Corvo Is Not An Honorable Man

 Pages PREV 1 2
 

good read, having not played the game, kinda makes me like Corvo a bit XD

wintercoat:

Quaxar:

2fish:
Fun read I just never figured Corvo as being a member of the nobles. I thought he was just a bodyguard that every tolerated because the empress liked him. Always nice to learn more about the games we play and how they link to history.

Well, being bodyguard of the Empress does bring its own title so he could very well just have been a talented common swordsman from the streets the Empress or her father picked just because, then raised to a noble so he could perform his duties.

Keep in mind that it wasn't uncommon for close courtiers of the Royals to receive a formal title. A good example is a position most popular during the 15th century known as "Groomer of the Stool", which basically meant you were responsible for providing facilities for and assisting with the king's excretions, yet was a sought-after position since it meant time alone with the monarch and since they were apparently prone to talking secrets on the potty it made the holder of the position much feared around the court.

It depends on how you interpret the title "Lord Protector". Is he the protector of lords, or the lord of protectors? The former would be a formal title given to a commoner, the latter would be a noble's title. Given that the bodyguard is chosen from commoners, I'm more inclined to believe the former, rather than the latter. It would also explain why, if Emily really is Corvo's daughter, it's kept a secret, as it would have been a scandal for the Empress to have an affair with a commoner, even one of such high position.

I agree, "Lord Protector" is most likely a professional title and not nobility, but like Groomer of the Stool or Whipping Boy which were both job titles, a lot of them were later raised into high nobility by the king. Not during their career though, that might have been a bit of an error by me.

On a related note, I am intrigued why the producers would chose the title of Lord Protector for Corvo if they intended to model the world after Britain. As far as I'm aware Lord Protector never meant anything close to bodyguard and was only awarded for representative regents during a ruler's inability to rule (illness, age, ...) and hasn't been used in Britain since Cromwell operrated under that title during the Interregnum. And I think it is still used in some constitutional monarchies, so as long as the king is out of the country the next heir becomes Lord Protector.
What's so bad about the proper British royal bodyguard title of Gentleman at Arms or Gentleman Pensioner? Granted, not an individual's title as such, but a damn lot closer than using the title for an active regent.

It's an interesting read, but I think your kind of missing a point here. Corvo arguably wouldn't be a gentleman, his role was that of the Empress' bodyguard and personal dirty tricks specialist, the game opens up with him returning after having been sent elsewhere as an envoy.

By definition he fits an unusual position in that he had a greatly respectful job, was in the Empress' inner circle, and had a degree of honor in a general sense by association, but was always arguably a servant, albiet a very dangerous one.

Even within archaic "honor culture" understand that not everyone played by the same rules. When you get up as high as kings and such you generally couldn't have them duelling every gentleman that took affront, you did indeed have professional duelists, bodyguards, etc... Kings and such DID duel but only in very specific circumstances against the highest of the high.

In the context of Dishonored you don't get much higher than The Empress (lol) and she didn't strike me as someone in possesion of much martial prowess. This leads me to believe that gender equality doesn't apply the way it is now, and that Corvo effectively acted as her champion in such matters (ie if the Emperess offends you, you fight Corvo).

It didn't go into these kinds of details of course, but it would kind of explain Corvo's role, how he acted when he was a "second" as well as the expectations in manipulating him in that role. Corvo being in a rather unique position.

Social status aside, remember that if you consider Corvo is a servant, they can't quite treat him the way they would non-gentlemen because of his former status, and the simple fact that's he's probably the most dangerous man alive (going by the game concept, and especially once he has magical powers). He might be a tool (literally), and you might have to occasionally make a display of relative rank, but given that this is a guy whose skills they not only need, but has probably up until this point but feeding anyone who looked at the Emperess the wrong way their own genitals.

