In Brightest Day: Eragon (Again)

inheritance_cycle_by_manuelo108-d3cuskrTwo weeks ago, I wrote a post about Eragon’s disability during the events of the second book, Eldest, in the Inheritance Cycle series. Originally, I had been torn between writing about that, or writing about whether or not Eragon is a sociopath or a psychopath. While I do believe that Eragon displays many sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies, at the same time, he was also written to be a hero, and so his character becomes confused due to the fact that Paolini tends to tell one thing and show the opposite. As such, Eragon is left with many conflicting personality quirks that make it hard to understand his character.

For example, Eragon seems to have no trouble killing other human beings, to the extent that he rarely has any kind of emotional response to the people’s he’s killed, but as of Eldest, he becomes a vegetarian, because killing animals for food is wrong.

So while Eragon comes across as a horrible murderer sometimes, other times he can come across as a relatively decent guy. Relatively.

To start off, I have never been clear on the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths. According to one , who has written numerous articles on psychology, the difference is as such:

A sociopath is one who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior. A psychopath is a person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.

While I can understand the difference between them from that, I don’t know enough about personality disorders to make a clear judgement call. The author of this piece, however, was very helpful in listing some of the traits that sociopaths and psychopaths have, and though Eragon does share many traits with psychopaths, he seems to have a lot more in common with sociopaths.

  • Sociopaths feel that they are entitled to everything.

eragonEragon feels entitled plenty of times. For some reason, because he’s a Dragon Rider, he expects people to hand over essentials, instead of earning them himself. Granted, he doesn’t work for the Varden for any kind of monetary gain while still doing a lot for their cause, and as such must rely on Nasuada—the Varden’s leader—and others for food and clothing. However, he expects the same from people who are not responsible for him. Additionally, he rarely acts grateful for his gifts. Last post, I talked about how Eragon was magically healed from a crippling wound—and he was thankful for that—but he still acted as if he deserved what he had received, despite having done nothing to earn it.

  • Sociopaths have no remorse, shame or guilt.

An example of this can be found in Brisingr. Eragon and Arya are headed back to the Varden camp alone together when a group of Empire soldiers happen upon them. Even though this encounter could have easily been avoided, it happens anyway, and Eragon and Arya end up fighting and killing all the soldiers. The last man to die is unarmed and pleading for mercy when Eragon snaps his neck for no reason other than convenience. I should point out that this man was in no possible way a danger to our characters. When Arya asks Eragon how he could kill that solider and not Sloan—another character who is Eragon’s “enemy”—this line happens:

Devoid of emotion, [Eragon] shrugged. “He was a threat. Sloan wasn’t. Isn’t that obvious?” (Brisingr, pg. 185)

I should also mention that this scene takes place in a chapter titled “Mercy, Dragon Rider.” Additionally, Eragon’s treatment of Sloan was one of the most evil and uncalled for acts I have ever seen. This article at Impishldea summarizes that better than I ever could.

  • Sociopaths have lack of empathy hen (sic) their victims suffer pain that they have caused.

As the books progress, we learn that the evil Galbatorix has made all his soldiers swear oaths of loyalty in the Ancient Language—anything said in the Ancient Language is binding, and if a character goes back on his word, that character dies—so none of them can betray him. While this is a war, and thus I can understand the reasons why Eragon has to kill these soldiers, it does not change the fact that he takes pleasure in killing them.

You’re too late, thought Eragon with grim satisfaction. You should have left the Empire while you still had the chance. (Inheritance, pg. 4)

Additionally, even if these soldiers hadn’t sworn oaths, Eragon has still sided with a terrorist organization that has invaded the soldiers’ homeland, and he cannot bring himself to empathize with their cause in the least.

  • Sociopaths believe that they are all mightier than thou, there is no concern on how their behavior impacts others.

This is a direct quote from Eragon:

“What else can a god offer me? With the Eldunarí, I have the strength to do most anything.” (Inheritance, pg. 807)

Eragonandsaphiraeragon3Eragon often has a mightier-than-thou attitude in regards to many things, constantly, throughout the entire series. However, to be fair, during the conversation where this quote takes place, Eragon decides that he and Saphira will leave Alagaësia so that he never takes over and dictates like Galbatorix did. So we can make the argument that he might be concerned how his behavior will affect others in this regard, or we can also make the argument that he’s doing it for himself—he’s going off to rebuild the Dragon Riders and become their new leader, after all. The Dragon Riders will probably end up being the most powerful force in their world.

  • Sociopaths will never take blame for anything they have done to anyone no matter if it is family or friend.

