What follows is the fifth part of a list of what I feel are the common emotional tones, with examples. (For part 1 please click this link.)
(Note: Many examples may represent spoilers if you have not read/seen the story, though I will do my best to refrain from being too specific.)
This section focuses on what I call Neutral Passive emotional moments (emotions that could be positive or negative, but usually lead to inaction):
The weary contentment of a job well done, this is often the most immediate reward for heroes and audiences, scaling in direct proportion to the difficulty and time involved in completing the task. This is one method of showing/establishing that a task was difficult, and signaling to audiences that they should feel a sense of accomplishment. It also helps audiences develop a scale of what is possible in this particular diegetic (fictional) world.
One Punch Man (2015 anime) is a great example of how weary pride can make an accomplishment feel satisfying. Saitama’s first fight is modest compared to later accomplishments, but the fact that it’s challenging, and the way he pauses afterwards, establishes his accomplishment as worthwhile, in contrast with the cavalier way in which he overcomes much greater challenges during the majority of his conflicts.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (by JK Rowling), Harry completes several exams, including a test on the defense against the dark arts (his specialty, and the course taught by one of the primary antagonists of the book) and despite the antagonist’s best efforts, he passes with flying colors. There’s little (if any) uncertainty about the outcome, but the satisfaction he feels at spiting this antagonist in a way that leaves them powerless to retaliate, is most satisfying (for the character and the audience).
In Ender’s Game (book by Orson Scott Card) the protagonist of Ender is confronted with numerous “tests,” combat simulations designed to favor Ender’s opponent, with ever increasing difficulty. Over time he feels worn down by the escalating challenges, until one day he faces the last test, a challenge that seems impossible. But when Ender emerges victorious, all the tension releases at once. He’s won, and what’s more, he’s free.
Fear is a very interesting emotion. Sometimes it serves as a warning against danger (which we should heed), sometimes it’s an obstacle preventing us from doing what we need to do (something we should strive to overcome).
But regardless of whether it is good or bad, it almost always causes us to pause, to hesitate.
Granted, there are many times (throughout history and fiction) where people have taken action because they felt fear (usually attacking and destroying or distancing themselves from the source/object of their fear), but I would propone that any action taken in response to fear is not caused by the fear, but by anger at the source/object of fear and a desire to be free of fear.
In the story of Coraline (both the book and the film), the character of Coraline goes through a narrative journey of fear. In the beginning, her curiosity easily overwhelms any apprehension she feels, but there are key points in the story (particularly whenever Coraline makes reference to returning to her own world) where the “other mother” begins to show her true colors.
Hellbound Heart, by Clive Barker, probably represents one of my favorite horror stories. It features monsters that (by their appearance alone) hint at the horror of what they will do to someone in their possession. The story implies the true horror rather than blatantly stating it, much like Lovecraft did, leaving audiences to fill in the details. All we (the audience) know is what we can infer from the “fashion sense” of the monsters, the way in which they use self-mutilation as an accent and aesthetic to their appearance, the same way we use makeup.
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