Category Archives: Communication

Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts


In Ten Types of Literary Conflict, I posit that there are actually five types of internal conflict that mirror five types of external conflict. This is an extension of that article and there have been a few changes made from the system described in that article. I have added “Man versus Family” and have refined the concepts from the prior article. The literary theory of conflict begins in Ancient Greece and the details of how conflict is viewed have changed over the centuries but not the larger philosophical framework.

I posit that internal versus external conflict is a modality and on a spectrum. As a semiotic modality, if the conflict is presented in subjective, psychological terms then the conflict is interpreted as internal by the receiver of the message. If the conflict is presented in more objective, physical terms then the conflict is interpreted as external by the receiver of the message. This is due to conventions of communication and does not reflect the fact that humans actually live in world that is a stream of consciousness and an external that is largely socially constructed. The internal/external dichotomy is not how we perceive reality. The internal/external dichotomy is a narrative convention that has creative utility. Because internal and external conflict is a modality that means internality and externality exist on a spectrum.

For example, in Man versus Society, an ethnic group may be marginalized physically via discrimination but the affects can be internal. In the novel, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the protagonist claims he is invisible but this is not a physical condition but due to a system that ignores him as a black man.   However, the novel does detail physical conflict with the system. The novel works because the internal and external modalities are dealt with in a synthetic manner rather than neatly separated.

I hope my framework will be useful for writers who want to write complex characters. The thesis of this article is that complex characters that are authentic have complex conflicts. Many of the most commercially successful TV shows of the last 20 years have worked because they have had an authentic complex protagonist and/or main character at their center. This has led to a factory approach to create more shows with complex characters via interesting quirks and habits.  This factory approach can add to the external complexity of the character but without any grounding in internal conflict the quirks seem forced and gimmicky and ultimately inauthentic. External character complexity minus internal character complexity is phony and unsatisfying to the viewer who wants to see something that is true to life even on the small screen.

Complexity has two dimensions including depth and breadth. Depth is a combination of both internal and external conflict within a single area such as Man versus Faults. If the character is a kleptomaniac and the narrative explores how the character feels about his kleptomania and how his kleptomania effects the people around him then that is depth of conflict. When there is a clear narrative connection between the internal and external then the audience experiences satisfaction. For example, a character feels shame because of his poverty and this causes him to steal which in turn creates conflict between that character and the law. This tidy cycle makes us feel happy. However untidy characters whose internal and external conflict are not so well connected can create unease and curiosity in the audience and we want to watch more about the character in order to figure the character out. In the TV show, Jessica Jones, the supervillain is Kilgrave and perhaps the most well rounded supervillain in the history of comic book characters on the small screen. Kilgrave’s psychopathic behavior has a certain panache and his British accent helps make his behavior interesting. In the episode AKA WWJD, the audience finds out that Kilgrave was forced to be a lab rat for his parents and that is why he is a psychopath and part of me likes the explanation but part of me lost interest in the character. The parents of Kilgrave appear soon afterwards and their version of events is at odds with Kilgrave’s tale of woe. Kilgrave is probably a liar and the fact that psychopath’s lie is not new and my interest in the Kilgrave character plummeted. A faint trail between internal and external conflict may create mystery which in turn creates curiosity.

Breadth is conflict in most of the six areas mentioned including Man versus Faults, Man versus Family, Man versus Nature, Man versus Society, Man versus Universe and Man versus Machine. This essay looked at ten complex TV characters and almost all of them have some connection to the six areas mentioned even is the connection is tenuous in some cases. Is breadth or depth of conflict more important when creating a complex character that is authentic and engages the audience? There probably is not easy answer to this question. I would posit that an authentic complex character needs both depth and breadth.

I can accept a simple character like Homer Simpson in The Simpsons and laugh and be entertained. Homer Simpson lacks both depth and breadth as a character. However, an inauthentic complex character like Everett Backstrom played by Rainn Wilson in Backstrom is inauthentic and was not well received by audiences because there is breadth but no depth to the character. On the other hand, Rainn Wilson played Dwight Schrute with quirks in The Office and this external complexity worked because this character displayed both depth and breadth. Michael Scott played by Steve Carrell was the protagonist in The Office but I would argue Dwight was the more important character and is the main reason The Office continued to have success for two seasons after Michael Scott left in season seven.

The characters I have picked to illustrate this position are iconic TV characters that have been associated with TV shows that have had both critical and commercial success. If you want to write great characters then a scholarly approach would be to study great characters and that is what I have done here!

1.1) Man versus Faults

Man versus Faults includes psychological pathologies ranging from anxiety and simple phobias to severe, and long-standing obsessive/compulsive disorder and substance abuse. Man versus faults can also include character flaws. However, if the character is comfortable with their pathology and/or character flaws then there is no internal conflict but these faults can still lead to conflict with other characters. This is the internal version of the external man versus man conflict and in particular good versus evil.

1.2) Man versus Family

This is a struggle with people we care about. There are people around us whose opinion matters and they have the power to define our identity and we struggle with them. This is usually family and/or significant others but the defining characteristic is they are a “thou” as defined by Martin Buber and the boundary between ourselves and the other are not clearly defined. In sociological terms this would be conflict with a member or members of your primary group. Herbert Mead has put forth the concept of ‘I’ and the ‘me’. According to Mead, the “me” is the socialized aspect of the person, the “I” is the active aspect of the person. The “me” is largely shaped by our family. This is the small version of society that defines who we are rather than the larger impersonal society of institutions. Family defines our identity to such a great extent that family can make creating a new and better identity difficult. In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula has a family that tries to limit both her ethnic and gender identity and life choices. Toula successfully negotiates a new identity with her family that includes the best of her Greek heritage and also allows her to join a larger social circle beyond her Greek roots.

Most family centered films are intensely psychological. However, families do have the ability to give or withhold resources and stories about powerful families may emphasize the largely external power struggle between family members as is the case in The Godfather. Michael (Al Pacino) is drawn into the mafia family business because his father, the Godfather is shot i.e. external circumstances.

1.3) Man versus Nature

The character struggles with the animal within. In more general terms this can be instinct and/or hardwired programming we have as virtue of being biological beings. We are born with certain predispositions that we probably share with all biological beings and certainly all animals but as humans we can use our mind to overcome this animal side and achieve a higher level of being which is being civilized and/or transcendence. In Freudian terms, the superego is in conflict with the id. The character is struggling with what Maslow terms lower order needs and especially physiological needs. The successful resolution of this conflict can leads to more happiness and less neurosis. The character trajectory for this sort of conflict is generally the descent from civilization to savagery but in the case of Tarzan the trajectory was reversed and therefore a more interesting story was created. The external version of this conflict is the physical struggle of man versus a force of nature and/or animal. The Old Man and the Sea is an example of the external version of this struggle. Faults tend to be idiosyncratic while the struggle with our sexuality and aggression is more universal.

1.4) Man versus Society

The character resists the socialization, institutionalization, seduction or even brainwashing of an authoritarian system. The character is not struggling with members of his/her primary group but with functionaries of a society that are just doing their job. A simple cops and robbers story focuses on the external conflict between the criminal and the system. However, if the criminal also wonders about the ethics of his actions and what his role should be in society then an internal struggle is at work. If the character struggles against an authoritarian system physically (The Hunger Games) but has no doubt of the rightness of their cause then this is the external version of this conflict.

1.5) Man versus Universe

The character wonders about their place in the universe. Not their place in society but the universe as a whole. The character ponders what is the meaning of life, truth and/or the nature of reality. This may be an existential crisis or worse. One extreme version of this conflict is the protagonist struggles with madness but the madness is so pervasive that he or she cannot tell what is real or not real. The universe may indeed have gone mad or the character is suffering from some type of psychosis i.e. manic depression or schizophrenia. Madness is not a part of the character but is the character.

