March 31, 2012

The Antagonist With Redeeming Qualities

   From now on when I flesh out the profile of my Antagonist I've decided to add a personality trait you don't see mentioned much - "Redeeming Qualities".  Most antagonists don't have them, redeeming qualities that is. Some of us watch movies and read books and see redeeming qualities in them, but we usually play pass them because we're suppose to to be rooting for the hero (protagonist). There's also the fact that Antagonists in a story are usually too busy trying to "Rule The World" or too busy Destroying The World  for us to care about them.
   Antagonists are also, usually, flawed in their ambitions, thoughts and deeds and they're also destructive. They don't embrace noble causes and are not people pleasing, friendly souls. They usually want to do away with everyone or anyone they can't control  and stomp them into the ground -  like Bullies.
   Does your Antagonist have redeeming qualities that you would like to reveal to your reader or viewing audiences?
  I watched  My Cousin Vinnie on cable last night, and I got a real kick out of the fact that the Alabama judge, in the trial, was the true antagonist in the conflict. He followed the Rules Of Procedure and the Rules of Conduct of a lawyer or judge, but he ignored the facts of the case - based on his own prejudice for Yankees up North - especially the four  NY Yankees from Brooklyn - and so did every Alabama witness who testified against the two defendants in the case. Imagine secretly holding a grudge since 1776  based on the outcome of the Civil War and using it in a trial in the year 2011. It's that laughable as long as you're not standing trial for murder - unfortunately they were.
    All the witnesses deliberately perjured themselves or fabricated the truth with false facts, in order to prosecute two young men. A judge, a little old Black Lady (senile),  and an expert witness who didn't know squat about cars.  I found myself repeatedly looking for the judges redeeming qualities, because he looked like someones nice, friendly grandpa. He claimed he believed in respecting the court system and appropriate dress in the courtroom and was immaculate in his appearance, but he was flawed in his judicial judgement and character.
   But, so were the defendants and their shyster lawyer, Cousin Vinnie. In fact the shyster lawyer was practicing law based on a lie.
   However, because the shyster lawyer (Joe Pesci) was street smart, (something audiences tend to like), and  because his defendants were innocent,  he became the HERO
   That's right folks, the street smart attorney became the Protagonist - hero - all of a sudden. That's the kind of conflict and surprises  I like. When there's a lot of flaws on both sides of the fence, but honesty or justice or a semblance of the two,  prevails, and then honesty and justice becomes the real heros in the story.

Please let me know if you have ever seen a movie or read a book in which the Antagonist's view appealed to you more than the Hero's based on sound judgement or whatever.

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