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Clashing Personalities

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Tom, May 14, 2013.

  1. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Hi, I'm new here. I just wanted to comment on something I've seen in a lot of books. I've noticed that the hero and villain often have similiar personalities. I first started thinking about it over the weekend when I went to see Les Miserables in Rochester. Jean Valjean and Jevert are similiar in that they're both stubborn and proud. In the Hunger Games, too...Katniss and President Snow are similiar.
    My theory is that since opposites attract (supposedly) similiar personalities oppose. Does anyone else have any thoughts or theories on this?
     
  2. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    It's a simple trick for balancing your message. Here's this person you're presenting as good, and here's this very similar person who became evil--thus, you acknowledge that both might have gone down another path. (Stories that pit heroes against their opposites are often, though not always, more simplistic.)
     
  3. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    While it's true that in most cases opposing personalities (lazy-hardworking, kind-rude etc) create tension and intense interactions, often times it's useful for the hero and villain to have similar personalities. The climax isn't just a big reveal and battle. It's also where the character makes that one choice that signals the end of their character arc, where the person they were at the beginning has changed, for better or worse. If the villain has a similar personality then they can relate to the hero and entice them not to go through with their objective. They can try to persuade the hero to either join them or go back to the life they had before, whatever. With the matching personalities and everything the hero will be more inclined to listen to them and the better chances of the villain succeeding.
     
  4. KRHolbrook

    KRHolbrook Scribe

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    It's natural for a protagonist and antagonist to have sort of the same mindset, yet different ways of showing their personality about it.

    Three of my characters lost their mom. One character took to religion, while another believes she never had a mom to begin with, thus hates when Mother comes up, and the third is sort of the comic relief, helping to balance all of them through smiles despite unfortunate events. People think differently about the same kind of events.

    In one book the main character's goal is to see his daughter again, and to exact revenge on his ex-wife for taking his child from him. On one side, it's wrong, but on another, it can be seen as right.
     
  5. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    I have dubbed it the 'mirror theory'. When the hero sees the villain, it's almost like he sees himself reflected--all the strengths, weaknesses, and things he hates about himself. It's really a very interesting concept. I'm exploring it in my WIP right now...haven't had the hero meet the villain yet but he's heard about him from other characters.
     
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I'm using that in my latest WIP as well, though with minor villains rather than the Big Bad. It happens early in the story, and prompts the MC to really start changing from an anti-hero into more of a hero. He sees and scorns in his enemies the same traits that are common, even traditional, in his own people -- it drives him to try to change his world for the better, much to the anger of those who want to maintain the status quo.
     
  7. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I haven't thought this entirely through so feel free to chop it to pieces, but maybe this happens a lot because when you break it down, there are really only two options. First the protagonist and antagonist are similar. The antagonist is what the protagonist could turn into if they go down the wrong path, a metaphor to the corruption of ideals.

    Second the protagonist and antagonist are different. They represent the two sides of a an argument, the clash of different ideals.
     
  8. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    My hero and villain could have started as the same person, but over time the villain has been rejected by his people and has become bitter and went down the wrong path. My hero has the potential to go down that path as well, and that's basically the central conflict of my story--he's wondering if he'll end up like the villain if he chooses the wrong option.
     
  9. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    It's kinda fun to let my hero and villain loose and watch them clash. I got the same feeling while watching Les Mis. The interactions between Valjean and Javert are fascinating and I rather enjoyed them when not worrying if anyone was going to die soon. Poor Eponine...
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  10. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

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    I find Addison's idea promising, and I'd like to build on it.

    The worst "join me" offer I've seen is in Justice League. Gorilla Grodd makes the offer to Superman, for no better reason than that they're both powerful nonhumans. Supes has zero interest, and the scene comes off as token.

    The best "join me" offer I've seen is in the otherwise sub-par Speed Grapher. The villain's offer is basically "I know you get a sick sexual thrill out of killing people. I can offer you a steady stream of beautiful victims." It cuts right to the heart of the hero's contradiction, and opens up the possibility that even if he decides to refuse, he may be no hero at all for fighting and killing the villain's minions.
     
  11. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    I enjoy playing with stereotypes/archetypes, so often my characters are a combination of several archetypes and have complex motivations. It's just fun to play around with them, let them do their own thing, see the alliances and disagreements they divide themselves by...and kill them off when they start to get annoying. Oh, I'm evil. So evil.
    Not really.
     
  12. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    If you want an exercise for archetypes and character personalities, try Seventh Sanctum. There's a character generator that really tests your character creation skills, get the imagination turning like never before.
     
  13. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    I'm considering having my villain make the 'join me' offer. The only problem--has it become too cliche?
     
  14. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    No. The "Join Me" has become something of a staple. The only way for it to be cliche is if you copy it almost directly from another "join me" interaction like Luke and Vader. So long as the characters, circumstances and consequences are different and your own story then you're good.
     
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