Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.
The (Not-So) Villainous Monologue
“Their dreaded monologue is more frightening than death itself” said no protagonist ever.
So you’re nearing the point of no return—about to fist-bump with death—and after a hard fought battle and being antagonised by some crazy-eyed entity staring you down, they begin regaling you of their brilliance; of their rise and your fall, stretching out time because they’ve “won”, of how you stood no chance and—
—you better order some delivery, it’s gonna be a long one.
Can I just say that I get why most villains need to go through their grandiose spheel but I don’t fully understand why. At least not quite to the extreme of antagonists who earnestly want to rid themselves of do-gooders who foil everything fun about being…well, “evil” or “bad”. And you know who the worst offenders are? The one’s who yammer on-and-on [about basically anything] and then by some miraculous unicorn magic, coincidence just happens to mosey on over and save the protagonist; effectively ending the battle (and so often the war as well).
I understand that it’s part of human nature to want to root for the characters we see ourselves in (meaning we hope the villain slips up). But you know what? We should also acknowledge that sometimes protagonists shouldn’t receive any get out of jail free cards for the sake of dramatic effect—and to be frank—antagonists shouldn’t give them any opportunities to “win”. I know it’s not fun, “fictionally fun” even, but that’s just the most realistic approach. Only it’s seldom portrayed like that.
This isn’t directed to any singular book or character but just an overall thought that protagonists are so often rewarded with delay of plot-time, lacking consequence for their actions, and coincidences that become so far-outreaching that it destroys the sentiments and convictions of the antagonist archetype.
But don’t get me wrong: I understand the info-dumpy nature of these in-your-face rambles while Queen’s “We Are The Champions” is spinning on vinyl—it’s necessary to fill the gaping unknowns in perspective and build context. So maybe it’s the placement of these recappy monologues that simply feel like they’re inserted at the wrong moment; especially if you build up this frantic tension that has protagonists teetering between life-and-death. Not to mention that when these villains start ego-tripping, they lose a sense of their bad-guy prowess, wit, caution, …everything.
Can you imagine?
[Pre-dialogue battle ensues.]
Hero: Oh no, shits not looking too good for me right now. I’m feeling woozy, bloods spewing everywhere, and my best friends aren’t moving either—
(As a reader: This is pretty grim…the villain’s got em’ beat. (but secretly hoping for some miracle; am I right?) Nooooooooo—).
Villain: Remember that time you tried ABCDE? HAHA, good times.
[A flying unicorn. A fire is ignited. A third party enters the equation. The antagonist slips up. The protagonist…wins?!]
(Moment is exaggerated for artistic flair. I rest my case.)
With everything that’s happened, it’d likely destroy the construct of a narrative to just end things abruptly (re: killing off a hero), and that’s not always ideal storytelling (whatever that means). I couldn’t imagine anyone even wanting that to be the final revelation; considering the payoff to be extremely shoddy, perhaps questionable, and definitely rage-inducing (unless it’s warranted). So I’m simply not sold on how the tides might turn in favour of the protagonists after getting their ass handed to them. It’s even more difficult to digest the plausibility of happily-ever-afters when it isn’t deserved. Villains need to do what they do best, and giving a compelling monologue isn’t going to win them an Academy Award if they’re dead by the next page.
You can be hesitant. You can flaunt your superiority, You can even show remorse; but please…pull that damn trigger. You have one life to live and I would expect nothing less than that which you cherish. Unless of course you wanted out in the first place–then why go through all the trouble in the first place? You’re the perfectly misunderstood character; the antagonist, so put on those Nike’s and Just Do It.
That’s it—I’m out.
I hope I’m not the only one who gets peeved by a protagonists moments of triumph after getting demolished in the final boss battle.
1) Have you come across these moments of villainous monologues followed by the wind changing direction and everything just starts happening in favour for the protagonist? What’s your take on these moments? (And do you have examples you’d like to share?)
2) How would you feel if villains were suddenly ballsier and actually went through with killing off lead characters (following the mantra that true consequence exists)?
So with 2015 in full swing, I’m hoping to shoot these Think Aloud discussions out every week (bi-weekly at the latest). I’ve compiled quite a few random topics that make no sense but I’m still going through with them. If you’d like to be featured or take part in a discussion, please feel free to let me know. Alternatively, if you have quirky discussion ideas you’d like me to talk about, let’s hash it out!