Ask me stuff
I started pre-flight for this post prior to the disastrous electronic cop out that led to my near disappearance from the internet, and in the meantime I was beaten to the punch by the Worst Person in the World. Fortunately, that lovely speculator had much different things to say about Princes than I do, though I dare say no less interesting. I’m not going to parse that post here, though.
No more ado. Let’s get started.
The three Princes we’ve met in Homestuck are, in order of importance according to yours truly, Dirk Strider, Eridan Ampora, and Kurloz Makara. The Princes of Heart, Hope, and Rage respectively. If you were to look at them without context, you might not assume they have something in common, let alone something as important as their class.
But what do these Princes have in common?
First of all, they all have performed according to their title. They destroy their aspect, and/or destroy using their aspect as a weapon. Heart is linked with the soul/self; Dirk has slain himself (but lived on). Hope is hope; Eridan destroys the matriorb—the embodiment of the hope for the trolls’ survival as a species—using the power that comes from his hope in science (that link goes the a post on lildurandal’s blog and if you haven’t read it and everything else she’s written, do, it’s thought-provoking at worst and astoundingly insightful at its best). Rage, if bladekindeyewear is to be believed, is an aspect which focuses on the narrowing of perspective, whilst simultaneously being literally rage; Kurloz after his vast honk is chill as the innermost circle of hell, but there’s also a lot suggesting that he is instrumental in keeping the incompetent pack of pre-scratch trolls caught up in their drama and unable to accomplish anything as a result. It leads to their destruction. Yes, their session is null from the start because of Lord English’s scratch-related calling card. But Kurloz makes it worse.
Those eyes. Ugh, those eyes.
So yeah, the Princes do what their roles say they do. That sounds stupidly obvious, but we’ve seen characters who have trouble doing what they’re supposed to do. Like Seers. Or Pages—not that we’re even sure what they’re meant to do. Princes, though? They destroy, and they do it well. I’d say that establishes something about them.
What’s another thing Princes have in common? Failed relationships. Maybe not surprising considering how many failed relationships and other assorted sunken ships infest this story, but still. Dirk has his thing with Jake that falls through. Eridan has his deep need for troll love which he can’t seem to find anywhere. Kurloz’ adherence to his religion is implied to be the reason he and Meulin are no longer matesprits. I will note that the reasons for these failed relationships diverge but have a shared root cause.
Dirk loves puppets.
Not just plush ones, either. Puppets made of metal. AI. They are, incidentally, the only things resembling people he has any everyday personal interaction with that doesn’t require the internet and/or temporal shenanigans. He is surprisingly social despite this, probably because he’s a Heart player or because he’s a Strider or some such. Even so, he has his pathos. Mostly, he’s overbearing. And while he isn’t necessarily a manipulative little spider, his perpetual brat auto-responder Lil Hal certainly is. The line is blurred between what machinations are the machine’s and what are his own, between who is the puppet and who is the man, but we have this conversation
to demonstrate Dirk’s preferences. He means well. That metaphor ends in a promise that he’ll be there to protect his friends. And he is, at the cost of his first life.
Dirk is heroic, yes. But is it mature to take everything in your own hands, even when you are capable of do so?
What about Jake? The relationship Dirk has with Jake is in some ways like Bro’s relationship with Dave, intended to make the other stronger. Prepare him for what’s coming. But the way Dirk goes about courting Jake shouldn’t be similar.
It’s not exactly that he “doesn’t take no for an answer” so much as “no” is never an idea that comes into Dirk’s mind, so Jake never sees it as a possibility either. Jake is pretty empty-headed too. Like the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz, or so it has been said. But that is not as important as the chap’s malleability. He is putty in Dirk’s hands.
Not that Dirk is doing it intentionally.
That’s the thing, going back, about the role of Princes. They don’t seem to realize much of the destruction they cause to their aspect. Not really. Yeah Eridan has an idea he is destroying hope by hopesploding the matriorb, but his mind is on a different hope
that he could take the side of the enemy and survive. And well before that, his pathetic scrambling advances are what killed his hopes with pretty much anyone, troll and human alike. We won’t get into the contradiction presented by his idea that there’s no hope left and that leaves only the choice to serve and hope.
