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The Noble Character


You know, I've been noticing a growing trend in literature or rather just culture in general. I don't think it's anything new, just a repeat of history, something deep in our nature. And that is a fascination of darkness. As a writer friend of mine recently pointed out, villains are often given an enormous amount of power, respect, and dignity, making them a popular and admired character. That same romanticization of evil has bled into the protagonists. More and more books feature a morally grey character who are out for their own gain and push the edge between light and dark. They are praised as "realistic" and "relatable."


Don't get me wrong, I enjoy an interesting antihero. I enjoy a charismatic villain.


But it's sad to me that these types of character are usually deemed more interesting than the "good" character.


Sometimes this is because writers can forget to make the "good" person human enough. I'm not saying the good person should be riddled with unlikable faults and hiding a dark secret, I'm saying they usually aren't given a bright enough personality. When authors are handing out "brains" and "humor," they usually pour it into the villain and pass the noble character on by.


Funny. In my experience, the most faith-filled, noble people I know are some of the most likable. You enjoy talking and hanging out with them. They're fun, not boring. In prime example, it is oft forgotten that Jesus himself is quite the snarky, humorous, and brilliant person in the Bible.


So let's not forget to bring back the noble character. A great story, like great art, is all about contrast. I can't tell you how many books these days are just one big wash of grey. Maybe the people today relate to that because they have trouble making a distinction between right and wrong So let our stories be an inspiration. We are so quick to make examples of evil in books, let us also make examples of good.


Who are some of your favorite noble characters in literature?


I love Eugenides from The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. He is a ridiculously clever and skilled person who never fails to surprise. He may like to give the impression of being self-centered, but in reality he is one of the most intelligent and merciful heroes I know.


Also, Kaladin from The Stormlight Archives. Kaladin starts off as a pretty moody and depressed person, but only because his heart so desires to save others that it breaks in the face of his failures. But he never gives up and continues to rise as a pillar of justice and mercy.

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(c) 2018 H. S. J. Williams