characters who reverse images of good and evil

jackie e stallcup jstallcup at juno.com
Fri Dec 17 19:44:18 EST 2004


Dear dwj-ers,

Can you help me think of characters who are reversals of the common ideal
images of good and evil?  I have a student who is interested in writing a
thesis on the Harry Potter books, and he is particularly interested in
how characters in the books who appear to be villainous turn out to be
"good", and vice versa.  For example, Snape appears to be the classic
villain until we find out at the end of Book one that he has been working
to protect Harry and even saved his life.  Sirius is another example of
this in the Potterworld.  My student doesn't think that this kind of a
twist happens very often.  I don't agree, but I have to admit that I'm
having trouble coming up with examples.  Well, I can think of plenty of
examples of "good cop who turns out to be the bad guy"--that's a staple
of action movies, of course.  But I'm having trouble with examples of the
other way around:  appears to be bad, is revealed to be good.

Here's what I have thought of so far:

The "ogre" in  _The Ogre Downstairs._    I'm sure there are more of these
in dwj's work, but I can't think of any at the moment.
Roy, the last cyborg in the movie _Blade Runner_ to die.  He saves
Deckard's life at the last minute before he dies.

These two seem to be my best examples... here are a couple that aren't
quite right:

Rochester in Jane Eyre (but that's stretching it, I think--he's not
exactly villainous, just complicated and brooding.)
Mary in The Secret Garden  (again, stretching it--she's not pleasant, but
not exactly villainous, and she develops into the person she
becomes--it's not a sudden reversal)

My student is also arguing that Harry is not the classic "hero" but I
think that he's just the classic "underdog" and that there are lots of
characters like him.  He points out that Hermione is not the "ideal"
female as traditionally depicted, but I think she's a classic "studious
late-blossomer." 

Any thoughts or examples would be extremely helpful and greatly
appreciated!  

Jackie
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