have you ever noticed that there’s an entire subset of people who say erifef is an abusive relationship? most of the time these people will say something about how eridan was manipulating feferi because his intentions weren’t really all that pale; i see that a lot. my favorite has to be when they talk about eridan killing her as proof that he was abusive when they dated. funny stuff! i didn’t know eridan was the time player, what comic have i been reading? maybe he has a time turner. i don’t know.
i bring this up because if you look at what’s typically considered an abusive relationship, you won’t see anything along the lines of what eridan did - sure, we don’t think very kindly of someone who floats around waiting for the right time to admit romantic intentions, but it isn’t like eridan demanded reciprocity for the nice things he’d done as a moirail, which is what comprises the “nice guy” parallel people are so fond of making when it comes to eridan discussions. despite his use of the phrase “moirail zone”, he doesn’t actually do any of the stuff that stereotype is associated with - namely, doing minimally nice things and expecting romantic reciprocation. (that would be cronus, in case you need clarification.) eridan’s actions are certainly not very upfront, and if we’re to assume the worst of them they’re a little duplicitous, but that doesn’t make them abusive.
abusive behavior covers a really wide spectrum and i won’t get into it very deeply here, but there’s a few things that i can suggest would be abusive and i think most people would probably agree. some of these things might be invalidating someone’s emotions; if you had a friend who constantly told you your emotions were ridiculous and over the top, you probably wouldn’t feel very good about yourself after a while. another thing might be enabling; if you had a really bad smoking habit, it’d be rude of someone to constantly hand you their spare cigarettes, even if you were the one to take them off their hands. a good friend wouldn’t be giving them to you at all. you have a bad habit and it shouldn’t be enabled, no matter how convenient it is for your friend.
the annoying thing about feferi is that she probably never considered that there’s anything wrong with her behavior; hell, the second she dumps eridan, she describes it as being “FR——-EE!”, or something like that. she probably fancied herself a fantastic moirail, constantly letting eridan bitch and moan about everything under the sea. the trouble is, a good friend wouldn’t make themselves out to be a martyr in the fashion feferi does. in fact, from the way feferi lauds herself for being able to put up with him…well, gosh, it almost sounds like…like she’s expecting something in return for doing something a good friend would be doing anyway.*
*of course, for the sake of the metaphor, she’s expecting attention and praise in lieu of sexual/romantic perks. it’s still gross though.
Another emotionally exhausting conversation. Too many FEELINGS AND PROBLEMS. It couldn’t be any clearer to you. You and this sea princess have splashed down hard into the moirail zone, and now you don’t know which way’s upward. Perhaps tonight you will reveal your true feelings toward her, and end these exaggerated emotional theatrics once and for all, one way or another.
It really would just be easier to get your feelings out in the open and figure it out together.
Since all the ghosts who woke up in [S] Terezi: Remember are the pre-retcon ones, it means that was the same Eridan who was in Erisolsprite, and likewise with that being the Feferi who was in Fefetasprite. Or at the very least, Eridan and Feferi ‘remembered’ what happened to them as sprites in the previous timeline due to Terezi’s mindy thing. To cut out a lot of confusing circumstantial details, in essence: Eridan apologized to Feferi for what he did and then Feferi came along with Aradia and Sollux to visit him in the dream bubbles.
Vriska was also shown to genuinely care about Eridan, pointing out how he would have loved to be part of the treasure hunt and having recruited a large number of alternate timeline Eridans. And post-retcon, Vriska decides against prototyping his corpse- not out of malice or bitter memories, but because she “can’t personally say that any [of the remaining dead trolls] is more deserving of life than the others“ and “[doesn’t] want to 8e the ar8iter of Eridan’s value as a person 8ecause of the mistakes he’s made”. In fact, she stands up for Eridan against Terezi who is adamant he doesn’t deserve the opportunity of resurrection.
