Friday, November 6, 2015

Thursentary: WBI Evaluation I

I know, I know, Thursday was yesterday. Give me a break, eh? I have three papers due next week.

As I mentioned last Friday, I’ve been doing WBI for about a year. So far we’ve analyzed 25 villains, some categories more than others, and in some cases this gives me a little data to look at the details and compare them. For that reason I put together an infographic for our little analysis this morning, because we are about to evaluate Politicians and Financiers.

(And yeah, it’s a long and plain infographic but it’s my first time, okay?)

Before we begin, let’s review our characters really fast:

Prince Humperdink (The Princess Bride)—a regent prince who hopes to marry a beautiful, endearing wife and then to kill her and ignite war with a rival country (click to learn more)

Queen Levana (The Lunar Chronicles)—a queen with a complicated social life who seeks to instate Lunar control over the Earthen nations (click to learn more)

Hades (Hercules)—the disgruntled god of the Underworld who seeks to escape from his banishment and take over Olympus (click to learn more)

Prince Charming (Shrek)—a slighted prince who seeks to gain Princess Fiona as his wife, and when that fails, to wreak revenge upon Fiona and her husband (click to learn more)

Judge Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)—a powerful judge in Paris who seeks to exterminate gypsies and castigate a young girl whom he lusts after (click to learn more)

Now, let’s check out the stats:

What are some basic trends?

  • There are more males than females, but that doesn’t mean anything because I’ve only done five so far (clearly, you must recommend me more books with evil queens and evil lady presidents)
  • Only Queen Levana is from a book alone (which is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, and you should read those)
    • On that note, of our villains, three came from a children’s movie, one came from a YA series, and Princess Bride does not have a particular audience because everyone needs the Dread Pirate Roberts in their lives
  • So far, politician has mostly meant “monarch,” but again, it could just be I haven’t gotten to many non-royal villains
    • Frollo is a good counterexample because his role as a judge is very political (since he’s in charge of the law, which as election season shows is a political thing)
  • Only Frollo had a dual role between Politician and Avenger; the others were pretty dead-set politicians
  • The most common motivations were evil (the desire to hurt others) and personal or material gain (getting valuable stuff that isn’t money); the desire for more power and influence (which I hope is self-explanatory) came directly after
  • The least common motivations were lifestyle (way one must/chooses to live) and desperation (the need to survive)
    • noting on lifestyle, one could say that monarchs must be monarchs because it is hereditary, but it’s not so much that monarchs must be monarchs but monarchs have a choice in whether they will be good or evil monarchs
    • then, you might say, isn’t being an evil king the way in which one chooses to live? I suppose, but I feel like to some extent all villains are living according to their lifestyle; I personally tend to save this category for an extreme—like James and Victoria murdering people because it is their predatory nature to do so, not Prince Charming having a dramatic grudge against Shrek
  • With the exception of Frollo, everyone had family ties (because that’s how monarchies work) and everyone but Humperdinck had minions 
    • for the record, Humperdinck could be portrayed as having minions in Florin’s Royal Guard, but I’m reluctant to say so because the Guard would have loyalties to the king and queen, who are not evil
    • likewise, Count Rugen is an Assassin, and the Albino is Rugen’s henchman, so basically, I am just arguing that Humperdinck relied mostly on his political endowments rather than any mutant army he created for his own purposes (hi Levana)
  • No one had money or a cool name
    • the money thing is a fine line because yeah, monarchs are rich but sometimes it’s hard to tell whether that is state finances or personal money being used, or whether that even makes a difference
    • yeah, so their names are pretty cool, but not Kronk cool
  • Hades, Prince Charming, and Prince Humperdinck add humor, and that is important because humor must always be considered
  • Four of the five villains have romantic sub/plots that all relate to their evilness or evil plan
    • To be fair there can be an argument made for Hades’ relationship with Meg; however, I think we’re meant to imply that Hades had more fun messing around with Meg and Hercules’ relationship rather than making her have one with him
  • Lastly, if I were to rank the villains by their success as villains it would look like this:
    • Frollo: admittedly, he died, but before he did he burned down a good deal of Paris, found the Court of Miracles, killed a lot of gypsies, and suffocated Esmerelda before Quasimodo brought him down
    • Hades: forget King of the Underworld, Hades is the King of Planning, and he manages to single-handedly take over Olympus in the course of one day; if Meg hadn’t sacrificed herself, he certainly would have won
    • Prince Charming: Charming doesn’t get his ultimate revenge against Shrek and Fiona, but he does undermine their power and terrorize Far Far Away and at least cause a good deal of havoc before being squished by a prop tower
    • Prince Humperdinck: like Hades, Humperdinck had a grand master plan and I appreciate that, but while he set it all in motion he never actually got to the point where he could carry it out so he didn’t truly succeed
    • Queen Levana: Levana will abstain from this measure; I am certain Winter is going to be a fantastic conclusion that will make me freak out, but until then it wouldn’t be nice to assume she is better or worse than she really is
    • (but my favorites are still Hades and Humperdinck)

What does our image of a politician or financier look like so far?

