Can you redeem a villain?

Today I was writing about Efah, one of the villains in my novel. At a certain point Madrich poses a question: “The real question I suppose is whether it is possible or right to redeem such a creature as she has become?”  I will not state whether or not Efah becomes a friend in this novel but I do think redemption stories make for good reading. We all struggle with weaknesses and so we all long for forgiveness when they get the better of us. If left unchecked our failings can hurt others, sometimes horrendously so. Without giving too much away, it is safe to say that Efah’s personal struggles had caused great harm to a great many people. So what would happen if she changed her ways? Would it make a difference to the people of Pangea?

I also think of Gollum. He fought the dark side of himself throughout the Lord Of the Rings and never truly gained victory over it. Yet even he had a part to play that may not have been possible if he hadn’t at least tried for redemption.

What do you think? Can you recall any famous villains that changed their ways and became heroes or paid penance in such a way as their good outweighed the bad they had caused?

Do you think it’s possible to redeem a villain?

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