Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

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Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby Fatebringer the 2nd » Fri Jun 19, 2015 2:52 am

See, it seems clear that it should be Artemis. But look at the reasoning behind his actions. Artemis has recently lost everything. He's had to fire a majority of his staff. He's had to sell objects of incredible value just to pay the rent because he knows that his mother would be unable to take the change if they were to lose the home. So, he finds a criminal way out, like his presumed dead father would do. Artemis never intended on killing anyone, and meant for as little pain as necessary. Artemis is also not very greedy, all things considered. He actually upheld his side of the bargain when Holly healed his mother, when he could have simply tricked her and held back the promised gold after the healing.
Now, look at the People. What becomes abundantly clear is that they have a superiority complex. They show clear disdain for humans as if they cannot be bettered by them. They're Hellbent on not relinquishing their gold, and even go as far as to release a troll in the Manor, potentially killing the same person they're supposed to be saving. The People also do actually intend on killing people, by immediately releasing a bio-bomb once holly leaves the mansion.
So, are we supposed to root for the criminal genius who chains people to beds for ransom? Or for the racist underground society fine with killing in order to get their way?

Interesting dilemma.
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Re: Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby Rocket Axxonu » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:02 am

Haha, I remember when I first read the books, I was sort of rooting for both. (That is, I wanted Artemis to outwit the fairies and get the gold, but I didn't want anyone to get killed. So I guess I got what I wanted. XD)

I think part of whether you think of Artemis as a villain or not comes from how you would define a villain. For me, I still think Artemis was the real villain of the story for several reasons. (Even if in the end he did prove to have some redeeming qualities.) He did a lot of cold things—for instance, at the beginning of the book, we have no reason to believe that he wouldn't have let the sprite die if she had refused to relinquish her copy of the Book. However, he did honor his agreement (if he did seem to take a bit of a sadistic pleasure in the idea of her pain at expunging the alcohol), which made him less dislikable as a villain than some of the later villains, such as Jon Spiro or the Russian Mafia from TAI. (Who did break agreements as a matter of course.) He also set the bomb on the oil tanker, which could have very easily killed Root or whoever the officer sent after the tracker, though Root did manage to get off in time. Artemis may not have intended to kill the fairy, but he was more than willing to risk it.

We also have to remember that it was Artemis who initiated contact with the People, knowing full well that his scheme might potentially kick off a war. And the stated goal of all these ruthless things that he does is to obtain gold for the purpose of restoring the Fowl family glory. (In TTP, Artemis age 10 was looking for money to fund the search for his father, but in book one, he decides to give up on the search and accept his father was gone, in order to succeed in his plans, even if he seems to regret this later.) Artemis does have stabs of conscience periodically over the course of his scheme, but in the end, even after his hostage stepped in and had mercy on his servant by saving his life, he still will not relinquish the gold.

Artemis does have moments of conscience throughout the book, and does honor his agreements, but I think those things show his potential to become something better, rather than excuse him from the title of true villain.



Of course, one of the things I love about the books is that the People aren't perfect either. You have true heroes like Root, Holly, and Foaly, who really are concerned about preserving life and are willing to risk their own lives to save that of their friends and comrades, and to protect their entire race, and yet you also have political shenanigans from fairies like Cudgeon, and a ruthlessness from the Council when it comes to protecting taxpayer gold.

Plus, even the heroes of the story, are shown to have their own biases. As you said, they have a superiority complex, and look down on humans as being both mentally and morally inferior. (Holly herself has an interesting thought near the beginning of the book, where she thinks to herself that she can't 'kill the troll under any circumstances. Not to save humans.' Holly seems to have a heroic streak she can't put down, and always jumps in to save lives whether they be human or fairy, but it seems clear that her culture tells her the life of a troll [a magical creature, but essentially an animal] is worth more than that of a mud person, or even a roomful of mud people. The People's prejudice against humans and lingering bitterness over being driven underground seems to be a theme that lingers throughout the books.

I still think, in essence, in book one Artemis is 'the bad guy' and the fairies are 'the good guys' (again, Artemis initiated the contact in order to steal their gold, and essentially blackmailed them by threatening to expose their existence to the world, which would have likely gotten them all slaughtered, while the People, though they may have been ruthless, had to act and do what was necessary to protect themselves from the attack), but I think one thing that makes the books so interesting is that there are those shades of gray in between. Artemis isn't totally bad, and the fairies aren't totally good.



Oh, one last note—it's true that when Artemis Fowl Senior's ship went down, Artemis had to fire off a lot of the staff and they were really struggling to make the funds they needed. However, in book one I think it's stated (or at least implied) that Artemis had, by that time, rebuilt much of the Fowl empire, and his goal in stealing from the fairies was to return the Fowls back to billionaire status. (The Fowls were no longer struggling financially, but they had fallen from their former position of glory and prestige in the world, and Artemis's goal was to win it back.)


Anyway, that's what I think. But maybe I just like thinking of Artemis as a villain. XD (In the early books, at least.)
“After all, absolutely no one can help but suspect a criminal, liar, and manipulator of committing crimes, lying, and manipulating. And of course, no one is more aware of that simple fact than Artemis Fowl.”