I’ve gone into discourse before about how I view Eridan as a tragic character, one who was an antagonist because of social conditioning and a culture that was too deeply ingrained in him to simply let go of. Not unlike Vriska in that manner. Also Equius, in a more benign manner. Gamzee is a bit of a wildcard and people have speculated that we haven’t gotten a true reading of his character and motives, but he only seemed concerned with his heritage when he went insane for no less than four separate reasons. Point being that Eridan was unable to unlearn the toxicity of Alternia which only seemed to have been an issue for upper class trolls. Barring the empress and heiress who essentially had a carte blanche to do as they pleased because it would have been heresy to oppose them, Eridan was the one standing at the top. He was as high as you could get while still being subject to scrutiny, essentially standing on a pedestal under a spotlight. His primary motivation was to be seen as a mature adult, the quintessential sea dweller. We’ve all known that haughty kid who wanted to hurry up and be an adult. Shit, I was that kid while growing up. But for a troll- particularly one of the nautical aristocracy- being a mature adult meant being a bloodthirsty tyrannical conqueror with an active love life in all four quadrants.
And with that shock of blood-colored hair, he was already something of an aberration and probably felt even more pressure to prove himself as a result.
Eridan built up this “fearsome warlord” persona based on all this and lived the way he was taught he should, under threat of culling. Consequently, he was never true to himself.
From the moment we meet him, it’s shown that he’s not being honest about his feelings and desires with the way he’s in the “moirail zone” with Feferi. But that was only the beginning. His genocide complex was little more than bravado since, as he himself pointed out, exterminating the land dwellers would have been as easy as slacking off in feeding Gl’bgolyb. And at one point it was implied he played it up for the sake of spending more time with Feferi in their moirallegience. But most egregious and plot-relevant is how he wasn’t honest about his love of wizards and magic. Right off the bat, he espouses magic as fake while waving a wand and wearing a wizard hat. And upon witnessing Rose’s majyyks, he is unable to be forthright about wanting to know her secrets. Even when Kanaya alchemized him a magic wand which he loved enough to abandon the riflekind specibus and Ahab’s Crosshairs, he still felt the need to conceal himself and insist his new weapon was powered by “science”.
As we learned through Jake, the aspect of Hope is an energy- one that overpowers that of a first guardian when fully tapped- which makes things less fake when you believe in them. Eridan’s wand was powered by his belief in magic, a belief so strong it allowed a literal toy to exceed the strength of the legendary Ahab’s Crosshairs. And also one-hit-kill Feferi whose blood meant she had the highest fortitude of any of the 12 trolls. But Eridan’s belief- his passion- was one he tried to hide at all costs, implicitly due to feeling it was silly and therefore a sign of weakness. He was still fighting the demon of not living up to society’s standards even after the death of said society. He couldn’t let it go the way everyone else could, because that was his whole world and it was all he knew. He was a product of his environment; the child of everything wrong with troll society; the embodiment of the tampering done by Doc Scratch, the Handmaid and Lord English on Alternia. Without the world he knew, he had nothing. And that scared him. It led him down the path of nihilism, killing the girl he genuinely loved behind his facade of wanting to fill quadrants, and destroying the matriorb which he knew held the future of his race. He had nothing to live for anymore, and his idea of joining Jack Noir can easily be read as a suicide attempt.
When you truly analyze his character, he begins to look a lot like an abuse survivor who was never fully cognizant of his abuse, and normalized his treatment and lashed out at others as subconscious coping mechanisms. Even when all the societal pressure and threat of culling was gone, he remained in constant fight-or-flight mode. He never once felt safe.
It’s not the kind of clean, inspiring “he became a better person because of his abuse” story we all like to hear: it’s messy and it’s depressing. But that makes it realistic. Much like how people have been analyzing Vriska or Yellow Pearl from Steven Universe. Technically speaking, every Alternian troll is an abuse survivor, and it’s only natural that there would be one or two who wouldn’t be able to ‘rise above it’ like some sort of cute little Hallmark glurge. People succumb to their circumstances.
People carry scars that might never fully heal.
People lose hope.
However, Eridan’s title can not only mean ”destroyer of hope”, but also “one who destroys with hope”. And much like how his title can be interpreted in a more positive light, Eridan himself may have a more promising fate in store.
In Openbound’s exposition on Cronus, we got this rather interesting and direct mention of Eridan in regards to defeating Lord English
If there ever was any truth to his far fetched vision, the legacy of defeating the evil magician would have to be passed on to his descendant, or if his descendant proved to be as much of a failure as he did, then perhaps on some other Hero of Hope.
which implied that Eridan would either defeat English himself (Harry Potter is what the refrance) or become a mentor to Jake so that he would. The latter became tenuously canon in the form of Erisolsprite.
