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Self-sacrificing for an ideal

 

Disciplines > Storytelling > Plots > Polti's Situations > Self-sacrificing for an ideal

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Previous: Slaying of a kinsman unrecognized

Next: Self-sacrifice for kindred

 

Description

Elements

  • The Hero
  • The Ideal
  • The Creditor or the Person or Thing Sacrificed

Summary

The Hero gives up something for the sake of an Ideal.

Variants

A

  1. Sacrifice of life for the sake of one's word
  2. Life sacrificed for the benefit of one's own people
  3. Life sacrificed in filial piety
  4. Life sacrificed for the sake of one's faith

B

  1. Both love and life sacrificed for one's faith
  2. Both love and life sacrificed to a cause
  3. Love sacrificed to interests of state

C

  1. Sacrifice of well-being to duty

D

  1. The ideal of "honor" sacrificed to the ideal of "faith"

Discussion

Putting oneself in harm's way for the sake of ideals is, for some, quite stupid, whilst for many it demonstrates admirably high personal integrity.

It may be questioned whether such self-sacrifice is done for internal reasons of faith or for the external acclaim that will be gained. Martyrdom in some societies is considered a great honor for the family (as well as promising heavenly delights to the martyr).

Most of us, however, would think twice before sacrificing ourselves, as the instinct for self-preservation takes priority over the cognitive choice of sacrifice. This makes stories of sacrifice either moving or terrifying, depending on the action involved. Either way, the emotional stimulation makes it an effective story element.

Sacrifice need not involve giving of one's life. All it really means is giving up something that you would rather not give up. Often it involves a dilemma, where one desired thing is given up in favor of something even more desired.

'Self-sacrificing for an ideal' is the 20th of Georges Polti's 36 Dramatic Situations.

See also

 

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