It’s not often that I read a story written from the perspective of an “evil” character, but two examples spring to mind: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles): Levana’s Story by Marissa Meyer.
Deceit. Drugs. Coercion. Prostitution. Murder. If you want a book on sin, look no further than The Picture of Dorian Gray. Oscar Wilde’s most famous novel covers a multitude of sins, all in harrowing detail. And while the author may have been making a satirical commentary on the social behaviors and customs of his time, at the end of the day, it’s still a dark story, following the descent of a once pure and decent soul into the depths of hell itself. My biggest issue (aside from the obvious immorality) was that at the end of the book, Dorian’s death hardly felt like proper retribution for all the sins he had committed. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that things like judgement and payment for sins belong in God’s court, not ours. This was one of those times where I wanted justice for the victims and I just didn’t get that from the novel.
Queen Levana’s story from The Lunar Chronicles is another good example of “dark fiction.” It’s one thing to see the story from an alternate perspective; it’s something else entirely when you realize a character is completely warped, and there is no justifying their actions (shudder). There were many points at which Levana could have turned her path around and made her life better, but instead she chose to draw further and further into herself, pursuing power and allowing her past pains to drive her actions, instead of seeking healing and forgiveness. It’s a common choice in the world today, unfortunately, but it’s still hard to watch.
My husband has made objections to reading such books. I find it fascinating, but it’s also frightening. I can see how it could be dangerously easy for one’s mindset to be swayed by a persuasive voice. One needs a strong inner moral compass when reading these types of stories! At the same time, such novels can be great examples of what not to do. Plus, they give incredible insight into creating villains!
Personally, I don’t think I could ever write a story like that. The characters I create are like my friends, and I just can’t write them into destruction. It’s difficult – painful almost – to watch someone go down a path to certain ruin. Even if you know in advance that it will not end well, and their bad decisions come as no surprise; all villains have to start somewhere. But I’m too much of an optimist: like I expressed in the posts on manga, my characters have to have hope. Hope for love, for justice, for a brighter future – anything. As long as there’s the possibility of some sort of happy ending, I will be there to write it.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Until the next time, keep reading!
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I have two passions: reading and writing. You can't write good stories without first reading good stories - that's my theory, anyway. So this is where I'll share with you the depth of those passions: background on what and why I write, as well as talking about the books that I read and how they impact my writing.