I’ve started working on my version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so I’m deep into the definition of evil. It’s feels a bit fuzzier than it was in Robert Louis Stevenson’s time. Our post-modern aesthetic blurs everything into a muddy swamp of degeneracy, transgression and entertainment. Nothing, or seemingly nothing, is too much or too far out there for long, as all the most outrageous actions or ideas just push the envelope further and further.
Does it ever break?
The dictionary definition of evil is reprehensible, wicked or sinful and rising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct. That certainly has an archaic ring to it. Wicked — what a great word! And sinful is another great word. Evil, both wicked and sinful, is full of drama and behavior that is out-of-bounds.
Monsters are out-of-bounds — outside the normal boundaries of nature. But they are not always evil. At least not in contemporary entertainment where vampires can be heroes (Angel) and werewolves are hunks (True Blood). But still the dance of good versus evil is a compelling storyline ripe for rewriting and reconfiguring.
Still in the early stages, and initial pages, of my novella and yet I’m already defining each character’s relationship to morality and moral codes. We all have some kind of morality. The moral compasses of my characters don’t always point to true north, but that’s true of real people too. I don’t think we like those true north people all that much. We want our heroic figures to be a bit flawed and hazy on the details of morality — just like us.
So back to my new manuscript and “by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”