Dirk doesn’t really recognize his own manipulative behavior, at least not until someone else explains his role to him. He almost destroys Lil Hal, a splinter of his own self. When he prototypes Hal, it’s with the Heir of Void. The Inheritor of Nothing. We’ll save the significance of a sprite who is both the Heir of Void and the Prince of Heart for another day.
When Dirk Talks to an Alien, Calliope gives us an explanation of what kind of player a Prince is (as well as the Heart aspect). This moment is crucial to our understanding of Princes not only because of the exposition it gives us, but in the change it makes in Dirk.
Now, he doesn’t make some radical turn after learning that he’s the Destroyer of Souls. Indeed, the conversation leads to him Rising Up on Derse and causing a big stink for )(IC’s forces. But I think the realization that his role is destructive helps him put some things about himself into perspective.
We don’t see the time he has to slow down and chew on it until a few sub-acts later though, as he talks to himself and we see that he’s getting fed up:
(Yeah, that’s a lot of words)
And when a person gets so fed up with that sort of thing, he often determines to make a change.
But there’s plenty of room to talk about Dirk and his choices in that other post I’m going to make, so I’ll get to the point.
It seems to me that Dirk’s narrative role as the ‘successful’ Prince demonstrates that Princes must learn to humble themselves in their dealings with others or risk tearing apart everything around them—including themselves. Incidentally, this is the arc of the spoiled heir, whose birthright is the throne, and whose natural talents lend themselves to the tasks presented, but whose pride and inundation in power is the source of his/her troubles.
Eridan isn’t a foil to Dirk exactly, since (I think) technically foils usually interact with each other, but they do demonstrate different paths to take. Eridan’s inability or unwillingness to change himself and his goals leads to his fall. He appears to make some progress about his romantic flailing, but in his conversations with his “friends” he’s still arrogant, condescending, and often downright antagonistic. Not to mention the part where he decides to kill two of them. He holds onto his pride even when Gamzee gives him another chance at life,
aiming to apologize primarily to slough away an ambivalent sense of remorse. They kill Nepeta and Feferi again.
Dirk isn’t set to take that path, and he doesn’t seem to be. In the long, heartfelt conversations he has with Jane, he shows more thoughtfulness for others than before.
Humbling is no easy process, especially for Prince personalities. Like the heir I mentioned before, they don’t stop being immensely capable individuals, and shouldn’t. It’s learning not to be a dickprince.
Is Dirk a fully realized Prince of Heart now that he’s god tier? I don’t think so, just as I don’t think John is complete as an Heir or Dave has arrived at true Knighthood. They’ve made strides (pft) after god-tiering. The god tier seems to be more of a safeguard, a reward for being willing to go along with the path to maturity the game has offered them—to an extent. It helps ensure they won’t die before getting more chances to grow into who they are meant to be.
Moving into some speculation, I think Dirk has some more humbling in store for him, and it’s likely to be at his own hand through the weird existential paradox that he lives in. It may be that he encounters Dave and hears about his life pre-scratch, though that might not have the effect I expect. I have another thought where Dirk’s arc may be going, but those belong in a post about a certain denizen’s Choice.
Our other Princes are clearly played out. Eridan’s hope torch has been passed to Jake even as Kurloz’ rage has been handed to Gamzee—and perhaps into to Caliborn himself. If either of them were to return, they would likely play a villainous part (especially Kurloz), but all implications we’ve seen are that the dead Princes are no longer important in the struggle for reality.
More importantly, I don’t think there’s any narrative room for more than one Prince protagonist in play. An active destroyer can have a powerful effect on a session, and powerfully positive if the Prince matures well, but there’s only so much firepower you can bring before the end result is simply a crater.
It’s time to wrap this up. I think I’ll do it with a quote that wrapped up LilDurandal’s post about Eridan and angels. It should be a nice little segue into my next post. Before that, though, I’d like to point out that all the hits for “prince” on the Act 6 search page refer directly to Dirk. All right, I’ll leave you with the following: