exactly that

The Case For Justice

Anders, a pale man in green robes with feathered pauldrons stands over the body of a dead templar in plate armour.

"Uhh... I didn't do it."

[ETA:] Welcome, BioWare Social Network Anders’ Thread peeps! Happy to have you stop by! I am hoping to get to each and every one of you, but I would ask that you please take a peek at my Comments Policy if you are here for the first time. Thanks, Miri! Your check is in the mail!

How far would you go to escape abuse?

How far would you push to ensure that the abuse you had faced never happened to anyone you loved ever again?

Where would you draw the line between your life and the life of someone who was threatening your own?

In my never ending quest to defend (and my slight obsession with the character) Anders from Dragon Age 2, I’ve decided to take a step out onto a limb and discuss some of the reasons that, in addition to finding the lynchpin mage an exceptionally dynamic character, to explain why he makes complete sense to me.

Anders, a pale man with blond hair and brown eyes and stubble, in a wide-collared robe, stands in his clinic in Darktown of Kirkwall.

"Sweetheart, I'm not letting anyone lock me up, you included."

Anders, whom I’ve discussed fairly extensively in the past, is one of the most sympathetic characters I’ve encountered in the DA series, much to the surprise of many people when I say this. If you total up the happenstances of the life of an average mage in Thedas, and scoop on a heaping of Anders’ own personal experience with abuse, he becomes someone that I recognize as a person making reasoned decisions to make a calculated escape from an abusive situation. This conflicts wildly with many of the anti-Anders arguments I have encountered dismissing him outright of being simply “crazy” or “manipulative and abusive” himself.

History of Oppression

Mages in Thedas have a long history of forced oppression by the dominant religion of the land, controlled by their Chantry. Magic is seen as a threat to humanity, and those born with the ability to wield magic are stripped of their rights as people as soon as this ability is discovered. In short, magic manifests in children, and those children are taken, often forcibly, from their families to be raised in Chantry-controlled, prison-like fortresses, called Circles, where armed soldiers babysit them to ensure they do not get out of hand.

It is illegal to exist as a mage outside of Circle control in most of Thedas. Anyone skirting this fate is declared an “apostate” and risks being hunted their entire lives. Part of the background of the Hawke family your PC is a member of in DA2 includes this reality, forcing them to often have had to move growing up to dodge the templars hunting them.

Anders, a pale man with blond hair, is distraught after discovered his former lover, Karl, has been made "Tranquil" at the hand of the Chantry for trying to escape. Behind him is Hawke, shown here as a pale, red-haired woman in green robes with a mages staff.

Anders, distraught at discovering his former lover, Karl, has been made Tranquil for trying to escape, with a mage Hawke, also an apostate, looking on.

Mages are not allowed to inherit titles, or land, even if they are born to noble families. Mages are strongly discouraged from having relationships, and even marriage requires express permission from the local chantry. A mage who is still being housed by the Circle is not allowed to keep any child born to them, should they have one as the result of an unsanctioned relationship. In Dragon Age: Origins, the healer and senior mage, Wynne, speaks of having her child taken from her under these circumstances. Children born inside the Circle are deemed property of the Chantry.

The Effects of Confinement and Abuse

Anders was a child of twelve when he was taken from his home — bound — to the Circle to be taught. He was still a teenager when he made his first of seven escapes from the Circle in Ferelden, each time being forcibly dragged back by templars who, according to him, were not shy about kicking him and otherwise abusing him in the process.

“Most people enjoy being kicked in the head to be woken up each morning. Me, I’m just so picky.” ~Anders, Dragon Age: Origins Awakening

After one of his escapes and subsequent returns, Anders was restricted to solitary confinement for at least a year, where, as he implies during Dragon Age: Origins Awakening, the only “person” he saw during that time was the tower mouser, Mr. Wiggums. Solitary confinement, being one of the most severe and harsh punishments used in the U.S. prison system, has been well documented to leave lasting medical side effects. It has been considered torture, with people such as former Prisoner of War Senator John McCain recounting how trying the experience was on him. Solitary confinement has been known to cause symptoms associated with the clinical definitions of psychosis in people who had never shown signs before. People with predispositions to mental illness have found their conditions exacerbated. Yet, solitary is used on prisoners in the U.S. routinely, and solitary was used as a reprimand for Anders’ escape attempts. It isn’t a far-fetched conclusion to presume that many of the traits portrayed by Anders in DA2 are connected to both the abuse he experienced at the hand of the Circle and its templars and his time spent in solitary.

