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The Two Faces of Harvey Dent Just like the proverbial adage of love and hate, superheroes and villains have a very thin line that separates the two. The I Ch’ing offers the Yin and Yang arguing that good cannot exist without evil. The question arises to try to determine what exactly makes someone a villain or a superhero. There is often a personal or emotional connection that the authors and film directors tries to convey so the audience can identify with the characters.
Sometimes, fictional characters are made to seem obviously one-sided.
Shakespeare wrote, “Villains that were plainly evil without any explanation which then made it clear who the protagonists were. ” This kind of character does not satisfy human curiosity and reasoning. The question still remains at the end which continues to gnaw at our intellect. In the film, Dark Knight directed by Christopher Nolan, the writer tries to answer this question with the character of Harvey Dent, otherwise known as the villain Two-Face.
Harvey Dent comes out in the second film of a grittier and darker version of the legendary comic superhero Batman series.
Much of the audience is well-versed in the Batman villains so the character Harvey Dent comes out as the morally incorruptible, by-the-book District Attorney of Gotham city; the revelation of his duplicitous nature is inevitable because of how principled he is when it comes to fighting crime. Usually, those people who are so polarized on one side tend to fall the hardest to the other side.
Nolan uses the character of Rachel, Dent’s love interest, a sort of love triangle with Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego) to explain his true emotions. Using the different personality theories, the question can be answered with more satisfaction.
Myers-Briggs has a dichotomous scheme of how people are configured while Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs sets up stages of a person’s life. Ultimately, Freud’s Superego, ego, and Id identify the level of maturity that a person demonstrates. These theories expose the character of Harvey Dent and how a hero can become a villain because of his inherent traits, life experiences, and bad choices. The inherent traits that lead Harvey Dent into a spiral of shame can be explained by Myers-Briggs dichotomous chart of personality types. Harvey Dent starts out in the film in the spotlight, brand new leader of Gotham City as the prosecutor.
He is a role model of principles and law. He is unflinching and unwavering in his ambition and fight against crime. Dent tends be extraverted in his personality. He likes being in the spotlight. He likes things to be black and white because he is a very principled man. Dent does not like to make deals with criminals and he makes it very clear to everyone that he will not be bribed in any way. He will not bargain which seems like a characteristic that he was born with. He is very straight forward with people. If he does not like someone, he will make it known to that person right away.
On the other side, his affections for Rachel, the deputy district attorney, are apparent as well as the audience sees them out together besides their professional relationship. (Dark Knight) The audience can tell that Dent is very meticulous and logical sometimes appearing cold but his internal passion for what he believes drive him to do the things he does. The law is his guide and he does not let emotion get the best of him until the Rachel dies because of the choices of others. Dent is an easy target because of these traits. He is very predictable. “Live to see yourself become the villain, or die a hero,” says Dent after he lives. Dark Knight) Only he lives by principle while others live on emotion. He makes it very clear after Rachel that he will no longer be controlled by his principles. This inherent disillusionment alters his outlook on life and he becomes the other extreme. By the time, he dies in the movie; he abandons all reason and goes with his emotions of apathy and revenge. Harvey Dent’s struggle with dealing with Rachel’s death can be further explained by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He begins as the highest level with self-actualization where he can truly serve the will of the people and the law.
But, the experience ultimately is too much for him to deal with. Above all, he has fought for the safety of himself and the people, but since he could not protect the one he loved, he cannot face losing anyone else thus his revenge leads to blood. The ideals he stood for go out the window and he punishes the wrong people. He is blind to morality after this tragedy. He has no distinction between right and wrong, a good person and an evil person. In this sense, Nolan wanted to show the audience how certain experiences affect people and no one can control every situation or circumstance.
It all becomes luck and fortune which somebody like Harvey Dent cannot accept. Thus, because of these experiences of pain and regret, he cannot move on in his life and make the proper decisions of his rank and person. He falls and ultimately pays his own price by his flip of the coin. Freud’s theory of subconscious levels seems to depict the choices that Harvey Dent makes that lead him to become a villain rather than stay a hero. After the death of Rachel, Dent could have mourned and moved on in his life, but his selfish desires of revenge compel him to make bad choices that harm innocent people like the Gordon’s family.
In a sense, his altruistic nature at first seemed all too clean and perfect. The audience all knows no one can be that perfect and be a human being. His true selfish nature comes out that it was really all for his egotistical gratification and when he was hurt, then everyone should also suffer. Nolan tries to reach the audience with Dent’s emotional pain. Most people are not sure whether to like and support Dent or hate him for being so weak and selfish. He is actually dishonoring the memory of Rachel by being a villain.
In the end, he could have done the right things but he chose to take the darker path. This then shows how the line is not a very wide line between good and evil. It is all the choices that people make that make them good or evil. Harvey Dent is a character that is a facade of good and evil. Everyone has a choice to be good or evil throughout their lives. All human beings go through difficult times; it is how we deal with it that makes us who we are. Nolan tries to capture that theme with Harvey Dent. The different personality theories help explain the fictional character to better understand ourselves.
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