Monday, June 7, 2010
Must You Punish Your Villain?
Yesterday, my nine year-olds and I listened to "Hansel and Gretel," by the Brothers Grimm. In the version of the tale we heard, the mother (in some versions it's a step-mother) convinces the father they should leave their two children in the forest because the family is too poor to feed the four of them.
They do so, though the father feels guilty. The children are nearly killed and eaten by an evil witch. The children trick the witch and bake her in her own oven. They find a treasure and bring it back to their parents. They all live happily ever after.
My little girls were surprised the parents, especially the mother, were not punished.
But who really was the worst villain?
The father even though he felt guilty? Aww...... :( (That's sarcasm. I think he's the worst because he was the only one with a conscience and did the evil act anyway. But that's a post for another time.)
I poked around the net about the prevailing thoughts about H & G and the consensus seems to be that the witch and the mother are symbolically the same person, so you see, the mother was punished after all. (I haven't run that by my kids yet.)
But my question is, in your writing, do you usually punish your villains, whether they are Nazis, evil magicians, or rival schoolgirl bitches? Or do you ever let them get off perfectly unscathed or even allow them to be rewarded?