Man versus the universe can be a spiritual struggle. The character is struggling with what Maslow terms higher order needs and self-actualization in particular. In Buddhism there are the three poisons. The three poisons are ignorance, attachment, and aversion. Synonyms for ignorance are confusion, bewilderment, and delusion. The opposite of ignorance is wisdom. Synonyms for attachment are desire, passion and greed. Synonyms for aversion are anger, aggression and hatred. Dealing with the three poisons successfully can lead to enlightenment which in my opinion is pretty similar to self-actualization.

In the external version of this struggle, the character is in a struggle against cosmic level forces such as the supernatural (The Shining), fate (Slaughterhouse Five) or even God (A Canticle for Leibowitz). Lovecraftian horror is also an example of this type of struggle but the struggle has a large internal dimension. The most common version of this cosmic level struggle is actually not with God but with the Devil in deals with the devil stories. Man is hopelessly outmatched in terms of power in this type of struggle and cannot win via power but must rely on his wits and/or luck.

1.6) Man versus Machine

The character struggles with technology externally but sometimes the machine is within. The character is a cyborg and struggles to maintain a human identity despite the computer implants in their brain. Deathlok and the Robocop franchise are both examples of this type of struggle. The converse version of this type of conflict is a robot that strives to be human. Data of Star Trek would be an example of this type of struggle. Jessica Alba struggles with her feline transgenic DNA in Dark Angel. This type of conflict did not show up in any of the characters analyzed but is mentioned since this is a type of inner conflict a writer might want to explore as part of the character creation process. Future Shock would be another example of the external struggle with technology effecting us within. The constant change in technology leaves some individuals in more or less a state of shock. Being a cog in the machine also effects the individual internally and externally. The character may experience alienation, frustration and boredom because of their dehumanized condition.

If the character is in a struggle against a robot and/or computer and the struggle is physical then this is the external version of this conflict. The Terminator franchise and the comic book hero Magnus, Robot Hunter would be examples of this type of conflict. Humans do not just fight robots but the machine in the form of automation which takes their jobs and the deskilling of jobs that demeans humans. Technology can also be a daily irritant when the technology breaks down.


2.1) Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City

Carrie Bradshaw-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Carrie Bradshaw – Man versus Faults

Carrie is neurotic. In Season 4, Change of Dress, she breaks into a rash when wearing a wedding dress due to her anxiety about marrying Aidan. Carrie buys shoes obsessively. Miranda estimates that Carrie has spent over 40,000 dollars on shoes. Because of her shoe fetish, In Ring A Ding Ding, Carrie has zero assets and zero savings and cannot buy her apartment from her ex-boyfriend Aidan. Carrie has very little insight into her neurosis and is only bothered by the financial consequences when she might end up losing her apartment. Carrie does not reflect that she has a shoe fetish that might indicate a deeper psychological problem. Carrie does not interpret the wedding dress rash as representative of a deep inner fear of commitment but as just a fear of commitment with Aidan. Carrie is self-absorbed.   Carries column is not about relationships but about her relationships. In the episode Freak Show, there is a slight allusion that maybe Carries problem is not freaky men but her own neurosis that causes her to pursue the wrong men. Carrie amusingly uses buying sprees to relieve anxiety but also uses binge drinking and one night stands to relieve anxiety but this is less noticed because this plot device is much more common in television.

Carrie Bradshaw – Man versus Family

Carrie’s primary group is her three female friends but she has an inability to make a similar connection with males in her life. In particular, she struggles with achieving an intimate relationship with Big and also has a long list of failed relationships with men. If I met someone like Carrie and know her sexual history then I would wonder if there had been some sort of child abuse or neglect from her father when she was young. The family histories of Carrie and her friends are largely untouched except for one episode about the death of Miranda’s mother. Carrie does seem to have daddy issues and one of the older male editors at Vogue tries to exploit this perceived weakness unsuccessfully. Big calls Carrie “kid” on a regular basis. Carrie uses her friends as a substitute family and wants unconditional support rather than questions from her friends even when her decision are not well thought out. In Splat!, Petrovsky wants Carrie to move to Paris from New York and the lack of Miranda’s approval causes Carrie great distress.

Carrie Bradshaw – Man versus Nature

Carrie generally runs away from physical conflict. However, Carrie’s out of control sexuality leads to an abortion and dangerous liaisons with dangerous characters including an alcoholic (Patrick Casey) and David Duchovny, who plays Carrie’s high school boyfriend, is institutionalized. One criticism of the show is that the lack of consequences for sexual behavior provides a dangerous role model for young female viewers. However, Carries antics are amusing and there is a realism to her liaisons that make me think there is a real life story behind almost all of them.  Carrie hates Aiden’s cabin. Carrie is not a big fan of Aiden’s dog.

Carrie Bradshaw – Man versus Society

If men can be promiscuous then why can’t women? Carrie and her group often spout feminist rhetoric to rationalize their promiscuity. Theirs is a pseudo feminism that serves a rhetorical function to justify the exploitation of men for financial reasons and fleeting sexual pleasure regardless of the damage such behavior might cause the men in their life. There is also a lack of a sense of self-preservation. In the real world men do not get pregnant and are less likely to be raped. Carrie and her friends claim independence but are more than willing to use men in the very traditional role of sugar daddy in exchange for sex. Charlotte receives a huge apartment in exchange for having been married for a short period of time. Carrie is offered money from Mr. Big to buy an apartment. Carrie cheats on Aiden with Big to satisfy a sexual itch. Aiden is hurt deeply by Carrie. Carrie cares more about the label her behavior may carry than the consequences of her behavior in Critical Condition. Carrie does occasionally reflect that there is a dissonance between her feminist rhetoric and the actual behavior of her friends.

Carrie never reflects on social justice. Charity functions are backdrops for fashion. Carrie takes her life of privilege for granted but this actually makes the character more real since we all know people like Carrie who have made consumerism their social philosophy.

Carrie Bradshaw – Man versus Universe

Carries does not worry about God or the universe or the meaning of life and neither do her friends. Her friend Samantha doesn’t think twice about seducing a priest in The Agony and the Ex-tacy. Charlotte converts to Judaism but her biggest issue with this conversion is that she will have to give up Christmas decorations! Houses of worship are largely a fashion accessory for Carrie and her friends. Carrie has an abortion but does not see the issue in religious terms in the least. Carrie visits Chad, the father of her aborted baby, in Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda and he is a loser and would not have been a good provider so her decision is justified. Right to life arguments pro or con are irrelevant to Carrie.

In the film, Sex and the City 2, Islam is used as a fashion backdrop while any attempt to explore the clash of world views between a largely Christian US sensibility and Islam is totally ignored. I suppose one “heartening” message is that Arab women like American women wear high fashion labels so they are united in the sisterhood of high fashion consumerism. However, in my opinion this actually makes Carries a more realistic character since this lack of any reflection of her place in the universe is representative of many Americans, unfortunately. The big issues like AIDS, abortion, religion can all be solved by Carrie with a shoe buying spree that will allow her to forget all her troubles! The fashionista side of Carrie makes her interesting but the slight hint that the fashionista face of Carrie is indicative of a dangerous shallowness is what makes the character work.

Carrie is superficially a sympathetic character but upon analysis is an example of absurd consumerism at the expense of all other values and this means you want to watch in the same way you want to watch the eye of a beautiful woman being cut in Un Chien Andalou. How can such a well-dressed and pretty girl be such a grotesquerie spiritually? Carrie revels in ignorance and attachment and shows almost zero spiritual growth. Carrie gets Big in the end and that’s all that matters. Carrie is not in conflict with the three poisons because she is blissfully unaware of the three poisons. I reject the argument that we forgive characters, like Tony Soprano who is a murderer but detest Carrie who is guilty of so much less. Tony Soprano represents an exotic evil I have only seen in fiction. Carrie represents an Ugly American whose banal evil is all too common. They hate us because there are too many Carries in America!

