Merciful Moments and their Importance in Stories.

Surrender 2
by Boyce Duprey

As someone who has been the recipient of mercy many times in my life, I feel that I can safely say that the experience of that mercy is often life changing.  There are many times when exercising mercy over justice can go a long way of writing a wrong and leave a positive influence in the process.

This got me thinking, is there a purpose for those moments in stories when the protagonist experience or show mercy?

I think we can all agree that mercy can lead to many different outcomes.  Just look at the Lord of the Rings (a lore so popular it has it’s own wiki site).  In the story Frodo and Bilbo both pity the creature Gollum and spare his life.  While that mercy may not have affected Gollum significantly, I would argue that it left quite a profound impact on the two hobbits and ultimately aided Frodo in getting the ring to Mount Doom.

Again in the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon shows mercy to a man who had been the cause of much hardship by giving him the chance to earn his eyesight back.  It was, to me at least, a huge moment for Eragon and a great indication of how much he had changed since the beginning of the first book.

Mercy is a part of the human experience.  The reality is that quite often the “bad guy” doesn’t think he is the villain in the story but rather the hero.  Even the most hardened people have a soft spot for something or someone.

Another example, the main villain in Borderlands 2, Handsome Jack, is heartless from the players point of view.  Yet, he frequently calls himself the hero of the story and demands to know why you, the player, are getting in his way.  He even goes so far as to call you the villain who needs to stay down.  But he has a very tender spot for Angel, his daughter, and cares with an incredible deepness that leads to a rampage of revenge when she is killed.

All these moments end up leaving an impact on me as I experience them because, for me at least, it makes the story so much more relatable.  Mercy by the hero or the villain makes them appear more human.  Whether that mercy was wise or not makes the events that follow all the more compelling because you know that things could have been different if that one act of mercy had never happened.

What do you think?  Should mercy moments be included in story or are they pointless?

Has there ever been a time where you felt bad for the villain?

I look forward to your feedback.

Until next week,
Grace and Peace.


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