It's great to make textbook arguements about a general code of conduct or how a society worked, but within that your always going to have exceptions. High ranking bodyguards, spymasters, "secret" (by which I mean not so secret) Assasins, and of course Crime Lords (organizations like the Mafia have been around for a VERY long time among the working class, sure, a Don might just be a local businessman socially... a mere "successful merchant" but a gentleman who knows what's what isn't going to snub him or else bad things are going to happen, and besides this is someone the gentry knows they are going to have to deal with (which was kind of the point, and how these things got organized, many organized crime syndicates having had roots as legitimate attempts to organize businesses and the regular folk apparently).

The point to consider also is that there really aren't any historical precedents for someone in Corvo's exact position to base it off of. Queens like Elizabeth or Victoria had their protectors, but nobody that was quite so overtly infamous as Corvo, to the point where pretty much everyone knows who he is, and is kind of in awe of his raw abillity to kill. They leave a lot of the pre-story open which is part of the problem I guess, but in playing Dishonored I got the impression Corvo was one scary dude before the game started. To the point where I'd think simple self preservation would have kept the nobles in line, and that was kind of the point of him being the Emperess' right hand, she's "nice" Corvo isn't so nice and who she uses when someone gets her cranky.

Quaxar:

wintercoat:

Quaxar:

Well, being bodyguard of the Empress does bring its own title so he could very well just have been a talented common swordsman from the streets the Empress or her father picked just because, then raised to a noble so he could perform his duties.

Keep in mind that it wasn't uncommon for close courtiers of the Royals to receive a formal title. A good example is a position most popular during the 15th century known as "Groomer of the Stool", which basically meant you were responsible for providing facilities for and assisting with the king's excretions, yet was a sought-after position since it meant time alone with the monarch and since they were apparently prone to talking secrets on the potty it made the holder of the position much feared around the court.

It depends on how you interpret the title "Lord Protector". Is he the protector of lords, or the lord of protectors? The former would be a formal title given to a commoner, the latter would be a noble's title. Given that the bodyguard is chosen from commoners, I'm more inclined to believe the former, rather than the latter. It would also explain why, if Emily really is Corvo's daughter, it's kept a secret, as it would have been a scandal for the Empress to have an affair with a commoner, even one of such high position.

I agree, "Lord Protector" is most likely a professional title and not nobility, but like Groomer of the Stool or Whipping Boy which were both job titles, a lot of them were later raised into high nobility by the king. Not during their career though, that might have been a bit of an error by me.

On a related note, I am intrigued why the producers would chose the title of Lord Protector for Corvo if they intended to model the world after Britain. As far as I'm aware Lord Protector never meant anything close to bodyguard and was only awarded for representative regents during a ruler's inability to rule (illness, age, ...) and hasn't been used in Britain since Cromwell operrated under that title during the Interregnum. And I think it is still used in some constitutional monarchies, so as long as the king is out of the country the next heir becomes Lord Protector.
What's so bad about the proper British royal bodyguard title of Gentleman at Arms or Gentleman Pensioner? Granted, not an individual's title as such, but a damn lot closer than using the title for an active regent.

I struggled with this question too - especially the use of "Lord Protector" and whether it was an honorific or a true title. I decided that Corvo could be considered a "gentleman," because of a number of factors:

First, early in the game he's referred to as "Lord Corvo" by the boat crew that welcomes him back to Gristol. (See this video, at 0:59, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-7GN-GLpoA ) That's not conclusive proof by any means, but I felt they wouldn't call him "Lord Corvo," if Lord Protector was a formal title rather than a title of nobility.

Second, in the Dishonored game manual it states that Corvo was assigned to the Empress as a "diplomatic gesture." I considered this to be a courtier exchange or even as a noble hostage to guarantee a treaty. I suppose he could just be a retainer who's reassigned, but often people who get exchanged diplomatically are of higher rank. (Also note that the Empress/Emperor chooses their own Lord Protector at age 12 and Jessamine selected Corvo... considering Corvo's age that would make him quite young when he came to court in Gristol, which to my mind seems like a treaty hostage, or perhaps he was just in someone's entourage that's when he was given as a "gesture." Frankly, it's all pretty unclear.)

