characters who reverse images of good and evil

Paul Andinach pandinac at
Sun Dec 19 21:39:36 EST 2004

On Sat, 18 Dec 2004, Katarina Hjärpe wrote:

> In a non-fantasy genre, Agatha Christie's books are for obvious
> reasons full of villains that seem to be nice people and nice people
> who seem to be villains...

A good point - and, I think, relevant to the Potter context, since
part of the reason Snape's so unpleasant is because he's the red
herring in the first book.

Which leads to the thought that good-guys-who-appear-bad and
bad-guys-who-appear-good often come in complementary sets, so that the
seeming-bad-guy can help distract the audience's attention from the
seeming-good-guy - or so that symmetry is maintained.

The really interesting one is when you have the
good-guy-who-appears-bad on his own. The inverse can happen simply for
plot reasons (detective novels again) but this way round it usually
has some higher significance, even if it's something as obvious as
"don't judge a book by its cover". Perhaps for this reason, they're a
lot less common, and I'm having trouble thinking of any.

What about the sinister redneck in 'Prince Ombra'?

"Hold fast to the one noble thing."

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