Renegades in Fiction

Rebellion and revenge are two of the classic themes used in literature. Some brought interest while others bored you to oblivion, depending on the source of the story whether based from real experience or a product of imagination.

From these we see characters that add more depth and life to the story, if they themselves are not the central figure of the story. Even from history we already saw remarkable characters that showed the strength of their spirit in the middle of the storm. Some faced dictators, some fought monsters while trying not to become monsters themselves, and others defied the trials of time until they faced each man's ultimate fate --death.

Lately, I cannot stop remembering reading about these rebels in fiction. And as I think of memorable renegades in literature (some are funny, some are cool, and some are just plain wicked), I realized that I can make a list of them.

Here's my TOP 7:

7 V
    V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
Alan Moore created his character V with reference to a real, historical figure Guy Fawkes who used to be an instrument of anarchy in the 15th to 16th Century England. In the story, V dons Guy Fawkes' legendary mask. V loves everything that is classical, a night fighter and saboteur, a computer hacker that preaches against the infliction of fear by the ruling political machinery -the Norsefire. He preaches that people should not be afraid of their government, as he makes the fascist government  afraid of its people.

6 Hiroaki "Hiro" Protagonist
   Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

By day, a deliverator of Uncle Enzo's Cosa Nostra pizza. At night, code writer, samurai warrior and bounty hunter in the Metaverse. 24/7, renegade for both worlds. This half-black half-Korean master swordsman may not be that perfect in a gunfight, and may not be the most intelligent to decipher codes and cryptograms but his sword will never run out of ammo and he got the smarty chick YT by his side. Heck, he was even saved by a Filipino slave at his captivity. This makes Hiro a lucky scoundrel/rebel.

5 Paul Atreides
    Dune by Frank Herbert

He is known by many names; Muad'Dib, Usul, Lisan al-Gaib, and Kwisatz Haderach. He is the Chosen One in the Prophecy who will bring the future life of vegetation in the desert planet called Dune. Frank Herbert created a universe with the desert planet Arrakis (Dune) as the main playground and battlefield for the young and disinherited Paul of the House Atreides.

And Paul unknowingly fulfills the prophecy as he showed to the band of desert rebels - the Fremen his learned skill in taming the sand worms and adapting to the arid and scorching environment itself. After losing his son,Paul fought the annointed heir to the throne of the planet Arrakis from the House Harkonnen (Feyd), won the ceremonial duel to reclaim the heirarchy that is rightfully his and in the process earning a second wife that made him a cool rebel and ruler of Dune.

4 Ogami Itto and Daigoro
   Lone Wolf & Cub by Kazuo Koike

The best renegade father-and-son tandem. Ogami Itto is an executioner of the Shogun and he is a good servant before accused wrongfully by a conspiring, jealous Yagyu Clan. After Ogami's wife gave birth to a baby boy, she and the rest of the household were murdered by the Yagyu Clan but luckily the baby Daigoro survived.

With no one to turn to as Ogami is implicated as a public enemy, there's only one path for him to take (and also for Daigoro)-- to become a ronin. Ogami gave Daigoro two choices; to pick the ball or the sword. If Daigoro choose the ball, Ogami will be forced to kill Daigoro. The child crawls away from the ball and touched the hilt of the sword, signaling to his father his chosen path.

Hunted not just by the Shogun but also by bounty hunters and fellow renegades, the samurai-weilding tandem are the hardest nuts to crack in the Japanese countryside as they carve a bloody road towards the destruction of the Yagyu Clan. These unlikely samurai tandem are also an inspiration of the film Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks, Jude Law, Daniel Craig and Paul Newman .

3 Elias
    Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal

With vengeance, Crisostomo Ibarra's transformation into Simon is a highly recognized character development in Jose Rizal's series. How? Because of Elias. It was Elias who first showed the way of the renegade to Ibarra. It was he who prompted Ibarra to avenge his own father's death. Elias is the Andres Bonifacio archetype by knowing when to move and mobilize, and when to stop and retreat.

He moves like a ghost who secretly appears to warn Ibarra and exits without catching any unwanted attention. It was Elias who saved Ibarra's life from the trap in the laying of the cornerstone, a mocked up accident conspired by Father Damaso. It was Elias who saved Ibarra from the guardia civil along the Pasig River by sacrificing his own life. It was the dying Elias who helped the mournful Basilio bury his mother's body, and it was also Elias who pointed the location of the hidden treasures, ordering Basilio to use the money to study on a condition that Basilio help burn Elias' dead body. And yes, it was his last dying words that became one of the resonating battle cries for the historic Philppine Revolution in 1896.

2 Randle McMurphy
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

McMurphy for me, is the best punk-rebel in literature that have a heart and a soul. He is the epitome of defiance that kicked the sorry butt of an abusive authority with his funny but brutal prank jobs in the Mental Hospital. Reading the book makes me wish to meet a person like him. He's funny, and he's like a cool brother that you will take his side in times of trouble. But of all the renegades in literature, his fate is the most horrifying.

1 Edmond Dantes
     The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Personally, I love the movie more than the book. At first, Edmond's simple life is almost perfect. His family loves him, he and Mercedes were engaged, and Edmond is about to be promoted as a Ship Capta.

Not far from reality, God allowed evil to test a man's character. Edmond was betrayed because of jealousy. He was connected to Napoleon Bonaparte's rebellion and convicted by treason as conspired by his best friend and a Bonaparte agent's son. Imprisoned to the worst place on Earth-- the Chateau d'lf, where every soul is "purged of their sins" up to their last dying breath, Edmond is hopeless and started to denounce God and His Words. He despised the sculpted words on the wall of his stinking, rat infested prison den that say "God Shall Grant Me Justice." The only thing he wanted is an instant death, but he cant even find the energy to strangle himself. All he could do is to lay down and die.

But his hope will literally rise from the ground and his life will make a 180 degree-turn after that. He befriends a fellow prisoner, a priest of a mysterious and glorious past. For me, this part is the best as Edmond begins to learn how to fight back, outsmart the guards and escape the prison, create allegiance with the pirates, find the hidden treasure and become a Count. He will be named as Zatarra by his pirate comrades, meaning "driftwood." He will learn to play and become master of the game to punish the ones who betrayed him.

Retribution and redemption may be the twin tropes of this classical novel by Dumas but Edmond Dantes--The Count of Monte Cristo himself is still a major symbol of vengeance and rebellion in Literature.

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