Third, Corvo begins the game having returned from a diplomatic mission to get aid for Dunwall and stop the other islands from closing their ports. Again, you don't generally send someone as a diplomatic envoy unless they're of sufficient rank. If I'm Britain and you're Italy, and I send you a glorified royal guard to negotiate keeping your ports open to British trade, that's an enormous insult.

Lastly, generally anyone who's heading up a royal protection detail at this time would be some form of military officer, which would make them a gentleman by 18th/19th century rules. Either someone who was well-connected or had a distinguished record in a well-known campaign. So even if "noble" might be stretching things a little far, I feel comfortable that Corvo is some form of gentleman.

So that was my logic. I'm not saying it's right, just that it's the interpretation I went with. Frankly, I had to extrapolate so much in order to write the article that the "methodology" paragraph used to be a full page unto itself, but it took up so much of the article I just snipped it. But yeah, I understand your concerns on that and I'm not knocking your interpretation. Thanks for commenting!

The_Darkness:
VERY interesting read. I do like looking at Dishonored through this lens.

However, someone clearly hasn't played Dishonored as: Corvo Attano: The Loudest Man in Dunwall!
Honourably duelling your way through Dunwall, one guard at a time...

That entire video is brilliant! I'll be sure to give one of those modes a try on a second run through.

wintercoat:

Quaxar:

2fish:
Fun read I just never figured Corvo as being a member of the nobles. I thought he was just a bodyguard that every tolerated because the empress liked him. Always nice to learn more about the games we play and how they link to history.

Well, being bodyguard of the Empress does bring its own title so he could very well just have been a talented common swordsman from the streets the Empress or her father picked just because, then raised to a noble so he could perform his duties.

Keep in mind that it wasn't uncommon for close courtiers of the Royals to receive a formal title. A good example is a position most popular during the 15th century known as "Groomer of the Stool", which basically meant you were responsible for providing facilities for and assisting with the king's excretions, yet was a sought-after position since it meant time alone with the monarch and since they were apparently prone to talking secrets on the potty it made the holder of the position much feared around the court.

It depends on how you interpret the title "Lord Protector". Is he the protector of lords, or the lord of protectors? The former would be a formal title given to a commoner, the latter would be a noble's title. Given that the bodyguard is chosen from commoners, I'm more inclined to believe the former, rather than the latter. It would also explain why, if Emily really is Corvo's daughter, it's kept a secret, as it would have been a scandal for the Empress to have an affair with a commoner, even one of such high position.

I'd say it's a bit of both in the figurative sense. He is the protector of gristol's highest charge after all, though generally I would agree with you.

Robert Rath:

Quaxar:

wintercoat:

It depends on how you interpret the title "Lord Protector". Is he the protector of lords, or the lord of protectors? The former would be a formal title given to a commoner, the latter would be a noble's title. Given that the bodyguard is chosen from commoners, I'm more inclined to believe the former, rather than the latter. It would also explain why, if Emily really is Corvo's daughter, it's kept a secret, as it would have been a scandal for the Empress to have an affair with a commoner, even one of such high position.

I agree, "Lord Protector" is most likely a professional title and not nobility, but like Groomer of the Stool or Whipping Boy which were both job titles, a lot of them were later raised into high nobility by the king. Not during their career though, that might have been a bit of an error by me.

On a related note, I am intrigued why the producers would chose the title of Lord Protector for Corvo if they intended to model the world after Britain. As far as I'm aware Lord Protector never meant anything close to bodyguard and was only awarded for representative regents during a ruler's inability to rule (illness, age, ...) and hasn't been used in Britain since Cromwell operrated under that title during the Interregnum. And I think it is still used in some constitutional monarchies, so as long as the king is out of the country the next heir becomes Lord Protector.
What's so bad about the proper British royal bodyguard title of Gentleman at Arms or Gentleman Pensioner? Granted, not an individual's title as such, but a damn lot closer than using the title for an active regent.

