// TWST Book 7 spoilers, thoughts of Malleus's writing as a character
So I was reading some other people's opinions on why some people consider Malleus overrated/annoying, and tbh this makes me really sad. The general consensus is that a lot of people fixate on certain sides and can only see him as one extreme or the other and it results in many ppl thinking a watered down version of his character is how he is in canon.
I feel that its such a shame because he's the most interesting, compelling and well-rounded take on his character archetype I've seen.
From my observation, usually they kinda make this archetype (the broody misunderstood 'everyone fears him like a monster except for one special person') someone you can't take that seriously, because of how his struggle usually kind of written in a way where everyone involved feel less like actual fully fledged original characters and really just one note tropes interacting with other one note tropes.
To elaborate: What i mean when i say this is usually ppl who hate him kind of just do because of plot requires them to and to show how all their haters are "normies" who can't get him because 'he's not like everyone else'. The misunderstood guy still usually has toxic personality issues but the story really tends to make it feel like they don't fear him for that but because they're shallow and have prejudice to ppl like him, so his personality issues are not framed as wrong or character flaws.
I don't think there's anything inherenrly wrong or mediocre with the "one special person who gives him a chance before anyone else" trope like I'm literally a Malleyuu enjoyer lol but like i said its all in the execution cause otherwise it fails to be compelling and believable. Usually in the poorly written version of this trope the guy doesn't undergo any character development other than showing more emotion and kindess to his partner because they melted his ice I guess so it really makes his whole character feel like its revolves around the sake of romance and fanservice.
Malleus doesn't fall into this trap in my opinion because his situation despite how fantastical it is, the way he was written makes it believable as to why everything is the way it is with him, and it also challenges the viewer if they would be able to say they wouldn't fear him too in that situation.
"We're gonna give you this character who everyone sees as a monster and show you deep down he just wants the same love as everyone else, making you contemplate changing judgement on him. He wants to prove this, but his way of going about it always inadvertently harms others."
"You know where hes coming from and if he had that social connection to give him a better understanding of others this wouldn't be happening, but its also equally understandable that the people hes trying to connect with don't deserve this and fear him even more after this, trapping him in a cycle of isolation."
"Given his track record, do you go about giving him a chance or just considering the repeatedly proven danger he brings. With the valid reasons of both parties, can you really say he isn't a monster and demand that 'if only people be near him'?"
There's just such a tragic and thought-provoking dilemma to his character that adds so many layers that makes him so good.
As omniscient viewers we have the benefit of seeing what he's going through form his POV so we can sympathize with him and understand that he thinks what he's doing is the best course of action and he's just trying to create a "win for everyone" situation.
But also everything he does ironically reaffirms everyone's fear and distrust of someone like him. No one can deny he has a tendency to cause further destruction when he tries to do something "good", examples including: past Briar Valley lantern lighting fire, the Halloween 2 ghost world party, and now his Sleeping Curse stunt in Book 7 Part 2 (they really emphasize this by making the spoken name of his UM basically mean "Malicious Fairy" but have its written name used to convey what its meant to mean be "Blessing").
↑ Given this, it honestly makes sense others, especially those who don't know him all that well, would just expect the worst when he's around already, and you wouldn't be able to blame them for that given the track record. It doesn't help that this impression is worsened since he tends to cause misunderstandings due to his lack of familiarity with human social cues.
Alongside the bias and preconceived notions from his status and reputation, they also make a point on how his personality flaws are still also a huge factor in pushing people away, such as not being able to see things through the perspective of others.
He also holds a subconcious belief due to what has been ingrained in him since childhood as a Draconia and the next in line that because he's superior to others at certain things, he has the right and responsibility to decide on what will protect and help them, disregarding the individual values/priorities of human beings and leading him to take reckless and destructive action with good intentions.
His upbringing, character strengths and character flaws are all realistically connected to each other and the way they are subtly shown to be ever-present in defining his decisions, goals and thoughts throughout the whole story. So we don't really need to have a character go out of their way to exposition this to us this word for word just so we can understand and believe it.
Moving onto something slightly more lighthearted, I really also like how dorky Malleus surprisingly was. Other similar characters in the archetype I usually see don't really have any hobbies, interests, or quirks outside of being a broody authority figure, which might've been appealing to some at first but it really just gets stale and boring after a while.
