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The Elements of Harmony: The Basics Redux

Fhaolan

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This is new for my blog, but will likely show up again on a regular basis as I get farther along. I'm going to do a brief revisit on something I've already talked about before, as something sparked a bit for me recently.

 

In a previous entry on the Elements of Harmony: http://mlpforums.com/blog/844/entry-4702-the-elements-of-harmony-the-basics/ I listed the various Elements using the names that Twilight read from a history/mythological book. Those names are what the Mane 6 have continued to use for the Elements. Except for Magic, which Twilight named by herself.

 

In a video:

, Digibrony talks about how it seems like Applejack and Rainbow Dash are actually reversed in some way, like they got each other's Element. Applejack displays far more Loyalty, and Rainbow Dash is in many ways Honest to a fault.

 

But then there was a comment on the video made by someone going by the screenname of TheRubberFury981 that Celestia actually referred to the traits exhibited by the ponies by different terms in the Magical Mystery Cure. Terms that were more fitting than the actual names. So I looked again at that.

 

The terms Celestia used were Charity, Compassion, Devotion, Integrity, Optimism and Leadership. And overall, these do seem to be better traits than the ones currently used, although I disagree with one of them, and have reservations about another.

 

Celestia, as a rule, doesn't seem to correct ponies much if they are 'wrong' as long as they continue to do the 'right' thing. Basically she doesn't care if labels are wrong, at most dropping hints and seeing if they're picked up out of curiosity. And if anyone would know what the Elements *really* are, it would be Celestia. So it doesn't surprise me that she would let the writer of the history/myth book get the traits wrong, and let Twilight perpetuate it, as it doesn't have any real effect on any of the pony's behaviors or actions.

 

Also, it depends a lot on whether these were magical artifacts that were deliberately made by someone, or were they naturally and spontaneously generated. Mythologically, those that create magic artifacts use very specific and defined names for their creations that indicate exactly what their purpose is and what they do. Spontaneously generated artifacts, or ones that are found mysteriously with no prior history, on the other hand are named via best guess and can be far more amorphous and seemingly random in abilities, and may even be self-aware or 'alive' by certain standards. While the rest of this entry is based on the idea that the Elements are manufactured, and therefore need very well defined names, I have my doubts. The way the elements are used and react to stimuli doesn't speak of them being self-aware, but they are definitely a lot more flexible in abilities and subject to random occurrences than manufactured artifacts usually are. I wonder if Twilight's confidence in the Mane 6 always getting the results she is asking for is really warranted, or if that's really a front put up to reassure the rest of the gang and she's playing the odds every time they put them on.

 

Anycase, moving on with the alternate traits for the Elements.

 

Generosity is Charity, and the emphasis change is interesting. Charity is typically more specific than Generosity. Charity is being generous to those whom you have no obligation. Basically being generous to your family, your employees, etc. doesn't count as Charity because there is an obligation there. Being generous to a random passer-by or river serpent would be Charity. In this case, I prefer Generosity as a concept for the Element due to it being broader and more inclusive, and this therefore is the only one that I really disagree with.

 

Kindness is Compassion. I like this change. Compassion is a far stronger word while meaning much the same thing, and more benefiting an Element. It's definitely a tonal shift, but like Generosity, Compassion is the broader and more inclusive term to me.

 

Loyalty is Devotion. While the dictionary often has loyalty and devotion as being synonyms, in actual usage there's a big difference between them. Rainbow Dash is far more about Devotion than Loyalty. She is devoted to her friends, devoted to her dreams, devoted to herself even. It's very hard for her to give something up, because she feels so strongly about everything. But it's not really 'Loyalty', as she can turn on ponies, be dismissive of them, and other things that are effectively being disloyal. Devotion fits very well with her tomboy attitude, and in fact marks her as one of the most likely of the Mane 6 to have a romantic relationship. Not necessarily a *good* relationship, as her innate devotion will lead her to cling to a relationship despite anything that might be wrong with it.

 

Honesty is Integrity. This fits Applejack so much better. She is the dependable one, the responsible one, the one that everyone turns to for help, the grounded one, the one that gets upset over personal failures but forgives others of theirs. This is Integrity. Although being honest is part of Integrity, it's a secondary trait. This makes Applejack the other one to whom a romantic relationship is well suited, but in this case a good relationship. Applejack is all about family, and won't be fooled (for long) by the fripperies and deception that modern media uses as shorthand for romance, concentrating on the good solid parts of a romantic relationship and serving as a good role model for kids.

 

Laughter is Optimism. Again, a much stronger word with far more breadth, and far more fitting as an Element, and Pinkie Pie in general. Laughter is a great expression of optimism, but Optimism is far more than just being entertaining, it's finding the best parts of any situation and bringing them to the fore. Much more useful for Harmony.

 

Magic is Leadership. I can't say I disagree with this one, because it does fit Twilight quite well. But I prefer 'Friendship' itself as much better trait for the central Element of Harmony. It fits the whole 'Friendship is Magic' trick title. ;) But friendship isn't a very clear concept in and of itself, so until I can think of something better, I think I'm stuck with Leadership.



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