Enjoying the dark side
Recently, my son had to write a short paper about the book he was reading. He was at a loss for topic ideas, so I tossed a few out. The one he ended up going with gave his opinion on the antagonist of the story. I asked him “Did the book have a good bad guy?” He was confused… wondering if I meant that the bad guy ended up good in the end – like Darth Vader or such. But no… I explained that I meant, was the antagonist well written – did he have qualities that you enjoyed and made the story better. Eventually the lightbulb went on and he started his paper.
That got me thinking about “good bad guys” that I have read. I just finished the book Caught in Amber by Cathy Pegau, which had a wonderful antagonist. He was a bad guy through and through, but he had a certain nobility about him making him seem like a nice guy regardless of his actions. Taken from my January 16, 2014 review:
Ms. Pegau also creates a nice conflict with Guy, who is somewhat of a sympathetic bad guy. He comes across as a good boss and businessman, albeit a criminal. It appears that he genuinely cares about Sasha and her well-being, even though he abandoned her when she was at her lowest.
Guy added spice to the story, and it wasn’t that I wanted him to do well or win the heroine, but his presence created a better read because of conflicts he created.
Sometimes there are great bad guys because they are so bad. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator. He was created to be the ultimate evil machine, and he did his job well. He was creepy and cruel, without remorse. This created a sublime conflict for our hero and heroine. He is a good bad guy!
In literature, one of my favorite evil bad guys, as well as the more noble kind, both come from the Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. I feel that both Voldemort (just plain evil) and Snape (the softer kind of bad guy) are perfect examples of good bad guys.
So what about you? Do you have some favorite bad guys you think make the book (or movie) that much better because they are in it? Share!
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