Anders, a pale man with blond hair, is very angry at the demon trying to make a deal with a mage Hawke.

Anders is not amused with a demon's offer of aide in the Deep Roads.

Hours a day with no human contact, and people wonder why a mage would agree to allow himself to merge with a spirit.

I suppose my point is that by the time you, as a Hawke, meet up with Anders in Act I of Dragon Age II, it is well established that he has been not only abused, but systematically oppressed, while watching others like himself receiving the same treatment for years. To see that he is ready to fight back in defense of mages everywhere is not a difficult concept to accept for him as a character. That he would accept the offer of a spirit of Justice to merge and reside in side him to aide him is not something I have difficulty understanding.

Parallels to Domestic Abuse

It is interesting to me that Anders’ number of escape attempts totals to seven. According to statistics, it can take an abuse survivor seven to eight times to successfully leave an abusive situation. The period during and immediately following the escape are the most dangerous and hold the potential for flares in violent retribution, one statistic quotes a 75% increase in risk of violence.

Send in the templars…

Many people do not survive their escape attempts, and judging by the arms and armour on templars, the safety of the escaped mages is not foremost in their minds.

Most people need outside assistance to make a clean escape, safely. Looking at Anders’ situation, he would not have succeeded had he not encountered the Hero of Ferelden and/or been conscripted into the Grey Wardens. When the templars come for him this final time, it is clear that he will be hung for the supposed crimes he has committed, even though it is not confirmed that Anders has actually murdered anyone, even his most recent captors. He did, however, defeat many darkspawn (the impending evil in the first two games) by himself, demonstrating what a powerful mage he is.

The Hero of Ferelden, a non-white woman on the far left in plate armour, uses the Right of Conscrption to recruit Anders, the pale man in green robes, to the Grey Wardens with permission from the King, far right, and much to the anger of the templar, the pale woman near right.

The Hero of Ferelden, pictured here as the non-white woman at far left, uses the Right of Conscription to save Anders from the Chantry on his final escape.

The Chantry is allowed to decide whether a mage may live or die, or have themselves cut off from their magic, rending them emotionless, or Tranquil, which many mages deem a fate worse than death. In fact, Chantry law states that a mage who has passed the testing that proves they are competent can not be made Tranquil, yet, the law is overlooked if a templar or cleric believes they have enough of a reason.

Mages are not given a voice in their own defense.

Fighting Back

As time as went on, Anders, with some encouragement from Justice, a Spirit of Justice from the realm of dreams, spirits and demons known as the Fade, saw that the problem oppressing mages did not end with his freedom alone.

Foreshadowing what is yet to come, Justice and Anders have several exchanges during the in-game party banter that BioWare is known for that, in retrospect, really give you the groundwork for Anders as many of us have come to know him in Kirkwall.

From in-game dialogue in DA:O Awakening:

  • Justice: I understand that you struggle against your oppression, mage.
  • Anders: I avoid my oppression. That’s not quite the same thing, is it?
  • Justice: Why do you not strike a blow against your oppressors? Ensure they can do this to no one else?
  • Anders: Because it sounds difficult?
  • Justice: Apathy is a weakness.
  • Anders: So is death. I’m just saying.

 

  • Justice: I believe you have a responsibility to your fellow mages.
  • Anders: That bit of self-righteousness is directed at me?
  • Justice: You have seen oppression and are now free. You must act to free those who remain oppressed.
  • Anders: Or I could mind my business, in case the Chantry comes knocking.
  • Justice: But this is not right. You have an obligation.
  • Anders: Yes, well… welcome to the world, spirit.

 

  • Anders: Are you saying that you could become a demon, Justice?
  • Justice: I said no such thing.
  • Anders: You said that demons were spirits perverted by their desires.
  • Justice: I have no such desires.
  • Anders: You must have some desires…
  • Justice: I have none! Desist your questions!

 

  • Anders: I apologize, Justice. I didn’t mean to suggest you would become a demon.
  • Justice: I should certainly hope not.
  • Anders: I just wondered what relation there is between spirits and demons. Demons are a worry to any mage.
  • Justice: I do not know what makes demons as they are. Such evil angers me, but I do not understand it.
  • Anders: Well, I hope you never come to understand.
  • Justice: I as well, mage. More than you could possibly know.

