It can’t be Romy; serving a life sentence for killing a man who was stalking her. This nightmare teacher despises little kids and takes out her rage by using them for shot-put practice, force-feeding them cake, locking them up, and plenty of other atrocities. His villainy is in his carefulness, his coldness, his self-preservation at all costs. Sure, Xan is also a villain in this novel. Take, take, take. Here’s a villain you can’t help but root for—I mean, sort of. Created by Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature. Thinks he can marry a nice girl like Jane anyway! Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides. Fathers don’t get much worse than David Melrose: cruel, brutal, and snobbish, a man who enjoyed humiliating his wife, who raped his young son, and who seemed to doom all those close to him to a life of pain. You could argue that it’s Harry who corrupts Dorian, and James who stalks and tries to murder him, but the real source of all this young hedonist’s problems is his own self-obsession. Article by ayushi khemka, October 24, 2013. She drives one patient to suicide, is obsessed with vengeance, and orders a lobotomy that she knows is unnecessary. Likable Characters In Children’s Literature. In the end, she has a single feeling of remorse and promptly kills herself. For a character who never actually appears on the pages of a the novel, Norma Bates sure gets her point across. Robert Cohn from The Sun Also Rises. The main character is often called the protagonist. . Obviously, Harry Potter is the main character. What’s their secret, asks David Robson. After a lifetime spent abusing and manipulating her son into believing all women are evil sluts except for her, her son murders her — but Norma's not done with him yet. There is no foreseeable problem with this. Did you think the villain was the whale? Mr. Hyde, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Because the very worst villain is . This horrifying housekeeper is faithful to her first mistress unto death — and beyond. . . I have to say, that’s smart. The General, The Autumn of the Patriarch, Gabriel García Márquez. It's perhaps the nature of grown-up literature that it doesn't all that often have villains, in the sense of coal-black embodiments of the principle of evil. Because during the fifties there was a general lust for conformity all over this country, by no means only in the suburbs—a kind of blind, desperate clinging to safety and security at any price, as exemplified politically in the Eisenhower administration and the Joe McCarthy witch-hunts. She is such an expert manipulator, such a re-threader of the truth, that she is able to seduce everyone in her path (read: not only Sonoko but Sonoko’s husband) and get them to like it. To that end, below are a few of my favorites from the wide world of literary villainy. He is a fantastic villain, a dangerous trickster, whose character has stumped (and intrigued) critics for centuries. . It’s José Ignacio Saenz de la Barra who is the most bloodthirsty, but the unnamed General (of the Universe) who is the most compelling villain in this novel: an impossibly long-lived tyrant who has borderline-magical control over the populace, and even the landscape, whose roses open early because, tired of darkness, he has declared the time changed; who sells away the sea to the Americans. Hubris, almost all of literature but let’s go with Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton. Apparently all this is available to her because of her remarkable beauty. . In Atwood’s retelling of the Grimm fairy tale “The Robber Bridegroom,” an evil temptress named Zenia steals the partners of three women (among many, one presumes). Forget all that sexual stuff you see in the movies. He’s a shallow, narcissistic, greedy investment banker, and also a racist, a misogynist, an anti-Semite and a homophobe, and also a sadist and a murderer and a cannibal and Huey Lewis devotee. As slaveowners go, Rufus isn’t the worst (his father might rank) but he isn’t the best, either. But what exactly does “best” mean when it comes to bad guys (and gals)? Sure, the slavers are bad (and the schoolteacher is particularly chilling). extremely stifling. She pushes her weaker husband to kill the king, and when he won't do it, she does it herself, mocking him all the way to the bloodbath. David is definitely worse (if slightly less all-encompassing). She mobilizes all the wily and beguiling art of seduction and ingratiation, which she has been able to use on men, and she directs it at women as well. The problem with cartoonish, caricature-like villains is that … She’s a big fan. He says that he will never die. Gaslights her constantly! He is dancing, dancing. This is an interesting study because the seeming antagonist to Jake, the main character, is his own impotence which keeps him from the love of his life, Lady Brett Ashley. She's beautiful, except for her eyes, which are "not human eyes.". A cynical, manipulative, intelligent beauty with many artistic talents and a premium can-do attitude at her disposal. She eventually goes mad, and her final days are spent scrubbing the imaginary blood of the king off her hands. That’s right, I said it. Every author wants a fan like Annie Wilkes, who reads every book and hangs on every word and imprisons the writer in her creepy home and begins to torture him beyond all reason, right? Her sleepwalking scene is one of the best and most famous of all of Shakespeare’s plays. Big Nurse rules the patients of the asylum ward with an iron fist. Since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a novel, we meet many other characters as well. Though honestly, as depictions of the devil go, Dante’s