Norman Bates is considered one of the most horrifying villains in Cinema history. A quiet, awkward, sexually repressed character that is both victim and villain in his own mind. To begin with, he's the victim of emotional (and possibly sexual abuse) from his own mother who held him so close and cut him off from the world, that in Norman's mind, his mother was the world. Then her death caused his world to split and he unknowingly becomes two people in one mind. His normal self as generous Norman Bates and his split self as Norman's domineering mother.
Psycho is based on the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch and was immediately made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960. Within this story is a character that is both loved and pitied, but somehow we cannot hate Norman Bates. He's a victim...a psychopath that has no control of how he behaves. As Norman Bates, he's a genuinely caring and decent person. No one would ever suspect what he's hiding (if he's even aware of it or not).
Why am I (and probably many other) so drawn to Norman Bates? Because he is real. Deep within his lovely dark eyes, lies a man that is screaming to get out. You see it immediately when he has lunch with Marion Crane. He's lonely, he's cut off and is desperate to be accepted, only Mother won't let him. Norman Bates could be the metaphor of the human soul that is so locked up and tied down from fear that any sense of happiness is just dust in the wind.
Norman Bates could be considered a villain, yes, but is he a villain by his own admission? Is his split personality to blame? His mother? His restrictive upbringing and reclusive living? I personally cannot see Norman as a villain, but as a disturbed man who has never had anyone in his life offer any help or even hope to him. All of this falls back to his mother, that while in Norman's warped mind was a wonderful women, she was strict and dominant woman who lost her husband when Norman was young and through her son, used him as her mental and emotional puppet.
So, who is the real Norman Bates? The quiet reserved 30 something or the mad murderer who believed that he/she is protecting their son? Or is Norman Bates been gone for years and all that we see is the shell of a man who hides a hideous beast inside? One thing is for sure, Norman Bates is character that everyone hopes for redemption, but redemption for a man as unpredictable as Norman is never a sure thing.