Carrie Bradshaw – Man versus Machine

Carrie struggles with technology. In My Motherboard, My Self, Carrie’s Mac crashes and she has not backed up her data. Carrie does not have a cell phone and is admonished to get one by Miranda. Carrie does switch from a Mac to a Hewlett Packard PC in the movie Sex and the City 2. Carrie is frustrated by technology but does not really suffer from Future Shock and like many deals with one technology crisis in her life at a time.

2.2) Don Draper from Madmen

Don Draper-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Don Draper – Man versus Faults

Don Draper drifts from serious alcohol abuse to out and out alcoholism from the first season to the last season. Don Draper also has hallucinations and sees dead people! Draper sees his father Archibald Whitman during a drunken hallucination in Seven Twenty Three. Drapers sees Anna Draper in The Suitcase. Don saw his half-brother Adam Whitman in The Phantom. Draper watched the recently deceased Bert Cooper dance in Waterloo. The good news is that Draper is generally drunk out of his mind when he see’s dead people so he is probably suffering from alcohol induced episodic psychosis rather than out and out psychosis. Draper may be drinking because he had a horrific childhood. Draper may be drinking because he has a deep dark secret that causes anxiety. Draper may drink so much because it’s part of the ad man lifestyle. Finally, Draper may be drinking because he is addicted to alcohol and that seems to be the case towards the end of the series. In the last episode of Season Six, Megan, his second wife, states, “You want to be alone with your liquor and your ex-wife and your screwed up kids.”. Megan dear, he just wants to be left alone with his liquor. I think we have all known someone like that in our lives!

Don Draper – Man versus Family

Draper was born Richard “Dick” Whitman and had a horrific childhood and is born into poverty. His mother was a prostitute that died in labor. His stepmother Abigail is abusive towards Draper. Draper loses his virginity to a prostitute in none consensual sex. Draper wants love but probably because of his early experiences with women, has a hard time allowing women past his defenses. Draper does flirt with SM with the housewife and neighbor Silvia Rosen.

Don Draper – Man versus Nature

Don Draper chases women.  His out of control womanizing damages his first marriage. Don is reflective enough to realize he has a problem in this area. Draper gets into a fist fight with a reverend in a bar. Draper is a he-man in the classic fifties model but is smart enough to realize the limitations of this act and by the last season is a nomad seeking deeper meaning and escape from his baser side.

Don Draper – Man versus Society

Draper switches identities with his commanding officer during the Korean War after the officer is killed. Draper steals his role in society via fraud. This is Draper’s deep secret and there are major consequences. His half-brother commits suicide presumably because Draper must keep him away in order to keep his secret. Draper may be comfortable with his deception but he is not comfortable with the death of his half-brother the deception caused. Draper has made the cold blooded decision that self-interest is more important than the truth and this is a “realistic” decision that we will see again in other complex TV protagonists.

The Civil Rights Movement provides some background noise and some external conflict in the series. Draper has an African-American receptionist at one point and one episode takes place during the assassination of Martin Luther King. Two of the major characters represent two pathways to be a successful woman in a sexist sixties world. Joan Holloway uses a combination of obvious sexuality that is possible with her voluptuous figure and assertiveness in tandem to play men. Peggy Olson has real advertising talent and is less willing to use her sexuality. Predictably the two join forces to create a company that will film ads.

Don Draper – Man versus Universe

Draper doesn’t care about money compared to his peers. Draper gives his second wife Megan a check for a million dollars that he does not have to as part of the divorce settlement. Draper is an ad man that manipulates consumers but is not manipulated by consumerism. Don is struggling to find the meaning for life and goes to a commune and presumably writes the “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ad that may or may not be an expression of self-actualization.

Don Draper – Man versus Machine

In Mad Men, television becomes an increasingly more important part of advertising. Harry Crane’s character rises in the organization due to his expertise in this area and is also in charge of the new computer the organization buys and installs. What’s interesting is that Harry Crane’s lack of people skills are not over the top as is the stereotype with technology nerds in television and he does move to California and become more at ease and fashionable but is always making faux pas with Draper with comments that are inappropriate. The technology shift in advertising has almost no effect on Draper. Draper is a pragmatist that can soon adapt to new external circumstances.

2.3) Dwight Schrute from The Office

Dwight Schrute-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Dwight Schrute – Man versus Faults

One of the reasons I watched The Office was to see what outrageous action Dwight would take. Dwight is immature, lack social skills, suffers from paranoia and engages in splitting. Dwight’s in the first few seasons has very little self-awareness of his faults. His faults cause external not internal conflict. Dwight does modify his behavior and is portrayed as a quirky but effective manager in the last episode of the last season. Dwight even lets Jim Halper, his previous arch enemy, become is number two man in the office. There is no real “aha” moment but Dwight has obviously mellowed by the last episode. A lot of Dwight’s behavior makes sense when you realize that Dwight is basically paranoid. Dwight has weapons hidden all over the office because he fears physical attack. Dwight engages in splitting, black and white thinking about other people and there is a consistent pattern to his conflicts with other characters. Dwight idolizes his boss Michael Scott and decides that Jim Halpert is his arch enemy more or less in comic book terms. Dwight’s family history suggest extreme neglect.   Dwight is in touch with an extended family including his cousin Moe, and Dwight shares a lot of information about that extended family but not his parents. If I met a person with Dwight’s problems then I would wonder if he had been neglected by his parents while growing up. However, why Dwight acts so crazy is all and all a mystery. Jim Halper in particular reacts to Dwight’s misbehavior with punishing pranks but does express more than once his utter mystification why Dwight is the way he is but again there are hints.

Dwight Schrute – Man versus Family

Moe Schrute is Dwight’s cousin and he they have a love/hate relationship. In one episode, Dwight leaves a message to Moe and his unborn son. Dwight warns his unborn son about Moe. Dwight also warns his cousin about his unborn son. The boss, Michael Scott is a surrogate father and is picked as such perhaps due to neglect from his real father.

Dwight Schrute – Man versus Nature

Dwight is a hunter. Dwight uses absurd parallels between survival in the animal kingdom and those are lessons that humans should use to guide their own behavior. Dwight is a student of the martial arts and uses multiple martial arts classes to handle his pent up aggression about not being given the job of office manager.

Dwight Schrute – Man versus Society

Dwight has an authoritarian personality and accepts Social Darwinism. Dwight is a volunteer deputy sheriff and would probably be a police officer if he could get past the psychological test. Dwight is rude and even cruel to his fellow office workers but subservient to his boss Dwight. In one episode, he does tell the documentary crew that he does respond to authority.

Dwight Schrute – Man versus Universe

Dwights world view has been heavily influence by Dungeons & Dragons and their alignment system. You don’t see much evidence of Dwight classifying characters as lawful or chaotic but Dwight does engage in splitting and the people around him are good or evil and there isn’t much grey in Dwight’s world view.

Dwight Schrute – Man versus Machine

Economies of scale in the paper industry threaten Dunder Mifflin, the company that employs Schrute. The real life Staples is often mentioned as a competitor to Dunder Mifflin. Technology is not mentioned directly as part of the company struggle but part of Staples success is superior logistics which is possible with superior information systems. Schrute himself likes computer games and likes Sharper Image type gadgets.

2.4) Nancy Botwin from Weeds

Nancy Botwin-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Nancy Botwin – Man versus Faults

Nancy is impulsive, has an oral fixation, is reckless and soft.

