Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Villains, Vampires and Vitriol

What makes a villain?  The dictionary description is rather succinct: “a cruelly malicious person involved/devoted to wickedness or crime”. Such cooperation!  Where would fiction be without this devoted, heartless wickedness?  Did you ever see that children’s book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka?  It is written from the Wolf’s perspective. How about Gregory Maguire’s book Wicked, told from the POV (Point of View) of the Wicked Witch?  You know, everyone has their perspective.
Do you want to know the Bad Guy’s motivation in a story?  It helps from a writing perspective to understand an antagonist’s background, even if all the reader ever sees is a classic villain, existing only to make the hero’s life a nightmare. Frankly I think learning a bit of the villain’s history adds depth to the story, for the reader. We all knew some of Voldemort’s background, it hardly made him more sympathetic; in fact it made him worse. Didn’t our hero, Harry, overcome a similar past, without becoming evil?    
Dare I admit publicly that I not only enjoyed reading Twilight I thought that turning a classic bad guy, good, was positively refreshing. Everyone luvs a guy who could be bad, but won’t. (Chocolate, to the first one to identify that sorta quote.)  Then the villain in that story ended up being a vampire who did embrace his dark side. Someone should write a story about a classic good guy gone bad… hmmmm, like an ANGEL!  Wait, I think I read that book. Oh my gosh, it’s a true story too. Well, I don’t think we’re gonna top that bestseller.
Then there are villains who, with a dying breath, repent – aka Darth Vader – gotta love those. How about those unfeeling villains, where resistance is futile as in the Borg? Terminator?  You’re not going to sway them (well, except that one episode in TNG/and the second terminator movie – but other than those).

How about those Villains you love to hate? Jane Eyre’s Aunt, cousins, everyone who ran the Lowood School; Captain Bligh – and he got away with it, which just makes it even worse (or better if you were the writer); Cruella DeVil; All Evil Step-Mothers/Sisters/Cats and Uncle Scar in The Lion King. How about you, are there any evil geniuses you’re still holding a grudge against?

My favorite villain off-hand would have to be Professor Moriarty. Why?  Because he was apparently modeled, at least physically, after a teacher that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had, and at that same school there were two boys named Moriarty. Coincidence?  But of course!  Those things happen, and I just happen to delight in them.


  1. Professor Umbridge. Totally. I know that Voldemort was evil and Snape was redeemed and blah blah blah...

    but that woman was scariest of them all. The creepy smile, toad-like looks, and *hem hem* that never seemed to miss a beat.

    I wish she would have died. I still hate that woman.

  2. Ooooh, Kelse - Fan Fic an awesome "Whatever Happened to Umbridge" story. I want to read it. Don't kill her fast. :D