The Victim and the Martyr
The victim is preyed upon, unawares until the deed doth fall. The martyr marches on, head high, sword gleaming, until death wields it’s heavy hand.
When I first started writing Sorrow’s Fall, I had a very clear idea who my protagonist would be, but not what that would mean for the other characters. As I worked through different plot scenarios and wrote scenes, it became clear to me that my protagonist was not the ‘good guy’ neither was he the stereotypical ‘bad guy‘. I’ve always quailed at such polarization’s. In fact the first working title of the novel was Shades of Grey for years since nothing is ever truly black and white. (How glad I am I didn’t go with that!)
Now that I’m into writing the second novel I’m learning even more about him and how he relates to those around him. In Sorrow’s Fall he was more of a victim of his own upbringing. Unable to break free of the burden placed on him. Now he knows he has choices. But the burden of freedom can be even greater than the burden of enslavement. Now he has to fend for himself and that includes deciding who is friend and who is foe and what to do about it.
This brings up an interesting conundrum. Is he an anti-hero or an anti-villain? The two terms are not mutually exclusive and a definitive definition is hard to pin down. Not even Wikipedia can decide. I see them as basically same except for one point; motivation.
Sorrow is intrinsically flawed and has issues with morality. His motives tend to be toward self preservation first and for others a distant third. He knows little to nothing of love or kindness and as such has no idea how to show them. Does this mean he’s a villain? Too a lot of people, yes. He’s a murderer and some people would say a sociopath. To other’s he’s a hero who protects their lively hood and keeps them safe from the threat of war.
So who is right?
As any of you who’ve read my other posts know, I am a huge Loki fan. I do not see him as villainous. Misunderstood and reviled for his actions, yes. But not evil. His actions might be reprehensible but his intentions are based on his need for love and acceptance. Even in the myths he’s the scapegoat, the one punished even when things are not entirely his fault. Time and time again he sacrifices himself to right a perceived wrong on his part or a misunderstanding. Though there are times when he is fully to blame yet he is never saved from the consequences of his actions.
And then there are times he does things fully knowing he’s going to suffer greatly for it. Yet he goes ahead and sacrifices himself. Much is made of his deviousness, yet little is said about the massive intelligence behind it. He always knows what he’s doing and that makes him less of a victim and more of a martyr.
I find parallels between the two. Both come from troubled backgrounds with contentious family members and deep seated problems. Loki finds out he’s adopted. Sorrow finds out he’s not. Both have older siblings they hate. Loki tried to commit suicide and Sorrow is- well I won’t spoil it for you.