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The Jungle, It Changes You: The Trials of Lara Croft


Dominic Dimanche

A lot has been said about Lara Croft“s upcoming reboot so far, with an onus placed on the recent events in the game where it is alluded to Lara being threatened with rape by one of the pirate lackeys before she is forced to kill him. Much has been said about this facet of the story around the web and for the most part, it has been treated with aversion and resistance.

 

Personally, I think this segment of the story is part of the greater whole of the narrative and the role of the jungle itself is the real catalyst for Lara“s suffering and transformation to the badass we all know and love.

 

Breaking it down from a literary sense, all stories fall into three forms of conflict: man vs. man, man vs. self, and man vs. nature. And in the Tomb Raider reboot, Lara faces all three, with the jungle itself carrying the charge as her main antagonist.

 

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The moment Lara sets foot on the jungle island, it“s as if everything is vying to take her life: packs of wolves, landslides, cave-ins, river rapids, etc. Nature itself serves her as her main assaulter and tormentor throughout. As Lara suffers, she slowly learns how to withstand nature and face the challenges that are constantly facing her. While this is a video game and as such has to be exciting, the jungle where Lara finds herself is a corrupted form of nature, the very elements twisting and clawing at her from every angle.

 

I believe it is this corrupted darkness of nature that permeates the core of Tomb Raider, this darkness that strikes her and tortures her, also empowers her as she overcomes each level and tempts her to dive even deeper into that darkness through mixture of necessity and curiosity of exploration. In other fields, this darkness also seeps into the other facets of the game“s remaining two conflict scenes: Lara vs. the other invaders of the island and Lara herself.

 

As we come back to the scene where the man attacks her, it returns to the main theme of darkness that circles the entire spirit of the island and its inhabitants. The men on the island that Lara constantly combats are also an agent of this corrupting darkness hitting the island. However, the main contrast between Lara and these men is that the men on this island have all fallen to the utter corruption of that darkness, that voracious temptation to regress to the baser instincts of human nature, which in the spirit of the island, is nothing remotely sensible or peaceful or tranquil as one is led to believe.

 

In this regard, the threat of that man attempting to sexually assault Lara is another facet of the deep darkness that these men have succumbed to.

 

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With this in mind, we come to the final leg of Lara“s conflict – herself. From the outset of the game, Lara is brought to square one and has to rebuild herself into something stronger than she once was in order to survive. In order to survive in this heart of darkness, she“s forced to do and experience things far beyond what she is used to. In doing so, she runs smack into the many mental blocks that are set in place by a “proper” society and systems. In this world after she washes up on the island, killing is necessary not only as a means of survival but as a means of defense. In this world, she“s forced to push her body beyond the very limits of human understanding and persevere beyond pains no one can imagine.

 

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These trials are all part of a breakdown/rebuilding that is needed for her character to grow and become the strong icon that everyone knows her to be. So, in many ways the chaos of the island also acts as visual representation of what is going on within her mind.

 

What do you all think about Lara's new trials and tribulations?

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