Nancy Botwin – Man versus Family

Nancy has ongoing conflicts with three members of her family. Andy Botwin is the brother-in-law of Nancy and is sexually attracted to Nancy and she uses her sexuality to manipulate Andy until he realizes what is going on and removes himself from her presence permanently. Shane Botwin is the youngest son of Nancy. Nancy and Shane have an ongoing struggle for power and authority. Silas Botwin is the oldest son of Nancy and embraces their criminal lifestyle.

Nancy Botwin – Man versus Nature

Nancy is out of control sexually. Weed is an increasingly a symbol of nature as the series develops.

Nancy Botwin – Man versus Society

The theme song is “Little Boxes“. For Nancy, crime is an innovation that allows her to accomplish middle class goals.  Nancy is an example of Merton’s version of Strain Theory.

Nancy Botwin – Man versus Universe

The American dream is stolen from Nancy by her husband’s death. Nancy is a middle class housewife until her husband’s death forces her to sell weed to support her family. Destiny not God forces her into a life of crime. The husband was Jewish and the brother-in-law Andy goes to Rabbi school and provides some background noise in the form of musings both Jewish and New Age.

Nancy Botwin – Man versus Machine

The Botwin family is off the grid and in a RV in Season Six but their version of roughing it pales in comparison to The Walking Dead. Cellphone usage is ubiquitous yet communication snafus are a common plot device. Skype type technology used when the sons are in Copenhagen. Discussion of pot growing tech is pervasive.

2.5) Enoch Malachi “Nucky” Thompson from Boardwalk Empire

Nucky Thompson-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Nucky Thompson – Man versus Faults

Nucky is a surprisingly well adjusted gangster surrounded by gangsters that have numerous psychological problems. Is Nucky’s saneness a weakness? In the world of gangster’s unpredictable, psychopaths often have the advantage over Nucky but in the long run Nucky can form alliances the psychopaths cannot. Crazy men have a tactical advantage in the world of crime. Sane men have a strategic advantage in the world of crime.

Nucky Thompson – Man versus Family

Nucky’s brother is Eli Thompson. Nucky marries Margaret Thompson. Eli works for Thompson but sometimes resents how he is treated by Nucky. Margaret is a moral person who is eventually leaves Nucky because of his gangster lifestyle. Both characters provide ongoing conflict. The conflict with Eli is largely external. Margaret does make Nucky question his lifestyle so this struggle has an internal element.

Nucky Thompson – Man versus Nature

Nucky drinks but in moderation. Nucky likes the ladies but doesn’t let that interfere with business.   Nucky does not shy away from violence but sees uses violence as a tool not for vicarious pleasure like the gangsters around him. Nucky is an adult and in control and all thmore dangerous because of this maturity.

Nucky Thompson – Man versus Society

Crime is inherently a struggle against legitimate social norms. Crime is ethnic redress. In real life gangs generally divided along ethnic lines. The Italian Mafia in America requires made men to be of Italian ancestry. Nucky is the mayor of Atlantic City and one of the reasons is that Nucky gets most of the black vote.

Nucky Thompson – Man versus Universe

Nucky rejects Catholicism. This is not a big area of conflict for Nucky.

Nucky Thompson – Man versus Machine


2.6) Piper Chapman from Orange is the New Black

Piper Chapman-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Piper Chapman – Man versus Faults

Piper suffers from reduced affect display. Piper stares into space and very rarely shows any emotion much less empathy. Piper is comfortable with being clueless. Piper is a white middle class, thin, attractive protagonist that made one mistake. Piper smuggled drugs once years earlier. The white middle class audience should identify with Piper but cannot due to her lack of empathy. Ironically, the violent, none white career, often over weight, career criminals are more sympathetic characters than the protagonist. Is Orange is the New Black a new version of the women in prison genre? Piper is being punished for not just being a dumb blond but a clueless dumb blond. Unlike past version of this genre, Piper is not innocent but guilty of being a bad person so the audience gets sadistic pleasure from witnessing her pain! Piper is a subtle version of the character you love to hate. Piper’s tale is also a cautionary tale and provides the audience a certain level of satisfaction as this sort of story.

Piper Chapman – Man versus Family

Piper’s family includes Carol Chapman (mother), Bill Chapman (father), Cal Chapman (brother) and Celeste Chapman (grandmother). However, the real “thou” in Piper’s life is Alex Vause (lover). Piper and Alex are lesbian lovers. Alex is a manipulative, amoral, selfish person. Piper doesn’t show a lot of insight about Alex but instead becomes more like Alex over time in a monkey see, monkey do sort of manner. Piper’s replacement of family with a dysfunctional lesbian lover makes her the poster child for the subatomic family which is the successor of the disintegrated nuclear family in our current post-modern social apocalypse.

Piper Chapman – Man versus Nature

Piper is in a total institution in which natural sexual impulses are perverted due to the institution. Sex becomes a commodity that is bought and sold between inmates. More importantly sex is one of the few commodities the female prisoners can offer the male guards. Authentic romantic feelings invariably lead to leveraged relationships within the context of a total institution.

Piper Chapman – Man versus Society

Piper experiences extreme downward Social Mobility. Piper cannot use her cultural capital within a Total Institution as she is accustomed to.

Piper Chapman – Man versus Universe

In Fool Me Once, Piper states, “Look I understand that religion makes it easier to deal with all of the random shitty things that happen to us. And I wish I could get on that ride, I’m sure I would be happier. But I can’t. Feeling aren’t enough. I need it to be real”. Overall, Piper is comfortable with her atheism.

Piper Chapman – Man versus Machine

A prison is a total institution and there is a level of surveillance that does not exist even for an outlaw like Tony Soprano or Walter White has to deal with. Piper is assigned an electrician job which allows her access to tools that the other inmates do not have and whether or not to use these tools illegally is an ongoing plot device.

2.7) Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead

Rick Grimes-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Rick Grimes – Man versus Faults

Rick Grimes hears the voice of his dead wife on a regular basis. Rick struggles with a psychotic breakdown but seems to recover later. Overall, Rick has very few faults and is a heroic character that tries to the right thing in a world gone mad.

Rick Grimes – Man versus Family

Rick has a wife Lori Grimes who is too soft for a zombie world in the judgement of Rick. The wife later dies and Rick does lose an ethical touchstone. In contrast Rick’s son, Carl Grimes becomes more ruthless in a zombie world and perhaps too ruthless in the judgement of Rick.

Rick Grimes – Man versus Nature

Rick’s right hand man is Daryl Dixon. Daryl is a skilled hunter and tracker that can use a cross bow. Daryl can live of the land unlike most of his band. Rick at first relies on Daryl for his skills but later Daryl takes on the role of an advisor but not necessarily a confidant. Rick becomes more savage as the show progresses. Daryl becomes more social as the show progresses. Rick and Daryl exchange roles along the man versus nature dimension.

Rick Grimes – Man versus Society

Grimes struggles with his pre-zombie apocalypse role as a police officer. There is no government. Should Rick still act like a police officer even though society has broken down? Rick becomes more and more pragmatic about the use of violence but always at the core there is some of the police officer still in him.

Rick Grimes – Man versus Universe

Grimes asks for guidance from God even though he was “never much of a believer”.

Rick Grimes – Man versus Machine

The machine has broken down. Mass communication no longer exists.

2.8) Tony Soprano from The Sopranos

Tony Soprano-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Tony Soprano – Man versus Faults

Tony suffers from depression, panic attacks and is arguably a sociopath.