Anders was aware of the reality of the severity of his situation. Following game-lore, a former templar was recruited into the Wardens, and was eventually assigned to follow Anders everywhere he went. After time this lead to the merging of Anders and Justice, similar to a demon possession, except that spirits are not demons, and presumably the merging could be amicable.

Anders, a pale man with blond hair, bursting into blue glowing flames and black smoke and he goes V for Vengeance at the injustice of the treatment of mages at the hands of templars.

Anders and Justice, going V for Vengeance against templars.

What was not expected was Anders’ rage at the injustice against mages fueling the spirit of Justice and turning him into a force of Vengeance. People facing abuse will sometimes reach out at escalating levels of resources whom they think can help them.

Anders, a pale man with blond hair in a jacket with feathered shoulders in Kirkwall, and Carver Hawke, a pale man with longish dark brown hair.

Anders enlists help from anyone, even people who don't like him. "Yes, why don't we insult the people coming to help. That will work out wonderfully!"

This happened with Anders. First, he fought back only for himself. Then, he joined an underground network of mages who worked to free apostates. Then, he wrote manifestos decrying the oppression of mages by the Chantry. He reached out to friends to help him. He tried reasoning with higher and higher levels of officials with the power to enact the change he wanted to see. Time and again he hit wall after wall, repeatedly being either told that mages were dangerous and deserved their fate, or, in the case of the Grand Cleric, that the best solution was to sit back quietly and wait for the Maker to sort out the answer.

Becoming more and more desperate, Anders reveals to Hawke that the templars are becoming more and more aggressive towards him every day. It is clear that the bribes that Varric, another companion, and Hawke throw around are all that keep Anders from the Gallows (Kirkwall’s Circle) altogether.

Finally, Anders seems to hit a wall where he is certain that no one is going to aid him, and that he is either going to die at the hands of oppressors, or he is going to die fighting for the freedom of everyone like him. He realizes that there is no room for middle ground when he is fighting for his survival.

The Kirkwall Chantry, kind of exploding.

Oops. The Chantry has an accident in Act III and loses its... parts.

Like so many people who have faced prolonged abuse, Anders chooses to fight back, and he strikes hard. The human race is not capable of giving up on survival, and if given the choice between our own lives and the life of an attacker, there are people who will choose to fight back to protect their own. This is not to say that everyone will do so, or that it is or that his actions were even the correct response.

But it is a response I understand, fully.

The idea that someone would strike out at their abuser in a way that would ensure that said abuser would not be able to come after them again is not so hard to wrap my head around. This is probably why I was able to not only side with Anders in my playthrough, but probably why I find myself, still, defending his actions, all across the internet and in real life. I’ve witnessed Anders called cold, calculating. I’ve heard him referred to as manipulative and even crazy. These are some of the kinder things I’ve heard and read.

Really, Anders was a survivor. He meant to shove back against those who have worked to remind him his whole life that he is less-than, and wanted a world where no one else would have to suffer as he did. This is the mind of a victim pushed to surviving.

Photo credits to Miri1984 and Twist_Shimmy of the People of Thedas Community of Dreamwidth for screen caps not belonging to me. Because they are awesome.

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Comments on: "The Case For Justice" (37)

  1. Thanks for this great blog – it’s really lovely to see this point of view put so succinctly.

    As for “Anders is manipulative and calculating” – I wouldn’t say he ISN’T, but that it is understandable that he is, especially towards Hawke. Necessity has made him unpleasant in some respects, but that doesn’t have to affect what has brought him to that point.

    • Hi Elle! Thanks for stopping by! And thank you!

      I would argue that what is read as “manipulative and calculating” is a defense mechanism. Anders has no reason to trust that anyone other than a cat is going to help him, and that seems to shut down his ability to allow anyone to get close enough. On a romance path with him, it frustrated me to no end that my Hawke couldn’t get him to confess what he was going to do, EVEN THOUGH I as a gamer knew what he was up to, and EVEN THOUGH she as a his lover would have helped and supported him, because she figured that is what you do when you love someone.

      His unpleasantness, like anyone you care about, has to be taken as a part of the whole. Survivors of abuse come with baggage, and to care about them is to understand what drove them to that point.