Opal sets into motion her most diabolical scheme yet, to frame Artemis and turn his closest friends against him. Only this time she has a new calculating partner who knows Artemis better than he knows himself. [Post TAC]

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8336552/1/Noble-Heart ...Shameless self-advertising, guys! C;

(And if you're really bored: http://axxonu.deviantart.com/gallery/28912232/Artemis-Fowl AF fanart. ;J)

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Re: Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby Fatebringer the 2nd » Thu Jun 25, 2015 6:08 pm

About Holly being a true hero.

I, myself, think Holly's character is somewhat negative in the first book. I remember first reading when Holly stated that Artemis and Butler deserved to die. That's a hurtful statement when the reader has truly gotten to know and understand the other side of the story. Sure, it's a possibly understandable stress break with what happened to her, but when you factor in her earlier comment with the troll at the beginning, it takes on a different connotation. I truly believe that in book one, Holly believed that humans did not deserve to live. She felt guilt for Juliet, sure. But she wasn't exactly crying out about the injustice of taking her life.

Also remember Holly didn't save Butler on purpose, and decided to guilt trip Butler to save the troll that almost killed both him and his sister. She did not have mercy on Artemis's servant.

If anything, in book one, root seems to be more of the hero main character for the people. He negotiates with Artemis, he protests the troll being sent in, and he saves the hostage. He's in a place of high importance among the people, and got there due to respect.

Just playing devils advocate.
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Re: Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby Rocket Axxonu » Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:30 am

Haha! You're right, I think Holly has many negative qualities. I think that's part of what makes Holly so interesting as a character; on the surface, she comes across as a typical hero with a lot of heroic traits, but she's also made to be a completely believable character in the context of her society, with all the flaws you might expect her to have. (Especially regarding her view of humans.)

But even so, I do think Holly does come across as a real hero, even in book one. In spite of her comments about how 'she couldn't kill the troll, not to save humans,' she disobeys orders in order to save the humans in the restaurant, risking her own life in the process. (This makes an especially strong statement about her character when we also consider that she has barely come back to work after a suspension and investigation from IA. She's risking her career, and we know fairly early on how important her job as a police officer is to her. Yet instead of rationalizing not acting, she jumps right in to save the humans.)

Also, I probably need to read through the book again to be sure, but the way I remember the scene in book one, Holly does save Butler's life on purpose. When she heard the troll was coming, she could have run back and hidden (which is what the Council would have wanted), but she goes in and intervenes on Butler and Juliet's behalf, risking her own life, and puts out a hand and touches him in order to heal him and herself both at the same time (though I should probably look that one up again X3). Holly's decision to insist Butler spare the troll's life could be seen in multiple lights, as her unwillingness to see another creature die (even a creature that just about killed her) could be another part of her caring and heroic disposition.

I like Holly as a hero of the story, I guess because I feel like she's not so heroic as to be an unbelievable character. She cares about others, and routinely risks her life for strangers, but the prejudices of her surrounding culture are deeply ingrained in her. When her instincts go against the rules or what the culture would dictate, sometimes her instincts win out and she does what's right, and sometimes her culture wins.


*Looks back over old 'how do you rank the books' posts* ...Hey. I just realized, we had a conversation like this before, and we were on opposite sides. XD! (Play devil's advocate all you want, I love discussing this topic. <3)
“After all, absolutely no one can help but suspect a criminal, liar, and manipulator of committing crimes, lying, and manipulating. And of course, no one is more aware of that simple fact than Artemis Fowl.”

Opal sets into motion her most diabolical scheme yet, to frame Artemis and turn his closest friends against him. Only this time she has a new calculating partner who knows Artemis better than he knows himself. [Post TAC]

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8336552/1/Noble-Heart ...Shameless self-advertising, guys! C;

(And if you're really bored: http://axxonu.deviantart.com/gallery/28912232/Artemis-Fowl AF fanart. ;J)

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Re: Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby FadingLight » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:21 pm

Cudgeon is one of the villains, I suppose. On the other hand, that would mean that the people who oppose him are the heroes, which would lump Holly, Root, and Artemis all together. It's a pretty blurry situation. At first, Artemis seems a lot like the villain—creepy, vampire-like child genius who kidnaps a fairy police officer. On the other hand, a lot of the fairies seem to think that bio-bombing Fowl Manor and killing everyone inside is the best course of action, meaning that they can recover their gold and make sure Artemis and Co. don't go around telling tales. Root is mostly worried about Holly, and Holly does feel sympathy for the humans but is mostly concerned that Juliet is an innocent. So, Artemis has plenty of nasty qualities (ruthlessness, selfishness) but is loathe to actually kill anyone, while the fairies see killing some humans as a regrettable but acceptable sacrifice to keep their gold and secrets.

When I started reading the first book, I was pretty much hoping it wouldn't be the kind of book where the thief or criminal fails, has an attack of conscience, and confesses to authority figures, and everything is smoothed out and a sincere apology is given. I like that Artemis develops over several books, and that he chooses to go straight himself, while he could easily continue his life of crime—he could wriggle out of any accusation. It probably takes more to stop being a criminal because you don't want to hurt people than to stop because you've been caught, or failed.

