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As with other characters in melodrama, the villain is a stock character. A stereotype easily recognized by readers or viewers, the villain is the embodiment of evil; with no redeeming characteristics, he gleefully places the heroine in the path of danger in order to lure the hero, whom he tries to either ruin or kill, or he torments the father of the heroine with promises of his evil unless the man complies with his desires.
Just as his character and appearance are exaggerated with his always being dressed in black with a cape. his face sporting a large, sinister handlebar mustache or a beard, so, too, are his gestures and facial expressions exaggerated. He makes sweeping movements with his black cape, walks with dramatically large steps; his lavish facial expressions include a loud, menacing laugh, an angry, growling grimace, sneers, scowls, leers, darting of the eyes back and forth quickly while frowning, and a most sadistic closed-tooth smile that indicates his delight in his nefarious deeds. His voice is often fairly deep with an animalistic tone to it as an indication of his dangerous temperament. Even his name indicates his personality. Such a name as Snydley Whiplash. for example, exemplifies the villainous personality of the character. Here is a description of a villain by Agnes Repplier, an American essayist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, renowed for her scholarship and wit,
A villain must be a thing of power, handled with delicacy and grace. He must be wicked enough to excite our aversion, strong enough to arouse our fear, human enough to awaken some transient gleam of sympathy. We must triumph in his downfall, yet not barbarously nor with contempt, and the close of his career must be in harmony with all its previous development.
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