“in a word, he had not a fault that I ever could discover, unless intrepidity bordering upon rashness could come under that denomination; and to this he was excited by the purest motives.” - George Washington
“His career of virtue is at an end. How strangely are human affairs conducted that so many excellent qualities could not ensure a more happy fate? … I feel the loss of a friend I truly and most tenderly loved.” - Alexander Hamilton
even the british lamented laurens’ death
in short, he was greatly loved and widely precieved as a good guy
My only requirement of any story is that it respect its own characters to behave as the human beings their backstories, personalities, and circumstances insist they are, and to react coherently to the context in which the story places them.
In practice, that doesn’t mean a happy ending for them, or a character making a morally correct choice, or being likeable, or being treated respectfully, or even getting what they want. It doesn’t even require a character to be original, or interesting, or even anything too far removed from a basic stereotype. This requirement only asks storytellers to address issues their story raises and allow characters to react to those issues in a coherent way.
Two things brought this basic requirement home to me: reviews of the film Passengers, and watching Elf with my mother.
I have not seen Passengers, and given the spoilers I doubt I ever will. But it reminds me how frequently female characters are not given the benefit of coherent reactions and subsequent actions. Too often a story fulfills the desires of a male protagonist at the cost of any internal coherency in a female character. Why would an ambitious and adventurous woman whose choices in life led her to a career in journalism, suggesting a deep interest in experiencing and documenting human society in all its forms, accept never again being part of human history, never having another conversation with anyone other than this one guy she’s sleeping with? It’s possible to construct a character who would be okay with this scenario, but if you haven’t constructed her that way, you can’t expect an audience to accept her actions as coherent or okay.
Why would an intelligent, self-sufficient young woman who is knee-deep in the difficult realities of her life suddenly want to go on a date with a much older man wearing tights who behaves like a 7 year old? Is she tired of the real world and wants to retreat from it? A few moments of thought suggests that if she wants her life to be easier and have more innocence and magic in it, she would want a partner who can help her deal with its difficulties and rise above them, not someone who is unaware that they exist in the first place. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. But when a story needs a romantic ending for an idiot man, female characters often have to be bent to accommodate.