which humanity is doomed to endlessly repeat all of the same mistakes, all the while tricking a bunch of psychopaths into doing his bidding in various ways.

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Man vs. Man - Most basic. Protagonist vs. Antagonist. Mano a Mano. Straight fight.

 

Man vs. Nature - Think The Perfect Storm. Protagonist against whatever is out there in the wild, whatever is "uncivilized" and non-human.

 

Man vs. Self - An internal battle with one's thoughts, ie A Beautiful Mind.

 

Man vs. Supernatural - Aliens, Ghosts, anything non-tangible in our reality.

 

Man vs. Society - Think Fahrenheit 451.

 

Man vs. Destiny - Fate vs. Freewill.

 

 

But the WoT is an epic story, spanning every Man vs X and then some. To name one central conflict theme is to forget about 85% of the series.

 

To name a few:

 

Man vs Man - ever time the Seanchen are involved, which also brings up another theme of stable and secure but oppressive government vs free but not as safe government.

 

Man vs Nature - the Bowl of Winds is nice, but what about all the conflicts coming from men and women thinking differently and acting differently. IE men presuming women think X by nature, and women presuming men think Y by nature, and all the conflicts that come from this.

 

Man vs Self - See every main character having a conflict with him/herself at one point or another (except maybe Egwene)

 

Man vs Supernatural - Besides Rand vs DO, what about all the regular people who have to put up with crazy stuff happening every 100 pages...

 

Man vs Society - There is also Rand vs what everyone thinks the Dragon should do. And Egwene vs all the Aes Sedai who feel she should be older/stronger/smarter/out of the way. And Mat vs the Band's opinion, and Perrin vs his followerers, and Perrin vs Faile's upbringing on being a wife.

 

Man vs Destiny - Here I would argue that the point of this series is not Man vs Supernatural, that is just Chocolate coating. What it seems like is Man vs Destiny, and how its inescapable, even when you're trying to escape it on the battle field, somehow the dice start thundering in your head and you run into the enemy's Leader and kill him... Or how destiny will make you the Amyrlan, or the Queen, or the Dragon's advisor, or the Prince of the Ravens. No matter how any of the character's try to run away, or change, or do anything contrary to what the pattern (read author) commands.

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