characters who reverse images of good and evil

Kyra Jucovy klj at
Sat Dec 18 16:24:50 EST 2004

On Sat, 18 Dec 2004, Katarina Hjärpe wrote:

> >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.
> If playing with stereotypes counts, I would also mention Gaiman's and
> Pratchett's Good Omens and Diana's The Dark Lord of Derkholm - both the
> Antichrist and the Dark Lord are *supposed* to be evil, after all. (And from
> that perspective, there are quite a few "nice devil" stories.)
> Katta

Okay, this comment got me thinking about Japanese works of fiction - it
seems to me that practically every Japanese video game, anime, or manga
plot I can think of involves some character who seems to be doing some
absolutely unforgivable evil thing, and then, as the plot wears on, you
get to find out all about the character's background, and why they did
what they did, and so on and so forth, and they always turn out to be at
least theoretically incredibly sympathetic.  This really does happen
enough in Japanese works to be a cliche - whenever someone does something
really horrible, and I find myself starting to feel upset with them, I
think amusedly that my righteous anger will probably be removed at some
point in the near future - but it's a cliche that I rather like.  It fits
in very well with my attitude towards real peole in real life.

And that reminds me of Kieslowski's _A Short Film About Killing_, which
has somebody do something really horrible which seems absolutely
unforgivable and inexplicable, and then ended up with me feeling really
sorry for the character who had done it, even though it still seemed like
a horrible action. . . but I'm not quite sure if that's in the genre we're
looking for ;-).  Very definitely an art film - I was more or less unable
to follow the first half at all!


Grace Margaret Mulligan: "I want to make this world a little better."
			---Lars Von Trier, _Dogville_

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