      • I totally agree, and I think it is his unpleasantness in some aspects which makes him as interesting as he is. As a character in a game he would be far too simple to sympathise with without those unpalatable defence mechanisms which ultimately they make him a rounded and more realistic character. However, I think it’s a demonstration of how well the writing has worked that some people are almost aggressively put-off by them. It’s a shame and I think a lot of people are missing out on a fantastic character with that reaction, but I think it was intended.

        And my Hawke was desperate for him to just talk to her about… well… anything during Act 3. The lack of communication was the most frustrating, but again totally in character for someone sure they were about hurt the one person who’d stood by them for any length of time, and ask them to kill him. (Everytime my heart breaks for him when I think about that bit).

        • Miri1984 said:

          THIS. I was obsessively clicking on him all through Act 3 after we’d completed Justice and it hurt a little bit more every time he just said “I think we’re better off focusing on the task at hand”. It was beautifully done, because I imagine that’s exactly what was happening behind the scenes as well, Hawke begging him to tell her/him what he’d done and him just stonewalling her.

          In my fic timeline he only goes to the Chantry the night before the explosion though. Of course IN GAME I do his quest first because I love his schmancy black outfit :D.

          • So. Much. This.

            There were times I had to put the game down because my Hawke was so hurt and frustrated that he just wouldn’t talk to her. About anything at that point.

            And I _always_ do Anders’ quests first. I can’t stop myself. I have a weakness. Even in Awakening I prioritized his needs and I wasn’t _quite_ the fangirl yet.

  2. Kromify said:

    Hello… Miri linked me in here, are you on BSN?

    Good, clear and well thought out. I admit to being gobsmacked on my first PT when Anders jenga’d the chantry, at which point i forgave him (true love wins hands down). After that I became a tad obsessed about figuring out what could make a person become what Anders became. He has my utter sympathies. All we need now is a spirit of compassion to merge with everyone else… >.<

    • “Jenga’d the chantry” will now be forever incorporated into my lexicon!

      That is the best part of having Sebastian in party. Ranting at the game that “boyfriend” trumps him and his Not Your Mom issues, and he can take his waffles and Armourcrombie arse and hightail it and collect his armies if that is really what he wants.

      My Hawke was All In.

      Anders’ spiral was so logical to me. Some would say I have spent too much time thinking about it… *coughmyhusbandcough*

      • Kromify said:

        Heh! Armourcrombie…

        • Perhaps people would not be trying to assassinate his family if he weren’t strutting around in white flashy armour eating waffles all the time. Just sayin’.

          Or maybe it is how he riles me into a righteous RAEG! Seriously.

          This will devolve into some “Sebastian Vael, worthless human being” ranting if I don’t stop it right now… *grins*

  3. This is beautiful and so spot on, truly. As someone who grew up in a domestic abuse situation for 18 years and thought/felt many of the same things we see Anders think and feel throughout the span of DA:A and DA II, I can tell you that the conclusions you have drawn are absolutely true. Maybe that’s why I’ve had no lack of sympathy or understanding for Anders. It’s something I can related to, all too well. I get it.

    Thank you for writing this; it’s one of the best deconstructions/analysis of Anders and Justice I’ve ever read, and I’m in total agreement with you.

    • Thank you so much!

      Anders’ hit a bit close to home for me, too. There are quibbles I have with a bit of the handling of his character, but the flow of events he took is not one of them. I get him on such a visceral level that watching him in Acts II and III hurt so much. It’s probably why I have such a need to be his Internet Champion.

  4. Kromify said:

    He’s only manipulative when he’s backed into a corner about the most important thing in his life.
    And I’ve yet to see any evidence of abuse in his relationship with Hawke. I don’t know where people got that from

    • The codicies even go so far as to emphasis on a romance path that he ISN’T – he’s tender and devoted.
      Some people like to create more angst than actually exists.

      • Yes!

        It was also something that irritated me, that you didn’t get to see the result of that. I feel like you get to see way more of the rivalry path than you do what happens when Anders feels the effects of a loving and stable partnership, and that bothered me. Good writing does more showing and less forcing you to read. But, that being said, his characterization of abuse survivor rang true for me anyhow.

