Jareth the Goblin King – Labyrinth
“It’s a crystal. Nothing more. But if you turn it this way and look into it, it will show you your dreams.” – Jareth the Goblin King, Labyrinth
Limited to the information in the 1986 Jim Henson Labyrinth movie. Jareth is the enigmatic Goblin King, who despite his title does not resemble a goblin in any way. I appreciate that, since this was an option:
Jareth is a shapeshifter, capable of transforming into a barn owl. To cross into the real world he must use the owl form – unless he’s summoned. So perhaps his human form isn’t his true form. He may be fae, as he controls crystal balls that exhibit an array of apps: transforming into Cleaners, showing dreams, providing security camera coverage of the protagonists, and generally looking impressive as he performs contact juggling with them. In the world of the Labyrinth, nothing is as it seems, so we can’t go on face value. The movie doesn’t give us any backstory for Jareth, forcing us instead to go to the associated stories in various media (games, manga, movies, books).
He lives in his goblin- and chicken-filled castle at the center of the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth functions as a mote on steroids, and probably harbors more life forms than a rain forest. How much control His Majesty Jareth holds over the Labyrinth isn’t 100% clear.
He presides over the cheerful but stupid goblins like a young Saruman who uses a riding crop rather than a staff. They’re disposable in his view, and he demands total obedience from them. It’s never mentioned if Jareth is the first of his line or how long he’s reigned.
In addition to his ruthless treatment of the goblins, he’s quite happy to throw potentially fatal obstacles at the protagonist. He boasts he can be cruel, but though he’ll sick a giant drill down a tunnel in hopes of crushing the opposition (I think he knew Hoggle would find the way out), his tactics are mainly designed to put Sarah back to square one, the Labyrinth’s start. Killing her would be easy, but he doesn’t want her dead.
He does not personally attack his opponents, though he’ll toss the goblins around. For face to face confrontation, he prefers to use his tongue to lash anyone in his way. No riding crop needed to bring the burn. Insulting and demeaning others is another way he elevates his own status.
Even with all his powers and his goblin “friends,” he evidently wants the companionship of someone more like himself. He takes Toby at Sarah’s request/wish, then leverages him to get Sarah to come to the castle. In his serenades, it’s clear he wants her to obey and serve him. But in return he promises to be her “slave” and give her whatever she wants.
Cheating at his own game.
Using the Labyrinth’s “nothing is as it seems” nature against his opponents.
Using long-range methods for achieving goals: other creatures, poisoned peaches, crystal balls, goblins. Intimidating people to get his way.
Offering a subject the desires of their heart in exchange for service/sacrifice.
Appealing to people’s baser desires.
Putting his own desires into verse.
Appearing when least expected to confront both friend and opponent.
Using crystal balls to increase the power of both his intimidation and enticement. Delivering crushing tongue-lashings.
Intimidation, Shapeshifting, Singing, Dancing, Childcare, Contact Juggling, Scrying, Fashion, Flying, Goblin Management, Crystal Ball Control, Snake Summoning
Underestimating the strength, fortitude, and intelligence of his opponents.
Stocking his minion ranks with idiots who can’t even perform a decent weenie rush.
Probably rain, considering his ‘do.
Anger at defeat.
The magical rules of the Labyrinth and real wolds.
♦ Notable achievements:
Ruling the Labyrinth and goblins.
Fulfilling a wish by taking a human baby.
Manipulating crystal ball magic.
Being impeccably dressed and sporting perfect hair in a medieval world.
Turning a whiny teenager into a responsible young person.
♦ How Jareth can help us succeed in life:
Never underestimate your opponents.
Know what people want.
Remember that nothing is as it seems. Be ready for change.
Choose your friends wisely. Don’t be afraid to find new friends who help you achieve your goals. Just don’t try to turn their brothers into goblins, even she asks you to. And don’t ask for their obedience. Use some tact, genius.
Dance. Get some exercise, get the heart rate up.
Sing. It’s great for your mood and your lungs.
♦ Jareth the Goblin King Quotes:
“I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.”
“Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for you. I move the stars for no one.”
“Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that the child be taken. I took him. You cowered before me, I was frightening. I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations. Isn’t that generous?”
♦ Further reading/reports:
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