Pitiable Villains

Have you ever felt sorry for a book villain? Bizarrely I have. There are many villains that I wholeheartedly dislike. For example, the main antagonist in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sauron, is responsible for the death’s of beloved members of the Fellowship of the Ring; he has no inkling of good in him, and he’s completely evil.

Another villain I dislike, is the Hunger Games trilogie’s President Snow. This old man is happy to send teens to fight to the death while he sits in his rose garden sipping tea. The film version of President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, did a remarkable job boiling my blood in anger. There are more specific reasons why I dislike him, but I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t read the books, or seen the films. When you do read the books, I would be surprised if you had an inkling of pity for President Snow.

Of course, many of you will be surprised to hear that I have pity for Harry Potter’s villain, Lord Voldermort. Responsible for the death of Harry’s parents, the reason for Harry’s scar, the deaths of thousands of people, and the very reason that there are eight Harry Potter books, how could anyone pity such a fiend? Well, if you understand Voldermort’s past, his fear of death, and his loveless life, you might just pity him too. Yes, Voldermort is evil, but I pity him because he was never loved like Harry and I have been, and there are many real “villains” just like that.

One of Tolkien’s most famous characters, the creature Gollum, is last on my pity list of villains. His origins as Smeagol, and the reason he became Gollum, the Ring of power,  make him out to be a true villain as Samwise Gamgee called him. The ring was his “precious”, it drove him mad and gave him an unnaturally long life. He was the reason the Baggins duo gained possession of the Ring, and he was seemingly the cause of their suffering. Or that’s how Frodo Baggins saw it in a moment of despair that caused him to say: “It’s a pity Bilbo (Baggins) didn’t kill him (Gollum) when he had the chance.”

The wizard Gandalf, being the wise being that he is responded with one of my favorite quotes:

“Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”

Pity of fictional villains has helped me to be like Jesus and learn not to hate my enemies. At the end of the day, we’re all just human beings in need of salvation.

I don’t mind if you despise every single one of the villains that I’ve mentioned, because they’re not real. The next time you read a book though, try and see through the villain you’re reading about.

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