Essay on The Villain As A Foil For The Hero

1315 Words 6 Pages
Heros and villains are the backbones of literature. From Polyphemus in the Odyssey to Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, villains create conflict, create for contrast, add drama and excitement to stories, and serve as the drivers of the plotline. In different eras of literature, villains take on different shapes and sizes, and serve different purposes. In Medieval Literature, the purpose of a villain is to act as a foil for the hero character. In doing so, the villain brings out the qualities valued during Medieval times in the hero. This is done in three different ways. One way the villain brings out the hero is by acting as a character foil, and shining a bright light on the hero 's virtues. By displaying the very traits not valued in Medieval society, the villain provides a contrast to allow the reader to more clearly see the virtuous qualities of the hero. The second way a villain brings out the hero is by creating the situation in which the character and resilience of the hero is tested and ultimately proven to be pure and heroic. Finally the villain can bring out the hero by literally sending the hero off on a sort of “hero 's journey” where his character will be tested. These three methods employed by Medieval authors on villains can be seen in three different Medieval texts: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Laustic, and The Song of Roland.

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the villain- the Green Knight, sends the hero character Sir Gawain on both a…

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