Sunday, May 29, 2011
Javert, Ben Linus and Severus Snape
Yesterday a group of us went to the Broadway touring production of Les Miserables. I won't go in to huge details, but suffice it to say, I really liked it. The majority of the cast was great, and production wise they did a great job for a revamped, smaller, tour-only version of such a huge play.
Here's the thing: on the way home, my sister and I were talking about types of characters, and I said that Javert in a way reminded me of and then at the same time we both said Severus Snape. They both seem to be characters that have this negative, rigid, basically unlikeable exterior, but then in their moments of exposure you realize their true intentions, how bad they've had it themselves, or at least how misunderstood they are. Benjamin Linus also falls in to this category. I have probably written about all three of these characters before, but when they stick in your head as much as they do in mine its worth finding out why, and how to write characters like that in your own work. Javert hasn't exactly made the horrible choices that Ben and Snape have made, but all three of them are what you could call "villains-but-not-really."
There are not very many other types of characters that I like as well as these. In fact, I have a hard time writing them because I sympathize with them too much for them to have a true "villain" feel. But I'm working on it, because they're my favorites. I love how complex they are, how you have to peel away the sharp, rude, mean, antagonistic exterior to find the lost, scared little boy underneath, and how special and intelligent and needed it makes you feel as a reader or audience member that you're the one whose found what they truly are on the inside. Don't we want to do that in real life, and have it done for us?
Do you like these near-villain, anti-hero type characters as much as I do? What do you think makes them so intriguing? What other character types do you find fun to find and write about?