  5. Rebecca said:

    Your words were wonderful to read. I have some personal experience in a few areas… I grew up in an emotionally abusive household. (Dad never beat on me, but I suffered plenty of psychological abuse growing up.) My mom has PTSD from the traumatic divorce, plus a couple of other things that have happened to her since then. Myself, I’m bipolar. Not majorly so, but enough to know how scary things can be when your view of the world is a little off-kilter and your emotions and perceptions of people and events cannot be trusted. I also understand what it feels like to have urges and thoughts and obsessions just plaguing you… Anders’s line about letting a spirit fulfill its purpose being a release hits kinda home for me, for one or two things I’ve done that I’m not proud of (just as far as giving into an urge goes).

    It bothers me as well when people express the thought that Anders is poorly written, or a fool, or all the other things they say about him. I think “bat-*** crazy” is popular, and that one can be taken in a somewhat endearing light depending on context I guess. It bothers me though how some people are incapable of comprehending that even in the real world, there are things that can make a completely reasonable person FEEL crazy, can make you feel like you’re going out of your mind. People don’t like to think about abuse in general or the affect that it can have on a person.

    It’s really too bad that they couldn’t have gone on to explore the subject of abuse more explicitly in the game, but understandable. It’s heavy stuff for what is purely designed as entertainment. It’s easy to forget all these things that he’s gone through as you’re playing and worrying about buying potions and grenades and where to go to find that rock with the letter from the Band of Three hidden under it.

    People talk about him sometimes like he’s just a crazy irresponsible revolutionary, rather than someone who has experienced and witnessed atrocities. Sure it wasn’t the Chantry directly abusing mages, it’s the Templars, but the Chantry holds the Templars’ leashes, as is obvious when Elthina tells Meredith to go back to the Gallows and have a rest like a good girl. Why is Anders the fool for taking matters into his own hands, and yet the Grand Cleric is not a fool for allowing her own servants to commit abuses on the mages, who are children of the Maker just like everyone else?

    It reminds me of something (I think it was Aveline maybe? I find it interesting to have an agnostic in the group, though it’s not explicitly said that she is) said about being skeptical that the Maker proves himself in his absence, or something like that? Clearly the Maker did not intervene to prevent the destruction of the Chantry, so it would seem by Elthina’s own beliefs, it was supposed to happen.

  6. After time this lead to the merging of Anders and Justice, similar to a demon possession, except that spirits are not demons, and presumably the merging could be amicable.

    Admittedly, we the player do not know that spirits are not demons — Merrill even brings up the idea that they are. I’d argue that they are spirits of the same mould, representing either a benevolent (justice) or malevolent (vengeance) aspect. Benevolence doesn’t take much to become malevolence, and that is amongst the saddest parts of the Anders/Justice story for me, that Anders himself would have to live with the guilt of his own faults warping someone who he had viewed as a friend into something unrecognisable. His early reactions to Hawke — pushing Hawke away, incessant warnings, &c — were indicative to me of one unable to believe that such would not happen again.

    Combined with your argument, which I do like and may have to adopt, it seems easy to believe that he would feel himself unable to trust Hawke with the truth by Act III, or that he would wish to keep Hawke from anything resulting from his actions in order to keep from warping Hawke as well, not knowing that his association with Hawke and Hawke’s high role in Kirkwall would not make such possible.

    And I loved the Chantrysplosion. It’s up there with April Ryan’s role in the Balance as being my Favourite Game Plotpoint Ever.

    • Actually, we as players do know that there is a difference.

      Wynne explains to the Warden (If you recruited her) in DA:O the difference between them when you discover that she is housing Faith in her person.

      Justice explains very clearly the difference between spirits and demons in Awakening, both to the Warden and to Anders. Anders would have known this anyhow, being an Andrastian and also educated in the Tower, where the difference is standard in mage education.

      Anders also explains the difference right after the quest where you go to rescue Karl.

      It is possible that a non-mage Hawke would could not have known the difference. A mage Hawke would have known the difference, due to having a Circle-educated father. I am pretty sure even Carver knows the difference, though he doesn’t rightly care.

      Dalish, not being human and having their own history and religion, are not a good bench mark for human definitions of what Hawke would understand. I mean, they don’t technically believe that anything is really wrong with blood magic, but they understand that demons aren’t really all that nice and honest to work with.

      Demons and Spirits are not the same thing.

      • We don’t: Wynne is religious, and she, Anders, and Karl are all products of the Chantry-run Circle. The distinction that they see is through the lens of what they were taught.

