Friday, January 16, 2015

WBI: Butler (Artemis Fowl)

Here’s where things get fun—if you’ve read Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, you’ve met his closest friend and advisor, Butler. Butler is a bodyguard, and a servant, and a soldier—not an assassin. 

So, prepare to be a little bit confused.

Photo Credit: Artemis Fowl Wiki

Butler is the most recent Fowl manservant, and has guarded young Artemis Fowl II since the day of his birth. With Artemis he learns of a world beneath his feet, steals fairy gold, rescues Fowl Sr., gains 15 years and better reflexes besides, watches his closest friend descend into madness and brings him back when he dies. All this while trying to convince the kid of his morality. 

WBI Classification—yup, he’s a villain!

Even though Butler constantly acts as Artemis’s conscience and guides him through the steps of everyday life, Butler is also something else: ruthless. He’s gone through the most intense bodyguard training in the world, and has learned to center his focus on Artemis entirely. He would kill for Artemis. Has killed. Even though we like him, he’s not an innocent pillow that protects Artemis from the outside world—he’s dangerous. Thus:

Classification :: Λ345&
Role :: Assassin (killer confidante)
Motivation :: psychology (trained to be a bodyguard), insubordination (Fowl employee), lifestyle (loyalty)
Bonus :: family ties (Butler line)

Click Me to Big Me!

A Study

ambiguous—as I mentioned before, Butler’s a good guy; he just kills people. He does what he has to, but he doesn’t always agree that what he has to do is right.

submissive—especially towards the beginning, Butler takes orders from Artemis, period. Regardless of his own opinion, he gets paid to babysit Artemis and cater to his whims.

prioritized—Butler sees the world as a battlefield; he prioritizes people’s lives, safety, and the situation as he needs to, and faster than Artemis could.

soldier—Butler fights, but soldiers tend to have more to them than merciless killing. Sometimes a soldier’s job is to save, and that he does.

bodyguard—and, on that note, Butler puts his life down on the line, not just for Artemis, but for everyone. 

brother—Butler cares about Artemis, absolutely; but Juliet, his little sister, never stops mattering to him, and he loves her, a lot. 

friend—Butler gets along with Holly well, because he’s a soldier with a heart, just like she is. He functions like a person, even though he does things people shouldn’t do.

persistent—this guy does not stop. He doesn’t even accept the fact that Artemis is dead (though Artemis didn’t when he was dead, either); Butler will die before he fails to deliver.

loyal—there was a time when he was not getting paid, and he stuck with the Fowls. He waits when Artemis disappears. He isn’t a man bought by money (alone, anyway); he is there for the people, too.

endearing—we like life-savers. We like brothers, and friends, and loyal men who are good guys. We like Butler, too. 

talented—Butler is like, the third-best in the business. That’s not bad at all, and he’s certainly not useless to the Fowls. 

cooks—I enjoy that the soldier doubles as a gourmet chef when the world is not begging to be robbed.

supportive—perhaps the best thing about Butler ties back to his persistence: he never gives up on a person, either, and he never doubts Artemis’s return, his strengths, his smarts, or the idea that he might even be a good man someday; he never fails to push Artemis in the right direction.

Big Idea

listen to your employees—although Butler later forces Artemis to act like a person, initially Artemis merely takes Butler’s advice because he knows he’s right. Butler is there for all his plots, standing at his side and protecting him from the enemy, and sometimes himself. Artemis doesn’t have to listen; he’s the one in charge of the banks. But he does, because Butler knows stuff, and he has earned Artemis’s trust to the point where he is almost always permitted to have a voice. 

money matters—Butler gets paid. I bet he even likes getting paid. But we have to distinguish between his paycheck and his person. When the Fowls did not pay him, he stuck around, even though his resume could get him a better gig elsewhere. And, I mean, he robs people with Artemis and stuff. It isn’t that money doesn’t matter to Butler; as a bodyguard, what matters more to him is the life, and the principal.

assassins don’t have to be assassins—Butler doesn’t exist to kill people Artemis doesn’t like; what I have noticed is that when you choose to have a personal protection unit, you put your entire self in the hands of this person, because they are on offense and defense when it comes to your protection. They have your life. They have your secrets. That you trust them says a lot about their character, and it is not necessarily what actions they do take, as Butler never really goes on a spree killing, but the actions they are willing to take.

assassins are support—the people you enlist to watch your back are people you must trust completely; and Artemis does trust Butler. What Artemis may not notice is that the trust extends; even though they rescue Artemis’s father and try to live like normal people sometimes, Butler is basically his parent, who makes him do things he might not want to do and asks him to go to his limits and back again. Yes, he is his bodyguard, but I think Butler is Artemis’s soulguard, as well, and never lets him fall too far away from the values he ought to live by. 

I have a huge respect for Butler, despite his ambiguities. But what do you think? Is he a villain at all? Do you think he succeeds in his role?


  1. I love Artemis Fowl, and I love Butler. I really don't know if he's a villain. I never considered him as one before but....I think he's complicated. Haha, that's a cop out answer, but it's all I've got:)

    1. We always get stumped in one way or another when it comes to our favorite characters; I know what you mean!

  2. I ... actually have not read this book. And when I saw 'butler', all I could think of was Edwin Jarvis because my brain has all been Agent Carter these few days. That said, your analysis makes this character seem wonderfully ambiguous (grey morality yay!) - reminds me a little of the Kingsguard in A Song of Ice and Fire. A 'villain' on the side of good is always difficult to map out :)

    1. Ooh! Also I just found your Tumblr! *much stalking ensues*

    2. It's a little closer to MG than we might want, but I'd still encourage you to check it out, just because you might take interest. But, hey, Avengers, Artemis Fowl, they're all basically the same. ;) And yes! Butler is wonderful, ambiguity-wise and villain-wise and everything else-wise as well. :)

      XD Knock yourself out.

  3. I love that - "Butler’s a good guy; he just kills people." xD

    Also, I love the additions to your sidebar.

    1. Well he is... XD I know what you mean, though. It's a little bit of a paradox.

      Thanks! I actually found them through you, so I guess you have yourself to thank for their appearance. :)


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