Character Analysis Of Villains In Literature

2252 words - 9 pages

August Wilson's Fences follows an African American family who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the 1950s. At this point in history, the end of the depression and World War II are still fresh, the civil rights movement is in progress, and the Cold War is looming close by. The time period the play is set in dramatically influences the behavior of the characters, specifically how Troy Maxson interacts with his family and friends. Although the main character, Troy Maxson, could be considered a tragic hero by some, it may also be argued by others that he is more of a villain. However, like many well written villains, Troy is not two dimensional; there are elements that allow us to sympathize with, or at the very least understand, some of Troy's actions. Some well-known three-dimensional villains include Lucifer or Satan in John Milton’s work Paradise Lost, the cannibal doctor Hannibal Lecter who was originally created by Thomas Harris for his novel Red Dragon, Moriarty from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock, and Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling). (“50 Greatest Villains in Literature”). All of these characters are clearly considered villains, but they are not black and white either. Yes, the majority of society strongly disagrees with their ideologies and methods, but the reader also delves in to their thoughts, histories and the motivations behind their actions which gives the reader the ability to feel or empathize with the stories’ villains. Through this the audience sees that each villain has both good and bad in them, that they’re not inherently evil. For instance, both Hannibal Lecter and Tom Riddle had extremely horrific childhoods that most likely played a part in their turn to the dark side. On the other end of the evil spectrum, Lucifer was an angel before he was cast out of Heaven for rebelling and became the king of Hell, and Moriarty is a mathematics professor whose genius made him bored. Troy is also a three-dimensional villain because although he has traits and experiences that readers can sympathize with, his many flaws and the mistakes that he makes are too great; he winds up ruining his family, specifically his relationships with Gabriel, Cory, and Rosa.
Troy’s younger brother, Gabriel, who seems to be there mainly for comic relief is an easily likable character. The fact that he’s so easy-going and affable makes Troy’s transgressions towards him all the more painful for the reader to read about. Troy abuses and uses Gabriel throughout the story until his death. He mainly steals money from Gabriel, hopefully with Gabriel being none the wiser so as to not taint his amiable and strangely innocent personality. The first mention of Troy taking money from Gabriel is at the end of the second scene, in the first act of the play, when Tory tells Rose that the only reason they had a house was because of Gabriel’s head injury and three thousand dollar compensation. (Wilson 28). However, the first hint...

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