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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trope-tastic Thursday: I Have Your Wife

Trope: I Have Your Wife

Description: In this plot trope, the villain does something especially dastardly - he/she kidnaps someone very close to the hero in an effort to manipulate him to follow their orders. As the trope name indicates, wives are usually the victims here, but everyone from children to very close friends can get snatched and held hostage. The hero is then faced with multiple problems: not only does he have to save his wife(/child/best buddy/dog), but he must deal with the moral dilemma of doing questionable things in order to save her.

Examples: Air Force One, the original Saw, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Pros: Drama abounds with this trope, and there's guaranteed to be at least one badass action sequence. After all, the hero must eventually exact revenge on the bastard who Has His Wife, right? This trope also demonstrates the power of love - the hero will do anything to get his beloved back.

Cons: This can skate into "Damsel in Distress" territory, which has its own list of pros and cons. The kidnapped loved one is at risk of being nothing more than a poorly-developed plot device, rather than a three-dimensional character. Same with the villain, actually. If not enough attention is paid to the details, then you're left with a mustache-twirling caricature who does little else than force the hero into action. While I guess this could be said for most plot tropes, it does seem like I Have Your Wife requires a lot of work to be populated with something other than stock characters and cliches.

Would/Did I Use It?: I've never used this one myself, but I am not opposed to it. I could even flip it around and not limit it to husbands saving wives, of course. I do also like the added aspect of giving the antagonist leverage to dictate the protagonist's actions. I don't mind sharing my puppetmaster duties every now and then!

1 comment:

  1. I would totally use this! I love the way they used this in True Lies and Face/'s not part of the main conflict, just a side conflict. It's realistic and it's not annoying. In movies like Taken...just the concept denotes an eye roll.