The Popularity of Ruffians and Outlaws

In both film and literature, there is an immortalization and sometimes a glorification of those who go against the law. Whether it be Michael Corleone and his mafia empire, Robin Hood and his crusade of justice against the Sheriff of Nottingham, or William Wallace in his brutal guerilla war against the English. What makes these seemingly heroic characters, albeit felonious, so popular?

  • I love the idea of criminal heroics. It makes me think of the D&D alignments, "Chaotic Good" in particular. There's a lot of examples in other anime, too, like Lelouch from Code Geass and Light from Death Note. I think it has to do with the "good and justice at all costs" standpoint. – ChristelleMarie Chua 8 years ago
  • I think it has to do with the allure and fascination that men feel towards what is somehow rebel and insurgent, for our attraction to what is also dangerous and against obligations and rules but that can, eventually, also turn out to be good - Robin Hood, William Wallace, are all good examples for this. – Susanna Princivalle 8 years ago
  • There is a definite connection to the troupe of the "underdog" with these characters. They are usually facing an opponent with much greater resources than themselves, and they have to use a combination of wit and luck to overcome these odds. The appeal of the underdog character is that they are easy to relate to--everyone has had a moment in their life where they feel like they are up against the world. When we add in the criminal aspects to this character, it is not so much criminal as instead a deviation from social norms. By breaking these social norms they reveal their ingenuity that there are actually other paths for people to take. Coming from American culture that idealizes individuality, their deviation would glorify those characters. – AliciaKochis 8 years ago

Want to write about Literature or other art forms?

Create writer account