Ponderings with little bursts of cartoon art.
character one-eighty [ˈkarəktə wʌn-ˈeɪti]: a character’s personality makeover by the end of a book or series.
|Choose one and I’ll oblige. (Source)|
Wait! I’m definitely not exactly the person I was a year ago so why are we offing characters who’ve changed? Isn’t it their prerogative?
It is and I’ll walk with them towards that prerogative unless they’re a mere plot device. Then I’ll sure as hell will figure it out and probably hate it, too. Imagine where would Gansey be without his obsession of dead old Welsh kings, Celaena without her badassery, Peeta not in love with Katniss, or Snape choosing to die for Harry James Potter? Nevermind, scratch the last two off.
Thing is, plot-driven personality makeovers are just that. Scenarios put in place so that the end result could be achieved. Could be why I prefer character-driven stories over plot-driven ones, because then personality makeovers seem legit. More on that later. Changing a vital element of the story to fit the said story’s goal seems nothing more than a convenient way to tie everything up with a neat little bow.
|Like this. (Source)|
One of the main reasons why I hated Evertrue was because a certain character went through such a huge attitude makeover and to what end? As a reader, I spent so much time stressing about who’ll give up because the solution seemed close to impossible. And then for it to be solved by changing a character’s outlook on the whole thing? Not okay. Never okay. Never recovering.
When characters do a number on us, 180 to be exact, it has to be because they took our genuine lapse in not judgement to their advantage. Or because they grew up. Or because they are so well-crafted as plot devices that we notice it a little too late. The Hunger Games is a plot-driven series and yet Peeta’s personality makeover does not feel forced. It helped quicken Katniss’ character development, shook her into a reality that was unlike anything she had experienced before and during the games because there was no one left to share the horror of the games with her.
|Only Cinderlla did really want to marry. (Source)|
Am I saying that character one-eighties are only good to go in character-driven stories? Not… exactly. It’s more about the way they are handled than anything else. It’s the way of admiring Severus Snape by hating him one second and just being in awe of him the next. (Or in my case, just plain hating him). He’s so sadistic and loathsome that you just don’t know whose side he’s freakin’ on till the end. It would either make you go ugh or ah and it all depends on the why of it all. The journey from ‘Ah, yes. Harry Potter. Our new – celebrity‘ to ‘Always’ is seven books long of which I loved. Every. Single. Moment. Of. (Even if I hate the character to no end).
Anne Engelhart says
First off, love the comics you featured. 🙂 Especially the "slightly vain but reasonable queen." Haha, anywho, I enjoy seeing characters change, but only if it seems natural or is done slowly. We don't change personalities over night. A good Bildungsroman can be really enjoyable if done right.
Shannelle C. says
Okay, those comics are just wonderful Sana. I think it's just perfect for everything you wrote and it's just perfect and cute in general.
I think character one eighties, like you said, are bad when they're used just to make everything tied up neatly. It's such a betrayal to the readers who loved that character for what they are and just a betrayal in general. Like, "MY LIFE HAS BEEN A LIE" betrayal. It's such a pointless thing to do when you have this whole information to back up the fact that this person was like this but it was all changed for the sake of something that was done poorly.
I'm all for character one eighties as long as it's done well and it's actually reasonable. I think the best example would have to be Warner of Shatter Me. Not really a one-eighty per se, but definitely the closest and best I can name. All the facts revealed about him just turned him from a monster to a person.
Alexa S. says
It's always interesting to see how a character changes, grows and develops in a book, especially so in a series. There are times when the growth feels organic and true, like Celaena's experience in Throne of Glass, or Elisa's in Fire and Thorns. But when it feels forced, fake or like a way too convenient plot device, it makes things a little harder to swallow or like.
Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity says
I side eye 180s with a passion. A PASSION. Unless they're built up and purposeful and meaningful.
But I am an awfully judgemental person. And it all depends on whether or not I like the story.
Like with the Shatter Me series. Not gonna lie, Warner does A COMPLETE 180. But do I hate it? No. Do I think it's unrealistic? Yes. But do I still enjoy it? Yes.
See – I am judgey because I liked that character.
But then Adam in the same series does a 180 and I HATED IT. I thought it was simply a plot device because there was no reason and it was completely unrealistic.
Sooooo. It really depends. On character, plot for that character, and whether or not I can believe n the 180 or not.
Like, let's be real. If you did a 180 and suddenly fell completely and utterly in love with me, I'd understand that. It would be realistic, and I'd support it. Because I've been waiting for it, and there has been sufficient time for it to happen. This is how it should be in books, too. Roleplaying really does have positive influence.
Maji Bookshelf says
hahaha I LOVE THIS POST! I especially love the comics you put in as well! Like the comment above stated, i think it depends on who it is! I hated how Adam does a 180, and I loved it when Warner does it lol! Also, I HATED HOW GALE DID A 180!! NO! I LOVED GALE! SHEEESH!
Anyways I think it depends, but don't EVER make good guys turn bad :((
Thanks for this awesome post!!
– Farah @MajiBookshelf
Those comics are amazing! Loving them…
Jen (Books and Other Happy Ever Afters) says
I personally really like when characters are dynamic rather than static. I feel that if a character remains unchanged, it may feel like the story didn't actually accomplish anything. If a character DOES change, I feel like I learned their story and was able to experience it with them. Love the comics, this post was lovely to read, Sana!