        Justice is a being of the Fade, where there exists its opposition, what Andrastians would term a “demon” and what a benevolent spirit might term a “demon” should it adopt mortal’s words. But there’s no reason for us as the player to believe this Andrastian viewpoint, when even Justice admits that the spirits do not know whether the Maker exists.

        • I am willing to give you the point about Chantry-educated mages, though, in the context of it being an RPG, you are dealing with countries that are Andrastian. It only stands to reason that this would be accepted among them. I see your point, though I disagree with it.

          Justice, though? This is straight from the horse’s mouth, IMO. His belief or knowledge of the Maker’s existence would have no impact on his self-awareness or realization. Justice, more so than anyone else, would know that he is a Spirit, different from a Demon. He would know first hand due to his own experience as a Spirit and not as a Demon. Justice’s information on the Fade and its inhabitants is information that we as the player can take to the bank.

          • If Justice is able to be corrupted and become a demon, as the devs state and as it itself states in its conversation with Anders — “Aren’t demons simply spirits with unique and sparkling personalities?” “They have been perverted by their desires.” — than they are the same, simply either benevolent (no desire) or malevolent (full of desire). There may be a tenuous line between “benevolent spirit” and “demon”, but they are essentially the same. Adopting language influenced by the Chantry — the loaded term “demon” rather than “formerly benevolent spirit that has gone malevolent due to their desires” — with those who may believe in the Chantry’s teachings is logical for communication purposes, but it shouldn’t necessarily be a given that it effectively describes their existence.

            I believe that Merrill’s comment was written and included for a reason other than to support Merrill’s decision to become a blood mage, as I believe the Howe/Justice dialogue on possession was included in DAOA. As she says, spirits differ from each other, and they all are dangeorus or have the potential to be.

            • Merrill’s comments are to show how the Dalish differ from humans in their understanding of the Fade and how different their world is. The Dalish are a completely separate world from the human world and are not meant to be measured with the same metric. It would be like trying to say that you can measure the rightness of my Catholic family’s beliefs on things versus my Native American family’s beliefs. They just don’t compare like that because of cultural differences. You just can’t compare them that cleanly, because they have different ethnic and racial heritages. It is intentional, and who is to say who has the right understanding of it?

              You are trying to argue semantics by changing words around here and I appreciate you trying to put supposedly neutral language on it… but there are distinct differences between Spirits and Demons and you can’t remove it from the game lore like that. Potential doesn’t change that. I may have the potential to become a serial killer, but that doesn’t mean that I am one just waiting to happen because I desire someone dead. Believe me, it’s happened. Justice maintains there is a difference, as does Anders, after being merged with Justice. It’s good enough for me.

  7. Elle there linked me to this.

    I am unashamedly pro-Anders. I nearly died of shock on my first PT when the game prompts me to kill him, truly horrified. I have always felt his cause to be justified, for many of the reasons listed on your blog. The treatment of mages is appalling and it somewhat riles me in-game when Fenris snipes at Anders ‘you know nothing about being a slave’ – umm, hellooo? What do you think the Gallows is, a holiday camp?

    In any case, I thank you for such a well-written post; I have thought along these same lines many times but totally #fail in articulating it as nicely.

    • Thank you!

      The double standard of treatment of Fenris’ killing people who have abused him versus Anders’ is slightly staggering to me. I think I kind of feel like people actually CHEER Fenris on when he kills slavers and rips the heart out of Hadriana.

      The first Chantry-controlled mages were kept as slaves to keep lights lit in Chantries. I’d argue they have been held in servitude nearly as long (not quite, but nearly). Elves and mages have a lot of crossover shit-for-luck.

      I haven’t killed Anders on an actual playthrough. I loaded a save once, and chose it… because I am a bit of a completion monkey. OH MY WORD THAT WAS THE WORST THING EVER.

      I deleted the save and replayed the section again. IT DOESN’T EXIST! IT NEVER HAPPENED! I NEVER DID IT!

      I had to cry and walk away for a while, because it was that awful. I kind of suck as a human being sometimes. But my Hawke was So In It at that point, too…

  8. Checked this out from the Anders Thread at BSN, great blog. My Surana Warden befriended Anders in Amaranthine, and I always felt terrible that he’d endured so much under the Chantry controlled Circles. Bioware’s Michael Hamilton has gone as far as to call the Circles of Magi dictatorships, and I can imagine how hopeless it must have felt for Anders to be a mage under a religious regime that preaches how mages are “cursed” and has controlled mages for nearly a milennia.

