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The nature of Pennywise and his powers (spoilers within)

Discussion in 'IT' started by raperm, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. raperm

    raperm Member

    First off, just a note; loving this board. No arguing or name calling that I've seen, just good old fashioned, solid discussions about our favorite books. Gotta love it.

    So one thing I wanted to get other thoughts on (and there may be no definitive answer) is the nature of Pennywise's powers; specifically, how he changes shape.

    We know a few things from the book.

    1. He can appear as a clown, and does so frequently through history as a means to lure children close enough to get them.
    2. He can appear as the thing a viewer is most afraid of, and whatever that form is appears to be dictated by the victim; this ability, then, is somewhat involuntary.
    3. While "locked" into this form he is obliged to abide by the physical rules that form will follow; for example, being vulnerable to silver as a werewolf.
    4. His ability to appear as something you are afraid can work differently on different victims at the same time. During their fist visit to Neibolt Street, Richie sees him as the teenage werewolf, but Bill sees him as the clown...at the same time.
    5. If one person "calls out" a form, however, he may appear as that form to anyone who sees him at the time who was present for the call out. During the second Neibolt visit when the whole Losers club goes looking for him, no one sees him in any true form until Richie yells "It's the teenage werewolf", whereupon Pennywise takes that form for all of them.
    6. He can appear as something totally innocent; his appearance as Mrs. Kersh was fine until he started to change her.
    7. He can, however, modify the appearance he takes to some degree to make it scarier, without changing form completely. For example, he appears as a clown, but has giant razor shaped teeth in a couple of incarnations that he doesn't have later. He also changes Mrs. Kersh from a stately older lady into an old hag, gradually while Beverly is with him.
    8. He can choose to appear with no disguise at all, in which case they see the spider form of him. He only does this "at home".
    9. The size and number of objects he appears to be are not limited; he can be one big thing (like the bird) or many small ones (like Patrick's creepy flying leeches).
    10. He can also manipulate the enviroment as part of his power; Beverly's old house, for example, looked like a nice apartment, and then the Gingerbread House from Hansel & Gretel while Beverly was there.

    Okay. So given all that, how much control do you think Pennywise has over his appearance? In some ways it seems like he can pretty much appear to be anything he wants, whenever he wants. My issue there, or question rather, is if he can change at will, why would he LET himself be forced to appear in a vulnerable form? Richie sees him as the werewolf; fair enough. But the second they shot him in the eye and it damn near killed him, you' d think he would immediately change to something else...something over which silver had no effect. But he didn't; he let them bluff him and actually had to run from them. And in his own inner monologue, he questions whether his power is actually working against him, rather than for him.

    Kind of sticky, but a fun thought-problem to work through, I think. I figure his ability to mirror your fear is sort of involuntary. That is, he can choose to turn it "on", but when he does, he CAN'T choose what he looks like. He has to turn it "off", and pick a form by himself at that point...usually the clown in some form or other. So when he's mirroring your fears, he isn't controlling what he looks like. But when he wants to appear as something else - like a clown, or an old woman - he CAN choose it, knowing that whatever it is may not be something the victim is afraid of (and indeed, he seems to do that on purpose).

    Thoughts from others? I know, I know...probably way to detailed a bit of minutiae. Just something fun to kick around!
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  2. Out of Order

    Out of Order Need More Time

    I disagree with everything you've written.
    Neesy, doowopgirl, mjs9153 and 5 others like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

    ...and I take exception to the disagreeable disagreement on disagreeableness....
    Neesy, doowopgirl, mjs9153 and 4 others like this.
  4. staropeace

    staropeace Richard Bachman's love child

    Welcome to the board. Do not mind Out of Order and Gnt....they are just banging their gums for fun. They are always up to the Dickens on here lol.
    D0NTSURF, Neesy, doowopgirl and 7 others like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

    ....Harumph!....I will have you know I'm a Master Thespian and am nothing so common as Dickens....I am Shakespearean....

  6. staropeace

    staropeace Richard Bachman's love child

    Kindly pats his hand*
    Neesy, doowopgirl, mjs9153 and 5 others like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

    ...oh I see how it is.....

    Neesy, doowopgirl, mjs9153 and 4 others like this.
  8. Spideyman

    Spideyman Uber Member

    Hi and welcome. Good discussion topic. Let me think awhile .
    Neesy, doowopgirl, mjs9153 and 2 others like this.
  9. staropeace

    staropeace Richard Bachman's love child

    Neesy, doowopgirl, mjs9153 and 2 others like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

    ....IMO, the power is a mirror of fears....what each of the kids sees is a reflection of same....IT has a great deal of control over the shape-shifting, but not ultimate power, hence the "screw ups"....this was probably a mistake in the "recipe" when the creature was "born" from The Prim....
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
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  11. César Hernández-Meraz

    César Hernández-Meraz Wants to be Nick, ends up as Larry

    I like the thoroughness of your fact finding. Well done! :D

    I think the weaknesses It has are not necessarily attached to the assumed shape, but rather to the beliefs of his would-be-victims. The Losers believe a werewolf should be vulnerable to silver bullets, so the strength of their belief is what causes the weakness.

