Obi Wan in Star Wars is a great example. His role in the story at first seems to be that of “jolly old elf” / hermit / wizard, and that’s all true, but none of these labels determine his metaphor family. His language reveals that all of those roles are somewhat of an affectation hiding what Obi Wan really is: a general.
- One of his first lines could come out of the mouth of Patton: “Quickly, son, they’re on the move.”
- When he gives Luke an emblem of his religion, he gives him, of all things, a laser-sword, and he praises it by pointing out that it has superior target accuracy to a laser-gun: “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster.”
- Later his concern with weapon accuracy continues: “Sand People always ride single file to hide their numbers. And these blast points, too accurate for Sand People. Only Imperial stormtroopers are so precise.”
- And there’s plenty more general-speak… “But it also obeys your commands” “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.” “No, it’s a short range fighter.”
This isn’t to say that Obi-Wan isn’t a spiritual character, he clearly is, but if the spiritual wisdom he dispensed was accompanied by a more new age-y metaphor family (which would be the default choice) then we would be more likely to see him as a hoary old stock character. Giving him a metaphor family that speaks to his suppressed former life enriches the character and makes his wisdom seem much more powerful, because it’s clearly hard-won.