Motifs in Super Paper Mario

This is part of a planned series of posts analyzing, discussing and generally having fun with Super Paper Mario, my favorite Wii game. If you find it ridiculous that I am performing literary analysis on a very cheesy Mario game, you should probably ignore this.

99% SPOILERS!!

A motif is “any recurring element that has symbolic significance in a story” according to Wikipedia. As it turns out, I’ve only managed to find one motif in Super Paper Mario so far – motifs can be tricky to find, you know, especially when they’re not supposed to be there at all – but it’s quite a nice one:

Seeing through a monocle or a pair of glasses symbolizes seeing things more clearly

There are two main points of proof for this: Count Bleck’s monocle and Nastasia’s glasses. I’ll detail them separately.

Count Bleck’s monocle
This fine piece of technology is first mentioned outright in chapter 6 after his surprise entrance in the middle of Sammer’s Kingdom. At the end of his conversation with Tippi, he says, “This world is dying under the monocled gaze of…Count Bleck!” After the aforementioned chat, the monocle is mentioned again (as if to push the point), this time by Nastasia in the next minion cutscene (paraphrased since [like ALL natural speech!] the original words were a bit fumbling): “You seem a bit different today. New monocle? Or did something happen?” In fact, she hits right on the point: after his conversation with Tippi, he begins to see things more clearly and in a different light – as through a new monocle – and realizes that she is probably Timpani.

Then, in the ending, when Dimentio throws a magic blast at him to kill him, his monocle cracks. Afterwards, as he is talking with Tippi in Dimension D, he is stuck on the idea that they can’t possibly stop Dimentio, the Void, etc. – he isn’t seeing as clearly anymore, like one doesn’t see clearly through a cracked monocle. But then after the Pure Hearts show up and automagically heal his clothes, etc. (those Pure Hearts are SO handy! They can save the universe and fix your clothes besides!), his monocle is fine again, and later he sees clearly that he and Tippi could marry to destroy the Chaos Heart.

Nastasia’s glasses
Throughout most of the game, Nastasia has two lenses, as opposed to Bleck, who has just one. And she sees more clearly than him that they should try to stop the destruction, especially after it seems that Timpani is probably still alive. However, when she uses her brainwashing power, she removes her glasses – showing how she is being foolish when she decides to use her power for evil. Additionally, during the ending, after Dimentio hits her with the blast meant for Bleck, her glasses fall off. She puts them on again after being revived, but she is still seeing less clearly, as evidenced by how sad and unsure she is at Bleck’s disappearance. (The problem with this last bit of evidence is that it seems that everything Nastasia says after being revived is supposed to be taken as truth – e.g. that Bleck and Tippi are alive and happy. But refer to the soon-to-be-posted Awesome Nastasia Theory for a good workaround.)

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