Okay, so I found a meme on the Facebook that I shared with my Writing Group, and it got me thinking. We all write or read with a distinct line between our Protagonists and Antagonists; a separation in character that keeps us aware of who is who by their actions, words, thoughts, and motivations. Sure every Hero and Villain has their flaws, they need them; flaws give the characters depth and realism. But my thought is this: how far can we blur those lines as writers? How far can we push that envelope?
Is it acceptable to readers to make the line almost invisible? What if the love and hate for both the Protagonist and the Antagonist was so great that you couldn’t tell who was who? Just from this simple meme and a comment from one of the members in the Writers Group (thank you Kelli Armstrong!) the brain fluids began swirling and bubbling. I totally have a story idea I had to scribble like mad to get the quick and dirty notes on paper before I forgot them. Sadly, I have no time to work on it now, too many other projects at the moment.
Now when I say blurring the line to the extreme, I mean more than The Strange Case of Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson or The incredible Hulk created by Stan Lee. I’m thinking closer to the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.
In the book we follow Robert Neville who appears to be a lone hero surviving in the aftermath of a worldwide pandemic- a virus that he is immune to. Forget the movie; the book, which was written in 1954, takes place in Los Angeles. Okay, I’m getting off track… So, in the book Neville seems to be the hero that can create a cure and save everyone. Yet in the end we get hit with a whopper of twist. We learn that our hero has been the monster the entire time. Neville is the beast that stalks the streets while everyone is sleeping. He is the terrible creature that steals people from their homes and does horrible tests and experiments on his captives.
We learn that the infected have in fact formed a new society, a fact that is barely even brought up in the movie, along with many other interesting twists. (I highly recommend reading the book, it will surprise you, I promise!) I won’t spoil the book for those that haven’t read it, or at least I won’t spoil it further…
So to my knowledge, this book is one great example of what I’m getting at. As writers, how much can we dissolve the line between good and evil? As readers, how much blurring are we willing to suffer through if the Hero/ Villain role is so similar we have trouble figuring out who to cheer for?
Would you be interested in a story that kept you wondering about who was actually the Protagonist? Would you hate it? I would love to hear your thoughts. Also, if you know of any other great books that dance along this line of good and evil I would love to hear about them too!
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great rest of the week, Everyone!
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