This should be the bare minimum in making a fleshed out and interesting character so maybe i sound like im giving them too much credit for pointing it out😭 But yeah compared to the other examples it's good that Malleus has his Tamagotchi and Gargoyle interests it makes him feel like a believable person who has his own life going on too (with the bonus that these interests are also metaphors for aspects of his character). The gap moe adds an endearing side to him, and makes the gap between his intent and impact of his actions even more tragic. It wouldn't hit the same without this side.
(^ Forgot how the exact quote goes, but it basically said dark stories are more effective when there are moments of genuine happiness and good in them, compared to if it was always just grim and edgy. The former increases the stakes and tragedy because you have something you to care about losing, while for the latter there is nothing for you to care about so nothing the story does really matters. Same logic applies to Malleus)
Overall, it's just like an unfortunate incompatibility of goals and circumstances, which is what TWST is all about. Another thing I want to say is out of all the characters, I feel like Malleus is the one who is the ultimate embodiment of TWST's main themes:
-> How it's not about "hero" vs "villain" just differing circumstances crossing paths and clashing because of how people on either side have their own complex perspective and dreams they want to realize
-> And how connection and finding community is important to find people who will help you make up for what you lack in reaching your goals and to better understand all the factors that caused the situation in the first place.
As if seeing yourself reflected in a mirror, the more you get to know the people around you, you realize in many ways you are actually quite alike, and through understanding others you could also possibly better understand certain aspects of yourself. It's sort of encouraging you to do the opposite of dehumanizing others and yourself, which is something Malleus has most evidently internalized.
So yeah this was so long😭 I had a lot I wanted to say since Malleus is my favorite TWST character. Idk if I missed anything or if i managed to express my thoughts in a cohesive way but yeah. I kinda go into a rage whenever I see the worst takes ever be put out about his character but tbh sometimes I can't completely blame others since fandom trends and the convenience of simplifying things into tropes can warp your perception of a character and what you associate with them.
Also sometimes twst doesn't do a good job with utilizing his character like Book 5 where he got turned into a deus ex machina and Halloween 2 where they killed any hype and intrigue for the plot we had at the beginning through the ending reveal and gave the worst justification ever for Malleus and Lilia's actions ever.
Regardless, I hope more people manage to move past this and appreciate his character for what it really is soon though. He's an amazingly tragic character; a lot of thought was put into how his experiences, strengths and weaknesses would convincingly connect, and he represents something relevant in the story's plot and themes.
The fact that I've seen some people unironically believe that Malleus may just be faking his cluelessness of social cues to hide his "true evil" is evidence to how convincing his character's situation is, that even some in the audience who know more about him than the characters would still end up in the same place of doubt and distrust of Malleus because of what he's capable of.
Aight thank you for reading👍
That Malleus Anon again, apparently also TWST EN on twt has now come to the consensus that Malleus hates Silver because he did what he did in Chapter 7, Part 2 and I'm... I'm honestly Pepe crying right now.
PLEASE SAY UR JOKING
Like, Malleus doesn't hate Silver at all, he practically helped raise him [and Sebek] with Lilia. It's more of the fact that Mallleus never got to experience what it was like to have a father.
His parents are long dead and his Grandma, for all intents and purposes, is stuck in Briar Valley tiding the people over so as to not put unnecessary pressure on one the last Draconia's.
Lilia had to pick up the slack of raising Malleus into a King who would usher in a new era for Briar Valley.
In some ways Malleus feels robbed that he can never have someone to call 'old man' or 'father'..
It's more akin to slight jealousy if we wanna be honest, but even then Malleus still cares enough ab Silver to hear him pour his heart out. He heard the pleas of Silver not being strong enough to keep Lilia and took matters into his own hands.
You can say he looked indifferent while Silver was tearing himself up ab not being able to repay Lilia a debt that never needed to be collected, but you cannot deny that there's a sense of love in putting the entirety of NRC [and possibly the island] under a 'blessing'.
Malleus wanted to quell the hurt he and Silver shared in not being able to do anything in the face of death. He picked up where Silver left off when he cried out that he wasn't strong enough, because Malleus is strong enough.
He did as a king would, he heard his people's struggle and did something about it.
And I would argue that he and Kalim share parallels because of that, because they want to wrap everyone in a 'blessing'.