Friday, April 11, 2014

What's in a Name? Part 3: The VILLAINS!!!

Alright, so you can probably tell I'm a just a smidgen excited about this post.

Dear reader, I will tell you a not-so-very-secret secret: I love villains... They are, to quote Henry Higgins, "so deliciously low;" there are so many horrible qualities I can attach to them. Imagine you are me: You can single-handedly bring to life a character with the worst and most-cultivated faults, sins, and modes of thinking, and THEN you can set him or her loose to prey upon your protagonists. Yet, YOU control how far the villains' reach extends... until the moment he or she runs away from you and you have to chase them through the plot. {Yes, this does happen. I have sat writing a scene, completely absorbed in it, and suddenly a thrill ran down my spine as I realized, "HE [the villain] was listening in all the while to this conversation!? It's rather frightening to find a character hiding where you didn't expect him, I assure you.}

One of my favorite parts about writing The House of Mercy was switching viewpoints so frequently, trying to really get inside the heads and hearts of the various threads {i.e. characters} that made up the tapestry of the story. I did this with some of the villains, notably Lancelot, not because I wanted you as the reader to sympathize with an "evil character" or to think, as in the lyrics of Into the Woods, that "witches can be good," but because I see stories as a way of conveying Truth. Stories help us look into our own hearts and minds... When I, as a reader, hear what Lancelot is thinking and feeling, my own heart and mind will respond in some way {if the portrayal is done well}. The question is, what way do I respond, not to what the villain does, necessarily - most of us won't do "villainous" things because we can't get away with it unbesmirched - but to what the villain thinks and feels. For out of the heart we live our life, don't we? {Proverbs 4:23}

At any rate, the antagonists in The House of Mercy received their names with all due attention given to the meanings:


{pronunciation: DRUS-ten or DRUS-tawn} Of ancient Celtic origin, the name "Drustan" is an older form of the more commonly-known "Tristan" {as in the story of Tristan and Iseult/Isolde}. It has two possible root meanings: the Latin word tristis, or "sad," {but this meaning is unlikely since the "Drustan" version of the name came before the "Tristan" version}; and a Proto-Celtic word meaning, "riot, din, upheaval." In The House of Mercy, Drustan brings both sadness and also unrest into his own family through the choices he makes for evil and not for good.  Interestingly, Drustan is a different public man in some ways than a private one.



{pronunciation: WEY-len} A Celtic name, "Weylin" means "son of a wolf." And the son of a wolf he is. Ravenous, destructive, incalculable, unworthy of trust. Weylin certainly earned his name through the part he chose to play.


{pronunciation: LAN-se-laht} Unfortunately, this is one for which I cannot give you an exact meaning! The name possibly comes from the Germanic/Old French word lanzo, or "land." This word was the short form of many name variations, and it had the connotation of "servant." Later on, the name "Lancelot" became associated with the Old French lance, meaning "spear, lance." Despite the legendary character already existing with this name, knowing the meaning of the name Lancelot brings an ironic twist to him, I think: This lordly man - meant to be a servant of others through his rule as a nobleman - instead becomes the precise and ludicrous opposite: sensuous, self-serving, self-centered. By the way, the character Lancelot {some background here} leaped into the storyline one day as I was writing. I knew the sort of man I needed, but suddenly I realized, Lord Drustan's nephew is the Arthurian Lancelot. Though Lancelot is usually depicted in a sympathetic, chivalric way, I peered at him without the romantic veil thrown on him by the legends... and the bare facts of his tale make him into a pretty unscrupulous rogue. And so we find out what Lancelot was like before he reached the court of the High King...

 There are other characters who are "antagonistic" but whom I wouldn't necessarily classify as antagonists/villains... at least not yet. :-) Mordred comes to mind, for example. {If anyone wants more background on Mordred, you can look here.}

This puts a question before us, dear reader: What really makes a character/person an antagonist or a protagonist? Take Deoradhan, for instance - throughout three-quarters of the novel, he is pretty much bent on doing evil {though he sees it differently} ... Does this make him an antagonist/villain? If so, who is the hero/protagonist/villain?

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