Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Character Without Any Redeeming Features

When you create an antagonist for your short story or novel, you can make the character more compelling by making it more human. Yes, this is the enemy of your hero, but everyone has some redeeming characteristic that can be used to tone down the evil. Even those on trial for the most heinous crimes will be depicted as worthy of our sympathy due to some fatal flaw or emotional issue beyond one's control.

Unless, that is, your antagonist is a stockbroker from Davy Group in Ireland. In that case, you'll have nothing redeeming to insert into the character because the firm has proven itself to be so thoroughly ruthless and cold-hearted that even the finest defense counsel in the world wouldn't paint a pretty picture.
Churn and burn the most vulnerable, that's the Davy philosophy
James Haughey was a mentally disabled young man whose parents died far too soon. Stockbrokers with Davy saw an easy mark in the unfortunate orphan, who was so utterly incapable of managing his own finances that he had no idea how much wrong was being done to him.

Mr. Haughey had an inheritance of €5 million to see him through the rest of his life. Davy convinced him to borrow €1.75 million with a portion of his inheritance as collateral. The stockbrokers then invested the loan proceeds into high-risk ventures, after claiming that the client was all in favor of going the high-risk route. At the time, Mr. Haughey was being treated in a psychiatric hospital and wasn't capable of making any sort of financial decisions at all, but when there's a broker's commission at stake, who's to know any different? The man's parents were dead and he wasn't going to kick up a fuss.

Bad investment after bad investment, Mr. Haughey's money was churned and burned through a variety of deals that reportedly could have cost him up to €30 million to get from under the losses.

But the broker made money, so what's the problem?

An Irish court has ordered Davy to reimburse Mr. Haughey in the amount of €2 million, after issuing a scathing rebuke to the firm. It's another black eye for Davy, which already has suffered several bruising over the past few years.

Sure they say they've put safeguards in place to prevent it from happening again, but this was after they claimed in court that they had no idea Mr. Haughey was so bad off as he turned out to be.

Could you write a story and use a Davy stockbroker as an antagonist? What redeeming quality could you find, beyond the fact that a special place in hell is reserved for the crew who covered over a gross abuse of a highly vulnerable individual?

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