Sunday, 22 January 2012

Better the Devil you know?

D – Devil
"By the pricking of my thumbs, something evil this way comes" Shakespeare.
In the Manichean struggle the Devil is probably the ultimate villain! No small wonder then that many supernatural stories feature this deity as a consummate character. Whether you believe in the existence of a god or his opposite, most people are fascinated by the idea of a being who has all the most undesirable characteristics of human frailty. In many cultures that being is the Devil.
The Devil (or Satan), in Christian culture is always supposedly the fallen angel, Lucifer. But according to the bible the devil has many names (including Amadeus and Mephistopheles) and all associated with much evil doing. “What is thy name? My name is Legion, for we are many.” Mark 5:9
‘The Satan’ first appears in the bible as a messenger sent by God. He was used as a catalyst in the story of Job where he acted as a tempter and accuser. In the story of Adam and Eve he is described as a ‘powerful wicked angel’ who led the plot against humankind by tempting Eve. For this act God threw him and his henchmen out of heaven and thus he became known as the Devil who rules the kingdom of darkness and subsumes all evil powers. He tempts people to evil doings and is also known as ‘The Great Deceptor’ for appearing disguised as an angel of light.
 Despite the murky origins of this so-called fallen angel we do also find the devil appearing in other religions too (in Islam he is known as Shaitan). Whatever the truth (or your own beliefs), everyone understands the significance of good versus evil and the Devil (Satan or whatever) has come to be known as the personification of evil in this world.
So, what a fabulous plot device to use in a story? The ultimate antagonist. And because none of the origins or the stories around the entity can be verified you can use him howsoever you wish! Such brilliant fodder for creating conflict and suspense… And a great adversary for the hero/heroine of a supernatural thriller story…
Have you used the Devil in your stories? Do you think it is still acceptable in this day and age of technology to use an ancient religious deity?


  1. Although he isn't named, I'm using the Devil in one of my stories. If you want a bad guy, he has to be the ultimate!

    And absolutely it's okay. I don't care how technologically savvy we become, we still like to wonder what else there might be :-)

  2. I've never but a friend of mine wrote a powerful story with the "disguised" devil as his antagonist. The story was brilliant, good v. evil naturally, and even though he's had some great feedback on it by agents, there are still no takers. Disappointing because it's a book that really makes you think about your own beliefs. (Well, at least it did me.)

  3. I don't think our modern world goes against using an ancient religious deity. In fact I think it probably works the other way around. We know so much about the world around us (with much more to learn) that I think, heading into the unknown with this type of character draws people in.

  4. I did use the Devil once in a story, Pat, and I very much enjoyed doing it. I made him rather different to the way he's been portrayed and i think it worked very well. Mind you, I never finished the damn thing, it was one of my early attempts at writing a novel. Five chapters in, I ran out of steam and the story fizzled out. That doesn't mean I might not return to it. Supernatural thrillers are one of my favourite genres to read. I find it baffling and exceedingly boring to think we were created out of nothing, with no divine intervention. And if there is a divine ruler, then there has to be his/her opposite. Right?

  5. Thanks for the comments, folks. It's much appreciated!