My All-Time Favorite Antagonist Taught Me…
For Pens of Praise Prompt–By Susan Marlene Kinney
October 12, 2013
Worthy antagonists such as Darth Vader, Sylvester the cat, and Carry Grant’s sweet old aunts in Arsenic and Old Lace, danced and flirted with the curser on my computer screen. Though they were all excellent choices to write about, for our Pens of Praise October prompt, only one antagonist truly captured my fascination. She irritates and fascinates me, but also makes me chuckle.
This antagonist may remind you of a next door neighbor, a relative or fellow worker. But, let’s hope not. Between pages 80-83 of a certain book, which I will name later, are the insufferable, irritating characteristics of my memorable antagonist. Let’s do a rundown of her particular qualities. She is needy, demanding, sharp tongued and full of sarcasm— just to begin with. Did I mention controlling and cheap concerning everything in the household? She can’t bear any noise or a breath of fresh air and she certainly never smiles. In fact, the protagonist in this book finds herself, “wondering what would happen to her face if she did smile.” This antagonist acts like a hypochondriac, waking her daughter each hour at night with demands, since she sleeps during the day. She constantly complains about those who help her the most, making the tender of heart feel that they are never… enough. She is not easily influenced to another opinion and she uses the guilt card whenever she can, to control other people’s choices. She accuses the innocent of ulterior motives and crushes any joy or pleasant musings with her sour, grating words—
What? I ask. Are you begging me to stop already, before I tell you how suspicious and meddling…
Okay, I could go on about her crusty character, except I’d run out of white space.
You have just met Mrs. Gibson straight from the pages of Anne of Windy Poplars, or from the movie Anne of Avonlea, a character created by L. M. Montgomery
When I list Mrs. Gibson’s characteristics, all I see is how unlovely and unlikeable she is. Yet, when I observe her greatest stab at manipulation toward her daughter, which include the silent treatment, refusing to eat, and seeming to holding back forgiveness before she passes, she speaks up to say something that melts my heart. She tells Anne, “If you’ve managed to get Pauline to accept that Isaac Kent, you’ve accomplished more than I thought was humanly possible. I think we shant have to climb down and tell him to take her.” Though her ways are demeaning and destructive, I start to believe that this negative woman is actually trying to strengthen her weak willed, passive daughter.
What have I learned from this lady? I’ve learned how entertaining the power of control is for some individuals and that when someone is selfishness and demeaning that I can respond in a way that is honorable and life-giving, if I use a little creativity. I’ve learned not to despise this type of person, but to somehow find it within me to pity or pray over their heart condition. Last of all, I’ve learned to not allow them to control me, like Pauline did for so long. Thank goodness she does overcome, in spite of her mother’s mind games! When I see that spark of amusement in Mrs. Gibson’s eyes each time Pauline finally speaks out, I think to myself, maybe Pauline’s mother does have a heart with a freckle of love beating in her breast after all!