Tragic villain…. and how we have created them!

Do you know someone hated by most people at your work? Someone that has become the source of all miseries ever occurred in your workplace? Someone you blame for all unhappiness that ever happened?

In organizations, sometimes we meet a personality who holds a significant power on other people and, unfortunately, use that power in a way that most of the others feel ‘exploited’, ‘bullied’ or ‘tortured’. Many ways have been used to call this kind of personality, such as ‘the devil’, ‘he (or she) who should not be named’, or ‘the tyrant’.

My note about this kind of personality, is that some of them were not originally that bad by nature. In some cases, that used to be good, but a series of unfortunate events have made them who they are now, a villain. For this kind of villain, I love to borrow a term from the world of literature: tragic villain.

Batman's The Joker - source:
Batman’s The Joker – source:

And, I think it is quite interesting to see that most villain in the workplace are actually tragic villain.

Most mean or extreme personalities in the work are tragic villain. These people are people who are consumed by the power invested, or burdened, to them. They also used to be the people with good intentions, who then learned through the hard way about the diabolical and hypocritical reality of work life. This, then, swift them from the extreme good end to the extreme bad end. It is somewhat fit with the ‘fallen angel’ analogy.

That’s where the tragic part is. They were supposed to be good people, but life makes them bad.

Wait a second….life does it?

or….we are the ones who make them bad?

I think it is more on us to blame than life itself. Often times, we let these people to be a tragic villain. Our expectation to their good personality is on such a high level, without considering whether they can really live up to that expectation. Our expectation put pressure on them. If they can lift it up, they become heroes. If they failed, they will be damned by the burden we put on them. That’s when thing may gone bad.

That’s when they may turn to be tragic villains. That’s when they become corrupted by the excessive power we invest on them. That’s when they become corrupted by our ignorance on the fact that they are human with personal flaws and interests. They become tragic villain, because we are just too ignorant to understand one thing: They have their own limitation!

A villain is an impact of a society. A villain represents the dark side of the community that villain is part of.

…..and tragic villains are those who turn to be tragic villains because of our ignorance, as the excessive expectation we put upon them destroy them.


2 thoughts on “Tragic villain…. and how we have created them!

  1. I get the point James. But, should we stop hoping? For example, the case with the Pope now. We expect him to do great things. But, eventually, he can’t, and a lot of people despise him now. There will be new Pope in the future. Do you mean we should not hope too much? It’s interesting to see the connection between our hope toward someone and the process of he or she becoming a tragic villain. Can you throw some light?

    1. Hehehe..what I mean is that we should put our hope properly. If we use the case of the Pope, I think it is clear that he sees himself will not be able to execute his responsibility as Pope properly due to his condition, and therefore he prefer to step down. If he continue, and then, due to his limitation, he makes wrong move; people will blame him, and made him a tragic villain.

      The main idea here is that sometime we put hopes too much on someone, which then create huge uncontrollable consequences, that actually come from the fact that that hope is too big to handle for that person. This can be either resulted in a weak execution, or in a tyranic personality.

      Presiden Habibie and Gus Dur at some point was made as some kind of tragic villain, because of a tricky political process. They was seen as weak and full of flaw from certain perspectives.
      Hitler was also tragic villain that emerged from a process that end up gave him a power too big for him. The same applies with President Soeharto 🙂

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