Like a Glass Slipper on a Step-Sister: How the One-Ring Rules Them All at Trial
Barry University School of Law
July 6, 2012
Nebraska Law Review, Vol. 91, No. 600, 2013
When a child first hears “glass slipper,” she makes subconscious assumptions. Glass being sparkling conveys beauty. Being fragile it must be dainty, like Cinderella herself. To dance in these fragile slippers, Cinderella must have grace. But dancing for hours in the slippers must be painful. This notion plants a seed of overlooking pain to attain beauty.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both described the manner in which we think in symbols. In today's research Daniel Kahneman illustrates in Thinking Fast and Slow that we all think in symbols and make subconscious assumptions.
Thus symbols and objects make their way into our stories. In literature, one such object is the endowed object, a material object that reverberates with symbolic significance throughout the story. Items such as the glass slipper, the one ring, and the holy grail convey theme, emotion, and character, and even create structural beats.
These objects weave their way into trial narratives as well. Examples include the leather glove from the O.J. Simpson case and Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.
Trial and appellate attorneys can use the literary concept of endowed objects to identify a key piece of physical evidence that weaves a thread of narrative continuity through the case and resonates in the mind of the judge or juror.
My article presents the literary concept of endowed objects, provides examples from literature and from trials, discusses how attorneys can identify and use evidence to create an endowed object, and explores evidentiary and ethical limitations regarding these objects. I examine endowed objects and other symbols in fiction works such as Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Like Sisters on the Homefront, The Hunger Games, 1984, Anna Karenina, Lord of the Rings, The Natural, and Every Time a Rainbow Dies. I also examine the role such objects played in the trials of Lincoln assassination conspirator, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Timothy McVeigh, Orenthal (O.J.) Simpson, and John Wayne Gacy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 61
Keywords: storytelling, endowed objects, symbol, metaphor, metonym, obtuse object, hero's journey, Jung, Nussbaum, Campbell, epistemology, narrative, trial, litigation, physical evidence, Freud, Kahneman, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, Williams-Garcia, objective correlative, Coretta Scott King
JEL Classification: B30, K10, K14, K30, K40, K41Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: July 9, 2012 ; Last revised: April 30, 2013
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