Am I the Villain?
In the story of your life, are you always the noble hero, or are your motives or actions sometimes less than admirable? On the discussion website Reddit, there’s a particularly popular “subreddit” called Am I The [redacted! This is a family-friendly website. You can google it!], or AITA. Anyone can make an anonymous post describing a situation in their life, and invite readers to weigh in on who’s the bad guy.
Conflicts can range from the mundane (“I told my brother I won’t babysit for free”) to the downright weird (“my co-worker was smearing margarine on the office cat to teach him how to groom himself”). For people posting, they’re seeking help in settling an argument, or perhaps just settling their conscience. For readers, it’s a bit like reading advice columns in newspapers or gossiping with your neighbours. We get to peek into someone’s personal life, pass judgment, and perhaps feel morally superior. It’s a guilty pleasure, on par with watching reality TV.
It's a Matter of Perspective
As with anything online, it’s likely that some of the posts on AITA are pure fiction, or at least highly embellished versions of the truth. Sometimes the person posting is an unreliable narrator, seeming to omit crucial details to better justify their actions. Like reading a murder mystery, a kind of joy can be found in playing detective and figuring out why the alleged main character may not be the innocent victim.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some imagined queries from famous book characters who may have wondered if they were, in fact, the villain of their tale. Can you guess which books we culled for these stories? Hint: The characters all come from much-loved children's classics.
Guess the Literary Character
Let's put your knowledge to the test! Each character provides clues about their identity and shares their story from their point of view. Who are they, and what's their game? A thoroughly evil villain, a mean anti-villain with some good intentions, or a basically good but flawed anti-hero?
I’m a woman in her, let’s say, 50s or so, and am well-known for being straightforward and truthful. As a pillar in my small community, I am used to my advice and observations being appreciated. Recently my neighbour took in an orphan girl, we’ll call her Jane. Yesterday, I went to visit my neighbour, as I do like to check in on her as we are dear friends, and she introduced me to Jane. I nearly fell over when I saw her. You truly wouldn’t believe the colour of this child’s hair! I shan’t say more, as I don’t want to compromise her anonymity, but suffice it to say, at the time, I truly felt that I was doing her a favour. Well, the child then completely lost her mind, called me all sorts of terrible names, and stomped out. The most hurtful part of it for me was what happened next, as my supposed friend practically excused Jane’s behaviour. She implied that I should be more mindful, even after I gave her some gentle advice about how to handle the girl. Considering my friend has never had any children, and I have raised 10, I would have thought she would have appreciated my suggestions. My husband has requested that I leave him out of it and seek the input of “literally anyone else."
So, am I the villain for being honest with a frightfully quick-tempered orphan?
Borrow the book featuring Character #1
I’m a mother with a grown son, and it’s come to my attention that my son and his wife have a bit of an issue with what I think is a harmless habit of mine. Every so often (for legal reasons, I’d rather not say specifically how frequently), I drive across town with my ladder, climb into my son’s bedroom window, pick him up, and rock him back and forth while singing for a while. It’s just a special thing we like to do, ever since he was a newborn baby. I always make sure all the lights are off in the house before I enter, and I’ve never even set off the motion detector alarm. Somehow they found out about it, and suddenly words like “restraining order” are being tossed around! I’m baffled.
Could I really be the villain for loving my son, forever?
Borrow the book featuring Character #2
I live on a farm, and I’m more than used to the fact that death is a part of life. When it’s natural, that is. I recently interfered in what I would have considered to be the unnatural, untimely death of a close friend of mine. Long story short, I used my wit and flair for the written word to save his life. I don’t regret it at all. However, I have recently come to the realization that I’m nearing the end of my days. I’m at peace with this fact for myself, but I fear that my departure will devastate my dear friend, along with anyone else who hears our story – particularly if they hear it at a young, impressionable age.
Am I the villain for making people care so deeply about me, given my tragically short (natural) lifespan?
Borrow the book featuring Character #3
I recently came into a great deal of money and I’m afraid I may have gone a bit overboard. A bit of backstory: My parents died when I was a baby and I was raised by my aunt and uncle. To be honest, they were negligent at best, and abusive at worst. My parents didn’t have any savings (or so I thought), and my adoptive family treated me as a burden. I was shocked when I found out on my 11th birthday (a month ago) that my parents had left me a small fortune! I’ve been trying to be prudent with the money, but a lot has happened in the last month. To make a long story short, I was on a train ride recently, and I, well, I bought up all of the sweets on the sweet trolley! I was trying to impress a new friend, but I didn’t really think about the fact that the rest of the kids on the train ride wouldn’t have any sweets for the entire hour-and-a-half ride. Now, I do think it is possible that there was a way for the trolley to be refilled... somehow... but I didn’t even think to ask. I feel bad about it, and on top of that, I worry that my friend is going to expect me to lavish gifts on him all the time now.
Am I the villain for depriving my new school friends of sweets?
Borrow the book featuring Character #4
So, Readers—how did you do?