Lara Croft’s obsession with artifacts begs the question: Is she a hero or a villain?

Let’s discuss Lara Croft’s obsession with finding artifacts and seeking ancient tombs to uncover secrets.

In this article, we will discuss the rebooted video games. This article will contain spoilers. I recommend playing through all the rebooted games before reading this.

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Lara Croft's Obsession

The Nature of Obsession

Passion is a driving force of human nature. Each and every one of us has some sort of passion (which some of us discover later in life) that we want to pursue. For example, let’s take Ichiban Kasuga from Yakuza: Like A Dragon. He’s a grown man with childlike imagination and he wants to be a hero. He pursues his want to become a hero with blazing intensity, yet he doesn’t lose sight of what’s important. Ichi never avoids opportunities to help the people he loves; he cares for his friends and doesn’t let himself be distant.

Obsession is when passion overtakes humans in some ways. Andrew from the movie Whiplash is a good example of an overly obsessed character. Granted, the subject of this article is not nearly as obsessed as Andrew, but for the sake of explaining the nature of obsession, he’s a great example. He hurts himself and others around him because of his obsession to become an impressive drummer. The movie is hard to watch sometimes because of the lengths that the characters go to.

Lara Croft’s obsession is with finding ancient artifacts and seeking tombs, and she often acts without thinking of the consequences of her actions. But first, let’s discuss her background.

Lara’s Childhood

Lara Croft as a child

Lara was born to a rich family and her father was an archaeologist. Her mother passed away from a plane accident and Lord Croft, Lara’s father, pursued the key to immortality because of the loss of his wife. Because of Lord Croft’s research and work, Lara was often left alone. She read books and – like her father – developed a liking for adventure.

This liking soon turned into a lust for adventure. On her fifth birthday, the butlers and her father arranged a treasure hunt to keep her entertained. Lord Croft also took Lara with him on some of his expeditions. Because of all this, her passion and lust for adventure were fuelled.

She was also a skilled survivor, even at a young age. This can be seen in a section of Shadow of the Tomb Raider where you play as a younger Lara.

Seeking Yamatai

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft joined a filming crew and her friends on an expedition to uncover the kingdom of Yamatai. This is the main location in the 2013 game. In the opening cutscenes, you can see Lara thoroughly studying sources of information about Yamatai. She spent time alone and avoided the film crew.

With heavy research, she uncovered that Yamatai is located in the Dragon’s Triangle, an area in the southern Pacific. There was a senior archaeologist in the boat, but even he failed to realize that. This proves that Lara is indeed an intelligent girl who’s naturally a great archaeologist.

More information about her knowledge and raging passion for archaeology can be seen in gameplay. When Lara arrives on the island at first, she’s very afraid and loses confidence. But when she finds things like ancient coins or messages left by previous explorers, she sounds very interested and excited. This tells us that her passion for exploration and adventure surpasses her fears. As the game progresses, Lara becomes more experienced and she becomes more and more interested in the secrets the island hides.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider

In Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara wants to restore the dignity of the Croft name by doing what she does best: Tomb Raiding. In this game, she’s far more experienced and talented than in the 2013 game. She has reached peak human strength and agility, plus her knowledge of archaeology has improved substantially.

In the parts of the game where her life in England is shown, you can clearly see just how much research and studying Lara does in archaeology. There are countless books, texts, and artifacts around. Honestly, someone who’s not passionate about the subject won’t pour in as much work.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

It is in Shadow of the Tomb Raider her obsession is very noticeable. In the first section of the game, a mass destructive flood occurs because of the actions of Lara and Trinity. This destroys an entire village and many men, women, and children die. After making it to safety, Lara wants to go hunt more artifacts rather than assist the townsfolk who had lost everything.

Now, this is not because Lara likes hunting for artifacts. I mean, she does, but it’s because Trinity also seeks them and Lara wants to obtain them faster than them. When she immediately asks Jonah to go with her, he gets angry. He tells Lara that it’s not always about her objectives and that they will not leave until they’ve helped the townsfolk get back on their knees.

Even the game itself addresses her obsession: the name of the highest difficulty level is “Deadly Obsession”.

Hero or villain?

I’ve seen more than enough posts and topics on the internet saying that Lara is a villain and is similar to Trinity (the antagonist of Tomb Raider) in many ways. Granted, Lara has similarities to Trinity. But calling her a villain is far off.

I need to mention that Lara is not a bad person at all. She tries to help people as best she can and is a very admirable woman. But classifying her as a hero is not suitable at all. Lara’s excitement and obsession get the better of her in many instances. This puts the lives of her and others in danger. Granted, she does not want that, but it is what happens. Not to mention how she desecrates ancient archaeological sites, deliberately or otherwise. It’s far better if we classify her as an anti-villain.

Maybe she is not downright obsessed but she’s on the line that crosses between passion and obsession. Just because she is not a conventional hero, does not mean that she is not a great protagonist. There are actually a lot of things anyone (regardless of gender) can learn from her: pursuing your passion with blazing intensity, just managing to stay on the moral and ethical side and not being a menace to society, and becoming stronger and stronger with each tough ordeal she goes through and more.

Overall, Lara’s character is much more complex than she is given credit for. It’s very obvious why she is so iconic apart from her appearance, which was what the early games focused on.

What do you think about Lara Croft’s obsession? Let us know your thoughts on the forums!