Is Selfish a Character Thing?

The Character-choice of an Author – A Valid Idea? For many readers who start reading this genre, it is common to find the author’s character as a selfish one. Sometimes this is a very good thing. Sometimes it can be very destructive. It is important for the author to recognize their audience when writing, and how different characters behave in different situations.


For example, the character of Prideful, the hero of Dune, is described as greedy and proud. He believes that he is a better person than everyone else, including his own father. His main reason for doing so is that he wants to have his own empire, to control the trade routes throughout the Known Space. He wants to rule without regard for others. This may be noble and honorable, but does this character actually have any realistic possibility of achieving these goals? Or was this a character designed to give the illusion that a character could be that selfish?


In another book from the Dune series the character Alpha, a member of the House of Luca, has similar characteristics. She is described as loving and protective, and yet she does not seem to feel any emotional guilt about hurting the people around her. She will kill her enemies without hesitation. She has a clear sense of right or wrong but is willing to let justice work its course. Is this a character who could be described as selfish, calculating, and self-centered?


Or is there room for sympathy with this character? It seems unlikely that he would intentionally be harming others to further his own ends. Is it possible that this character is human and so self-destructive that he doesn’t even care whether he causes harm to others? Is he, like Prideful, a victim of circumstances beyond his control? What is his character’s true nature?


Selfish characters – especially antiheroes – frequently have one major vice. Greed is a compelling character trait. Like all vices, it can be both good and bad. For some reason, antihero characters seem to have an easier time breaking moral rules than do good characters. Perhaps it’s because the rules are so easy to break for these characters.


When your character acts in a self-destructive way out of an evil desire, you must wonder if his evil behavior is really necessary. Does he truly have no better way? Are there other, better ways to serve society or does the character just choose to go the self-destructive route? This is one of the difficult questions that arise in the study of character development.