This essay will look at the Circle of Magi alongside Foucault’s* theories about the asylum. My argument is that the Circle functions in a similar way to how Foucault saw the asylum working – that is, it is designed to create docile mages that accept the justification for their imprisonment, and end up policing themselves.
I will go through some of Foucault’s original writing, explain my understanding of it, and give examples of where I think it is played out in the Dragon Age universe.
All references are from The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow.
I’m more than happy to take any feedback. :)
* If you haven’t heard of Foucault before, he was a French philosopher who wrote a lot of stuff about power. His basic theory was that the most insidious form of power is not physical strength, but the ability to get people to watch and judge themselves based on your criteria. Here’s his Wiki page.
Holy excellent meta, Batman. Fanthropologist’s break-down of Foucault’s asylum theory (which was new to me) is concise and easy-to-understand, and it’ll make you look at the Circle of Magi, the Harrowing, and maybe even Wynne and Anders in a whole new light.
This is a must-read for any Dragon Age enthusiast, and reinforces why I love both the games and this fandom so much. Not only do the games themselves support this kind of deep, critical analysis, the level and quality of thought so many fans apply to the source material is unlike any other fandom I’ve ever encountered. Kudos, fanthropologist.