Essay Example on Morally Ambiguous Villains Literature Review








Morally Ambiguous Villains Literature Review Stories have always been a part of daily life in all cultures They help us make sense of growing old in this universe filling us with morals teaching us lessons and therefore helping us endure the psychological rollercoaster of growing up They appeal to all people but specifically children and young adults as they are unable of thinking abstractly Providing these images encourages them to make connections to the real world Hourihan A character is an indispensable tool in fiction cartoons and movies It is an influential force by which we learn about our own values and beliefs A character is a reflection of the author's personal experience meaning that it has to reflect real life Walter Besant and Henry James stress on the importance of the rules of fiction and believe that In modern fiction whose purpose is to portray humanity and human character the design must be in accordance with customs and general practice of living men and women under any proposed set of circumstances and conditions Besant and James 18 To elaborate when characterizing these characters authors must take into consideration the reality and the issues of real life Based on the previous mentioned concept flat characters of pure good or pure evil are unrealistic as there is no pure good nor pure evil in real life

This belief has influenced writers to create morally ambiguous characters Literary researchers use the term ambiguous characters to refer to characters who are morally complex Krakowiak 4 It is not easy to pass judgement on morally ambiguous characters as they are not purely good nor purely evil but a mixture of both One might ask why writers create such characters The Golden Age of Children's Literature In which Treasure Island was published primarily focused on entertaining the reader qtd in Griffin It can be concluded that morally complex characters were created for the purpose of enjoyment A recent study by Maja Krakowiak examined the effect of moral ambiguous characters on enjoyment The study was conducted upon participants ranging from nineteen to twenty years old and their responses to three different character types i e purely good purely bad and morally ambiguous It was concluded that the good characters were liked the most followed by morally ambiguous characters In other words good characters and morally ambiguous ones are equally realistic to the readers On the other hand bad characters were liked the least and were less realistic to the readers With the purpose of deconstructing morally ambiguous villains two well known characters have been selected from young adult s fiction Long John Silver from Stevenson's Treasure Island and Severus Snape from the fantasy series of Harry Potter The previously mentioned characters have never been brought together for comparison in terms of moral ambiguity however several studies have been conducted upon the two of them individually Chantel Schneider s study analyzes a number of teenage novels including treasure Island with the purpose of discussing the characters within the theme of piracy and moral ambiguity In analyzing

Treasure Island Shneider divides the characters into two categories the good father figures and the bad father figures in relation to Jim Hawkins the main character Long John Silver falls into the bad father figures category Schneider describes Silver s relationship with the main character arguing that he is cunning and evil with everyone but intimately connected to Jim throughout the entire story Interestingly though Silver appears as a father substitute to Jim despite his evil inner motives Schneider explains that silver is too clever and interesting a character to be dismissed as completely repulsive Schneider 47 By the end of the story Jim expresses his concern about silver and wishes him well The article provides a logical analysis of the complexity of the Silver supported by well selected theories However It does not clarify why Silver is acting In such manner with Jim What has changed in Silver s character that would result in moral ambiguity Severus Snape an interestingly complex character is less discussed in the literary field in comparison with Silver however a few articles touched upon his moral complexity Marthe Dahlin examines the problematic representations of evil in the Harry Potter series

She notes that Snape s upbringing shares many likenesses with Harry elaborating that they're both half blooded orphans born in unhappy homes Both of them are strongly connected to Hogwarts their beloved school They share mutual dislike throughout the series and Snape is viewed as a villain through his interaction with Harry However the truth about him is revealed in the seventh and the final novel of the series He loved Lily Harry s mother and therefore sworn to protect her son Dahlin explains that this revelation of Snape s motivation explain s the constant dislike and reluctance Snape has shown towards harry Dahlin 48 Lilly sacrificed her life to save Harry and to snape he serves as a constant reminder of her death Dahlin s article provides analysis to why Snape is a complex character

Write and Proofread Your Essay
With Noplag Writing Assistance App

Plagiarism Checker

Spell Checker

Virtual Writing Assistant

Grammar Checker

Citation Assistance

Smart Online Editor

Start Writing Now

Start Writing like a PRO