Unless they are an old-timey Disney villain or similarly classic cartoon villain, nobody wants to be evil or bad starting off. Nobody's ambition is to be the villain in their own story. (note I say ‘villain’ and not ‘antagonist’)
Everyone is out to be the hero.
So why aren't they? Not everyone manages. Where do things go wrong?
As with species' evolution, there is no exact moment of ‘switching’. It's a spectrum of behavioral shifts in small increments:
A visionary seeking to make the world better for everyone starts off pure, and slowly becomes harder, more intolerant of anyone he/she perceives as a threat to the vision of prosperity and peace. He/she keeps seeing themselves as the beacon of light and good, but they steadily walk towards the darkness until they have become a tyrant.
A doctor seeking to cure cancer employs more and more radical methods of research. At first he/she breaks tertiary, unimportant protocols as he/she cuts corners, but soon as he/she seeks to get to the cure ethics give away to horrific experiments without any regard for human life.
A teacher seeking to push students into excellence becomes a little pushy, then demanding, then stern, then brutal, until they become child abusers and not educators.
What is the common denominator to all of these trajectories? Why is the way to hell a highway and not a goatpath?
In my opinion it's a highway because there are no limits to your speed- meaning, people that become villains didn't stop at their drawn ethical lines. They crossed each one until there was none to cross.
If there is a character who thinks that the end justifies the means, then no matter where this character starts off - it could be in frigging heaven - a downfall is definitely in the deck for them, and it can be all the way to hell.
What causes people to break their ethical lines? And does breaking an ethical line (e.g. “I won't steal” or “I won't kill”) always a sign of corruption?
I wouldn't be quick to say ‘yes’. Life has more nuance than that, and there are instances where breaking one's ethical lines is actually done in order for a stronger, more important ethical line not to be crossed that otherwise will be, to the best of that character's knowledge. (e.g. “I will steal stuff from a car engine in order to keep a nazi from using it to catch up to his victims” is not part of the highway to hell)
If, however, the line breaking happens the other way around, then you might be on the highway after all. (e.g. “I will break up that couple and steal the guy/woman because I want that guy/woman” is putting ego and lust/want over other people's free will and peace/happiness)
Do you have characters that start off well enough only to take a dive into villainy later? How does that happen?
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 14, 2020
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