Tony Soprano – Man versus Family

Tony’s mother is Livia Soprano. Livia Soprano is a narcissist that attempts to have Tony killed. Tony struggles with the realization that his idealized version of his mother has very little to do with the truth about his mother. Tony’s wife, Carmela Soprano is the good wife. Carmela raises the children and provides a good home for them and Tony. Carmela slowly realizes that she is married to a man who does evil thing and therefore she is an accomplice to evil. Jennifer Melfi is Tony’s therapist who initially tries a counseling approach until she slowly realizes that evil is evil and that perhaps her counseling is just helping Tony become a better sociopath. Tony is a charismatic protagonist. Carmela and Jennifer him struggle with their attraction to Tony on the one hand but being an enabler of evil if they continue a relationship with Tony.

Tony Soprano – Man versus Nature

Tony is out of control sexually. Tony is extremely violent. Tony is a nature lover. Tony loves the ducks in his pool. Tony is willing to kill a made man over a horse.

Tony Soprano – Man versus Society

Crime is capitalism by other means.

Tony Soprano – Man versus Universe

Catholicism is a tool that Tony uses to avoid divorce from Carmela. Tony at one point states that he is a soldier and God forgives soldiers. In the end, religion is just another legalistic system that Tony exploits via loopholes while doing terrible things.

Tony Soprano – Man versus Machine

Tony is aware of computers but doesn’t use computers. Tony has an extreme fear of surveillance and his caution makes it difficult for the FBI to make a case against him. Tony is very comfortable with human infrastructure. Tony may not understand the intricacies of the law but has enough sense to get a lawyer that does and follow his advice more or less. Tony may not be a theologian but can figure out enough theology to justify his actions when needed. Tony is the Italian prince that uses the machine.

2.9) Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Tyrion Lannister – Man versus Faults

Tyrion is a complex character. Tyrion is an alcoholic. Tyrion is also a whore monger. Most of all Tyrion is a dwarf and in an age of knights a man who is a dwarf is seen as less than a man. Tyrion comes from one of the most powerful and wealthy families in the Seven Kingdoms so he may not be able to earn respect through knightly deeds but can buy solace with fine wine and fine whores.

Tyrion Lannister – Man versus Family

Tyrion has a sister named Cersei. In the novels not the TV show, the reader discovers that Cersei tortured Tyrion even when he was a baby because she blames him for the death of their wife during childbirth. Tywin Lannister is Tyrion’s father and the mighty head of the Lannister family. Tyrion is disgusted with his son because he is a dwarf, drunkard and whore monger. Tywin has a sense of duty towards Tyrion but very little empathy towards his Tyrion. Tyrion ultimately kills his father with a crossbow because he stole is lover Shae and Cersei wants vengeance upon Tyrion.

Tyrion Lannister – Man versus Nature

Tyrion exists in period when men fight nature with swords. King Robert dies fighting a giant boar and this creates the Game of Thrones. Tyrion’s stunted body means he cannot fight nature with a sword but perhaps he can triumph with his intellect.

Tyrion Lannister – Man versus Society

For Tyrion patricide is freedom. Tyrion’s family is society! Tyrion is at odd with his sister and father and therefore society.

Tyrion Lannister – Man versus Universe

Tyrion has stated that if there are gods then they are cruel since the world is cruel and they made the world. Tyrion probably wonders why the gods made him a dwarf. Tyrion’s rationalism is often at odd with the superstition that is prevalent in the medieval culture of the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion has killed his father so if there are gods then he is probably cursed!

Tyrion Lannister – Man versus Machine

Tyrion lives in a land before the machines have risen to their current heights. There is no conflict with machines but there is conflict with dragons and White Walkers with their wights. Magic is the advanced technology of this world. Tyrion reads all he can about dragons. Samwell Tarly, who is obese, reads all he can about wights. Will this world be saved by the scholars and not the warriors?

2.10) Walter White from Breaking Bad

Walter White-Authentic Characters Have Complex Conflicts

Walter White – Man versus Faults

Walter cofounded Gray Matter and sold his shares for 5,000 dollars and the company went on to make a fortune of over 2 billion. Walter seems to have accepted this loss and his current role as a high school chemistry teacher but deep down Walter is angry and resentful as to how his life has turned out. Walter is found to have cancer and enters the drug trade at first to take of his family. However, Walter makes more money than he can count over time. The wife uses the size of the pile of cash to try to guess how much money they have and points out its more money they can spend in several lifetimes. Walter’s cancer is also in remission by that time. Why does Walter go on in his illegal activities? Walter suffers from hubris and must prove he is at the best at something to make up for his loss of Gray Matter. Walter wants to be the Coca Cola of the methamphetamine trade. Walter wants to be the best at something and if that something is drug dealing then so be it.

Walter White – Man versus Family

Walter has cancer. Walter wants to provide for his family after his death. Walter gets into the drug trade in order to provide for his family. Walter is a drug dealer because he is a family man. This parallels the broad plot lines of Nancy Botwin’s story. Walter’s family includes Skyler White (wife), Walter Jr. White (son) and Hank Schrader (brother-in-law). Walter also has a surrogate son in the person of Jesse Pinkman his on and off crime partner. Is there some sort of color symbolism between the last name White and the last name Pinkman? Walter’s illegal drug trade ultimately causes him to lose his family, get his brother-in-law killed by neo-Nazis. Jesse is taken prisoner by the same neo-Nazis but manages to escape in the last episode.

Walter White – Man versus Nature

Walter White slowly becomes more ruthless and eventually becomes a cold-blooded murderer. Walter is forced to struggle with nature due to the need for isolation to make meth. Walter almost dies in the desert in one of the early episodes.

Walter White – Man versus Society

For Walter, crime is capitalism by other means. Walter states that he wants to be the Coca Cola of the drug trade. Walter applies the rational principles of capitalism to the drug trade.

Walter White – Man versus Universe

Walter is probably an atheist but this is never clearly stated. Walter sees success in work as his legacy. Walter does mention in one episode that if there is a hell then he is probably going there no matter what so he might as well leave a legacy of success in this world.

Walter White – Man versus Machine

Walter has a doctorate in chemistry. Walter is highly intelligent and applies this intelligence to crime just like he would to any technical problem. Walter understands the machine better than other criminals and this is why he is more successful.


Complex characters make for interesting television and more importantly for many, successful television. Complexity can include quirks and habits but internal conflict may be the best way to make truly complex characters. Perhaps authors should start from the inside not the outside to make rounded characters.

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Ten Types of Literary Conflict Table

Ten Types of Conflict Table


Aristotle posited four types of conflict. Three types were external including man versus man, man versus nature and man versus society. Aristotle treated internal conflict as a category in its own right and this internal conflict is generally labeled as man versus self. This is an attempt to revamp Aristotle’s thesis and suggest there are actually five major conflictual topics and each topic can have an external versus internal perspective.

1) Man versus machine (external) – Character is in a struggle against a robot and/or computer. The Terminator franchise and the comic book hero Magnus, Robot Hunter would be examples of this type of conflict.

2) Man versus machine (internal) – The character is a cyborg and struggles to maintain a human identity despite the computer implants in their brain. Deathlok and the Robocop franchise are both examples of this type of struggle. The converse version of this type of conflict is a robot that strives to be human. Data of Star Trek would be an example of this type of struggle.

3) Man versus man (external) – The character struggles against another character or characters. A common subset is good versus evil. Batman versus the Joker would be an example of this sort of struggle. The struggle may have psychological accents but is mostly physical.

4) Man versus man (internal) – The struggle between the characters is not physical but psychological. A good example of this sort of struggle is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf by Edward Albee.  Commonly a character has a psychological problem that causes conflict with the other characters this problem can be alcoholism, neurosis, a personality disorder, or even a character flaw. The conflict is internal but the audience see’s the manifestation of the internal struggle via the effect of this conflict on other characters. Watching an alcoholic talking to himself in a room is a lot less fun to watch than watching an alcoholic at his birthday party.

