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Author Topic: What made vermin go bad?  (Read 2543 times)

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The Grey Coincidence

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Re: What made vermin go bad?
« Reply #60 on: December 16, 2017, 03:39:13 PM »

Thank you.
No and Yes.
No I don't think that the vermin have changed much, if even. They're still conniving and greedy and cowardly. The main vermin trait I believe is selfishness, aside from Veil how many vermin have died for another beast? Willingly that is. I honestly dont know but highly doubt there are many of them. Their culture is very dog-eat-dog and I believe that most vermin start out with their strong self-defense instincts, which is why they are snappy and bad-tempered. This self-defense leaks into their selfishness. They are cowards because they are selfish. Backstabbing and cunning because they want to improve their position. It's their self-defense that naturally makes them 'bad' but because most are raised to 'eat-other-dogs'  their self-defense becomes selfishness. That's my headcannon!
Well the woodlanders did get invaded half-a-hundred times over, makes some sense that they're a bit fed up by now. They learn their stories-and in almost every story the vermin are evil.
Yeah but their ARE grey areas, and even Mr Jacques can't deny that. Voles are generally pompous and in Mossflower, when the Kotir army are running away Skipper asks Martin to have one last go at them. He is refused and this is after seasons of surpression-BUT throwing some javelins at a retreating, surrendered enemy is not a 'good' thing, so there you have it. A 'grey' character. These guys are pretty difficult to avoid to be honest.
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Re: What made vermin go bad?
« Reply #61 on: December 20, 2017, 04:13:31 AM »

Welcome to the forum, The Grey Coincidence :)

So, I want to suggest a couple things for sake of discussion.

...I think grey characters were always a mistake. The entire concept of species misalignment (and the singular morally ambiguous Veil) strikes me as an attempt at addressing a question that is just destined to open a series of more boxes with more unanswerable questions. It’s like Klingon cosmetics in Star Trek. Just don’t start poking at an obvious glaring issue, because you’ll just unleash an ever more bizarre, untenable debate.

The Redwall universe possessing a black-and-white morality as it does makes any chipping at that foundation, or introducing caveats, risk a spiraling situation wherein readers might want more moral variance when Redwall is fundamentally not about moral ambiguity. Trying to sort out an apparent exception spotlights the whole fundamental incompatibility between our beautiful world, and Redwall’s simplicity. Bryony concluded that Veil was evil. I'm inclined to agree. But why was that a plot to begin with? Why are we highlighting that evil beasts are evil? That is merely why they are vermin.

There's the "kill vermin on sight" idea that some fans have brought up over the years. This asks that, if vermin are evil, shouldn't they be exterminated? I could almost swear there's an old parody out there depicting a eugenics program in a future Mossfower. Which highlights my point -because even thinking through a nature v. nurture, moral acceptance of murder in the name of pragmatism ect. are products of not accepting the simple morality at face value. This is not a universe set up for exploring the issue without things like odd moral problems and allegations of racism cropping up. I can think back years ago of insufferable know-it-alls in the ROC having "fun" with this whole dynamic.

Redwallers, more so in the early books, seem open to the idea of good, or at least tolerable, vermin. Mortimer can totally wrap his head around negotiating in good faith with Cluny, a couple foxes can be brought into the Abbey, a bunch of vermin can be performers in Mattimeo, two vermin can be allowed inside in Salamandastron with simple promises ect. I’m not sure this ever wholly went away, but I am really curious at what it might imply. You could never see certain goodbeasts accepting the idea of a good vermin. Grubbage probably needed the Abbey to survive among goodbeasts – no Long Patrol could take him in, I’d think. Abbeybeasts seem conditioned to be more trusting of pretty much anyone, if it takes persuading every time I can think of it happening.

Do you guys think that gray characters, in terms of species misalignment, seem to increase or decrease as the books go on over the years?  Also, does the moral spectrum, as observed by in-universe characters, seem to polarize? In other words, does the idea of trustworthy/harmless vermin disappear form Redwallers as the series goes on? The opposite position, the attitude of “the only good vermin is a dead vermin”, finds its exemplars among goodbeasts here and there (hi Skor!). Does that attitude become more common?

What interests me most is when Jacques, who explicitly made the series morally straightforward, decided to pose the conundrum of Veil. To recycle some Ask Brian material that we've probably all read before that is nonetheless relevant, there is this question: "Will you ever have any really good vermin or bad woodlanders in any of your stories?"
To which Jacques replied: "The goodies are good and the baddies are BAD, no grey areas."

I have no idea when that question was asked. The interesting thing is the specific use of 'vermin' and 'woodlander' in the question, meaning the answer doesn't really leave room for any type of gray character. There's also the answer to whether Jacques saw Veil as a good guy: "As to Veil and his final motives, I deliberately left that for the reader to decide. I have had many opinions and the jury is still out."

One thing I would add is that in the book Rogue Crew there is an example of that one vermin, his name escapes me at the moment, who is captured by the Long Patrol. Later on when the Long Patrol meets up with the Rogue Crew-2 Rogue Crew otters proceed to torture him and then they are beaten up/subdued by the Long Patrol officer who is a boxer. That particular vermin then runs away because it is stated in the book that he found his time with the Long Patrol to be fine and he was treated well by them. However, he runs away because he is terrified of the Rogue Crew.

What is also interesting in the book the Rogue Crew is the relation that Razzid's horde had to one another. There is that one scene where when their ship is in the river moss they spot a big pike. Razzid throws a rat horde-beast overboard as bait for the pike who kills him. Razzid then jumps overboard and kills the pike. Which is then cooked and supposed to be eaten. However none of the other horde-beasts eat the pike and it spoils. The reason was that they didn't want to eat the pike given what happened to that rat ( a fellow hoard member) to get it. This is the only example in the book of such vermin horde camaraderie and loyalty in the book.

However one case that I think is often overlooked in this debate is the rat Grubbage in Triss. He was a bosun on the Seascrab, thus a high ranking vermin too, and from what we can tell he grew up a corsair. Yet he was taken into Redwall, stayed to live there, and was even liked by Redwallers. Triss was definitely a later book too.

« Last Edit: December 20, 2017, 04:31:21 AM by Grond »


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Re: What made vermin go bad?
« Reply #62 on: January 13, 2018, 02:25:40 AM »

Not all the Abbeydwellers or others considered “good beasts” have always been good either, think back in Salmandastron there was a shrew that attempted mutiny on Log-a-log, and then what about even some badger lords have become quite fierce when suffering from Bloodwrath!

I think it boils down to writing style, BJ wanted to have an epic about good versus evil and though occasionally he did have shades of gray the overall arch was vermin basically have always been bad, and that could even be attributed to their atheist viewpoint (think about it, vermin believe in Hellsgates but I highly doubt they believe in an almighty savior) and even showed disregard for the abbey’s sacred treasures.

So really if you want to get all symbolic BJ was showing that for most vermin a life without God could corrupt. But as pointed out it wasn’t always so cut and dry, so there is some validity to saying that the answer really isn’t that clear...

The Skarzs

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Re: What made vermin go bad?
« Reply #63 on: January 18, 2018, 05:54:55 PM »


It seems there are a few species who are more inclined for bad actions. Shrews, who with their constant arguing are but a step away from turning, and the voles who have more than once shown themselves to be capable of malicious acts.
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