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An old trope that can be either physical or metaphorical in its appearance within a story. In the Tarot, The Tower is considered a sign of ill omen or adversity, but can also stand for civilization, or lone, defensive strength when regarding a specific character.
Usually, The Tower is a structure of solitude or homage to a character whose vision is farseeing and above those "bound to earth". It can also be a prison to where a main character is left to die, or a representation of a villain's Pride, as (s)he rises higher towards heaven while surrounded by their empire. See the myth of the Tower of Babel.
A character that represents the Tower is another story, they can be a tall figure, or even a dwarf with a great amount of presence. They usually have great fortitude both mental and/or physical, sometimes coming off as stubborn or gruff. They're also portrayed many a time as loners unless with others who share a similarity with him, or need him for a time. The phrase "ivory tower" ties together the connotations of isolation and pride into a concept that intellectualism or academic research make you lose touch with "real life".
In many fantasy settings, towers are usually the homes, laboratories and/or schools of magic users. This convention is probably based on Saruman's tower, Orthanc of Isengard, though some settings justify it by having mages who are also astronomers.
The Tower is Card XVI in the tarot deck, although mostly symbolic. In the Rider-Waite deck, it's a tower being shattered by lightning. Generally speaking, it represents a truth unearthing something not pleasant.
In fiction, The Tower may appear as:
- Big Fancy Castle
- The Black Tower: Tall, dark, and evil.
- The Evil Skyscraper: The Black Tower's modern incarnation:
home of the Corrupt Corporate Executive or Mega Corp in a contemporary or futuristic setting.
- Impossibly Tall Tower: or Star Scraper, any structure whose height is beyond imagining.
- The Ominous Megastructure: like the Tower of Babel, A gigantic, unimaginably huge "looms-over-everything" structure.
- The Wizard's Tower: or Mage Tower usually contains telescopes, orreries, hidden artifacts, secret passages, tomes of eldritch lore, and dangerous devices Powered by a Forsaken Child in a terribly-cramped footprint.
- The Haunted Castle: Ominous, foreboding and perched on a cliffside, accompanied by lightning and haunted by ghosts and monsters or mad scientists and their assistants.
- The Floating Castle (Possibly Ominous): definitely important.
- Lighthouse Point: Exactly what it says on the tin.
- Clock Tower: often the scene of a Cathedral Climax.
- The World Tree: The Living, Genius Loci version.
The Labyrinth or Dungeon is the inverse trope: a more expansive version of the Ominous Castle or Megastructure, with more stuff below than above. See also Big Labyrinthine Building, which may or may not be a Babel-like megastructure. Compare with Building of Adventure.
- Big Fancy Castle
- Clock Tower
- Evil Tower of Ominousness
- Evil Skyscrapers (City Noir)
- Girl in the Tower
- Haunted Castle
- It's All Upstairs From Here
- The Lighthouse might come into this.
- Mage Tower
- Ominous Floating Castle
- Star Scraper: an impossibly tall tower.
- Tower of Babel: the literal type.
- World Tree
Also, see Tarot Motifs.
Anime and Manga
- The "New Tower of Babel" in the silent movie Metropolis.
- The "wizards live in towers" idea is used, I believe, in the film version of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.
- Also played with in the original book. Hank blew up Merlin's tower to teach Merlin a lesson (and also just because he could). Then he had it rebuilt to show he wasn't a total jackass.
- In accordance to fairy tale tradition, Princess Fiona is imprisoned in the "highest room of the tallest tower."
- The headquarters of US Robotics is the tallest building by far in Chicago. Guess where the Evil AI is situated? If you said "the basement", shame on you.
- The Evil Skyscraper from Freejack is not just the tallest building in Manhattan (strike one) and the office of Anthony Hopkins' character (strike two); it contains the souls of paying customers who are artificially implanted into the titular freejack's bodies.
- The big pyramid from Blade Runner
- Classic "Rapunzel" is depicted to be trapped in a tower till someone comes to rescue her from imprisonment.
- "Sleeping Beauty" is sometimes told with the spinning wheel that dooms her to eternal sleep being at the top of the tallest tower of the castle she inhabits.
- "Childe Rowland to the Dark Tower came..." is a line from an old ballad quoted in King Lear, retold in the English fairy tale "Childe Rowland", and used as the basis of a famous poem by Robert Browning.
- The Lord of the Rings has a striking number of significant towers -- most importantly Sauron's fortress Barad-Dûr (meaning "Dark Tower"), Saruman's Orthanc, and the fortresses of Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul, both of which are centered around a tower.
- Volume two even has the title The Two Towers.
- Stephen King's The Dark Tower, is based entirely around this motif.
- One of King's other books, The Eye of the Dragon, has Peter imprisoned in a cell at the top of a tower for most of the second half of the book.
- The Ministries in 1984
- Frankenstein, Dracula, and countless others.
- Ulysses: The first episode of the novel is set in the Martello tower at Sandycove.
- Throughout Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince Professor Trewlany can be seen going around mumbling about predictions, which no one heeds- particularly about how she keeps dealing the card of 'The Lightning Struck-Tower' foretelling great danger and upheaval. Then comes the chapter by the same name, which takes place in the actual astronomy tower, the highest part of Hogwarts. Its there that Snape kills Dumbledore, fulfilling the prophecy both literally and metaphorically.
- The Tower of Babel is probably one of the more infamous examples of the trope.
- The Combine Citadel from Half-Life 2 certainty qualifies.
- The Tattered Spire in Fable II.
- The tower from Super Mario RPG was pretty evil... or is that more of a castle?
- In Shin Megami Tensei Persona 3, the tower is not only represented by a monk character who smokes and drinks at a local night club, but is also present in the form of Dark Hour version of the School.
- The Tower Of Babil from Final Fantasy IV cumulates evilness with impossible height: It starts in the underworld (which itself has enough height for airships to fly in) and even above ground, is still several times higher than mountains!
- The Tower of Zot, however, while it has the evilness, lacks the prestige because its exterior is never seen, anywhere.
- The last dungeon of Mother 3 which is, intended or not, somewhat relevant to the Tarot Motif.
- Shinra Building
- Xizors skyhook
- Ganondorf's tower from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker, game that also has the Tower Of The Gods; Eagle's Tower in Links Awakening and the Stone Tower in Majoras Mask.
- Mu's fortress from Monster Rancher,
- Final Fantasy VIII's Lunatic Pandora.
- The gigantic supercomputer from Space Quest IV is the Ominous Megastructure type. It destroyed the planet's weather and zombified its residents with an army of cyborgs (don't they all?)
- The entire plot of Makai Toshi Sa Ga revolves around one.
- In Hellsinker from stage 4 and onward the main characters spend the remaining of the stages to climb up the huge Cardinal Shaft.
- How could we forget Devil May Cry 3, where the majority of the game takes place in a massive demonic tower that just bursts out the ground? In addition, the challenge levels take place in an ever ascending version of the same tower.