5) Man versus nature (external) – The character struggle against the forces of nature. The Old Man and the Sea is an example of this sort of struggle.

6) Man versus nature (internal) – The character struggles with the animal within. The protagonist of The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes must inevitably follow the dictates of social Darwinism in order to survive. There is an animal inside man and in the struggle with nature this animal may have to be unleashed for us to survive. Some Vampires may want to control their thirst for blood but the animal within is too strong. The humanity of the vampire in conflict with the vampiric urges of the vampire seems to be a recurring conflict in the works of Anne Rice and this is especially true in the case of her character Louis de Pointe du Lac.

7) Man versus society (external) – The character struggles against an authoritarian system physically (The Hunger Games).

8) Man versus society (internal) – The character resists the socialization, institutionalization, seduction or even brainwashing of an authoritarian system. Joker in Heavy Metal Jacket takes part of collective punishment to Pyle and becomes part of the system he had previously derided. Chief accepts the system in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Chief is huge yet chooses not to talk because his shackles are internal not external. The character struggles not to become institutionalized or socialized but the struggle may in turn make the character more ruthless and similar to those in the system.

The external struggle against society and the internal struggle are juxtaposed in the theme that “He who fights dragons becomes a dragon”. In Star Wars the empire provides external conflict. The Sith Lords provide external conflict with light saber duels but more importantly the Sith Lords endeavor to create anger in the Jedi and cause them to fall to the Dark Side.

9) Man versus universe (external) – The character is in a struggle against cosmic level forces such as the supernatural (The Shining), fate (Slaughterhouse Five) or even God (A Canticle for Leibowitz). Lovecraftian horror is also an example of this type of struggle but the struggle has a large internal dimension. The most common version of this cosmic level struggle is actually not with God but with the Devil in deals with the devil stories. Man is hopelessly outmatched in terms of power in this type of struggle and cannot win via power but must rely on his wits and/or luck.

The realization that the universe is absurd is generally treated as an existential crisis that falls under is (5) man versus self. However, in some cases the universe is absurd due to an external cosmic level change. The very nature of reality has altered due to unknown and often unknowable mechanisms. The TV show The Twilight Zone specialized in this type of man versus universe scenario. In the very first episode of The Twilight Zone, Where is Everybody?, a man finds himself alone in a town. All the people have mysteriously disappeared. Rod Serling, the writer bothers to come up with an “explanation” of why there are no people in this episode but in other episodes the universe has changed and no explanation is given and this is much more disturbing. In The Twilight Zone episode, And When the Sky Was Opened, astronauts start being erased from existence one by one and no real explanation is given and this lack of explanation makes the episode all the more disturbing.

Perhaps this is why zombie stories are so disturbing. One level of conflict in a zombie story is man versus man in that the protagonist must fight other humans in the struggle for resources but also must deal with the fact that the impossible has happened. Our scientific world view precludes the existence of zombies but the character must deal with a universe gone mad and this struggle is perhaps more disturbing than the struggle with zombies. If zombies are explained using a disease model as in the case of The Walking Dead then a cure might exist. However, George A. Romero realized that living dead that exist as an ontological puzzle are much more disturbing than a voodoo based or science based zombie. In Day of the Dead, Romero explores the ontological puzzle of living dead in more detail. Is the fabric of reality a fragile thing that can suddenly change? We like to think this is not the case but when the Aztecs fought the Spanish they also fought a change in their world view that perhaps was more harmful in the long run.

10) Man versus universe (internal) – The protagonist struggles with madness but the madness is so pervasive that he or she cannot tell what is real or not real. The Aviator would be an example of this type of conflict.

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

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Advertising Techniques Classified by Modes of Persuasion

Advertising Techniques Classified by Modes of Persuasion Table

This article is attempting to establish a relationship between the three modes of persuasion and particular advertising techniques. Ethos is an appeal to authority.  Logos is an appeal to logic. Pathos is an appeal to emotion.  I have added a fourth category, media, because some advertising techniques don’t really fit the modes of persuasion but are media centric.  Marshall McLuhan has argued that “the medium is the message”.  Ancient Greece had limited types of media and would find this category confusing but media technique is increasingly important as part of the art of persuasion since the 20th century.

1) Altruism – The ad presents an altruistic story and hopes the viewer associates the story with the product and/or service.  The ad ultimately evokes emotions and is therefore a type of pathos.

2) Analogy – A similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based.  This is a type of logical argument and therefore logos.

3) Arouse Curiosity – The ad catches the curiosity and therefore the attention of the customer.  Curiosity is a feeling and therefore a type of pathos.

4) Bandwagon – Trying to convince viewers that a product is good because “everyone” is buying it; encouraging people to “jump on the bandwagon”.  The people are the authority and therefore this is an example of ethos.

5) Card Stacking – Telling the facts from one side only.  This is a manipulation of the logic of the argument and therefore logos.

6) Cartoon Character – An animated character that promotes a product.  This is a good example of a media that did not even exist in Ancient Greece.  This is a mass media technique.

7) Children – In most houses, children have a say in every big or small purchase made. Most parents just give in to the tantrums, a fact well known to the advertisers. Out of ten commercials one sees through any medium, 8 have children featured in them who are generally a little more perfect than the target audience. These perfect children then go on to become role-models that have to emulated by other children.  I think this is an example in which the same commercial persuades the parents using emotion i.e. pathos.  However, there may be an ethos effect on the children watching the advertisement.  Finally, in the very beginning of film the fact that children look good on film was noticed i.e. this is a mass media issue.

8) Comparison Appeal – This brand is better than other brands of the same product.  A taste test between Pepsi and Coca Cola would be ethos.  Comparing the products using facts and figures would be logos.

9) Deal Appeal – This technique involves making the audience a compelling offer, and telling them exactly how to get it. Key words associated with this technique are “free” and “save”.  Saving money is logical but these types of ads often involved a lot of titillation i.e. pathos.

10) Emotional Appeal – Writers may appeal to fear, anger or joy to sway their readers. They may also add climax or excitement. This technique is strongly connected to the essay’s mood.  Emotional appeal is the modern way to refer to pathos.

11) Establish Credibility – “I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.”  Appeal to authority and therefore ethos.

12) Exaggeration – Exaggerating products and their uses is another of the good advertising techniques and examples of the technique can explain how this works in the favor of the advertiser. Exaggeration of facts and figures is logos.  Exaggeration the appeal of the products to a peer product is ethos.

13) Exigency – Creating the impression that your action is required immediately or your opportunity will be lost forever.   A good combination of appealing to both logic and emotion and a reason this technique works.  Acting quickly before an opportunity is lost is logical and our emotions also kick in.

14) Facts and Figures – Statistics and objective factual information is used to prove the superiority of the product.  Statistics are the modern version of logic so this technique is logos.

15) Fantasy – Super athletes, superheroes, movie stars, the beautiful, the rich, the powerful, or things associated with them are featured with the hope that the consumer will tend to transfer the qualities of these people to the products and themselves and buy the item.  Fantasy is an emotional experience but I think there is also an element of ethos in that superheroes and movie stars are beings we aspire to be.

16) Fear – Using fear to sell a service and/or product.  This is the dark side of pathos.

17) Green – If you buy this product then you are helping the environment.  The ad can go to in a feel good direction and therefore pathos.  The ad might also be logical in that a dead world means yours truly is also dead.

18) Glittering Generalities – An emotionally appealing phrase so closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs that it carries conviction without supporting information or reason.  An appeal to emotion but can also be an appeal to authority depending on the ad.

19) Humor – The use of humor may help people remember the ad and want to buy the product because of the positive association with it.