I struggled with this question too - especially the use of "Lord Protector" and whether it was an honorific or a true title. I decided that Corvo could be considered a "gentlemen," because of a number of factors:

First, early in the game he's referred to as "Lord Corvo" by the boat crew that welcomes him back to Gristol. (See this video, at 0:59, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-7GN-GLpoA ) That's not conclusive proof by any means, but I felt they wouldn't call him "Lord Corvo," if Lord Protector was a formal title rather than a title of nobility.

Second, in the Dishonored game manual it states that Corvo was assigned to the Empress as a "diplomatic gesture." I considered this to be a courtier exchange or even as a noble hostage to guarantee a treaty. I suppose he could just be a retainer who's reassigned, but often people who get exchanged diplomatically are of higher rank. (Also note that the Empress/Emperor chooses their own Lord Protector at age 12 and Jessamine selected Corvo... considering Corvo's age that would make him quite young when he came to court in Gristol, or perhaps that's when he was given as a "gesture." Frankly, it's all pretty unclear.)

Third, Corvo begins the game having returned from a diplomatic mission to get aid for Dunwall and stop the other islands from closing their ports. Again, you don't generally send someone as a diplomatic envoy unless they're of sufficient rank. If I'm Britain and you're Italy, and I send you a glorified royal guard to negotiate keeping your ports open to British trade, that's an enormous insult.

So that was my logic. I'm not saying it's right, just that it's the interpretation I went with. Frankly, I had to extrapolate so much in order to write the article that the "methodology" paragraph used to be a full page unto itself, but it took up so much of the article I just snipped it. But yeah, I understand your concerns on that and I'm not knocking your interpretation. Thanks for commenting!

So they do call him Lord Corvo at one point. I was convinced it was at the end on his gravestone but that wasn't it so I got confused.
I'd like to point out that "Lord" could also be used as a courtesy title for an authority that is not necessarily noble, such as the the bearer of the title of Lord Mayor is not necessarily a Lord of nobility but can still be referred to as "Lord xyz". Although since this is due to the fact that the Lord Mayor in the past was infact a proper Lord and the society of Dishonored seems to have a very active class system him being called Lord is probably a good indication of some kind of noble rank.
Although on the other hand the tomb of the Empress only reads "Empress Jessamine Kaldwin", a joke if you consider how many titles you collect during a regency.

The thought behind sending the apparently sole bodyguard on a long mission far away I still haven't quite understood. Even as a nobleman he wouldn't exactly be the most diplomaticly experienced person for a mission of this importance and if he was the only person the Empress could trust with such a task one has to wonder about her relations to her court.

Your logic is as good as any and anyway completely sufficient and reasonable for the article which, in the end, is the most important part.

And I'm curious, is the title of your article a reference to the speech of Marc Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar or am I overinterpreting?

Shendril:

In Germany there are some interesting, similar remains of this honour and duel system: within the academic fraternities. There are also some, that legitimately have fencing duels with sharp blades (sharp, not pointed, they cause non-lethal wounds) about honour matters. To be competent, they get trained within their fraternity (if it is one of the fencing ones), and are only allowed to duel with someone from another fencing frat. They also have a second each to assist them during the fencing, comparable to the guys that used to handle the guns for the duelists, and a neutral referee. When two people from a fencing frat meet, they will have a quite different behaviour compared to meeting others.

The remarkable fact about this whole honour and fencing business is, that it is fully covered by the law, in a country that has very strict laws about weapons of all kinds. And yet it is possible to challenge someone for taking your seat in a theatre to a duel with sharp steel blades, provided you and the other are both members of a fencing frat. You will not be able to kill anyone, but in those duels (Mensur) severe wounds to head and face can occur.

