Impact Characters gone wrong!!!

by Terrell
(Columbia, MO)

Hey, is it possible for an impact character to influence the protagonist to a point that he/she actually does change in the end, but however, the impact was not like how the impact character intended?


For example, can a protagonist be a archetypal good guy and their impact character is more of an anti-hero; willing to do what is necessary to get the job done. However, when or if the protagonist changes his/her ideals to match the impact character, he/she instead takes it a step further and is much worse than the impact character and not exactly how the impact character wanted to influence them?

Answer: Technically, the main character's perception of the impact character and his interpretation of what the impact character is doing creates the pressure to change. Sometimes the impact character is trying to influence the main character. Sometimes he's just following his own agenda and the main character observes what the impact character does and responds entirely on his own. And sometimes the main character can misinterpret the impact character.

For instance, an interesting variation is the Hitchcock film Rope, in which a student who takes to heart the words of a former teacher and conspires to commit murder to prove his 'superiority.'

The student then invites the teacher to dinner and the bulk of the film consists of the student dropping hints about the murder. (We suspect he again is showing off his superiority and wants the teacher's approval once the murder is discovered.)

Of course, the teacher is horrified to see how he has unwittingly influenced his student (who probably suffers from sociopathology), and condemns rather condones his actions.

It's a variation because the film starts at the climax and really is just the fourth act of the story. However, it is an example of how a main character can be influenced by an impact character, even though the impact character had no intention of having such an influence.

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