The joy of being evil

Policeman

Evenin’ all – those were the days, eh?

I actually got the idea for this post from Kristin Scott Thomas’ interview on BBC News where she revels in the unusual opportunity to turn on her ‘bitch switch’ and play a really bad character. It set me thinking about why we like to pretend to be evil and why we aren’t evil for real (that is, if we aren’t).

I suppose it’s obvious why we aren’t evil: we value the regard and affection of fellow human beings who would shun us if we did them harm, we perhaps have a moral sense that it would be hard to go against anyway, and we prefer to avoid being put in prison for criminal acts.

On the other hand, being evil can give us our own ends: riches, power, the lover with the most beautiful body, etc, which is enormously attractive. Even more attractive is freedom from certain human feelings which make us liveable with. Imagine experiencing no guilt, remorse or pity and not bothering to look after anyone else’s feelings – how liberating that would be!

On a day to day basis, abandoning the fight to be good means you can say what you like to whoever you like, you can lie, steal and cheat, you can trample on other people …

Sure; but it doesn’t make you evil  – just a bad and lawless ingrate. A truly evil person, generally speaking, is fiercely intelligent, patient, good at dissembling, while inside them resides a block of ice.

The vast majority of people wouldn’t have the ability to be evil even if they were to ditch their moral sense. It takes a certain grandeur, a certain stature, to turn bad character and criminal deeds into evil.

This is, I believe, why evil characters are for some actors such a joy to portray. Portraying good characters can be boring; portraying bad characters with individuality can be fun; but portraying evil characters is the most likely of all to be challenging and exhilarating.

Evil characters need to be played by actors who have the subtlety of mannerism and facial expression to convey the negatives to the positives which we expect. For example, demonstrating pleasure in watching violence, or giving us glimpses of a watchful, simulated sympathy instead of compassion.

Similarly, writers who wish to invent or portray evil characters have to be of a certain kind unless their creations are to be mere caricatures. I’m almost tempted to say: such writers need to be a cut above the rest. But there are many specialisms in writing and this is just one of them.

Skolthan – A Paranormal Thriller

Skolthan

 Principal category Horror
 Word count (approximate pages) 66,600 (200)
 In Kindle, Epub or PDF formats $2.99

Can the evil warlock be stopped in time?

Hilda lives alone and hermit-like in an old cottage in an estuarine area of the coast.

By means of a secret path, she can gain access to an Eden-like world called Skolthan which is beyond the realm of our earthly one. If she had been the sole possessor of this knowledge, Skolthan would have been safe but she isn’t and there are dark forces afoot who would corrupt and spoil the new world as part of their exploitation of its powers.

Hilda’s arch-nemesis is her ex-husband, now a powerful warlock who plans to access Skolthan by means of a ritual sacrifice. He is aided by Alice, his evil side-kick who visibly masquerades as a district mid-wife.

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The object of Hilda’s struggle is to save the mother and child who are destined to be slaughtered and also to protect the island from irreparable damage at the hands of the evil-doers. Will she succeed and, if so, at what price?

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