If we take both positions 'gentleman' and 'vendetta' and take a look at our general medias, what approach is presented more often?

Is there a really good example of a 'gentleman'-driven plot?

After some thinking I came to HERO from Zhang Yimou: the whole plot unravels about the nameless one, and how he carefully chose his path to get close to the king. To commit a deed of great honour by not killing him, and facing his own death as an assassin, to be buried like a hero. The honour to prove a point, knowing this can end your life.

Maybe we should not call the game 'Dishonored' but 'Vendetta'... but then again, that was a game from System Three I used to play on my C64 :)

Yeah, I'm aware of the German tradition - I did some schlager fencing myself once upon a time (with a mask though, I'm not that hardcore). That existed until World War I, didn't it? I think my favorite scene involving those duels was in Royal Flash where Otto Von Bismark is fencing Flashman in order to give him the proper scars to impersonate a nobleman. Man I love those books.

As for a gentleman-driven plot... man, there's lots. Any Alexandre Dumas novel would probably qualify, and so would most Jane Austen, but I suppose it's cheating to name period novels. The movie The Duellists is really good, and also contains a lot of fantastic swordplay. Also Rafael Sabatini's French Revolution novel Scaramouche has duels and French honor culture as one of its major plot points (one of the aristocrats gets used as a hitman against the third estate - he's an expert swordsman who offends rival legislators enough that they're forced to challenge him to a duel, whereupon he kills them). The Sharpe novels and films pretty much deal with Sharpe's struggle to be taken seriously in the company of officers who don't consider him a gentleman. The Jeeves and Wooster stories and films are a comedic take on the idea of English gentlemen who're basically just drunken wastrels but still hang onto an absurd honor code.

Thammuz:
Being Italian myself, i have to say, the whole "this is more of a vendetta" thing is really spot on.

In fact, it is hilarious to me that the word we use to transalte "revenge" (vendetta, that is) has come into use in English because of how extraordinarily vicious and resilient Italian family feuds seem to be.

For a little perspective, it is such a deeply rooted cultural thing that, to me, Dishonored made no sense for the most part. OF COURSE i am going to pick those "nonlethal" options! i want them to suffer as i did, i don't want them to DIE. Not immediately, anyway. If i were going to kill them, i would make damn sure they knew i was coming, like you can do with the lord protector by removing your mask. Killing them is not the point. It can be the end of it, but the point is to make them pay for what they've done. That's why often vendettas target tangential people.

For instance, the assault on the bride's marriage in "Kill Bill" is clearly a vendetta. I'm going to kill you, yes, BUT FIRST i'm going to slaughter everyone in this church, just so you will carry this guilt on your conscience in your last moments.

Obviously, this applies to a fantasy scenario, to well-adjusted people, but it is a real thing. It happens all the time in southern Italy, especially between the varioua mafias (there are more than one, although the Mafia is a specific organization, the term has become a general term for italian criminal organizations. This because most of the american italian mobsters come from Sicily and that is the Mafia's territory).

Just wanted to give some additional info on the other side of the coin.

Oh totally. I also didn't get to fit this in, but Dr. Banks pointed out that the duel was actually an Italian invention meant to stop the vendetta. It got brought over to Britain during the Renaissance as part of Italian courtesy literature, which makes the 18th and 19th century sneering about "barbarous Italians" and their vendettas pretty ironic. Of course, the construction of "Englishness" often meant a sort of willful ignorance when it came to taking foreign ideas and claiming them as English inventions (of course the English aren't alone in that trait - Americans have done the same thing throughout our history).

Quaxar:

And I'm curious, is the title of your article a reference to the speech of Marc Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar or am I overinterpreting?

That didn't occur to me, actually! But I am reading The Fault In Our Stars right now, so maybe it was subconscious.

I never really focused on the "honor" aspect of Corvo's actions. The morality of lethal vs non-lethal was made abundantly clear to us throughout the game but I never paid attention to how honorable my decisions were.

