1. Catbird

    Catbird New Member

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    Rationale for an Antagonist's Violence?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Catbird, Jan 12, 2019 at 6:16 AM.

    I'm in the early stages of writing a fantasy novel and I'm still trying to figure out what the rationale would be for an antagonist to use violence in order to reach their goal.

    To provide some context, the main antagonist of my novel is a secret society which wants to abolish, or severely restrict magic because they believe that magic is dangerous and corrupt. They are trying to reach their goal through illegal activity and violence, much like the Black Hand/Unification or Death. The dilemma stems from the fact that they want to establish safety through violence, which is sort of counteractive. What realistic rationale would a group like this have? Or would it be better to change their motivation altogether, such as seizing power/information?

    (Sorry if this is posted under the wrong section. I wasn't sure what section this question would fit under.)
     
  2. Kallisto

    Kallisto Ruler of the world... somewhere...

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    I would recommend you continue to study the various mafia organizations. Because I think you're on the right track to find some answers there on how they rationalized a lot of their criminal activity.

    You see, a lot of the mob rationalized their horrific crimes with a "robin hood" mentality. "We're only stealing from those who deserve it." "We're only killing those who betrayed us and thus betrayed you." In your case, it would be, "We're only harming those who would harm you. You see, we're protecting you. We're your protectors. You need money? We'll loan you money where the bank won't! We're the good guys. We're the ones looking out for you!"

    Many people would be shocked to find out how many mobs organized various charitable efforts. That's partly why people tolerate the Yakuza and other crime syndicates. Some even call them "saints" and local heroes!

    So what your organization will do is establish this safety through violence by creating an "us versus them" propaganda machine. "Yeah, violence is bad, and we don't take pleasure in using it. However, the reality is that if we don't kill those using magic, they'll kill you. The government isn't protecting you, but we will! We'll do what needs to be done. And then when all the magic is gone? That's when we'll have peace. But we got to get there first." In other words, they mask their violence behind the guise of "protection."

    If you do write your story well enough, you'll actually be able to show different faucets of this issue. I'm assuming that magic can be dangerous in the wrong hands, so showing that will help the reader understand why people are so willing to believe they need protection in the first place. Politicians being hesitant to curb people's personal rights would create the impression that they aren't "taking the issue of dangerous magic seriously" and therefore people would be willing to turn a blind eye to an organization that is willing to do something.

    But I think the trick is this organization making a promise of peace. And when violence does take place, the organization is quick to push the blame on magic users as the aggressors and causes of those violent confrontations.
     
  3. EBohio

    EBohio Member

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    Read "The DaVinci Code" or watch the movie. The sect that the white haired dude that was always flogging himself belonged to were religious yet violent. In fact, there's a lot of violence in the bible.
     
  4. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    Is it really, though? Law enforcement maintains public safety through the use of violence/force, when necessary, against criminals. Plenty of wars have been fought to establish or maintain a given population's safety.

    As far as realistic rationale goes, a belief that their ends justify their means is enough. You seem to have that already.
     
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  5. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    In the Crusades, much of the violence was justified by the Christians by degrading the Muslims to the point where they were viewed as animals. Therefore, slaughtering them like animals wasn't abhorrent, it was ok. Perhaps your secret society could put out propaganda that trivializes magic-users humanity. This is what Pope Urban II did when he made his speech calling for a Crusade. He greatly exaggerated the acts of the Muslims against Christians, provoking an elevated response from them. In addition, he promised them heavenly rewards and absolution, which was quite a reward in those days.
    Urban said about the Muslims:
    "They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. "

    Was this actually happening? No. But Urban made the Christians believe this in order to fan the flames, which resulted in a gratuitous amount of violence during the Crusades.

    Sorry. You activated the history nerd in me- I wrote a 20 page final paper on this topic in college.
     
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  6. Tristan's Opa

    Tristan's Opa Member Supporter

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    This is still done today. In my time it was the commies and Charlie Cong. Normal men do not kill each other, but will kill animals or out of fear. Military training doctrine does a great job of debasing the target then reducing "the job" to seem normal.

    Magic can be made to seem the same way.

    Magic users are sneaky and will trick you, cheat you, and defile your daughters.... or sons. They always take the best land, poison the land of others, take more than their fair share. They'll harvest your organs and use them to worship their god, the three penis goatfish harpy dog.

