We all have gotten angry. Someone has gotten under our skin and we’ve gotten mad about it. Maybe we yelled. Maybe we screamed. Maybe we hit someone. Maybe we started seeing what our enemy’s pet snake was looking at.
Alright, probably not that far, but anger is part of life. As I alluded to, some of our favorite characters have to deal with anger management issues. Sometimes, the anger management issues add an interesting element to the characters. Sometimes, it makes the character one-dimensional.
As alluded to earlier, Harry Potter is the reason I thought of of this theme. Harry deals with some serious anger issues throughout Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix. As Lady Saika pointed out to me today, OotP is basically Harry just “capslocking” and being all super-emo.
Now there is a reason for this, of course. The mixture of Harry being a fifteen-year-old angst-filled teenager and the byproduct of a botched murder-turned-Horcrux led to a lot of his problems. But of course, you guys know that. I’ve mentioned it like nearly every Harry Potter article.
What I haven’t mentioned before is that I don’t think Harry’s anger issues make him a more complex character. Yes, the fact that he’s a Horcrux does make him more complex, but not the anger. The anger is simply a byproduct of it all. And Harry’s anger is not something he truly has to overcome. In fact, despite being basically told that if he closes his mind to Voldemort he might get better, he chooses not to throughout the next two books. It’s very annoying.
This isn’t how all anger management issues are handled. At the other end, the Hulk is the biggest example of anger issues being used to complete a complex character. When Bruce Banner gets angry, he turns into the Hulk. While Hulk is a great superhero, he’s also incredibly uncontrollable. So Banner’s wish to help others is countered by the fact that his superpower is almost uncontrollable.
This is a great way to use anger to your advantage. Banner isn’t just a crab-ass. He has anger issues that he doesn’t want, but which are a necessity.
Really, I find that these are the two main ways anger management is used in fantasy. The problem is anger is a hard tool for good characters to use. It’s one of those emotions that doesn’t bend well for good guys.
There are some examples of characters that work well, despite their anger. Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation comes to mind instantly. However, Worf’s anger and aggression is built into his culture. It’s impossible to call Worf’s anger an issue because he’s a Klingon. Should I say that all Klingons are disabled because of their aggressive tendencies? I can’t make that statement yet. If you guys want, I will definitely do some research and try to make a more concise opinion.
Another example Lady Saika brought up is some of the things The Tenth Doctor did during his lifespan. The first full story with Tennant shows him challenging an alien leader to ritualistic combat and then dropping the alien off the edge of his ship when the alien didn’t keep his word. Ten’s reasoning? “No second chances.” Again through, Ten’s anger is fueled by the stress level of being the last Time Lord, so I can’t say his anger is a disability, but rather the by-product of a level of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The point is that most angry characters, including Durarara!!’s Heiwajima Shizuo and Avatar: the Last Airbender’s Prince Zuko, are angry because of various problems, instead of “anger” being the sole problem.
So are anger management problems a disability? No. Rather, the anger that’s displayed is a byproduct of the character’s disorder. Anger is merely a symptom of their respective disability.