Thanks for this great read.

So it seems that Arkane did a lot more research than I thought. Thanks for the read :)

NinjaDeathSlap:

Look at the so called 'Good' ending for example (although, again, the game never says that it's supposed to be 'good'). In this ending, after removing the conspirators on both sides, you place a child on the throne who really has no idea how to rule by herself, and the only adviser she has is you. So you have, to all intents and purposes, seized power for yourself, regardless of whether or not you also care for Emily in other ways. Does that sound 'heroic' to anybody here?

That was a fantastic article. The sort of article that makes me likely to pay a lot more attention to your column from now on.

In fact, I would say this article is almost Yahtzee-caliber in what it brings to the Escapist. If this is what Critical Intel can bring to The Escapist every issue (academic-quality research into some aspect of a video game that readers might not know about) then The Escapist might have finally found something to set itself apart from other gaming sites.

Never mind the underhanded murdering or the knocking unconciousing, what kind of bastard waltzes into someone else's house and eats all the jellied eels?

I want to finish Dishonored without stealing anything, on top of not killing anyone or being spotted. But I think that's impossible, due to the way the game auto loots certain people that you have to pick up.

NinjaDeathSlap:
I love you for this article...

You're right, it's not a perfect fit (for example, when Corvo has outlived his usefulness to the Loyalists, they try to cover their tracks not just by attempting to kill him, but by poisoning him, which is not at all the 'Gentlemanly' thing to do),

I imagine they excused that with a lovely bit of circular logic. One doesnt need to be a gentleman to someone who isnt a gentleman. Corvo lost his status as a gentleman and further ruined it by doing our dirty work. If a slave spits at them they would execute them, not duel them or offer them gentlemanly rights. The honor aspect as another side, and that is how FAR below you is the person who implied you have no honor or offended you. Do they matter? Is it even worth respecting their right to a duel? Of COURSE your slaves and servants hate you. It doesnt offend you because they are never, even for a second, meant to feel like your equal and should they offend you it doesnt matter since you own total power anyway, their symbolic resistance means nothing since it has no social status behind it. However should another gentleman imply they look down on you that is offensive because the insult comes from someone who matters and youre meant to be equals.

By poisoning corvo i think they imply that he has fallen SO far he no longer merits gentlemanly honors. He is a mere servant or slave.

The circular logic is that they dump all the dishonorable actions onto corvo THEN damn him and remove his rights as a gentleman because he commited said dishonorable actions.

Hm. Interesting. I like it particularly because it does fit very well with pretty much everything that happens in the game... but then the loyalists poison you. Hard to be more dishonourable than that. Then again, it's only dishonourable if people find out, which I guess was not the intention.

Very interesting article, it really made me re-think some of the things in Dishonoured.

I also wanted to thank you for this brilliant article because now I view the game in a slightly different way than I did before, or rather added meaning to the game. It was a interesting and pleasant read. :D

3 pages? TL;DR

Ah, subjective tie-ins of real-life/history to games. Wonderfully done, in this case. It's been said above, but it's a rare treat to get an article like this when most of what we read is simply news bulletins and purely editorial content.

I wonder how this reflects on Emily's ensuing reign. Is she a trail-blazer, doing away with the caste system? Or is she (more likely from her in-game dialogue) merely ignoring Corvo's actions out of congeniality?

Terrific article. Thanks.

Great article! Another incentive for me to fork 80 bucks and buy it here in Brazil.

I had to skip portions of the article, as I have only finished a few levels of Dishonored and didn't want to spoil anything (which sadly happened anyway by going through these posts), but it was an excellent read. I loved seeing these cultural aspects used in the game (whether intended or just a magical lucky fit, I don't know).