There are literally so many passages I could reference here between Eragon and his brother Murtagh it’s ridiculous. Murtagh, like the soldiers, is forced to swear an oath to Galbatorix against his will, putting him behind enemy lines for the majority of the story. While I understand the gravity of this situation, since Murtagh is also a Dragon Rider and exceedingly powerful so the Varden might have to kill him, everyone—especially Eragon—acts as if Murtagh is to blame for essentially being mind-raped by the king. After Eragon first discovers what’s happened to Murtagh, he didn’t know that Murtagh was actually his brother at the time. However, Murtagh had been his best friend and like a brother to him.

murtagh-7Immediately, Eragon starts accusing Murtagh of betraying him and the Varden, to which Murtagh explains the situation and tells Eragon that he did not agree to join Galbatorix willingly. Murtagh also tells Eragon about how Galbatorix “punished” him for helping the Varden in the past freely, and about how Galbatorix mind-raped him. Eragon continues to accuse Murtagh, and when Murtagh continues to say that he didn’t have a choice, this line happens:

Pity and disgust welled inside of Eragon. “You have become your father.” (Eldest, pg. 647)

This was probably the worst, cruelest thing Eragon could have thought to say. Murtagh’s father, Morzan, served Galbatorix willingly and at one point threw a sword at Murtagh and nearly killed him when Murtagh was three. What we know about Morzan was that he was a cruel, irresponsible drunkard who used to abuse his son, and Murtagh has tried his whole life to escape his father’s shadow.

Sometime after this line, Murtagh tells Eragon that they’re brothers, and Eragon also comes up with something damaging to say about Murtagh’s scar from having a sword thrown at him.

I also cannot get over the fact that, after this moment, just about every scene involving Murtagh consists of Eragon complaining about how bad Eragon’s life is because Murtagh was raped by the king. And so Eragon takes his rage and frustration out on Murtagh and victim-blames him constantly.

All of these are just some of the reasons why I think Eragon’s a sociopath, but he wasn’t written with the intent of being one, so there are plenty of passages in the books to indicate otherwise. However, those do not excuse Eragon’s bad behavior, and sometimes it feels as if I’m reading about two different characters. What upsets me about Eragon is that I’m supposed to idolize a character that is clearly a terrible person. In many ways, because of Eragon’s actions, Galbatorix and the Empire come off as the most sympathetic side, instead of our supposed good guys.

12 thoughts on “In Brightest Day: Eragon (Again)

  1. Pingback: Harry Potter & Eragon | FanFiction Fridays

  2. This has always been a problem for me in this series. The inconsistence characterization of Eragon. This can topic could go into pages about how bad it is. How do you think Paolini could improve upon this?

    These are not my words below. It is a detailed analysis of what Eragon should have done by a user named BlackManga.

    We’re talking about what right Eragon has to judge Sloan’s actions regarding Katrina as unwholesome, and rub it in his face and deny visitation rights. Eragon believes Roran was right to do what he did, when based on the standards of the society, he was not. Period. Punishments that are given by heroes, are supposed to be geared towards correction or keeping the public safe. Eragon’s maintaining that punishment until Sloan’s death and a man without eyes is no danger. It’s a matter of spite and vengeance. Eragon’s saying that even if Sloan completely reformed from his non-crime, he would still not be able to see his daughter. He is imposing is will on this family, on Katrina herself, denying her the right to visit him, when she’s done nothing wrong, when he’s not her husband, and when her “husband” took the rights from the father, without asking. So even if Eragon speaks on behalf of Roran, who traditionally would be in charge of Katrina, Roran didn’t reach that position legitimately, so Roran’s word wouldn’t matter.

    Here’s a list of things that he could have done and might have worked, that given the sequence of events, Eragon could not have all eliminated as non-viable in the time frame.

    – He could have asked Arya about a teleportation.
    – He could have carried him and only kill him once he senses incoming trouble with his superior elven senses that are more sensitive than a human’s and possess greater effective range.
    – He could have left him after he placed his body in a state of slowed down suspended animation which would last until they were far away.
    – He could have looked to see if his oath had an loopholes he could have exploited.
    – He could have tried to break the spell on him outright as it was likely cast by an inferior human magician, not Galbatorix himself.
    – He could have crippled him, told him to walk, start running, and take the risk.
    – He could have cast an additional spell over the soldier preventing him from talking.
    – He could have erased the soldier’s recent memories.
    – Stop, and think about the situation for a minute with Arya.
    Regarding their strength levels.
    – Eragon completely shattered a Falchion which had been expressly enchanted not to break, off a mere glancing blow off a dwarven shield.
    – It took twenty burly men to barely keep Arya down. A situation she said she could have overcome without assistance. Which Eragon believed.
    – Eragon has to be 100ft away from Arya to be safe from sudden lunges:

    “Wincing, he disengaged, seeking a temporary reprieve. One of the challenges of fighting elves was that because of their speed and strength, they could lunge forward and engage an enemy at distances far greater than any human could. Therefore, to be safe from Arya, he had to move nearly a hundred feetaway from her.” – Inheritance, The Way of Knowing.