    I say this because of the "acid" in Eddie's aspirator, a voluntary belief strengthened by his own use of it (and its taste).
    mal, twiggymarie, Neesy and 5 others like this.
  12. Tery

    Tery Dreaming in Middletown Moderator

    Bet he was picked on as a young creature. That could explain a lot. ;;D
    mal, Neesy, doowopgirl and 5 others like this.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

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  14. Lynnie L

    Lynnie L Well-Known Member

    Yeeeeaaaah, that's the ticket!!!
    mal, Neesy, doowopgirl and 2 others like this.
  15. Haunted

    Haunted This is my favorite place

  16. Robert Gray

    Robert Gray Well-Known Member

    Pennywise or simply "It" for lack of a better name isn't a physical being by nature. It comes from outside, i.e. outside everything. It understands our reality through our minds and our perceptions. It can take any form it wants that it has taken from one mind or another over time. It isn't forced to do these things, but it often chooses to do them. It likes appearing as the clown to get closer, but it then will take the form of what terrifies a victim because that is part of how it feeds. The incidental weaknesses of the flesh, whatever form it takes, are besides the point. You have to remember that the creature sees itself as immortal and prior to the Losers it never even came close to feeling in jeopardy. So in part, It takes forms which have weaknesses because it doesn't really take said weaknesses seriously. That is what made the monster's encounter with the Losers so unnerving for it. It started to believe itself. It started to have doubts. It started to have fear. A gnawing suspicion of the "Other" was rekindled in its immortal heart.

    I don't believe its ability to shapechange is involuntary at all. It can choose when it wants to do so, but for the most part Pennywise is LAZY. It is an apex predator which doesn't fear starving to death. Consider the Losers who escaped its clutches. They got away simply because It couldn't be bothered to continue to chase them. When Ben ran far enough away from the Mummy, the creature simply gave up and moved on to other, easier meals. Even when Mike hurt it at the ruins of the Iron Works, It eventually moved on. I submit that he takes a particular form from the minds of its victims to scare the ever living crud out of them because that is easier than working something original up on its own. Can it do it? Sure. When motivated, It can be downright nasty. Think of the tricks it played on both young and old Beverly. Those weren't spur of the moment terrors like becoming a mummy or a werewolf. The things it did to Bev were cruel and calculated. It chose those forms, just as it chose to ride her father for some extra bitter revenge. I'll revisit this more later.

    I want to talk about It from an objective standpoint. It is not God, but is a god. It is a horrific, monstrous evil which is utterly alien to our reality. It is so far removed from us that the further you go to approach its true self, the less sanity and form remains. Objectively, human beings are nothing to such a creature. We are literally out of sight and out of mind to it. It uses human beings for all sorts of purposes, but mostly it seeks purely to eat and indulge its pleasures.
    This isn't an ambitious, driven creature like the Crimson King whose personal delusions and insecurities drive it to want to topple the Tower and remake creation.
    The monster beneath Derry is just fine with creation the way it stands now. If you want a comparison to Tolkien, think of Meklor and Ungoliant. Melkor/Morgoth is an entity which seeks to control and remake things in his own image. Ungoliant (a spider form entity as it happens) could care less. It just seeks to feed and is quite content to stride across the world as a shadowy goddess of destruction incarnate. To put it in more human terms, what is more terrifying, a Hitler wannabe or a Great White Shark? Pennywise/It is a Great White Shark that is both sentient and insane.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2016
  17. mjs9153

    mjs9153 Peripherally known member..

    Very well put by Robert Gray..and the human body,the flesh,really is an afterthought..what it feeds on most is the fear,the pure,unadulterated terror,that energy is what it is really seeking..and why it takes on what the victim fears most.When It gets confused or put upon,that is why It changes to recent manifestations of It's recent victims..
    mal, Neesy, doowopgirl and 3 others like this.
  18. César Hernández-Meraz

    César Hernández-Meraz Wants to be Nick, ends up as Larry

    Great post. But it has DT spoilers... :sadface:
    mal, Neesy, GNTLGNT and 2 others like this.
  19. Dana Jean

    Dana Jean Reformed Dirty Pirate Hooker Moderator

    The heading of the topic warns of spoilers. Enter at your own risk.

    But yes, we are talking about Pennywise, so DT things should be behind spoilers. Did I get the right stuff behind spoilers?
  20. doowopgirl

    doowopgirl very avid fan

    mal, Neesy and GNTLGNT like this.

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