Discussion: The idea of good and evil characters. What is truly evil/good?

Swetlana started this series where she discusses a certain topic she’s had on her mind and wanted to talk about and I love talking about a topic that really interests me. I’ve seen other people on here do it as well. I thought I would talk about good vs. evil, what makes a character good or inherently evil? Is there a line to be drawn between what’s good and what isn’t?

(Also want to keep in mind I will cover some of the villains I have read about, not all of them because this would be too long. If you want me to do another part some day, I will definitely do that)

There are a lot of books that explore the idea of having a villain that is threatening to destroy the world and take over where the good characters (“Good guys”) come in to save humankind. I have read about this in so many different ways and what always sticks out to me is that the villain either believes in the purity of blood, getting rid of people they deem too weak to seek true power or they want to accomplish something that involves a certain character.

different kinds of villains1

For example, in The Mortal Instruments/Shadowhunters Valentine Morgenstern believes that Downworlders (half demon/half human beings in different species such as vampires, warlocks, seelies and werewolves) are a blight on the world because they don’t have angel blood as Shadowhunters do and they need to be taken down. I find that very interesting because as he believes in purity and goodness he poses a threat to so many lives just because the downworlders have powers he can’t have? Does that give him the right to want to kill them all? Especially since he thinks he’s doing the world a favor.

“People aren’t born good or bad. Maybe they’re born with tendencies either way, but its the way you live your life that matters.”
Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

That contrast between choosing to do something evil or inherently bad versus doing something good that might save the world from collapsing. Is it wrong that Valentine wants to protect his daughter Clary? Does that make everything he’s ever done to people who trusted him okay? No. But it gives the audience a better insight into his mind and his intentions even if they are quite twisted.

In Six of Crows there are the Fjerdans who execute Grisha (beings with magical powers depending on which kind of Grisha they are.) because they believe they are a blight to the world and a threat to humankind. For me the Fjerdans, also called Drüskelle, work like a corrupted government that believes what they’re doing is making the world a better place whilst they use the Grisha for their own advantages to give them a drug that gives them unbelievable powers. It’s like a plot device being used to create something else.

In comparison… Voldemort in Harry Potter is very very different from the Fjerdans and Valentine. He can’t feel compassion for anyone or anything so he doesn’t care whether Harry’s life gets ripped apart because of him. Tom Riddle (Voldemort’s actual name) was very young when he discovered he was different, that he had special powers other students didn’t have and that made him feel superior like he could get rid of the weak people among him. That is what he thrives on throughout the story.


Now there are so many different versions of evil and good characters. I think that the villains really drive a storyline and the characters into situations they don’t want to be in. i.e. having to save the world, keep a dangerous weapon from being unleashed to wreak chaos and destruction.

All in all a villain is an integral part of driving the plot which in turn drives the characters and extends onto their storylines and character arcs. I think that having a villain is very important especially on a supernatural show, book and movie. Learning about the good and the bad in people resonates so very well with real life it reflects upon the fact that we’re all human and at the end of the day, we’re all trying to become a better person, but we make mistakes and we go down the wrong path.

So all of them have something in common in the way they wholeheartedly believe what they’re doing is good and right.



We all have good and evil traits I just feel like the part we choose to act on kind of shapes parts of our personality. I don’t think those traits would define one person because we’re all so complex and different and so are these characters. They have beliefs just like all of us. I just know I will continue to enjoy reading about the idea of that thin line that can be drawn between good and bad.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be, we are.”
Robert Louis Stevenson


Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! I’d love to have a discussion with you guys there.


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