Since [S] Terezi: Remember is the first time Eridan’s ghost woke up and Vriska only ever met doomed timeline iterations of him, it stands to reason that his timeline was despair -> death -> Erisolsprite -> waking up, without any dream bubble adventures in between. Erisol was a sort of purgatory for Eridan in which we saw him acknowledge and lament the error of his ways. But even more than that, he got to share a consciousness with Sollux. Tavros and Vriska were Tavrisprite for a minute at most, and that brief communion led to dramatic character development in both. So Eridan, due to the stable fusion of him and Sollux, had the chance to see things from a different perspective
for an extended period of time. He shared memories and experiences with someone who lived a very different life than him. As Eridan himself put it, Sollux was “practically the complementary fuckin color a [him]”. And aside from being impotently and comically miserable, Erisol was kind of mellowed-out. Especially when compared to that fishboy who (attempted-) murdered three of his closest friends and was planning on giving two more the same treatment. Eridan, as part of Erisol, changed. Atoned for his sins, in fact. He even took the opportunity to reach out to Feferi in Fefeta and apologize to her. And as pointed out at the beginning of the post, it appears as though he has been forgiven. It’s also interesting to note that the first time we saw alternate timeline versions of the trolls in the dream bubbles, it was Eridan and Feferi together. In other words, things could have gone differently and didn’t need to be this way.
It isn’t as direct in the narrative as with Karkat or Terezi or Vriska (one version of her at least), but more subtly it has been shown that Eridan is receiving his own character arc. One in which he now has the chance to start fresh. A second chance to let go of his culture’s burdens, heal the scars of abuse, and finally be himself. To finally join his friends, both figuratively and literally.
For the first time in the comic and possibly for the first time in his life, the Prince of Hope might actually have hope.
I don't think Eridan was the embodiment of toxic white masculinity, because he didn't kill Feferi because she said no to dating him, he killed her because she said no to running away with him. He was not doing it because he couldn't have her, he was doing it out of fear that if he didn't act, Jack would kill them all. Sitting on that meteor like that, waiting, as the Prince of Hope, being left with so little hope, probably severely damaged him. I just think one should think of his classpect too.
Eridan kills Feferi when she tries to stop him from ‘joining’ Jack (which would lead to Jack following Eridan’s scent back to the meteor as he does with Vriska and killing them all). However, both Feferi and Sollux try to stop him. He knocks Sollux out. He kills Feferi. He also has a really nasty facial expression right before he does it. Hope is based on belief and desire. So while you might be able to argue that 'oh he didn’t really know how to control his weapon yet’, I think Feferi died because he wanted Feferi dead, even though he had the capability to simply knock her out and make his escape. And based on my interpretation of his character, I think part of the reason why was because she defied him. She rejected him even though he claimed they were 'meant to be together’, and she refused to come with him when he tried to leave. 'You’re either with me or against me’, he told her, and her claiming her agency by refusing to join his mad scheme was a final rejection he could not handle. He couldn’t handle her saying no.
I don’t know if Hussie intended for Eridan to represent these things. However, a lot of his behavior and character reminds me of them. His upbringing of privilege that he accepts and does not question - at least Feferi feels it is unfair, even if her 'culling’ methods clearly lead to issues in Beforus too. Eridan is racist and classist. He makes reference to the 'moirail zone’ (friend zone). He would rather spend his time killing things he doesn’t need to kill on his planet with his big impressive gun! than asking for help or realizing violence is not the only answer. He hits on a lot of people, even when it’s clear they’re not interested, and then sulks. He kills the women who get in his way. A lot of this reminds me of the pro-violence, don’t take no for an answer, entitled, classist/racist/sexist/etc mentality that a lot of wealthy white American men are raised into. That’s our upper echelon. Eridan is in his. Those groups often turn out with a lot of crap caked onto them that needs to be peeled off. Eridan doesn’t let anyone try any peeling. He tries to abandon everyone and save himself, and he dies.
While classpects are an integral part of character and vice versa, I think everyone lost a lot of hope on that meteor. However, classpect doesn’t impact what my reading of his behavior is… it’s already factored into what he does.
I can’t tell how clear this is but I have class in twenty minutes and I have to rush.