Today I’m sitting on a screened porch in Wisconsin, on vacation, and taking a closer look at another Character Type in The Dark Knight. Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s long-time friend, confident and butler, is a classic Power of Love character.
A character driven by the Power of Love is often someone who tirelessly pushes another forward in a story. Although typically developed as a female character, a Power of Love character can also be a compelling male ensemble player (or even lead). These characters— often soft-spoken, gentle and compliant on the outside— are made of strong, even steely, stuff on the inside. They believe the best place to be is the “power behind the throne.”
All these qualities are very evident with Alfred. His courtesy and refined manners mask a steely determination and protectiveness on Bruce Wayne/Batman’s behalf. Alfred stands just behind Batman’s power and is a subtle but strong presence in the story.
Alfred: I suppose they’ll lock me up as well. As your accomplice…
Bruce/Batman: Accomplice? I’m going to tell them the whole thing was your idea.
In a large part the whole concept of Batman is Alfred’s idea. Bruce/Batman’s continuing story hinges on a key action Alfred takes.
Power of Love characters are defined by their determination. They will not give up on whatever goal, scheme or objective they have in mind for the object of their attention. These characters sincerely do believe they know what is best for others. They can be very cunning in controlling and manipulating others (always for the other person’s own welfare).
Alfred advises, consoles and prods Bruce/Batman through-out the film. Rachel entrusts Alfred with the note that, ironically, are her last words. Alfred first delivers Rachel’s farewell note and then surreptitiously takes it and burns it. He does so out of love for Bruce/Batman, and he sincerely believes he (Alfred) knows what is best. Maybe so, but Alfred also deprives Bruce/Batman of the truth and the last words of the woman he loves.