Why Do We Love Villains So Much?
We, as in the book community, seem to have a love for villains (usually the young, attractive, male variety, but not always).Villains are really what make a book enjoyable, in my opinion. I love reading about a complex villain, who has motives going against the main character’s. WHY do they want to do this? A story without a villain would just be BORING. The hero would easily reach their goal, and who cares about a story without any obstacles? A good, interesting antagonist opposing a strong protagonist makes a book perfect.
What makes us like the evil characters in the books, the ones we are supposed to hate but sometimes end up secretly rooting for?
- They are on the other side of the love triangle.
This is the reason I think of first while thinking about this topic. The other male in the love triangle is weak/unattractive, and so we start shipping the female character with the attractive villain. Think of the Darkling. SO many people are utterly in love with him and ship Alarkling.
- We like them over the main character.
Our main character is weak/boring/annoying. We might not care about the main character and his/her goal, and root for the villain to win and just KILL HIM/HER ALREADY! (Or is this just me. Oops.)
- We feel sympathy for them.
Maybe they had a rough childhood, or an event happened that changed them and helped them along their path of VILLAINY. We feel bad for these characters, and just want to cuddle them and feed them chocolate and keep them safe.
- Their motives are understandable.
Maybe they want revenge on the character that killed their mother!! I don’t know, but when the villain’s motives are relatable, it makes it easier to sympathize for them, or support them.
- They are complex, mysterious, and/or interesting.
A well-fleshed out, complex villain is so fun to read about. It’s also fun to see the villain and think, They’re actually not as terrible on the inside as they look on the outside. They’re secretly good at heart, I can tell, if you’d just give them a chance!!
There are some villains that I just HATE with all of my heart and will never ever like at all (Umbridge…). There are a lot that I actually like, and while I may not support them and want them to win, I still think they are a good, well written antagonist.
Villains I hate that are SO EVIL:
Umbridge (Harry Potter)
Voldemort (Harry Potter)
Levana (The Lunar Chronicles)
Clancy (The Darkest Minds trilogy)
The Commandant (An Ember in the Ashes)
The King of Adarlan (Throne of Glass)
Villains I like and want to read/love reading from their POV:
the Darkling (The Grisha trilogy)
Warner (Shatter Me)
Do you have a soft spot for villains? Who are some of your favorites?
Thanks for reading!