20) Hyperbole – This is one of the more enjoyable persuasive techniques. It involves completely overstating and exaggerating your point for effect. (Like when your mom says, “I must have asked you a million times to clean your room!” Get it?).  The effect is ultimately emotional and therefore pathos.

21) Image Advertising–  Presenting a desirable situation or lifestyle in order to convince the viewers that if they use a product, they, too can have this lifestyle; beautiful people.

22) Innuendo – Causing the audience to become wary or suspicious of a competing product and/or service by hinting that negative information may be being kept secret.  Suspicion is an emotion so this is an example of pathos.

23) Irony – Irony is present if the writer’s words contain more than one meaning. This may be in the form of sarcasm, gentle irony, or a pun (play on words). It can be used to add humor or to emphasize an implied meaning under the surface. The writer’s “voice” becomes important here.  Humor is appeals to emotion therefore this is an example of pathos.

24) Jingle or Slogan – A “catchy” song or phrase that helps you remember a product.  A song or jingle is the use of media to get attention.

25) Lifestyle Appeal – In this technique, an advertisement provides a glimpse from a particular lifestyle or way of living.  The hope is that the audience will desire this lifestyle and transfer that longing to the product.  This is an example of ethos.

26) Magic Ingredients – The suggestion that some almost miraculous discovery makes the product exceptionally effective.  Ultimately this is a logical argument even if the argument is fallacious.

27) Mascot – Mascot the audience can identify with like Smokey the Bear.  A costumed character is ultimately a type of media that appeals to our emotions.

28) Metaphor – A figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.  The metaphor may be an attempt to make a logical and/or emotional connection.  Therefore the metaphor could be logos and/or pathos.

29) Name Calling Appeal – In this technique, the advertiser compares its product or service to the competition in a way that is favorable to the advertiser.  This is the use of names that elicit emotion and therefore pathos.

30) Nostalgia – This appeal implies that this product takes you back to the “good old days” or back to nature, etc.  Nostalgia is ultimately emotional and therefore this is an example of pathos.

31) Parallelism – When an author creates a “balanced” sentence by re-using the same word structure, this is called parallelism. Always strive for parallelism when using compound or complex sentences.  Jingles and/or slogans can be improved using parallelism.  A jingle/slogan is media and an improvement on media is a media issue.

32) Patriotism – The suggestion that purchasing this product shows your love of your country.  Patriotism is an emotion so this is an example of pathos.

33) Personification – This technique gives human characteristics to a product, or service.  Novelty elicits positive feelings so this is an example of pathos but computer graphics mean this technique is used more effectively and perhaps more often.

34) Plain Folks – The product is not elitist and suitable for ordinary people.  This is an ethos argument.

35) Promise a Benefit – The ad promises a benefit to the consumer.  Does the benefit have emotional appeal?  Does the benefit make sense logically?  Will the benefit help you socially?  This technique can be slanted to be ethos, logos or pathos.

36) Red Herring – Highlighting a minor detail as a way to draw attention away from more important details or issues.  This is an appeal to logic i.e. using logic to mislead the viewer therefore logos.

37) Repetition – Repeating an element within one advertisement so that viewers will remember the advertisement and will buy the product.  Repetition is an important part of mass media in which ads are played again and again rather than a type of argument.

38) Reverse Psychology – A persuasion technique involving the false advocacy of a belief or behavior contrary to the belief or behavior which is actually being advocated.  This is a manipulation of both our logic and our emotion in tandem.

39) Rhetorical Question – Sometimes a writer will ask a question to which no answer is required. The writer implies that the answer is obvious; the reader has no choice but to agree with the writer’s point.  This is ultimately an appeal to logic so logos.

40) Savings or Free – You will save money or get something free if you buy this product.  Saving money is logical if the price aspect is emphasized but emotional if the thrill of the sale is emphasized.

41) Scale – A product looks bigger or smaller in the ad than the actual product.  This is a graphic design trick and therefore media.

42) Sensory Appeal – The product tastes good, looks good, or feels good.  Sounds or pictures appealing to the senses are featured.  This is generally done with video and is the use of this media to elicit very basic emotions and therefore pathos and media.

43) Shocking the Viewer – An effective method of advertising, shocking viewer gets them more interested in the product, because it is a shift in their comfort zone. Shock is an emotion therefore this is an example of pathos.

44) Simple Solutions – One product and/or service solves several problems at the same time.  Simple solutions are easy to understand logically therefore this is a type of logos argument.

45) Slice of Life Appeal – A problem is presented in a “realistic” manner by “real” people. The real people are an example of ethos.

46) Snob Appeal – The use of the product makes the customer part of an elite group with a luxurious and glamorous life style.  The elite group is an example of ethos.

47) Testimonial Appeal – In this technique, a celebrity or authority figure endorses the product.  This could be a celebrity, sports star, or “professional”.  Ethos yet again!

48) Transfer – Words and ideas with positive connotations are used to suggest that the positive qualities should be associated with the product and the user.  This is the use of the emotional impact of words and therefore pathos.

49) Weasel Words – “Weasel words” are used to suggest a positive meaning without actually really making any guarantee.  This is a sneakier version of word choice (50) and ultimately a manipulation of emotion and therefore pathos.

50) Word Choice – Is a person “slim” or “skinny”? Is an oil spill an “incident” or an “accident”?   This is a narrower version of transfer (48) and therefore still pathos.


There were 24 examples of pathos ad techniques.  There were 18 examples of ethos ad techniques.  There were 15 examples of logos ad techniques.   There were 9 examples of media techniques.  This means most ad techniques make an appeal to emotion.

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100 Plus Great PowerPoint Templates

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Hugh Fox III - Arcade

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

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Chinese Astrological Analysis of Nations

Chinese Astrological Analysis of Nations Table

This article deals with mundane astrology which is the application of astrology geographical regions, places, countries and the whole world as opposed to individual astrology.


Water Horse – Horse in the Army – Jen Wu

Key Words: dedicated; resourceful; financial stability; lively; independent


Fire Rabbit- Rabbit Looking at the Moon – Ting Mao

Key Words: great endurance; enthusiastic in work; over-excitable



Earth Ox

Ox Inside the Gate – Chi Ch’ou

Key Words: open, reliable, independent, filters speech


Earth Dog

Dog Going into the Mountain – Mou Hsu

Key Words: open, reliable, independent, filters speech



Earth Ox

Ox Inside the Gate – Chi Ch’ou

Key Words: open, reliable, independent, filters speech


Fire Boar

Boar Passing the Mountain – Ting Hai

Key Words: alert and enthusiastic; family life is priority


Water Monkey

Elegant Monkey – Jen Shen

Key Words: bright; gregarious; moody; needs financial security


Earth Rat

Rat in the Warehouse – Chia Tzu

Key Words: pleasant and bright; adapts to the unexpected; uneasy w/domestic affairs; trusting; focus on positive


Water Dragon

Dragon in the Rain – Jen Ch’en

Key Words: industrious and intelligent; courageous


Metal Horse

Horse in the Hall – Keng Wu

Key Words: industrious and intelligent; courageous


Fire Boar

Boar Passing the Mountain – Ting Hai

Key Words: alert and enthusiastic; family life is priority


Metal Snake

Snake Sleeping in the Winter – Hsin Szu

Key Words: original; intelligent; ambitious; hard to commit; good with finance



Fire Snake

Snake in the Fish Pond – Ting Szu

Key Words: tough and decisive; dedicated; maybe unconventional

South Korea

Earth Rat

Rat in the Warehouse – Mou Tzu


Wood Snake

Snake Coming out of the Hole – Yi Szu


Fire Dog

Sleepy Dog – Ping Hsu

Key Words: relaxed; helpful; cannot make deadlines, lacks efficiency


Water Monkey

Elegant Monkey – Jen Shen

Key Words: bright; gregarious; moody; needs financial security


Fire Monkey

Monkey Climbing the Mountain – Ping Shen

Key Words: bright; gregarious; moody; needs financial security

Also see:

