Structures of Morality and Allegiance in the Character Arc Story

British Journal of Aesthetics 62 (4):687-698 (2022)
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Abstract

The view that allegiance to characters is a matter of general moral assessment, as developed by Carroll (1984) and Smith (1995), has the resources to respond to counterexamples proposed in the literature, including appeals to anti-heroes, rough heroes and other ‘reprehensible characters’ that garner our allegiance. It can even admit non-moral factors as subterranean influences on moral assessment. Nevertheless, the view requires that the characters we most favour are those with the highest moral standing, and this does not seem to be true of the character arc story (Kelly, 2020). Rather, the mixture of good and bad impulses in the protagonist is set off by the unalloyed moral example of the moral centre, a supporting character whose fate may barely interest us. We conclude that narrative theory is better served by allowing the moral hierarchy of a story to differ from the rank order of its allegiances, and hence that audience affiliation is not simply a matter of moral assessment.

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Author Profiles

Rory Kelly
University of California, Los Angeles
Samuel John Cumming
University of California, Los Angeles

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References found in this work

The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):55.
Robust Immoralism.A. W. Eaton - 2012 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70 (3):281-292.
Imaginative Resistance.Emine Hande Tuna - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Theorizing the moving image.Noël Carroll - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Imaginative resistance revisited.Tamar Szabo Gendler - 2006 - In Shaun Nichols (ed.), The Architecture of the Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 149-173.

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