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Does anyone else wish they could read about more redeemed villains?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Mythopoet, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    I'd say that Jaime is definitely on a redemptive arc by the point the books are at now.
  2. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    I believe Blood Reign is the name of the English version. Definitely get the original Japanese version with English subs.

    I'll try and see if I can locate it.
  3. I've always found the whole concept of good and evil to be relative. I was raised on Star Wars as a youngling, and those films taught me that the nature of people is all up to a person's POV. That's been made even more clear to me now as I watch the saga for the umpteenth time. If you watch the OT from the point of view from the Empire, the Rebel Alliance is nothing more than a band of terrorists. We're never really told that the Empire is a malicious government. Yes, we can assume that because they built a weapon so powerful that it could destroy a planet. But even then, it's never said that they were going to use it for galactic conquest. As a matter of fact, some EU novels theorize that it was built to prepare for an impending invasion from a brutal alien race.

    "But thedarknessrising, Anakin Skywalker is evil. He turned his back on the Jedi order and slaughtered many people, including children."

    Anakin did not perceive what he was doing as wrong. He wanted to protect Padme and his baby from death. He has a fear of loss, a fear implanted in him when he was 9 years old and left Tattooine and his mother. He turned to Palpatine for help, and soon became seduced by the dark side of the Force. He killed the Jedi because they were, by extension, a threat to his family. If the Jedi killed Palpatine, then he would have lost Padme, because he would not have the power to save her.

    I try to write characters in this vein. There is no good. There is no evil. There is only how we perceive the motivations of ourselves and one another.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  4. Stephyn Blackwood

    Stephyn Blackwood Minstrel

    Joe Abercrombie, The First Law trilogy. Sand Dan Glokta could be seen to go on a bit of a redemption character arc. If you consider him evil in the first place.
  5. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    That reminds me of a fairly well-known line spoken by Voldemort. "There is no good and evil; there is only power, and those too weak to seek it."
  6. That's exactly what I was thinking as I was typing that.
  7. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I share this sentiment. Villains should have a story arc like the protagonist where they start out at point A and end up at point B, but if they turn out to be good or remorseful that just throws me off. In a book series that would be understandable to an extent. But in one book? A human being changing that much just isn't possible, imo.

    Then again, it all depends on whether or not the villain is truly evil. The antagonist is just someone (or something) that opposes the main character on his/her path to achieving story goal. This doesn't mean that this person needs to be wicked, or a murderer, or some complete bastard. This can still be a person with humanizing qualities that's standing in the protagonist's way for his/her own gains that may or may not be self-serving. It's all about perspective.
  8. valiant12

    valiant12 Sage

    I like writing non-canon stories. Somebody should start a thread about non-canon stories with main characters behaving out of character.

    Realistically most people who have committed some gruesome crime are beyond redemption. If a character is a heartless sadistic serial killer in the first 10 chapters and then he decided to become good my suspension of disbelief will be shattered.
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    This is also completely different from what I mean. Evil actions, I believe, should be condemned as evil. But you need to make the distinction between the evil action and the person performing the action. An action can be evil in itself, while a person can't.
  10. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    To me there are still two different things. Maybe you want to include both under the same heading and the question is as simple as, "Do you want to see a villain who turns out to be redeemed in the reader's eyes by the end of the book?"

    But readers may require different proofs of redemption. The redeeming may have various prerequisites. What these are may depend on whether the villain begins as one who is fundamentally wicked in some way or begins as merely villainous from the MC's POV.

    In the latter, it's possible the antagonist's actions are the lens through which the reader and MC experience the antagonist as a villain. If, during the course of the story, either we readers are given a backdrop for the villain–we come to know him better and see why he did what he did–or else we learn through some other means that his actions, though extreme and horrible, weren't all they appeared to be at first, the villain might be redeemed in our eyes.

    In the former, the villain's inherent wickedness (define it how you like) will require a different set of variables for redemption. It may require far more than simply showing how his actions are justified/reasonable.

    An example.

    We might have a villain who hits first one village and then another–and another, and another–killing all the children before moving on. During the course of this, we might also be shown a person who is quite abrasive, not at all susceptible to the pleas for mercy from mothers and fathers, the screams of pain from children, and who generally disdains the filthy, unwashed nature, maybe even the simplistic superstitious nature, of the poor people living in those villages.

    If it turns out by the end of the novel that there's another really bad guy, remaining hidden from the reader for most of the book, who has infected all those children with an incurable and highly infectious deadly disease, and this guy knew about him and was trying to prevent the total destruction of the human race....then maybe, possibly, he could be redeemed in our eyes (even if we don't particularly like him.)

    IF on the other hand this guy just loves killing little children in the most horrible ways, their screams are music to his ears, he falls at sleep every night trying to remember the little details of their flesh burning and the way the older, taller boys took longer to burn than the little babies...it's going to be a lot harder to redeem him later, and maybe impossible. If at all possible, then his arc is going to be substantially different than the story arc for the first guy.
  11. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    We're never told, but we're shown. They killed Luke's aunt and uncle and left a trail of dead Jawas in their wake and then tried to make it look like it was the Sand People who did it. Then there's the fact they blew up Alderan after Leia told them what they wanted. Oh there's also the niggling fact they desolved the senate giving complete power over to the emperor.

    Sorry, I don't think Star Wars is a good example of good and bad are dependant on POV.

    I think this only holds water if they showed that the 6 year old kids were of any threat to him. They don't so it's just him killing kids so to me he's objectivly evil and lame. He also killed a whole bunch of sand people kids too for revenge. He had reason but it's still an evil act.

    Man Lucas just does not like the Sand People.
  12. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

    Yeah, I don't think Star Wars is a good example for moral relativism. In addition to the things Penpilot mentioned, in the new canon we have the Empire committing at least two species level genocides (on the Geonosians and on the Lasat). The old EU had instances of genocide as well. The Empire doesn't flinch from using slavery or torture, and it ruthlessly crushes dissent. Based on previews for the current season of Rebels, it's stealing force sensitive children to turn into Inquisitors. It's forcibly seizing land on Outer Rim worlds, likely so they can strip mine them to build the Death Star. And of course, electing to not be part of the Empire isn't an option.

    Anakin may have believed the Jedi were a threat to his family, but in truth his fears about Padme were a self fulfilling prophecy. In attempting to save her, his actions led directly to her death.
  13. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    Well, as I said, I don't believe in such a thing as a fundamentally wicked person. Actions can be fundamentally wicked, but people can't. People are fundamentally flawed, which leads them to perform wicked actions, but judging a person's actions is a complicated thing. I guess what I like about villain redemption arcs is how well it demonstrates this.

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