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41

It goes back way further than the fantasy genre or even written literature. I've listed a few of the best-known examples of this trope dating back to centuries before the idea of a "trope" was even in circulation. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Judaism. For thousands of years, religious Jews have avoided speaking the name of God. In the 1906 ...


18

The most related trope would probably be Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, when a minor character with no apparent skills turns out to be a super-secret ninja-assasin in disguise. A subtrope of this is Took a Level in Badass, which is seems to be pretty much what you're looking for. This is when a character pretty much suddenly develops a cool power, though ...


13

This is an anthropology question, not a literature question, since the idea is much older than writing. The idea is present in many different cultures, and we don't know whether there it has been invented independently many times or there is a single origin, just like we don't know this regarding spoken language in general. You mention four properties which ...


7

I think you're reading too much into it. Gollum has the One Ring because the One Ring "wants to be found." It was at the bottom of a lake for a long time and wanted to get back to Sauron. Fantine gave Cosette to the Thénardiers so they could care for her, and regularly sent money for her care. This is why she sells her hair — money for the ...


7

While every fantasy series tends to deal slightly differently with their fantasy races, there tend to be some common denominators. Dwarves are generally written as living underground. Dwarves are usually associated with mining, and with forging. In many fantasy stories, dwarves tend not be be traditional magic-users; in some stories, dwarves are naturally ...


5

Absolutely agree with #3! I just finished Les Mis (took me like 6 months!) and had the exact same impression about Thenardier/Gollum parallel. To me it seems likely that Thenardier was an inspiration to Tolkien in creating Gollum and the theme of "how do you explain 'evil' in a world good God created." I was only looking from the point of view that there ...


4

As Obie pointed out in a comment, the expression speak of the devil and he shall appear is a remnant of a naming taboo that was taken very seriously in days long gone. Religions have known many more naming taboos. The Wikipedia article Names of God in Judaism points out that most English editions of the Bible use the phrase "the Lord", "owing to the Jewish ...


4

The black and white dualism is probably the most common dichotomy and can be traced back to Pythagoras' Table of Opposites, which lists both good and evil as well a well light and darkness. Usually all of those light/white/day/good are opposed to darkness/black/night/evil. Since you asked for the first occurrence in Western literature, I'd go with ...


4

In western culture, black has been a symbol for death, mourning, sin & evil, and the strange or the "other", but also of humility, and of writing and literature. Black as a symbol of death (sometimes associated with night) goes at least as far back as Homer's Iliad, where Death and Ker (plural: Keres are black. Black is also the colour of the ...


3

A lot of our standard language encodes subconscious in-group, out-group preferences. As theorist Franz Fanon explored in his work Black Skins, White Masks, the probable origin is the psychological desire to distance oneself from non-desired traits by displacing them onto a group readily distanced from the target audience. Since racial examples can be ...


2

TvTropes's Speak of the Devil is the closest match - Speak the name of [Evil Person] and he/she/it will appear and/or have some sort of power over you. Note that of your three examples, the first two (Shai'tan, Voldemort) are directly stated to be of fear of retribution, while it's certainly implied in the third (Sauron). I consider that supported by the ...


2

I'm going to put in a vote for Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595/1596). Here's how it fares against the characteristics listed on the Wikipedia page for Magical Realism: Fantastical elements: Yes. Real-world setting: Yes, if a historical one. The Wikipedia page says "In the binary world of magical realism, the supernatural realm blends ...


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