I love it when an antagonist can find a way to redeem themselves. Some are truly evil and wicked—such as Voldemort from Harry Potter—but others are tormented souls with a misguided sense of direction. Take Gollum, for instance. He isn’t evil. He just is, and he has a bit of an addiction problem with The Ring to Rule Them All. Gollum both loves and hates the ring, which has granted him the curse of longevity. He is a lonely, wounded character who has come to live only for the ring, which he resents but cannot resist. Throughout the journey, Gollum assists and “assists” Frodo in destroying the ring. In the end, when Frodo stands at the mouth of the volcano to toss the ring in, Frodo is overcome by the ring’s power. Gollum can either take the ring for himself, or fight Frodo and destroy it. Gollum destroys the ring, taking Frodo’s finger as well, but in the end, it is a dual victory. Frodo has shown Gollum love and trust, and perhaps that sunk in and Gollum saved both of them from the fate of the ring. It’s so hard to say with Gollum what his motivation was, but he did the right thing.
It is so easy to squash the villain. Stab them in the heart, lock them up, drop them off the edge of a building, do any number of things to kill the antagonist.
But how does one measure victory? School tests are by percentages. Society will measure victory over life based on socio-economic factors such as cars, houses, family members, and income. But what about victory over something as intangible as an idea? As happiness? As a book ending?
I think that there is a universal desire we humans have to know that, even when we mess up real bad, we will be able to “fix” it. That we will still be loved. That maybe, we can regain what we lost by slipping up.
Who is your favorite redeeming antagonist? What are your thoughts?
With thoughtful contemplation,
Your Dearest Nicolette.