Dad’s Impact, Part 2: The Absence of a Father-Figure/The Birth of a Supervillain?
The darkest villains and most evil tyrants of fiction all have one thing in common-they all have a backstory, an origin, and those most usually begin the events of their childhoods. There are those who are bereft of any parental guidance and those who have it but from improper or merely fallible sources. Is this lack what causes them to become as they are? How might their stories change if someone had loved them, disciplined them?
Sometimes even good parents make mistakes. If Odin had been honest with him, would Loki have turned traitor? By all accounts Odin treated his adopted son Loki just as well as he did his own son Thor. He was a good father and a good man, but he failed to tell Loki the truth of his origin, that he was born a Frost-Giant, the natural enemies of the Asgardians. If Odin had been more honest with Loki, would Loki have felt the need to take control of Asgard away from his father and brother? Would he have joined forces with evil to take over the Earth? Would an entire chain of events not be set off which would lead to Freya’s death and a war between worlds?
A mentor with bad intentions can warp a young mind. Would Darth Vader have turned to the Dark Side if Palpatine had not influenced him? Anakin Skywalker had Obi-wan as a mentor and friend, but he was persuaded to turn away from him and the Jedi Order through the manipulations of the Sith Lord. Palpatine garnered Anakin’s admiration and trust, offering him a sympathetic ear and an outlet for his raw anger that he did not find in the life of the Jedi. Anakin gave into temptation, and allowed Palpatine to twist his mind against everything he had been taught and held to be true. He betrayed everyone he knew and loved, because of the influence of a poor role model.
Any father might have been better than no father at all. Would Voldemort have become a dark lord if his father had been in his life? As anyone who is familiar with J.K. Rowling’s work would know, Tom Riddle hated muggles in part because his muggle father abandoned his mother before he was born. If Tom Riddle, Sr. had stayed in the picture, would Voldemort have even existed? Would he have turned to evil if he never went to that orphanage? If Dumbledore had been more aware or more proactive in his induction to the wizarding world, would Riddle have abandoned his plans for domination? Of course, if any of these things had happened Rowling would be telling a far different story, but one wonders, could Riddle’s character have been changed for the better if he had any parental guidance at all?
Of course, all of these events are fictional and speculative, but the point is this-fathers, while not ultimately responsible for their children’s actions, have the responsibility to guide them to the best of their abilities, and to help them make the best choices for their lives. Guiding a child is a sacred trust, because who knows what he or she may grow up to be.
Thanks for reading,