    The magi can cause you to cheat on your wife with a carp, which appears as a mermaid. They create havoc among your flock, who then run wild bleating "daaaaaaddddy - come baaaaack".

    Never turn your back on them. They will cast a spell that shaves your head and causes you to soil your pants. Then they will eat the soil from your pants!

    Never trust the magi......


     
  7. Catbird

    Catbird New Member

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    Thank you so much for your help!
     
  8. Catbird

    Catbird New Member

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    Thanks, I'll check it out.
     
  9. Catbird

    Catbird New Member

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    Thanks for your reply! In my world, most of the population are magic-users, but use of exaggeration in propaganda is certainly a viable option.
     
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  10. Storysmith

    Storysmith Member

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    The motto of the English Protectorate was "Pax Quaeritur Bello", i.e. "Peace is sought through war". The First World War was called "The war to end all wars". Violence has often been considered a way to end violence, much like fighting fire with fire.
     
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  11. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

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    Trying to establish safety through violence = the history of humanity.

    They’ll probably also want power, money, and all the trappings that come with winning the war. But their propaganda, to others and themselves, won’t be about that. It will be about making the world a better place. And they will be able to conveniently rationalize what they do to achieve those ends, it’s just human nature. No one sees themselves as the bad guy.
     
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  12. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    It might not always need to be exaggeration--what are the mages like, and how is the muggle minority treated in this setting? If someone's suffered at the hands of a rogue mage using their powers for evil (or a non-rogue mage oppressing or exploiting someone within the letter of the law) and they have the impression that the law doesn't care about people without magical talent, having someone else say "I know how you feel, someone needs to do something about these people!" could be very persuasive.

    Even though this group is targeting innocents and taking things to an unacceptable extreme, they gain a bit of depth if at least some of their members have a well-founded grievance.
     
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  13. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    People support violence, and strong men in general, if they don’t have to risk anything, an out group is targeted, and there is some benefit—like safety.

    “We will kill all the magicians and make the world safe for good normal folk,” is a pretty easy sell, unless of course wizards are more useful than the strong group, like they are plowing fields with magic spells.

    A lot of people don’t see anything wrong with correctly targeted violence, and instead see a reluctance to use violence as laziness, weakness, or cowardice.
     
  14. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I'm in G-love with a Wonderful Lady. :) Contributor

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    Cannibal Corpse will say more than I ever could on this topic. :superidea:
     
  15. J. J. Wilding

    J. J. Wilding Member

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    I think when it comes to using violence to achieve your goal, it's not so much the violence that's interesting it's the willingness of this society to take it to such extremes. Is everyone in this society okay with violence to reinforce their beliefs? And more importantly, is what they're trying to achieve in any way malicious, created out of some horrible event caused by the use of magic? It's the personal vendetta of the leader, the uncertain followers, the tensions in the group that will be the main selling point with a plot line such as the one you're describing. Motivations can be simple and petty because mankind is simple and petty, but adding that personal touch, that tension, will give it that feeling of honesty.

    On what you said though, about seizing power and knowledge... why? Are either of those important things to have with regards to the story? Unless they plan on doing something with those two things, a strong held belief reinforced by personal tragedy and driven by mania would make for a far more intriguing and layered villian/villians. Hope this helps, happy writing!
     
  16. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Active Member

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    Well, firstly the idea that magic is bad and is being abolished is not a new idea in Fantasy, in fact, my book is pretty much about the same thing and I looked through other Fantasy books with that premise to see how they handled it.

    You could do research on existing groups like the mafia and the Nazis, just to feel for the reasoning behind it. But the reason doesn't need too make sense to everyone, you just need to understand why those for it are for it. People who joined the Nazi party really had issues with Jews and some for personal reasons. Doesn't excuse anything that was allowed to be done to these people, but it wasn't just because the Nazi were evil. They had a motivation, just a crap one to most people.

    That would be one way to go.
     
  17. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    It works. Or at the very least they believe it works. It seems counteractive, but this is kind of what UN peacekeepers, most militias, and police forces do all over the world. Sacrifice the few for the good of the many.
     
  18. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

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    The Salem Witch Trials and similar incidents are also a good example of such reactions in history.
     
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