Throughout history, villains play a crucial role in movies, books, and even real life. Villains are people whose evil or misguided actions or motives bring down the rest of society. In this way, Mae Holland is the villain of The Circle, and in taking on this role, Eggers tries to teach a lesson to his audience. Throughout the novel, Mae gradually becomes the villain, causing the destruction not only of individuals but of society in her contributions that derail human life as it is known, showing the effect in which self motivation, overuse of technology, and the importance of privacy have in civic culture.
Mae’s role in the Circle became so significant, she became driven solely by self motivation. As Mae continued to wear her watch that allowed users to follow her every move, Mae became obsessed with their opinions. She wanted their feedback and encouraged it through the production of Demoxie. In the book it says, “The goal is to make sure that everyone who works at the Circle can weigh in on issues that affect their lives-mostly on campus, but in the larger world, too” (Eggers, 400). When the questioned was asked, “Is Mae Holland awesome or what?”, Mae become driven to find out what 3% of responders did not agree with the statement (Eggers, 408). The books describes that she felt full of holes, meaning she felt empty without the validation of people. The development of Demoxie may have been able to help democratic decision, but it gave way for criticism and ridicule without any explanation.
As Mae gained a greater understanding of her position in power, she learned the ways in which she could use it to influence the lives of others. Even though Mae’s position in the Circle has substantial influence, she constantly wanted to be the priority, and resented Annie for being selected as the first subject of PastPerfect. Mercer serves the novel as the voice of reason, the protagonist against the actions of the Circle and Mae. His efforts, however, are not enough, and he gives up in his fight to make Mae see it his way and resorts to a place in which to be private. As the villain, Mae tries to strip Mercer of any privacy he sought, finding him using SoulSearch. Using the help of Circlers around the world, Mae tracked him because he was a fugitive from friendship. In these efforts, Mae takes on the role as a villain. Knowing he could not escape the power of the Circle, Mercer is led to commit suicide. Mercer could not be the martyr that he hoped to be because Mae as the villain continued to encourage the completion of the Circle despite those closest to her having doubts about its power.
In evaluation of Mae’s character, Eggers uses the revelation of her position as a villain to stray from novelistic conventions and send a message to the audience. Through the evolution of characters such as Annie, Mercer, and Kalden, their resistance to the closing of the Circle, and affects it had on their lives, show the results of authority in the hands of villains. Furthermore, Mae can be connected to the events that brought each of these characters to their demise. Eggers reveals Mae as a villain in order to show the devastating effect in which private information can have in the wrong hands. People who start enticed by the idea and consumed by attention can lose sight of the consequences of innovation and the effects it can have when misused. Mae is the villian that nobody saw coming, giving both an intriguing end to Eggers novel while making the point that anyone can fall victim to the effects of mass media, privatized knowledge, and power.