New Astrology Analysis of Nations

Western Astrological Analysis of Nations

Hugh Fox III - Banner

My Articles About China and/or Chinese Culture

16 Basic Desires: China versus US

35 Accomplishments of Modern China

36 Stratagems

Acronym for Eight Types of Chinese Regional Cuisine

American versus Chinese Culture

American versus Chinese Culture

Astrology Chinese

Chinese Astrological Analysis of Nations

Chinese Astrology 60 Year Cycle

Chinese Do’s and Don’ts

Chinese Dream and American Reality

Chinese vs. Western Astrology

Confucius in Thailand 2012

Extending China’s One Belt One Road Initiative to Latin America

Table of Chinese Astrology 19th – 21st Century

The 36 Stratagems as Portrayed in Comic Books

Virtual Chinese Reunification Palace

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17 Types of Thai Smiles

Hugh Fox Smiling

1) fuen yim – The rigid smile, furthermore known as the “I should laugh at the joke although it’s not funny” Smile. – ฝืนยิ้ม

2) yim cheua-cheuan – I am the winner smile, usually given to a losing competitor-ยิ้มเชิญชวน

3) yim cheun chom – The admiring smile – ยิ้มชื่นชม

4) yim haeng – The dry smile. “I know I owe you money, but I don’t have it” smile. – ยิ้มแห้ง

5) yim hairng – The nervous, apologetic smile – ยิ้มแห้ง

6) yim mai ork – The forced smile – ยิ้มไม่ออก

7) yim mee lay-nai – The evil smile – ิยิ้มมีเลศนัย

8) yim mee lessanai – Masking something immoral in your mind Smile.- ยิ้มมีเลศนัย

9) yim sao – The smile masking sadness or unhappiness – ยิ้มเศร้า

10) yim soo – The “it-cannot-get-any-worse-therefore-I-better-smile” smile – ยิ้มสู้

11) yim thak thaai – Polite smile for someone you barely know.- ยิ้มทักทาย

12) yim thak thaan – I disagree with you smile. Also known as the: You can go ahead and propose it but your idea’s no good” smile.- ยิ้มคัดค้าน

13) yim thang nam taa – I’m so happy I’m crying smile.- ยิ้มทั้งน้ำตา

14) yim yae-yae – I know things look pretty bad, but there is no point in crying over spilt milk; smile.- ยิ้มแหยะแหยะ

15) yim yair-yair – The smile to apologize and take the heat out of an awkward, embarrassing situation – ยิ้มแหย ๆ

16) yim yaw – The mockery or; told you so smile. – ยิ้มเย้ย

17) yim yor – The arrogant smile – ยิ้มเยาะ

Document at:

Hugh Fox III - Blinder

You can also download my autobiography of my struggle with a bipolar condition on  Am I Kitsune on my Google Drive.

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link

Prezi Map Layouts for Education

The following are some Prezi layouts that teachers might find useful:

Geographic Map – If the topic is geographic then an actual map of the place you are talking about can be used.  Prezi is far superior to PowerPoint for a presentation with a strong geographical component.  The following two examples illustrative examples are provided:

ASEAN: Cultural Landmarks

South American Tourist Attractions

Graphic Organizer – In my opinion, the Prezi use of the term map layout is a misnomer and Prezi really revolves around graphic organizers rather than map layouts.  A map, mind map, pictogram, timeline and visual metaphors are all examples of graphic organizers.  A complete list at:

Mind Map – A mind map is a diagram used to represent ideas, words, and tasks around a central concept.

Pictogram – A simplified picture of an object is often more effective than an actual picture of the object you want to describe and can act as a map layout.

Slide:ology – Provides an excellent system for classifying graphic organizers (more information at Slideology Graphics).

Timeline – In addition to a timeline any sort of graphic showing time such as a schedule, calendar or clock can act as a graphic when the main point of the presentation is a sequence of events.

Visual Metaphor – An excellent article about creating effective visual metaphors is at:

Word document at:

PowerPoint vs. Prezi

Prezi in the Classroom

Hugh Fox III - Memories

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link

How to Create a Relationship Timeline

A relationship timeline is a timeline of your relationship with someone you love.  This is the age of Facebook, and with the advent of their Timeline interface, interest in timelines in general and relationship timelines in particular are at an all time high.  Relationship timelines take a lot of time but make a great valentine or anniversary gift for the one you love.  This is a unique gift that is super romantic!

A) Gather Data

This is the hardest part!  You need to find out information about the important events in your relationship.  At the risk of sounding sexist, this is fairly easy for women but incredibly difficult for men.  Most women will get suspicious of a man suddenly asking all sorts of questions about their relationship history and information about dates in particular.  I enlisted the help of my sister who was in on the plot.  If you don’t have a sister then good luck men!  Below is a list of some common relationship events:

1) First meeting

2) First date

3) First fight

4) First sleepover

5) First place together

6) First weekend together

7) First meeting of his parents

8) First meeting of her parents

9) First meeting of his friends

10) First meeting of her friends

11) First break up

12) Going steady

13) Date of engagement

14) Date of marriage

15) Honeymoon

16) Children

17) Wedding anniversaries

B) Select Software. 

Most online timelines you to share the time line on the web but do not allow you to save the timeline as a graphic file!  Good luck handing your lover a computer screen. Also, the graphic capabilities of these online programs are paltry!

Timeline from ReadWriteThink allows the timeline to be printed but not saved as a graphic file.  Timetoast can only be shared online and your timeline cannot even be printed!  Tiki Toki, Timeglider have the same limitations as Timetoast.  These are the good online programs!  Precenden only allows five events and this is after you sign up!  Time Line Maker only allows six to nine events and again the timeline generated cannot be saved as a graphic file! Timeline Maker only can generates an html code rather than a graphic file.  WhenInTime generates a timeline that also can only be seen online!  Thinkport adds the indignity of a password to your project that is “saved”, well online and on their site!  I guess their definition of saved and mine is very different. allows you to print but not save but hooks up to all sorts of historical data!  I suppose you could scan the page printed.  So if you are doing a historical report great but not so great for a relationship timeline.  Timeline Generator creates a fantasy kingdom timeline, hmmm not sure how that works for a relationship timeline!

I would recommend using JGraph instead! JGraph has tons and tons of icons that are designed for industry purposes but can easily represent events in your relationship and add a cutesy dimension to your timeline and since you can save the timeline generated as a jpeg or png, this means you can add pictures or other touches to the timeline.

Plain old Microsoft Word can make a pretty good timeline and is worth considering by less computer savvy types and the YouTube below takes you through the process step by step:

C) Horizontal or Vertical Timeline?

A horizontal timeline is more impressive looking graphically and is more of what people think when they think of a timeline.  A horizontal timeline is also harder to make technically.  Some horizontal timeline examples:

Vertical timelines work better than horizontal timelines, if your timeline is wordy.  Some vertical timeline examples:

Mickey and Minnie Relationship Timeline

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link

Online Gibberish Generators

Corporate Gibberish Generator

Gibberish Generator

Random Gibberish Generator

WereVerse Universe Baby!

WereVerse Universe at Google Drive Link

Superhero Worksheets for the ESL Classroom

Captain American the First Avenger Worksheet

Green Lantern the Movie Worksheet

Green Hornet the Movie Worksheet

How to Design a Superhero

Thor the Movie Worksheet

WereVerse Universe Baby!