Character Review, Discussion

Let’s Talk: Bad boy behavior – what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s abusive?

Hey lovely readers!

So today’s post is going to be a discussion about those book bad boys, their behavior, and whether or not they can/should be redeemed from it. Now before I start my ramblings I want to say something really important to all of you reading this. I know that some of the things I say in this post will most likely offend some people. I am in no way trying to belittle or excuse abuse either physical or verbal. This is all my own view point and if you disagree I would love to hear from you. But I hope that you will keep an open mind! 

  Bad boys: Love them or hate them they are an ever present figure in the books we read and the movies we watch. And for me there’s nothing more fun than watching or reading about a bad boy being redeemed. So what I want to talk about today is fictional bad boy behavior and society’s tendency to label it as abusive. Because to me that word is thrown around way too freely when it comes to boys in books and movies. What I want to do is talk about some famous bad boys and how I feel about their behavior. Is it abuse or is it not? We need to look at the reasons before we judge harshly the actions. Full disclosure. I was a victim of abuse both verbal and physical by a boy for a long time. So I do understand at least from my own experience what this feels like. I do not mean to say that my experience is the definitive experience, only that I feel I can and should share my opinion on this particular subjective. Okay. Here we go.

 Aaron Warner – Shatter Me Series – Tahereh Mafi

 I came into this series only like 3 months ago. I had no expectations, read no reviews, had no opinions and I absolutely loved it. And honestly I liked Aaron right away, Adam not so much. Then I started reading reviews on the books and I noticed that quite a few people have pegged Aaron as an abusive. I wholeheartedly disagree. He is certainly a bad boy. He takes and keeps Juliette for his own purposes absolutely and he’s kind of an ass. But I believe he shows a respect for her that Adam absolutely does not. The thing that always sticks out for me with Aaron is that in the first book we do not actually know the truth behind why he takes and keeps Juliette. We only THINK we know. I 100% that the act of abuse hinges on intent. And I do not believe that Aaron ever intends to hurt Juliette, in fact I think a large part of his motivation is to keep her safe and to help her reach her full potential, he never intends to hold her back. The last thing I want to touch on is something that Aaron tells Juliette, “You must know how sorry I am. That I kissed you like that.” —“I promise you I never would’ve kissed you if I didn’t think you wanted me to.” To which Juliette replies, “I told you I hated you.” Warner – “Yes, well. You’d be surprised how many people say that to me.” This to me says he never meant to force or manipulate her. He cares and he believed she did as well. To him hate is a word that holds little meaning anymore and when he realized his mistake to apologized for it. He may be a bad boy, but he has a good heart. Asshole yes, abuser? No. 

 Tamlin – A Court of Thorns and Roses Series – Sara J. Maas

 22839894._UY200_ Okay here is where it gets tricky for me. I don’t hate Tamlin, really I don’t. Honestly I feel sorry for him. But here’s the thing he kind of deserves our pity a this point right? Let’s start at the beginning. He kidnaps Feyre, for decent reason in my opinion. I mean Beauty and the Beast re-telling, you know I love those. And they fall in love which is very progressive of Tamlin given that he’s Fae and she’s human, but anyway. The truth is that they both go through something traumatic and they are both forever changed by it. Yet we only get to experience Feyre’s pain. Yes I know he locks her up and then when he explodes the study around them it is terrible. But we have to ask ourselves the why of it all and whether or not his behavior is intentional. Because to me that makes all the difference. Tamlin literally watches his love die and there is absolutely nothing he could have done to stop it. And so when he finally gets her back all he wants to do is keep her safe. I mean he goes about it in the worst way, but I think that’s all he knows. He is broken, sad, scared, and so so desperate. I think the reason we are so quick to condemn his behavior as abusive is because we only see it through Feyre’s eyes and then through Rhys’s opinion later. We don’t get to see Tamlin’s true intent. Again I’m excusing. But is it abusive no? No I don’t believe it is. In the end he is angry and hurt, but he does the right thing. And I hope that we get to see him find happiness.

 Nathan – Falling For You – Lisa Schroeder

 Now this character may not be familiar to a lot of people, but I wanted to include Nathan because he’s an excellent example of abuse both physical and verbal. Rae’s stepfather is a verbally abusive asshole so when she meets Nathan she’s immediately drawn to his sweet nature. But as they grow closer Nathan shows more of his true self. Which is that he is controlling, manipulative, possessive,and very jealous. It’s so subtle you don’t even notice it at first, which is exactly what it feels like. Nathan wants all of Rae. Her heart, her mind, her time, her life. And when she tries to gain some space Nathan will not give it. He has made her his life and he will not let go. He says things to belittle her. He stalks and harasses her. And though I believe he does love her in his own twisted way he is intentionally hurting and manipulating her. The intent is where the abuse lies, at least in my opinion. I absolutely recommend this book, because yes it does contain many triggers. But I think it presents an abusive relationship in he most real and honest way. I think it gives a good perspective when comparing other relationships. Is Nathan abusive? Yes, undoubtedly. 

 Mr. Darcy – Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

 Okay now I know you’re probably wondering why I included Mr. Darcy in a post about “bad boys”, but I promise there’s a good reason. I want to demonstrate how context and intent as well as circumstance can dictate whether something said should be considered abuse again based on intent. So Mr. Darcy comes off as like the biggest asshole. He basically says that Lizzie is ugly and mediocre when they first meet and it really gets no better from there. And then somehow he falls in love and he tells her that despite all of her massive shortcomings he wants to marry her. She’s inferior to him, her family is crappy, he’s going against his judgement, I mean yeah it’s ALL wrong! But is this verbal abuse as I have seen many a person suggest? No it is not. He is telling her the harsh and brutal truth of how he feels, but he is not intending to hurt her. I believe that he believes she can handle the entire truth of their situation. In a way I think he’s showing her respect, which I think is a wonderful thing. And in the end Lizzie understands him and his reasons. I included this character because I wanted to highlight the difference between verbal abuse and stating harsh truths. Just because a boy or any person for that matter is saying something not nice does not mean they are being abusive. So Mr. Darcy: painfully obtuse when it comes to wooing women? Yes. Verbally abusive? Nope.

 Okay guys that’s it for this post. This is in no way representative of relationships in books both abusive and not. It is merely my take on some popular bad boy behavior. Please let me know what you think. Did I go too far? Do you agree? Do you not? Side note: Kylo Ren inspired this post, but I ended up giving him his own post because I had way too much to say for him. If you’re interested please check that out here on my blog. Special thank you to the three awesome ladies who helped me put this post out there. I’m still terrified of what you’ll all think, but they gave me the push I needed!

 

Thanks for reading guys! Talk to you soon! <3 Adrianna

*All covers from Goodreads

Leave a Reply