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Presented by State Library Victoria

Opposites: Good and Evil

How can any person be purely good or purely evil? As much as humans enjoy categorising everybody and fitting people into neat little boxes, this often gives us a very shallow perception of how things really are. The best villains in literature, are the ones so relatable it’s almost scary. They are the ones that make you question how you would have acted in the same situation. The best villians are the perfect blend of light and dark. Their actions are evil enough to evoke a response from up, but not so far from good that we cannot sympathise.

In Harry Potter, we find that many of the “evil” characters are classic examples. Draco may choose Voldemort at times, but his upbringing and horrific home life leave the audience feeling sympathy about the path he has been forced down rather than angered by his actions. Even Voldemort’s own past leaves us feeling as though all he needs is a hug (and also a good slap… but y’know).

Although there is a clear difference between the two, drawing a line down the middle can get a bit messy. For different people, different actions will be percieved in different ways. The ethics and morals that each individual has depend on so many things including their life experiences, religious beliefs and upbringing. The values people have can change as people change over time. Whether people see the outcome as all that matters or believe the actions people take are more important than what is achieved can also influence the way that good and evil are percieved.

Can you think of any character that is only good or only evil? I personally find it really hard to sympathise with Umbridge.

1 comment


Umbridge has a need for validation, is easily coerced and is narcissistic.

16th Aug, 19