    My Antivan-ish apostate Hawke befriended Anders, and when he was forced to mercy kill Karl, I could see how that put him on the path to trying to help other mages and prevent what happened to Karl from happening to the other Kirkwall mages. I felt when Anders lamented how mages were being abused, raped, and illegally made tranquil, and when he opened up about his own experience and how most mages he knew committed suicide, and I agreed with him that the Chantry controlled Circles should be emancipated. Anders is the person who has first hand experience about what the Circle of Magi is really like, and we can see how far it’s pushed him.

    • THIS!

      My Cousland was pretty wrecked from the Blight, and one of the heaviest burdens she carries is not knowing more about the atrocities that were going on in the Tower when she arrived.

      When she met Anders, the logical thing to do on her personal path to redemption was to save him at any cost, and I like to think (and it is in my fic!canon) that she pulled every favour she had with the Crown to do so, bloodying the Chantry’s nose. Anders became like a brother to her after that, and with her background of losing so much family, she was protective. He inspired her mage-saving ambitions. (They also drank together a lot!)

      I agree with Hamilton’s assessment. I see the treatment of mages as very oppressive, and I honestly believe that allowing them more personal connections would give them more grounding and strength against things like demons.

      Thanks for stopping by! I had no idea what Miri was getting me into when she asked if she could link me over there! XD

  9. I got this link from Elen.

    THANK YOU. You have summed up everything I have ever tried to say to defend Anders into a nice, neat little package that I wish I had thought of myself. This was extremely well-written and makes your point very well.

  10. I believe that we’ll just have to disagree, then. :)

    • That’s probably best! Though, please know that I do appreciate you bringing your thoughts over here! The Anders’ thread is too big and fast moving for me to keep up with!

      • Goodness, I can’t keep up with anything on the bioboards. (^^; Last time I was there, I think that I made a post on the translator hand-waiving in Mass Effect and got lost in the sea of responses. Subscribed to your blog’s feed some time back when “The Games We Play” ended some time back. Would’ve forgot that I’d done had this post not happily popped into my reader~

  11. Kromify said:

    *whisper* join us… join us…

  12. Yes Anders and the mages can do no wrong, Mages Good, Chantry Bad. Hail Tevinter!

  13. […] ill. The idea that Anders and Justice would merge to have this goal isn’t what bothers me (I quite unpopularly support what he does end-game from a SJ standpoint), it’s the adding of the element that we are meant to read him as mentally ill that […]

  14. As someone who has traditionally been appalled by people’s defence of Anders actions… I really appreciate this. It’s the first time I’ve read something which actually helps me understand another perspective. The time you’ve taken and clarity with which you write was very helpful.

    The problem I have is that the people Anders chooses to lash out at are not precisely the right ones. If he wanted to assassinate Knight-Commander Meredith, I would have been all for it!! But given that the first chantry-member we met back in the first game was Alistair, abandoned there as a child, I was always under the impression that members of the chantry are not necessarily there of their own free will, or complicit in the repression of mages.

    Just to clarify though, I adore Anders as a character and I think his arc makes complete sense. I’ve always thought of him as suffering from mental illness, something very close to my heart, and your domestic violence angle is a new and equally evocative perspective for me. I have a huge amount of sympathy for him. I think it makes sense that he would lash out at the chantry indiscriminately after all he has been through. My issue is more with people who defend his actions as having been the right thing to do, as I see terrorism (and I don’t think it can be described as anything else) as a totally indefensible. I realize the morality of his action wasn’t the focus of this post, but perhaps you have more insight to offer on this?

    P.S. I just realized how old this post is!! It was randomly linked on twitter today…. oops! Well, I will post anyway!

    • Thank you!

      I guess I don’t really have a lot to offer that isn’t already in the post. Perhaps, simply, that the act Anders chose was symbolic, since it is the Chantry as an institution that is oppressing mages, and not any one templar specifically. I think an assassination on KC Meredith wouldn’t have had quite the same impact. That was really what he was going for; impact. Does that make sense?

      Note: This IS a really old post. I don’t really maintain the blog anymore, for various reasons. If I don’t reply to future comments, it isn’t personal.

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