Friday, July 15, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

Currently, I am reading two books (well, actually three, but one doesn't apply to this) and in both is a character named John Dee. This character in both books is based off of the same real person from history.

In one book, (the fifth or so book in a series, so I know the character fairly well by this point) John Dee is somewhat of a villain, in loose terms. In the other book, John Dee is an accomplice to the heroine of the tale. I didn't actually realize that they were the same person (technically speaking) until I was halfway through both books. By that point, I had a vision of what both of them looked like, and they were completely different.

Now that I realize they are actually the same person, I can see the similarities. Both can use magic in a sense (in one, he's a necromancer, in the other simply a sorcerer). Both are more grey than they are firmly planted on the sides they have chosen and they give the sense that they could swap sides at a moment's notice. Both have a way of convincing people (namely, the main characters in both books) to do what he wants them to do. I have no idea what the real John Dee was like (he lived in the 1500s, after all), but seeing as both authors made John Dee like that, there is probably some aspect of truth to it.

What is my point in writing all of this, you ask? I am saying it to point out a matter of perspective. Each author did their research (hopefully) on this man and shaped him into a different character from what they found out about him. They took creative liberties, such as in one making him immortal, but they kept him generally the same person.

It seems to me that perspective is a dangerous thing. One person can take a man, whatever he is really like, and see him as a villain. Another takes him and makes him part of the "good" side. He is the same man, just seen in two different lights.

I think that happens a lot in real life, not just in fictional novels. Nobody sees a person in the same way as anyone else. Everyone knows different things about people that shape their opinion. It's not really fair to judge a person according to what someone tells you about them, not that you should really be judging them at all, but you get my point, hopefully. Maybe a person that someone has painted as a villain really is on the good side, you just don't know it, because you haven't seen the right perspective on it.

My actual point to this whole thing? Books screw up your mind. Honestly, reading about the same person in two different books playing two different roles on two different sides in two different times is a bit difficult. It's given me quite a bit of confusion, actually.