Reactions: Natural or Supernatural?

I think there’s a special challenge in showing character reactions in scenes that include both humans and supernatural (or paranormal) characters.  The author must decide if the reactions and emotions of the non-human (or partially human) characters mirror those of humans, or if they react differently, and if so, how.  Obviously, in a scene where you have several different characters, each may react differently to an action that takes place in a scene. 
Depending on the situation, I try to challenge myself to make my supernatural characters respond differently than a human might, in the same situation.  On the other hand, I must challenge that reaction with what my readers might accept as part of the story. 
For example, in Goldilocks and the Three Bears (at least the version I learned), the three bears grow progressively more irritated with each discovery that an uninvited someone has come into their house in their absence.  All four characters (Papa, Mama, Baby, and Goldie) are surprised when Goldilocks is discovered in Baby Bear’s bed.  A typical human reaction would be to run away, and that is exactly what Goldilocks does.  But the Bears, other than indicating their initial shock and irritation at the little girl’s presence, seem to be relatively passive at the end of the story; at least, to me.   
I don’t buy that.  If it were left up to me, I might have had Papa Bear eat Miss Goldie.  That is what I could expect a powerful forest creature in his prime to do.  Bears eat things.  It’s their nature.  I mean, if it was good enough for the Wolf in Red Riding Hood, why not Goldilocks?  Too much?
Well, what about Mama Bear?  Wouldn’t she be wearing the fur britches in the family, anyway?  Wouldn’t she be furious to have discovered an intruder in her territory?  Who seemingly threatened her darling Baby Bear?  Well I would imagine, she would have walloped that spoiled Goldilocks within an inch of her life and sent her wee-wee-weeing all the way home.  Okay, maybe that ending has already been done. 
So what about Baby Bear?  How would a talking juvenile bear react on finding a stranger in his bed?  First of all, I would imagine he would have scrambled up a tree at the first sign of trouble, and waited for the whole thing to blow over.  Alternatively, an anthropomorphic version of Baby Bear would have most likely said, “I didn’t do it,” or “Don’t look at me,” when the Bears first discovered the porridge, and chairs, and bed shenanigans. 

Of course, Robert Southey didn’t write his story that way, and it has been a beloved fairy tale for almost 175 years.  I’m certainly not saying he’s wrong, I’m just saying.  It’s something to think about.

This entry was posted in anthropomorphism, Bears, fairy tales, fiction, Goldilocks, reactions. Bookmark the permalink.

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