Hey everyone, I’m here with some sad news and then a fun post. Over the past couple of months my life has gotten really busy, and slowly but surely my motivation for writing these posts has dwindled down to almost nothing. Because of this, I’m afraid this is going to be my last post. I have too many other things occupying my time that I feel like I am not able to dedicate the time and energy these posts, and you as the readers, deserve. That being said, I want to go out with a bang so I’m writing one last post on a particular dynamic within stories that I find especially interesting: The Monster as Hero. I know I’ve written many times on how I am fascinated with villain psychology and understand the perspectives of a variety of characters. In fact, I recently wrote a series of posts about archetypal heroes and one such hero that I discussed was the tragic hero. In many ways, I think, the tragic hero and the monster as hero can be very similar archetypes. However, before we get to that, let’s begin by discussing what we mean by the monster.
To me, there are two types of monsters. Monsters by form and monsters by actions. Both of these can be heroic characters and both of them bring a unique spin on stories in their wake. Monsters by form would be similar to The Thing or The Hulk. They are typically your more classical monsters but they act in heroic ways for whatever reason. In the case of the Thing and the Hulk they are both human underneath the monster and it is this humanity that guides their actions to some extent. What I really want to spend my time dissecting is the monster by action. These are people who do monstrous, sometimes heinous things (at least from an objective perspective) and yet these characters, too, can be heroic. I think particularly of Rorschach from Watchmen for this archetype. They are the characters that have good motives but have forsaken the moralistic ideology typically seen from classical heroes. They are willing to kill or murder for the sake of the greater good. They are willing to waste a few lives here or there to save millions. Why? Because what is 10 or 20 lives in the grand scheme of things. We all insignificant mites floating around on a piece of dust in the middle of nowhere. Why should we (or they for that matter) value our lives simply because we are alive. If this seems fatalistic to you, good. You’re paying attention. These heroic characters are monsters because they view existence as unimportant. But this is also what makes them heroic. Their existence, in the grand scheme of things, is no more important than ours, and they realize this fact to the very core of their being. They recognize two distinct facts about themselves: 1) their own existence is worthless, and 2) they want their existence to have worth. They are heroic because they WANT to be heroic; they want to be remembered; they want to be significant. Because of this fatalistic desire they essentially will themselves to be heroes, or in the case of Rorschach, to continue being a hero. This is why I am fascinated with this dynamic of the Monster as Hero–the same ideology that makes them a monster in our eyes, is also what makes them a hero. This duality of existence is fascinating to me as a writer and a reader, because I don’t know how to process these characters. I want to think of them as heroes but I can’t because they do monstrous things along the way. I cannot overlook one in favor of the other and so I am left at in impasse, caught between my own ideology and that of the character I am reading.
Tobias here! First of all I want to say a hearty goodbye and thanks for all the fish to Neal. If you know what I mean, then you know what I mean. Neal’s been writing on this blog for a while now, and he’s going to be missed.
I believe that, as individuals, as friends, and as writers, each person who has contributed to this blog is irreplacable, and each is special to me in some way. That being said, having lost both Abbie and Neal to the vagaries of school and life, I find myself in need of writers to fill those positions. So, I am looking for two good writers who are capable of being, and wish to be, regular contributors to the blog. One would be posting on Thursdays only and would be alternating with me, and the other would be a floating author posting less regularly on Thursdays, Tuesdays, and possibly Sundays. I’m also looking for a philosophically minded individual to help me with the Saturday Challenges. If you are interested in any of these duties, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief introduction, bio, and writing sample. If you have any previous blogging experience that would also be good to mention :).