Point of View Exercise

The Villain

Write a fragment of a story about a villain who gets away with a serious and perhaps brutal crime and enjoys the fruits of his crime (or simply enjoys the fact that nothing happens after this crime). Love this character and try to make him at least somewhat loveable to the reader. Think in terms of class distinctions—an uncomfortable subject in the United States, as we tend to deny they exist here. Crime is often an act of envy. According to an early meaning of the word, someone is evil who crosses class boundaries.

Some help:

  • The Oxford English Dictionary says a villain was, originally, "a low-born base-minded rustic man; a man of ignoble ideas or instincts; in later use, an unpricipaled or depraved scoundrel; a man naturally disposed to base or criminal actions or deeply involved in the commission of disgraceful crimes." A criminal was someone who lived outside society or a closed community.
  • Patricia Highsmith said of her famous creation (a murderer who gets away with murder again and again), "Ripley's a flexible sort of character. He's amoral about murder—he does it and then he reasons it away."
  • D.H. Lawrence, in Studies in Classical American Literature, said, "The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer."
  • Lincoln Caplan, in an article in The New Yorker, quotes David Bear on the mind of John Hickley, Jr., who shot Ronald Regan in 1981: "A state in which thoughts split off from emotions and four abnormalities are usually present: blunted affect, causing a person to look "as cool as a cucumber"; ambivalence, or holding contradictory ideas at the same time; autism, or retreating from the real world into a private one; and jumping associations, in which ideas do not flow in a logical pattern."
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