Monday, February 25, 2013

The easy win

I noticed that when reading the various alterations that people had written for their assigned sections of the Silmarilion that they most often included people who were not as evil as they should have been or were otherwise altered to give the story a better and quicker ending.  That made me think, why do we instinctively desire characters to be good, or go against their character to do "the right thing"? 
I forget where I read it, but I once read that the true brilliance of a story lies not in its heroes, but in its villains.  This is perchance on of the true greatness's of Tolken's works, in that he has true evil characters that are more that death and destruction, and have a appearance of being a person.  So, what do people think about evil being to true decider of a good story and plot?

4 comments:

Julie Lautenschleger said...

I think that having villains are very necessary to creating an interesting plot. Tolkien definitely has truly evil characters, such as Morgoth and Sauron, to keep his story interesting. However, I might argue that the characters that add the most to a plot are the "evil" characters that can be good. A greedy and cruel king, for example, which is technically against Morgoth and evil, yet is himself evil, will add more to a plot and create more tension in a story than a simple black-and-white good-vs-evil character. Evil characters separate the heroes from the average Middle Earth inhabitant. Evil is extremely necessary to Tolkien's work, much as it is extremely necessary in real life.

smaugger said...

I think its very very true. WE all want the hero to prevail against all odds. We especially as americans love an underdog story. The more evil the better because then the victory is that much sweeter. At the same time every villian is the hero of thier own story. If the story was told from their point of view wouldnt they be doing everything to complete their goal and our heroes would be their villians. The more villianous(heroic in the reverse scenario) the greater the triumph. In other words a good story must be symetric, both sides must be heroic for THEIR story, that they believe they are doing the right thing and throwing everything they have into what they believe. Thats what makes a good story is both sides are heros and villians in equal parts.

Lorin said...

I totally agree that the villains in a story really make or break that story. I personally can't stand it when a villain is goofy and really not all that threatening. After talking today about Morgoth's psychology, as I think Richard put it, I now find Morgoth to be even more threatening and twisted than I had perceived him to be before. I also think it's interesting that there are so many sort of morally grey characters in Tolkien's work; that makes Middle-earth that much more true to reality.

Troy Wells said...

I agree that the bad guys tend to add more to the story than the good guys are capable of adding. I think that this is because doing the "right thing" is usually pretty black and white; you know what is ethically/morally correct and you either choose to abide by it or not. This means that the good guys have a limited number of choices they can make while still being "good guys." The bad guys on the other hand have much more room to operate in because they can make choices of varying degrees of evil or even choose to do good sometimes (whether authentically or as a means to an evil end). Because the good guys have so much less room than the bad guys it is usually up to the bad guys to make the first move and put the good guys into a position where they have to make a decision. The decisions of the good guys are often predictable so the exciting part of a plot for most stories lies not in what the good guys choose, but how the bad guys choose to go about putting the good guys in a position to choose. What is awesome about Tolkien is that his bad guys vary in levels of evil (Orcs who just want to kill versus Morgoth and his rude dragon who want to corrupt once good things into evil things), but so many of his good guys often do not make the clearly "good" choice so that often times they put themselves in ugly situations (like Feanor). Tolkien's good guys do just as much "plot developing" as his bad buys.