Anyway, I sorta think the villain of the book is Cudgeon, but also the nasty qualities in all the characters—Artemis's ruthless criminal genius side, and the fairies' disregard for human life. So you can kinda think of the villain as defeated, at least partially, since Artemis gives up some gold to heal his mother and Holly saves Butler's life. On the other hand, not everything is solved—Artemis had practical reasons for wanting to heal his mother and is still not a nice guy, while the fairies still don't think much of humans. Of course, that's why it's a series.

Anyway, this is just my guess.
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Which do you think seems more suspicious? An alien-looking craft hovering in the yard of a country home, or a floating doorway with a centaur standing in it?—Domovoi Butler
We can only change the future, not the past or present.—Artemis Fowl II
I'm trying to care, Artemis. But I thought it was all supposed to be over when the fat lady sings. Well, she's singing, but it doesn't appear to be over.—Holly Short

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Re: Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby Fatebringer the 2nd » Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:33 am

That's an answer I can certainly agree with. Although it doesn't clear up anything to say everyone is the villain. If anything, it shrouds the situation more. That's one of the reaons why I regard the first book so highly.
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Re: Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby FadingLight » Sat Jun 27, 2015 8:53 pm

Yeah, the first book is even mentioned on TvTropes on this page

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... ayMorality

under the "Literature" folder.
I said you were smart, Mud Boy. I was wrong; are exceptional.—Qwan
Which do you think seems more suspicious? An alien-looking craft hovering in the yard of a country home, or a floating doorway with a centaur standing in it?—Domovoi Butler
We can only change the future, not the past or present.—Artemis Fowl II
I'm trying to care, Artemis. But I thought it was all supposed to be over when the fat lady sings. Well, she's singing, but it doesn't appear to be over.—Holly Short

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Re: Who is the antagonist of the first Artemis Fowl?

Postby Rocket Axxonu » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:09 pm

Fading,
Yeah, that's a good point, Cudgeon is sort of brought forward as an antagonist in book 1 in order to (sort of) unite our two opposing sides. (Though he doesn't really seem to become the villain in the fullest sense until TAI.)

FadingLight wrote:When I started reading the first book, I was pretty much hoping it wouldn't be the kind of book where the thief or criminal fails, has an attack of conscience, and confesses to authority figures, and everything is smoothed out and a sincere apology is given. I like that Artemis develops over several books, and that he chooses to go straight himself, while he could easily continue his life of crime—he could wriggle out of any accusation. It probably takes more to stop being a criminal because you don't want to hurt people than to stop because you've been caught, or failed.

Haha! I know, I had the same exact feeling. I didn't want Artemis to completely lose, and I definitely didn't want him to suddenly give up his ambition and turn into a good guy. I mean, you see that happen so often in books and when it seems to happen too fast to be believable, it's not going to have much impact, and just end up being kind of disappointing. I agree, I think one of the real powerful points of the series is the fact that Artemis's change (as well as the development of his relationship with the fairies) is so gradual, taking place over the course of several books. Taking that time to develop slowly and believably is what makes Artemis's transformation such an intriguing part of the overarching plot.

Practical reason for wanting to heal his mother, lol. (Do you mean Argon's commentary at the end, where he says that Artemis's reasons for making the deal with Holly was because social services was looking into his case? XD! Because I've always thought Argon's slant on Artemis's motivations was a bit suspect, hehe.) But yeah, though Artemis seems to show a sliver of decency in wanting to get his mother healed, you'll notice he's not willing to give up the entire ransom for it, only half, and as you said, doesn't come out in the end one of the good guys.


Very interesting article, the first book of Artemis Fowl really does fall into that category. (I would say that the fairies probably fall into the 'slightly better reasons' role. Although the motivations of some of the character for doing what they're doing aren't all that sympathetic [the Council wants to doublecross Artemis basically so they can save the gold, and Cudgeon's reasons for sending in the troll were mainly about winning political points], Root believes that biobombing the manor is the right thing to do, because leaving humans with knowledge of their People will not only open them up to further exploitation, if their existence becomes broadly known, it could ignite a war in which the People would most likely be wiped out. I think Colfer does an excellent job of capture an organization in the LEP that isn't really an organization of unambiguous heroism, but rather one that's more like a real military.)

I think the ambiguity there is what gives the series that sense of real depth. (Oh, and I see Animorphs is also listed under the literature section. I love that, that's very true of the series, and one of the things I always loved it for.)
“After all, absolutely no one can help but suspect a criminal, liar, and manipulator of committing crimes, lying, and manipulating. And of course, no one is more aware of that simple fact than Artemis Fowl.”

Opal sets into motion her most diabolical scheme yet, to frame Artemis and turn his closest friends against him. Only this time she has a new calculating partner who knows Artemis better than he knows himself. [Post TAC]

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8336552/1/Noble-Heart ...Shameless self-advertising, guys! C;

(And if you're really bored: http://axxonu.deviantart.com/gallery/28912232/Artemis-Fowl AF fanart. ;J)


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