"Sympathetic Character" as written by and Alanis Morissette....
I was afraid you'd hit me if I'd spoken up I was
Afraid of your physical strength I was afraid
You'd hit below the belt I was afraid of your
Sucker punch I was afraid of you reducing me
I was afraid of your alcohol breath I was afraid
Of your complete disregard for me I was afraid
Of your temper I was afraid of handles being
Flown off of I was afraid of holes being punched
Into walls I was afraid of your testosterone

I have as much rage as you have
I have as much pain as you do
I've lived as much hell as you have
And I've kept mine bubbling under for you

You were my best friend
You were my lover
You were my mentor
You were my brother
You were my partner
You were my teacher
You were my very own sympathetic character

I was afraid of verbal daggers I was afraid of the
Calm before the storm I was afraid for my own
Bones I was afraid of your seduction I was afraid
Of your coercion I was afraid of your rejection
I was afraid of your intimidation I was afraid of
Your punishment I was afraid of your icy silences
I was afraid of your volume I was afraid of your
Manipulation I was afraid of your explosions

I have as much rage as you have
I have as much pain as you do
I've lived as much hell as you have
And I've kept mine bubbling under for you

You were my keeper
You were my anchor
You were my family
You were my savior
And therein lay the issue
And therein lay the problem


Lyrics submitted by Lamia

"Sympathetic Character" as written by Alanis Morissette

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Sympathetic Character song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThis song is so deep. She is deathly afraid of her abuser, and yet she tries to tell him that she hurts the same way he does. At the end of the song, she tells him that he meant so much to her, and "therein lay the problem".
    nietzsche_66on June 02, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is really close to me because there was domestic violence in my family and it also reminds me of the way my ex made me feel. I was so scared to show so many parts of me but there was something in me dependant on him which is the confusing bit. It gets to the stage where you don't break up with them coz you need them, but the only reason you can list to stay together is because you love them - and is love enough? Sometimes you forget why you loved someone in the first place - fear is such a controlling factor in people's lives - a sad truth.
    CakeAndSodomy69on August 19, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think nietzche hit the needle on the head. i love how the verses of this song are phrased.
    m99on June 22, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is really close to me because there was domestic violence in my family and it also reminds me of the way my ex made me feel. I was so scared to show so many parts of me but there was something in me dependant on him which is the confusing bit. It gets to the stage where you don't break up with them coz you need them, but the only reason you can list to stay together is because you love them - and is love enough? Sometimes you forget why you loved someone in the first place - fear is such a controlling factor in people's lives - a sad truth. Also, I think it's true to say that the song points out how horrible and demeaning it can feel to feel weak - just because you are being surpressed doesn't mean you bdon't have as much rage, pain, and hurt as the other person, it's just that they're drowning yours out with theirs.
    CakeAndSodomy69on August 19, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song had come up on the cd with only minor attention from me. when i finally started to pay attention to the lyrics, i found myself near tears. i was in a similar "relationship" - no physical abuse, though - and i felt like alanis was helping me speak to the guy i'd been with.

    rock on.
    sensitivetofateon January 14, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI envy Alanis SO SO SO MUCH for being able to put such feelings into words. It must feel so relieving. Fantastic lyrics...another reason why SFIJ may possibility be my favorite album...so underrated.
    Shmeemeron July 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentalanis said this song is about people in her life who could not control their anger/rage. from the end you gather that these people were important to her and that's why it affected her so much.
    sopurejunkieon July 11, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFunnily those people are ones we feel like we have to understand and empathise with all the time. They abuse us, violate us and hurt us, yet we understand them. They're our very own sympathetic characters.
    jean822140on January 29, 2017   Link

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