I figured Corvo to be a type of nobility or upper-class as well. An empress wouldn't just send a random servant on an important courier mission unless it was something of the utmost secrecy, in which case a trusted servant may be used to deliver correspondence. But everyone seemed to know Corvo was gone and it appeared to me that he had the authority to speak for the Empress during negotiations with the foreign rulers.

It was also very interesting to see the ins and outs of the English gentleman honor system, which I knew a little bit about from other reading, but did not fully know the depths of it. Hope to see more articles like this.

RobfromtheGulag:
3 pages? TL;DR

Ah, subjective tie-ins of real-life/history to games. Wonderfully done, in this case. It's been said above, but it's a rare treat to get an article like this when most of what we read is simply news bulletins and purely editorial content.

I wonder how this reflects on Emily's ensuing reign. Is she a trail-blazer, doing away with the caste system? Or is she (more likely from her in-game dialogue) merely ignoring Corvo's actions out of congeniality?

Maybe it was a joke. If it is, then ignore the following. "TL;DR" is a very rude thing to do, even if it's your own text, but moreso when it's someone else's work. One that on the next sentence you praise and highlight above buffer content. This and all of Mr. Cath's articles are essays well worth reading in full, and we should not incite cliff-notes mentality of them. Don't be that guy.

Aristocrats? The hedonistic weirdos? Of course they have no honor!

http://youtu.be/tw10xa_xtNg?t=1m33s

Corvo is not an honourable man....and PROUD!
Although it may be because I myself have Mediterranean background, I think the vendetta preserves honour far better than the English duel. Why? Because a man who wrongs your family, and challenged to a duel only fails if he is beaten. See, within the system, you dying in the duel is still more honourable than vengeance/justice for your family, which I can disagree with. A man of honour does put his honour above all else, yes, but a man who allows himself to die before paying his enemy back, rightly so I might add, has lost his honour, because he leaves a family that depends on him to perish without him, solely to preserve his image.

And that's the point isn't it? Image and Honour are not so akin as the English "Gentlemen" say it is, though what else would you expect from Elitist aristocrats who considered themselves above everyone, not just commoners, but the Gentlemen of other cultures....seriously...

An excellent article and a very interesting comparison.
It's also always nice to see Thomas Plunkett and the 95th Rifles crop up.
image

My appreciation of Dishonored just went up tenfold. Thank you Mr Rath!

another thoughtful and intriguing article. Keep doing what your doing man.

very good article Mr. Rath.

This article caught my eye and caused me to stray away from my usual corner of the Escapist and I'm rather pleased it did. Fair play to you for the well thought out and evidently well researched article. While I picked up on a few of the things you mentioned it seems I overlooked quite a bit.

Had you approached the topic with the opinion that your interpretation was perfect I would have been somewhat reluctant in my embracing of the piece, but your acknowledgement of your interpretations limitations is rather refreshing. I'll be sure to loiter around the Critical Intel section more often.

Thank you for the article! That was very interesting and informative reading.

I've always assumed that Corvo belongs to a very high nobility because of his "Lord Protector" title. After all, in history of England this title was used for nobles exercising regency while the monarch was unable to rule (e.g., too young). I assume, in normal circumstances if the Empress was absent or dead, Corvo would become the Regent until Emily is old enough to rule (and he takes this position in the good ending of the game). In this case he is not just Lord Protector of the Empress or the royal family, but he is the Lord Protector of the State.
That would also explain why Corvo was sent to the diplomatic mission of critical importance. There is no sense in sending personal bodyguard or even head of the royal guards, no matter how much he is trusted by the Empress, - in fact, it could be even treated as offense by foreign governments. But if the second important man in the state presents his country while trying to gain some favors - that would add a lot of weight to his words. That's why the Empress had to send Corvo, though very reluctantly, judging by her letter.

Great article. The only thing it seemed to miss is that although "gentleman" seemed to have a strict code of honour, there was very little honourable about them. It was a social tool used by the haves to suppress the have-nots. There are remarkable stories of what gentleman did for "honour" but they are rareities not the rule, and there are just as many stories of people who were not considered gentleman doing the same things.