A Politician/Financier tends to play a significant role in government, so far appearing to be a monarch or someone with significant authority over the law. Oftentimes, the desire to hurt others, whether they seek revenge or they are just cruel, motivates these villains even to the point that they will endanger their current assets and loyalties for the sake of inflicting such hurt. Likewise, Politicians/Financiers often desire power and influence because such things are addicting and everybody wants to rule the world. Both these motivations go-hand-in-hand with their other main motivation, personal or material gain, where inflicting pain, gaining power, obtaining land, or growing power are things the villain wants but cannot necessarily be translated into financial value or a particular significance to your average Joe. So far these villains do not seem innately wired for these actions (though you are welcome to debate me on that) and since most of them have money at their disposal (though it might not be theirs) they are very rarely desperate for their own survival. Most of these villains have family connections that enabled them to rise to power, and they often have underlings who help them get their dirty work done. Ultimately, their assets and skills are centered around their role as a public figure with a plot to hatch and a goal that will beat down others just as it will puff themselves up.

But, again, this is only five characters we’re talking about. Let’s not set anything in stone.

How can this help us write a Politician/Financier?

one—Politicians/Financiers are government-based villains; their characteristics, skills, and resources will primarily relate to their relationship to the law, the common person, and power

two—seeking power, personal or material gain, and harm upon others is all well and good, but also appears to come with the trade; think about ways to put unique spins on such motivations or maybe combine them with lesser-used motivations to create something different

three—these characters appear to be intrinsically tied to other characters, like the families that gave them their power or the minions who realize the evil plan; when developing this kind of villain be sure to explore and define what the relationship is between the bad guy and the people who help him take over the world

four—enter the debate; I have my opinions on what constitutes a lifestyle, but there’s a question of whether there’s really any choice at all; do these villains have a God-given right to their position, and have they been pre-determined to win or lose from the beginning?

five—consider gender norms and stereotypes; obviously I have a very limited scope of all villainy here, but I can say that traditionally speaking it’s not that weird for Levana to be alone up there because throughout Western history it has traditionally been the men in charge, meaning that there’s room to explore what it means to be a queen as opposed to a king

six—ignore what Heather says and do your own thing because that’s a legit option too

Politics. Finance. Maybe they’re things we don’t always like to talk about and maybe they seem overused, but ultimately what I see in these five villains is a contrast between we, ordinary citizens, and our conceptualization of government gone wrong. These villains represent a greater power with a malicious intent, and that can be scary for us mortals. And with that in mind, I think the best thing to remember when analyzing Politicians/Financiers is that the real matter at hand here is control, and whether or not we have it, and by whose authority other people have it. Control, after all, is not a guarantee, and collectively we do have to think about how we ought to react when control is absent from our lives.

With that, I will leave you to think about the presidential election of 2016.

Okay, how was that? Did I sound like I made sense? Do you think I was helpful? Was I just confusing? Was I clear? Did I talk about things you cared about? Did you like the infographic? Should I do it again? How do I make it better? 


  1. I really enjoyed this post! I've never really thought of comparing multiple villains and drawing some different conclusions about that "type" of villain. I've seen villains compared individually and different villain types compared, but never in this format.

    Also, props for the awesome charts!

    1. I've been thinking about doing this for some time, and I hoped they'd work out okay. :) Hopefully it'll be useful to some extent, maybe.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. The villains that I am most familiar with here are Hades and Queen Levana! I thought it was interesting to see them compared and to see what the trends were like. Such an interesting post and a unique idea at that as well!

    1. Oh? I love both of them, too! And yeah, I haven't seen it really done before, so I thought it might be an interesting switchup. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Love this post! It's awesome how you pick apart and analyze these villains, so we can gain a deeper understanding of them and their relation to our own writing.

    Also, that tidbit about the presidential election. :p I'd rather not think about that, I think. :p

    And YES. Everyone definitely needs the Dread Pirate Roberts in their life *fist bumps*


    1. Thanks! That's what I try to do. :)

      Ha, yeah. :D

      And YES. I love that guy. As you wish!


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