    If he was afraid of engaging her full stop, then he wouldn’t duel at all, and a hundred feet wouldn’t provide any reprieve, as she’d just engage him after crossing the distance. He’s afraid of being taken by surprise.

    Now, a pro boxer, has about a quarter of a second to react to a punch in the ring.
    Let’s be generous and give Eragon the same reaction time, even though he’s superhuman and as such, could pretty much dodge a human all day.

    That means Arya can cross anything sub a hundred feet, from resting, in that time, or under. Which means she can cover the 100 metre dash in 0.75 seconds. Meaning her average speed there is some 298 miles an hour. Faster speed and acceleration than a formula one car.
    All in all, a horse could carry a human that far. These two are much stronger than a horse. And there’s two of them, meaning they can share the burden.

    And there’s Aren, a ring with a replaceable energy supply, to draw from if needed. A ring with enough energy to level a mountain. If he doesn’t know about it, Arya might have, and might have mentioned it, or at least recalled it, if asked for her thoughts.
    Finally, it should be remembered, that they didn’t even try to carry him.

    • I agree with everything in that, regarding both Sloan and the soldier. They had plenty of options open to them, and in both cases, Eragon chose the most evil one possible. I feel as though Paolini viewed the enemy soldiers as simple obstacles for Eragon to overcome in amazing feats, but in the process he forgot that within the confines of his story, all those soldiers are people with family, friends, loved ones, hobbies, personalities, etc. And never at any point does Eragon even think about that. And if he does, it’s brushed aside.

      When it comes to the soldier, Eragon and Arya didn’t have to do anything but run. Given how fast they can go and how long they can travel, the moment they saw the men coming toward them on the horizon, they should have started running. Instead, they chose to walk and let the men catch up with them. If they really didn’t want to walk, there’s a spell that Eragon uses a couple times to become invisible, and it doesn’t take much energy to perform. They didn’t do that either. They could have disarmed all the soldiers. They could have put them to sleep.

      They could have literally done anything else possible to avoid this confrontation and following murder. They had over an hour to think up solutions, and they couldn’t find a single one. Every solution I just wrote I thought of off the top of my head within seconds.

      I really think Paolini could have improved upon this if he had taken the time to really think about Eragon’s actions and what being a hero meant. Most if not all of these problems could have been solved that way. Or I think he could have improved upon this by purposefully writing Eragon as a sociopath and an unreliable narrator. It would have added another layer to his story, being that the other characters would probably recognize that he was evil like Galbatorix, even though they still needed to rely upon him. Paolini had many options open to him in this scene especially, and considering that this scene has no consequences or impact on the story whatsoever—it only exists so Eragon and Arya could have some trouble on the road—Paolini would have been better off not including it in his book.

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  4. Jeannie Kerns is a psychopath. She is also a wanted criminal in the state of Florida. She is is conartist; loser and a psychotic fiend who preys on objects or persons that she believes will fall under her psychotic spell. Pure nutso. How she has written any of her crap articles from “the best way to toilet train your toddler” to “how to know a sociopath from a psychopath” is pure insanity. Tell that insane woman to deal with her warrants for arrest in Florida and to take her own advice about identifying a sociopath or a psychopath by taking a good hard look in the mirror.

    • I actually cannot find any kind of information on her being a convicted criminal in Florida. Could you possibly link to something that talks about it?

      Also, if she is a psychopath or a sociopath, I wouldn’t assume that that invalidates her opinion. If anything, it makes her more qualified to talk about the issue, since she would know what they are like from a first-hand experience. I looked at plenty of sites and articles when doing this post, and most of what I read tended to back up her stance on the matter. There were some that didn’t. Sites like Wikipedia, for instance, maintained that there is no difference between a sociopath and a psychopath, that they both have the same behavioral qualities. However, those qualities, Jeannie listed in her post, so I just decided to quote her.

      Anyway, thank you for sharing that with me. I did not know that about her.

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