Fair question. I should preface this by saying that you’re right that there are very few characters I actively dislike, and honestly I’d hesitate to put Galad on the same list as, say, Rahvin, Elaida, Couladin, Carridin, and Liandrin.
I also wouldn’t write off the possibility of me coming to like him, depending on what he does now that he looks to be getting more involved. That said…
I think it’s largely because I
just cannot understand his mindset
the way I think it’s being presented. I could be wrong, but I think he is meant
to be every bit as ‘good’ as he presents, and that the humility, the desire to
do what is right, the general aura of ‘perfect’ is actually genuine. And that
just…weirds me out, because anyone I’ve met (in real life or fiction) who is
such a beautiful, perfect, idealistic ‘white knight’ is not actually like that
below the surface. At best it’s a forced personality, where they’re trying to
be that way but it doesn’t come naturally and leads to all sorts of problems. At
worst they’re actively manipulative and cruel, and using the façade to hide it.
So when I look at Galad (and I’m
sure this is NOT how he’s meant to be read but bear with me), with his charisma
that he seems almost unaware of, and
his apparently absolute morality and insistence on doing what’s ‘right’, what
my mind immediately goes to is a self-aware psychopath who has chosen to set
himself rigid rules to follow in order to keep himself ‘in line’ so to speak. Because
that would explain why he always does
what’s right – he’s set himself rules to live by, and has consciously
established a ‘moral code’ in his mind to make up for the lack of an actual
moral sense. And it would fit very well with “no matter who it hurts” because
to someone who lacks empathy but follows a strict set of rules, someone getting
hurt would be a significantly lesser problem than breaking the rules. Plus it
would add some validity (or at least rationale) to Elayne’s comment about him
being a ‘monster’.
And while that would be a
fascinating character, I am pretty damn certain that’s not remotely close to
accurate. But the difference between how I want to read Galad (and, weirdly,
the way in which I would find him much easier to understand) and how I think he
actually is, causes a weird kind of dissonance in my mind that adds to my
difficulty in understanding him as a character, and that in turn makes it hard
for me to ‘trust’ him.
Which makes me
irritated with him, actually, because understanding characters (not necessarily
connecting with them, but being able to understand the way they think and work
and act) is something I tend to think I’m reasonably good at, and it’s
something I like being able to do. But Galad…I just can’t do it. I get as far
as ‘he does whatever he thinks is right’ and then it falls apart. It looks like
black-and-white morality, but I feel like I’m lacking a reference point,
almost. Why does he see the world that way? Is he Lawful Good, or Lawful
Neutral, or Neutral Good – which is the main factor in determining his view of ‘right’?
He cares about Elayne and Egwene, but joins an organisation that would call
them evil, so how does he weigh the relative importance of personal and
familial connections compared to the laws he’s chosen to follow? How does he
allow himself to care about anyone at all – surely that could get in the way of
doing what’s ‘right’ and is therefore ‘wrong’. But then compassion is generally viewed as ‘good’ so maybe it’s ‘right’.
So either he’s working off of a
black-and-white morality that is constructed in a way that seems to make sense
only to him, or he does have some shades of grey, which contradicts the way he’s
viewed. And it all just makes for a character I cannot understand, and who
thinks in a way that, as close as I can figure it, I so fundamentally
disagree with that I have a hard time liking him.
tl;dr: he rubs me the wrong way
and confuses the hell out of me, even though he really shouldn’t. A Galad POV
could potentially change my opinion of him. And this got far longer than I meant it to.