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In-Depth Character and Story analysis series: The Last of Us

Literary analysis is an essential tool for understanding the messages and themes that authors convey through their works of fiction. One of the most critical aspects of this process is character analysis, which involves examining the motivations, behaviors, and interactions of the characters in a story to gain a deeper understanding of their role in the narrative. However, postmodernism has challenged traditional approaches to character development by emphasizing the fluid and evolving nature of characters in a complex and fragmented world. In this context, a postmodern character analysis would focus on how characters reflect the themes and techniques of postmodern literature, exploring how their experiences of trauma and instability shape their identities and actions. In this blog post, we will apply these insights to a detailed analysis of "The Last of Us," examining how its characters embody postmodern themes and techniques and contribute to the game's powerful narrative.

Spoilers Warning

In Depth Story Analysis

"The Last of Us" is a critically acclaimed action-adventure game that tells the story of Joel and Ellie, two survivors of a fungal pandemic that has devastated humanity. The game is known for its complex characters, emotionally charged narrative, and exploration of themes such as grief, loss, and the human condition.

The game begins with an emotionally devastating opening sequence in which Joel's daughter, Sarah, is killed during the initial outbreak. The game then jumps forward 20 years, where we find Joel living in a quarantine zone and working as a smuggler to survive. Joel is tasked with escorting Ellie, a teenage girl who is immune to the fungal infection, to a group of resistance fighters known as the Fireflies. The Fireflies hope to use Ellie's immunity to develop a cure for the infection.

As Joel and Ellie journey across the United States, they face numerous challenges, including dangerous infected and hostile human factions. The relationship between Joel and Ellie develops over the course of the game, with Joel initially reluctant to form an emotional bond with Ellie due to his past trauma and emotional pain. However, as the two face numerous challenges together, Joel becomes increasingly attached to Ellie and sees her as a surrogate daughter.

The game's narrative is structured around a series of set pieces that allow the player to experience the emotional highs and lows of the story. The game's pacing is intentionally slow, allowing the player to immerse themselves in the post-apocalyptic world and connect with the characters on a deeper level. The game also uses non-linear storytelling techniques, such as flashbacks, to explore the characters' backstories and motivations.

The game's ending has been a point of controversy among fans and critics alike. In the final sequence, Joel rescues Ellie from the Fireflies, who plan to kill her to develop a cure. Joel's decision to rescue Ellie is motivated by his love for her, but it comes at the cost of potentially sacrificing humanity's chance at a cure. The game ends on an ambiguous note, with Ellie asking Joel if he had lied to her about the events that led to her rescue. This ending forces the player to confront difficult ethical and moral questions, and leaves them with a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty.

From a postmodern perspective, "The Last of Us" challenges traditional notions of morality and narrative structure. The game's focus on the subjective experiences and perceptions of the characters reflects the postmodern belief that reality is subjective and complex. The characters in the game are not simply archetypes or symbols, but rather complex and multi-dimensional entities that reflect the instability and uncertainty of the postmodern world.

"The Last of Us" is a masterful work of storytelling that explores the human condition in a post-apocalyptic world. The game's characters are complex and nuanced, and their relationships with one another are a testament to the power of human connection in the face of adversity. The game's non-linear storytelling and ambiguous ending challenge traditional narrative structures and force the player to confront difficult ethical and moral questions. "The Last of Us" is a shining example of how video games can be a powerful medium for storytelling and artistic expression.

In Depth Characters Analysis

Joel, the protagonist of "The Last of Us," is a prime example of a postmodern character. He is initially introduced as a rugged and emotionally detached survivor of the post-apocalyptic world, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Joel's rough exterior is a defense mechanism that masks his profound emotional pain and trauma. The death of his daughter, Sarah, in the early stages of the outbreak left him deeply scarred and shaped his worldview. He is reluctant to let anyone get too close to him, but his bond with Ellie gradually transforms him into a more compassionate and empathetic person.

Ellie, a teenage girl who is immune to the infection that has devastated humanity, is another complex character who embodies postmodern themes. She is initially introduced as a tough and street-smart survivor who is capable of taking care of herself. However, as she and Joel grow closer, it becomes clear that she is also vulnerable and has a deep desire for human connection. Ellie is also haunted by her past and the loss of her best friend, Riley, which has left her struggling with survivor's guilt and a desire to make a meaningful difference in the world.

Tommy, Joel's younger brother, is another character who embodies postmodernism's emphasis on the fluidity of character. He is initially portrayed as a symbol of hope in a bleak world, but his actions later in the game reveal a darker side to his character. He is willing to make brutal and unethical decisions in order to protect his community, which puts him at odds with Joel's more morally ambiguous worldview.

Abby, a new character introduced in the TV series, serves as a foil to Joel and Ellie. She is a member of the WLF, a militant faction that is at war with the Seraphites, a religious cult. Abby is initially presented as a ruthless and cold-hearted killer, but as her backstory is revealed, it becomes clear that she is motivated by a desire for revenge against Joel for his role in the death of her father. Her character challenges traditional notions of morality and agency, as she is willing to take extreme actions to achieve her goals.

Dina, a love interest of Ellie's who is introduced early in the TV series, is also a complex and multi-dimensional character. She is portrayed as a confident and independent woman who is not afraid to speak her mind. She is also shown to be a loyal and caring friend to Ellie, and their relationship provides a rare moment of happiness in an otherwise bleak world.

In conclusion, "The Last of Us" provides a rich tapestry of postmodern characters, each embodying different themes and motifs. Which charter is missing and you would like me to analyze?

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