With Valentine's day just behind us and a lot of talk of love, I thought I'd take a look on the exact opposite of love and affection- how do we write and display hatred in characters? How do characters hate, and what's the difference from rage?
In my opinion, it's all in the motivation which in turn controls the manifestation of things.
Hatred in a character can take many forms but in the end, it comes down to this one emotion: envy, jealousy wrapped up in inferiority.
The person that hates primarily feels inferior to the hated individual. There is a very real conviction that he/she will never be able to reach/become/acquire/enjoy things that the hated individual has/is, or appears to have/be. From this conviction, stems the poison that gives rise to the poison tree, so to speak.
Additionally to this feeling of inferiority, the person that hates feels that the hated individual is an obstacle to whatever the personn that hates wants- money, fortune, fame, a significant other, recognition, acceptance… you name it, the hated person has it, and the person who hates feels they can never have it as long as the hated one is there. And because they feel that they can never compete and win against the hated person (since they feel inferior), then they develop resentment and feelings of being wronged or unfairly treated, and this festering combination of thoughts and emotions is the poison tree.
Why did I identify the feelings of inferiority as the root of the poison tree?
Because if that isn't there, if the person does not feel inferior to that other individual, then they will not envy him/her (at least not maliciously), and they will not feel that they cannot attain what the other individual has. They will feel powerful enough to create a similar opportunity and similar fortunate events for themselves as what they have seen and liked in the other individual's, that doesn't end up being hated.
How then, is all of that complex that (usually) takes years to fully take root and develop manifesting into hate?
The person that hates simply seeks to remove the hated individual from the playing field so that they can get what they want. But because of that inferiority they feel, they go about it in indirect, undermining manners, and end up being more and more engaged in fouler and fouler play.
Hate always involves at least some level of infatuation, and twisted admiration for the hated individual, object, concept or generally abstract idea. It also involves a big sensation of threat regarding the hated person/idea/concept/country/etc, whether it's acknowledged or not.
What then, is its difference to rage?
Rage is simply intense anger. People that hate and people that don't hate can feel it and manifest it- it's always the result of a specific event or set of events, usually hurtful in some way, rather than a combination of festering emotions over time. Rage can be very dangerous, but usually it isn't as dangerous as hate because due to its intensity, most of the times it's very obvious. Hatred, on the other hand, has far bigger potential in being hidden until it's too late to react to it.
A person that hates isn't necessarily a villain in a story, or even an antagonist. It can very well be the hero or the protagonist- but when hate manifests, the behaviors are always malevolent. If a ‘good guy’ character harbors hate, then there's a very high risk of them becoming villainous without realising it, exactly due to hate, because in the one instance/context of whatever it is they hate, they will employ indirect means and foul play to get what they want, rather than straight up confront the situation.
A hero that hates is very prone to a “what have I done?” type of scene. A villain always harbors (and nurtures) hate, often enhancing it with more things to hate, one often more ludicrous than the other (especially when they get frustrated in their attempts to succeed).
Finally, it goes without say that hatred is taught- from bad parenting to bad social circumstance to bad experiences and learning history, a character must have had enough chance for the poison tree to take root and grow in them, like those fungi that grow out of the dead shells of ants.
What do you think? Do you have any character that hates (rather than just be enraged at someone/something)?
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Feb. 16, 2019
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