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The Birth of Evil?

Is Evil born or is it Made?

Let's talk about evil, about the bad guy, about the one True Embodiment of All Things Evil! Let's talk about the antagonist only the Chosen One can defeat because narrative causality loves to leave anonymous Chosen One's scattered around for Mentors to stumble upon by pure chance. It actually turns out that it wasn't so pure after all...turns out there is no such thing as chance anywhere a writer has been!

Now tell me about your most memorable villain. Was it someone like Sauron that you knew next to nothing about? Was it that snake-faced fellow in Harry Potter? I will admit Rowling did quite well there; the faceless force of all evil with a later introduced back story. It was decently done. But it wasn't enough on time, I feel.

I enjoy a quote which is somewhat popular

"No-one gets up in the morning and as, they they prepare their decaf and muesli, decide that today is the day they make the commitment and get that whole 'Epitomy of all Evil' thing started up..."

Maybe there are one of two who did but I doubt it. Think about this one too;

"No-one is ever the villain in their own story.."

This is also very true and, if you really want to get into it, profound. No-one is ever the villain in their own story. Do you realise the one difference between - aha - Readers and Writers? We writers tend to share our stories as an extended form of allegory.

Everyone is Writing their Own Story.

Every hour of every day, every single person on the planet is writing their own story. We could, at great depth, take a dive into the subject of consciousness. We could talk about our conscious narrator, or unconscious narrator and even the sub-conscious narrator. We could apply these to writing styles, we could even expound on how literature is a direct result of craziness but not today. You can do that if you like, we can use this as a prompt.

Let's just leave it as an idea. We write our own stories in our own heads as we organise the events of the day. Those who tell lies, build a narrative to fit their lies into and even convince themselves it is truth in order to be able to tell their story convincingly. Today we might call such a thing FAKE NEWS or similar.

The take away from that is simple, though; ten people who experience the same event might later tell it differently. Even the one who is later labelled 'Villain' might have their own version of events which contains justification for that which others call 'evil' or 'wrong.'

The Villain is Never Evil to Themselves.

Even someone like Hitler did not jump to his feet one morning and decide "I will become the most hated man in history today!" I am sure that he was convinced that he was doing good, that his course was right. He was probably sure that he was, in fact, the hero.

Look at all the serial killers who thought that God was giving them instructions. The murderers who were certain that they were eliminating evil. The war criminals who were convinced that they were saving their country. The list goes on and on. One could spend hours and days researching this subject and see the same thing, repeated over and over;

"I Did not know!"

I did not know...I thought it was right, I thought i was saving lives...I thought that if we took away the bad two-thirds of life on Earth, then all would reset and the good would rebuild...and end to starvation, war and want...I did not know the innocent would die...

One scene which strikes me is when Lestat goes to Hell in Anne Rice's Memnoch the Devil. Almost all the guests of Hell are, when confronted by the reality of their actions, horrified. Once they see the consequences they scream as one "I did not know!" and beg forgiveness. Sooner or later, they will beg, it is said. Some, convinced of their Right, might take longer than others. Some might take forever.

We did not Know...

We've all done it, I'm sure. We all have. Ignored a person in need. Ended a relationship we could not handle. Spurned the attentions of a person we did not like. Said someone hateful and nasty. We did not consider the consequences though because we are convinced that we are doing right; our inner narrator told us so. We did not know...

There is a vital difference though.

In simple narrative explanation this quote surely applies;

"The hero is one who is aware of their failures and blames themselves for one failure or another and seeks to make up for it. The Villain is one who blames others for their failures and seeks revenge of those same people they blame..."

Simple right? Perhaps overly so but, as they saying goes, the simple truths are the the most powerful.I would like you, though, to revisit those villains I asked you to think about earlier. Tell me about about them.

The Villain who Stands Out

The villain who stands out is the one who is most memorable. The one who makes the reader uncomfortable, who squirms as he reads about them. She will get shivers and nasty feelings as she considers their thoughts. Why?

The phrase "there, but for the grace of God, go I" will often fill the mind of the reader as they see what the villain who is written well. "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions" apparently and a good villain will be one who started out doing good. He or she will have had what they were certain were the best interests of all at heart but then they were faced with a choice. I call this choice The Hero's Test. This choice; let us use a coin to visualise it correctly. Heads means you take choice A; tails elects choice B. What you may or may not know is that one choice may mean the complete and utter failure of your plans, the other their absolute success.

If you choose one, everything that ever matters to you might well be gone. Choose the other and you save it. not only do you save it but everyone knows that you saved it and they will praise you for the act.

At least that's what you think. We all tend to believe that other people think as we do, don't we?

The Hero's Choice

The hero tends to be seen as the one who has it all together and is universally admired by all who meet them. They slay the bad guys and save the maidens or whatever male maidens are called. They slay the dragons and vanquish the darkness. They bring an end to horrors and smash the plans of the villain forever and ever! They are the business and no mistake! Right?

Not entirely, eh?

At some point the would have been presented with a choice and, chances are, that choice was not necessarily the right one. In the short term, that is.

In the long term, that choice made the hero into, in fact, the actual hero. The decision, the choice, taught them deep and important lessons. They may have wanted revenge at first and either sought out or encountered Wise Mentor. After finding Wise Mentor, they may well have learned what truly matters and might also have discovered their Chosen Oneness at the same time. They were then presented with a new choice and how they decided at that moment, placed them on the Hero's Path.

Let us not forget they their earlier choice tends to result in the immediate deaths of everyone that they ever cared about.

The Villain's Choice

Remember that coin we were speaking about earlier? I intentionally did not mention it again until now. What do coins always have? It does not matter where the coin is from, whose portrait it bears, of what material it is made and from what part of history it comes, all coins have this in common. It matters not their shape or value, all coins have two sides. The heads and the tails are it were.