The Long Patrol Links Interviews Forums Brian Jacques Releases The Bookshelf Editorials Features

Redwall Psychology II: Heroes and Villains
July 19th, 2001

Hello again! As you may have guessed, I enjoy writing Editorials. I'm just thinking, could some other people write some more as I have written about half of them? I'd like to hear more peoples views. The Forum is great, but, it's harder to give depth in your argument.

Anyway, onto the subject for today: heroes and villains. I'm going to look at the heroes and villains and try to look at their major points. Then, I will try and do psychology (I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation).

First, lets start with villains. Oh yes! Well, before I say anything more I would just like to say something about a previous editorial. Some people have been musing on the Forum about why I said in a previous article that Foxes are quite rare and that Wildcats are very rare when there have been six major fox villains and two major wildcat villains thus far. Well, the thing is I might not have phrased it very well in my editorial, but, what I meant was that in a typical vermin horde, foxes would be in a minority, numerically, compared to other, more common, vermin such as rats or weasels. With wildcats, they have never been hordebeasts, they only ever seem to lead (generally from behind). So, I was basing their rarity on comparing them to all vermin, not just out of the leaders. I hope that if anyone has any similar queries in the future that they e-mail me (no hate mail please). Anyway, I hope that clears that up.

Great to sort that out. Back on villains. Now, you may be wondering why I'm looking at villains when I have very recently written an editorial centred on them. But, you see, in that editorial I was trying to rate them against eachother using my personal preference for the key factor in deciding the rating. Whereas, in this editorial, I'm really examining that character more as a group.

The thing about Redwall villains, from Ungat Trunn to Mokkan, from Tsarmina to Lantur, is that they all have a weakness of some kind, whether it is strange dreams, old scores, sibling rivalry or incompetent minions. These weaknesses give the character depth and give storylines for the villain, which, in other book series, is often confined to the hero/heroine.

Another thing about Redwall villains is that they actually have a relationship with the hero/heroine which is, in many cases, personal. Even though Cluny and Matthias had not met until the final battle, Cluny knew him from the nightmares. But, with others, such as Mariel and Gabool, they have actually already known eachother and have a score to settle. This kind of variety of relationship also adds to the realism of it all. That's one of the key features of Redwall. It is escapism with a touch of realness. With the new book, 'The Taggerung', a whole new kind of relationship is formed between the villain and the hero/heroine. The Taggerung probably knew his kidnappers almost as long as could remember, so he would quite likely be close to them. This really pours in the emotion. It is quite likely that, although he does not like what they have done to him, and he may really want to find his family, it will probably be hard for him to turn his back on his kidnappers.

Now for the psychology! Now, you wonder what I mean in this case by 'psychology'. I'm not trying to take a character and try to dissect it's past to find out the causes for its behaviour. Instead, I'm going to look at villains and how they work outside the book.

I see villains as anti-role models. They show you what to stop yourself from doing. They warn you that villainous behaviour will eventually back-fire on you and you will probably lose what you gain unfairly. Villains are like warnings for what you should try to avoid.

Now, onto the hero/heroine side of the fence. Redwall Hero/Heroines are different from their counterparts in many other book series. They're never going it alone and likely to succeed. It's always a group effort, with not even the main character winning it alone. Lord Brocktree and Martin the Warrior would never have won their historic victories if it hadn't been for their friends and allies.

Also, the hero/heroines generally, at some time, falter. That is why they never successfully go it alone. This human quality is what contributes to the realistic element of Redwall. A hero/heroine should always be as flawed as a villain, but should come through because they have right on their side.

Now for some psychology!! Now, don't try to predict what I'm about to say, as I think you will be proven wrong. Hero/heroines are not role models, you don't want to try and live a life where you have to fight in a great battle where many are killed or kill yourself as part of revenge. The hero/heroine is two things: someone you can sympathise with, someone you can feel for; Also, they are like glimmers of hope, light at the end of the tunnel. Most hero/heroines come through in the end. They suffer hardship, but, they make a recovery. There is another point, but, I am going to cover it in my summery.

Now, I'm going to join the two groups. They may appear to be two separate groups, but, they wouldn't be important without eachother. Final point is this: we often see the hero/heroines to be the focus of the story, but, look at the villains for a moment. These stories are like cautionary tales, what you must do is endeavour to not be like the villains. The hero/heroines actually represent other peoples natural responses to villainous deeds.

So, as I sign off, think about how you play the 'villain' on occasions, and how other peoples deeds, which seem wrong, are actually that of a 'hero'.


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