The novelist Dumas would one day borrow features from both of his uncles, not to mention his grandfather, the acknowledged scoundrel, in fashioning the central villains of The Count of Monte Cristo. Reading court documents detailing the sordid unraveling of Charles's sham fortune, which would have devastating effects on his daughter and her unsuspecting husband, I couldn't help thinking that one of the interesting things about Dumas's villains is that, while greedy and unprincipled themselves, they produce children who can be innocent and decent. This was something that the writer understood very well from his own family.
No one just starts giggling and wearing black and signs up to become a villainous monster. How the hell do you think it happens? It happens to people. Just people. They make questionable choices, for what might be very good reasons. They make choice after choice, and none of them is slaughtering roomfuls of saints, or murdering hundreds of baby seals, or rubber-room irrational. But it adds up. And then one day they look around and realized that they're so far over the line that they can't remember where it was.
What do you see when you see me?' She asked him, burying her own face in his bosom. 'Do you want the truth?'She nodded.'The firing squad.''That's not the whole truth. Try again.''Insatiability,' he said with some bitterness.'That's oblique but altogether too simple. Once more,' she insisted. 'One more time.'He was silent for several minutes.'The map of a country in which I only exist by virtue of the extravagance of my metaphors.''Now you're being too sophisticated. And, besides, what metaphors do we have in common?