Character Analysis of Villains in Literature

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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 si...

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...; he was an emotionally and psychologically abusive father to Cory, and possibly to Rose as well; plus he betrayed Rose by sleeping with another woman, and not only did he show no signs of remorse or regret, but he continued to see Alberta even after he confessed to Rose about having an affair and cheating on her. Is it true that Troy had a rough life, yes, but that’s no excuse for what he did. He didn’t learn from his past experiences. He didn’t try to change or fix his mistakes. A three-dimensional villain he may be, but he is still a villain in the end.

Works Cited

"50 greatest villains in literature." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 20 Sept. 2008. Web. 5 Apr. 2014. .

Wilson, August, and Lloyd Richards. Fences. New York: Plume/Penguin Group, 1986. Print.
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