The main emphasis when someone was described as a gentleman was to convey they were a "better" person. And not by choice but by inherited right. You didn't become a gentleman, you were born a gentleman, and that gave you the right to subjugate others. Hence the reason that allowing yourself to be subjugated was a blemish on your honour. If you weren't born a gentleman, even the most exemplary behaviour wouldn't make you one, or if it did (as Sharpe does in the Bernard Cornwell novels) it was still known you were not a real gentleman.

As someone said above, the Flashman novels are brilliant and fascinating, but there perspective of honour is very different. This is Victorian England we are talking about, a drive towards an ideal of moral purity. When in truth it became a social tool to surpress both the poor, women, and anything that would challenge the status quo. You have to remember that this was also the age of industrialisation, at a time where technology was making new millionaires. No longer was it the simple case of Title=land=money. Now there were richer people who had no land, no title but an awful lot of money. Factories required workers, cheap workers, so woman became income earners, not just assets men kept at home. The fought for a voice and a right to vote. Workers were being made redundant by factories and rioted.

There was no excuse to deny workers their rights, or women the vote, or the new rich a right to enjoy their wealth. Except for one excuse. None of them were "gentleman" or contained "honour". It was the last pathetic excuse of a group of people who through one method or another had held all the power up until then. It's no different from 1950's men saying "women get emotional so are no good at business" or "black people are uneducated therefore can't do the same work as white men". "Gentleman" was the last desparate prop.

I've not played the game but "honour" seems an odd theme to include in the title.

Robert Rath:

Yeah, I'm aware of the German tradition - I did some schlager fencing myself once upon a time (with a mask though, I'm not that hardcore). That existed until World War I, didn't it? I think my favorite scene involving those duels was in Royal Flash where Otto Von Bismark is fencing Flashman in order to give him the proper scars to impersonate a nobleman. Man I love those books.

As for a gentleman-driven plot... man, there's lots. Any Alexandre Dumas novel would probably qualify, and so would most Jane Austen, but I suppose it's cheating to name period novels. The movie The Duellists is really good, and also contains a lot of fantastic swordplay.

Thanks for the reply, and my compliments, that you did schlager fencing!

The schlager-fencing still exists today, although it changed a lot since the pre WWI times. In the southern regions, and especially in Austria, they even still do saber-fencing.

The movie 'The Duellists' was a great recommendation and I am planning to get the book next, but all examples are not exactly modern as in 'hot and up-to-date'. So I think, I can still make a point that 'honour-based-plots' are not as much present in the everyday media as 'vendetta-driven' although a lot of stories try to cover a vendetta in the disguise of honour... sometimes just by naming it 'Dishonored'.

So long.
Shendril

wintercoat:
It depends on how you interpret the title "Lord Protector". Is he the protector of lords, or the lord of protectors? The former would be a formal title given to a commoner, the latter would be a noble's title. Given that the bodyguard is chosen from commoners, I'm more inclined to believe the former, rather than the latter. It would also explain why, if Emily really is Corvo's daughter, it's kept a secret, as it would have been a scandal for the Empress to have an affair with a commoner, even one of such high position.

The latter would be the most accurate historical interpretation. It literally means 'The Lord who is Protector of the Realm', and was typically given to a regent.

However, the position of 'Lord Protector' was not necessarily reserved for nobles. Oliver Cromwell, the most famous Lord Protector, was gentry, not nobility. Gentry were not necessarily of noble descent. His family's membership of the gentry was through the knighthood various ancestors, not through nobility.

Corvo, however, was not a 'Lord Protector' in this sense. I think the term 'Lord' in his title refers to the office, not the man holding the office, much as one doesn't need to be nobility to be First Lord of the Treasury (Prime Minister) in the UK. That would explain why he could have held the title 'Lord Protector' while still being a commoner.

 Pages PREV 1 2

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here