is somewhat less than fearsome—not least because he too must suffer all the pains and indignities of Hell, tortured and torturing, crying from all six of his eyes as he chomps on Judas Iscariot. Most of the cast of Black Legion comes across like that, especially Khayon. Humbert Humbert, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. It simply depends on the villain. It is the whole thing, every aspect, of the American prison system—meant to catch you and bleed you and keep you and bring you back—that is the true villain in this novel (and often, in real life). Think Lex Luthor, Lord Voldemort, or Dr. Charles Nichols in The Fugitive. She is Richard III with breast implants. Keeps his first wife locked in the attic! “They don’t have a name for what he is.” Also, he has six fingers—though they’re on his left hand, so it couldn’t have been him who killed Mr. Montoya. He never sleeps, the judge. actually inside you. A criminal mastermind— “the Napoleon of Crime,” as Holmes puts it—and the only person to ever give the good consulting detective any real trouble (other than himself). ), Dr. Frankenstein, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. The Grand Witch. My favourite villain in literature is Captain Hook. . Turns Out We Have Perfectly Good Evolutionary Reasons to Avoid Exercise, Camilla Bruce on Lizzie Borden, Shirley Jackson, and Grimms' Fairy Tales, Patricia Highsmith's Malcontents, Misogynists, and Murderers, Six Perfectly Alluring Academic Mysteries, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö: A Crime Reader’s Guide to the Classics, The Best Nonfiction Crime Books Coming Out in January, That time Sherlock Holmes appeared in an Arsène Lupin story as "Herlock Sholmès". Think of these as noteworthy villains, if it clarifies things. Repeatedly topping polls of literature and film’s best villains, “the … Be it novels, poems or drama, all genres of literature are endowed with a huge fan following. out, I say!—One: two: why, Wicked Cultured: A villain who has a taste for the finer things in life. I meant the title to suggest that the revolutionary road of 1776 had come to something very much like a dead end in the fifties. We can totally handle it. It can’t be any of the prisoners, nor any of the guards in particular. These characters are dark, nuanced, and eternally creepy. She is a “man-eater” run amok. The Wheelers may have thought the suburbs were to blame for all their problems, but I meant it to be implicit in the text that that was their delusion, their problem, not mine. He’s selfish and ignorant, and (like most men of the time) a brutal racist and misogynist, who doesn’t mind raping women as long as they act like they like it. The sand that constantly threatens to swallow everything: first the man, then the woman, then the village—though one assumes the villagers would replace him before that happened. When her master brings a new wife home, Mrs. Danvers can't stand this seeming betrayal of the first wife, and plays evil tricks on the new woman, eventually burning the house down in an attempt to consummate the new marriage by fire. 17-year-old Abigail is a prime example of using power and hysteria and misinformation for evil. By the end, the novel seems to judge her pretty harshly—but I’ve always loved her. . to have had so much blood in him. She may masquerade as the subservient wife, the selfless mother, or the well-behaved daughter, but there are cracks in her facade, and when the clock strikes midnight, she strikes, too. The second time she tries to kill him, she succeeds, but it's messy, and the whole lover thing doesn't quite work out for her, either. That’s one way to do it, I suppose. Professor Moriarty, “The Final Problem,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. from Stoker’s “Dracula.”. The kid, The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein. They are like insects. Sullen and annoying! I meant it more as an indictment of American life in the 1950s. He maintained a serene comportment at all times but generated a threatening atmosphere, like a thunderhead that seems far away but then is suddenly overhead with a loud violence.” He’s a little more interesting and intelligent than a simple brute—in part due to that sidekick of his—which only makes him more frightening as a character. Few villains are quite so aggressively ugly as Uriah Heep (even the name! Actually, the fact that he thinks he’s better than his father actually makes him worse. But the real, big-picture villain, the thing that causes everything to dissolve, and people to start christening their kittens and pushing them around in prams, has to be the global disease that left all the men on earth infertile. Key quote: "My orders are that every single child in the … Flora Belle Buckman: Flora´s parents are divorced, so she lives with her mother in a suburban neighborhood.In her leisure time she loves to read comics, especially her favorite one: The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto!Although she describes herself as a cynic, she appears disappointed and vulnerable. This kid is the actual worst. As “the most evil woman in creation,” she is on a mission to torture and kill as many children as possible, and often uses murder as a focusing device in meetings. Who is really the villain in Rachel Kushner’s most recent novel? This sadistic teacher disguises her cruelty … Judge Holden, Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy. In fact, that’s why we like them. In fact, Benchley, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, was so horrified at the cultural response to his work that he became a shark conservationist later in life. Isn’t it awesome? The characters are the persons that are involved in the story. Anyway, a great many Americans were deeply disturbed by all that—felt it to be an outright betrayal of our best and bravest revolutionary spirit—and that was the spirit I tried to embody in the character of April Wheeler. More importantly, despite the fact that he might be a genius, he inflicts senseless and remorseless violence wherever he goes. She's an emotionless manipulation machine, and does everything with cold calculation, including killing her parents, abandoning her children, and shooting her husband. All rights reserved. Suburban Ennui, Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates. Things do not then go well for Paul, because as it turns out, Annie is already a seasoned serial killer who is very handy (read: murderous) with household objects. Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter. She loves Paul Sheldon’s novels about Misery Chastain, and she is devastated to discover—after rescuing Sheldon from a car wreck—that he has killed off her beloved character. She is Iago in a miniskirt. Hannibal Lecter, Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, etc., Thomas Harris. . When we first meet him, he is described as a “cadaverous” man, “who had hardly any eyebrows, and no eyelashes, and eyes of a red-brown, so unsheltered and unshaded, that I remember wondering how he went to sleep. Whatever. Dresses up as a gypsy to mess with Jane’s mind! It can’t be the man himself, who didn’t quite understand what he was doing. But these are only symptoms, in this the Great American Novel, of the Great American Sin. It's always creepy when little girls or sweet-faced brides show off their dark side, but on the other end of the spectrum, the woman who lives alone in the woods and reads too many romance novels can also be awfully disturbing, too. Possibly the most terrifying character in modern literature (or any literature? Ah, Evil Earth! In one of her most memorable scenes, she forces Harry Potter to write lines in his own blood. Bertha in "Jane Eyre" Sure, she does some crazy things. Give villains explicit or implicit trauma. She's especially terrifying because she has the power of bureaucracy behind her; she's obsessed with creating and enforcing rules, even when it involves physical violence to students. Our next series of posts hopes to address this question by looking into several factors, including, the types of characters that are commonly used in literature, character development planning, the character arc, character motivation, and dialogue. Images: Universal Pictures (3); Warner Bros (3); United Artists (2); Columbia (2); 20th Century Fox; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Paramount Pictures; Lifetime; HBO; TriStar Pictures. Listen: Annie Wilkes is a fan. Sand. Faux Affably Evil: The villain acts nice and friendly, but it doesn't change how vile they truly are. Sometimes, she's a man's worst nightmare — a seductive force who's out for blood. Banquo is another general in King Duncan's army and Macbeth's best friend. Or should it be Mary Lick, a sort of modern millionaire version of Snow White’s Evil Queen, who pays pretty women to disfigure themselves? Even this makes me shiver: Out, damned spot! . We’ve heard that one before. account?—Yet who would have thought the old man It helps that he's the Villain Protagonist. We may boo them, wish for their demise, and gasp in horror at their latest evil deeds, but deep down, we love the villains. . What’s that about? Of course it’s O’Brien who does most of the dirty work—but it’s Big Brother (be he actual person or nebulous invented concept) that really, um, oversees the evil here. Also, you just fell asleep one time and when you woke up it was your evil id and not you? When Veda becomes famous and successful, she ends up seducing her stepfather, which sends her mother into a murderous rage. from Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.”. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, and you are more than invited to nominate your own favorite evildoers in the comments section. Sauron “The book was widely read as an antisuburban novel, and that disappointed me,” Yates said in a 1972 interview. Aaron the Moor The Witches by Roald Dahl. In everyone’s favorite horror novel about America in the ’50s, onetime bohemians Frank and April Wheeler move to the ‘burbs, and find it. Nor is this a book with no villain, because the pulsing sense of injustice is too great. Top 10 Most Romantic Characters in Literature. All he wants is the whole world of Middle-earth brought under his... 6 For the audience: Though after countless adaptations, we now think of Moriarty as Holmes’s main enemy, Doyle really only invented him as a means to kill his hero, and he isn’t otherwise prominent in the series. The worst villain is the one who knows you best—the one you might even love. Tom Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith. You’ve never met a more dedicated hustler. After all, if everyone was always nice and good and honest all the time, literature probably wouldn’t even exist. Evil Genius: A villain who is highly intelligent. It’s pretty hard to fight back when the thing you’re fighting is the earth itself, which punishes those who walk upon it with extreme, years-long “seasons” of dramatic and deadly climate change. While the children are stuck in the attic, Corrine allows their grandmother to abuse them, visits them less and less, poisons them with arsenic-laced doughnuts, and ends up leaving them altogether, as the children grow weak, malnourished, and incestuous. Interestingly, the villain in Hemingway’s debut novel is actually the nicest guy in the novel, Robert Cohn. Can’t really get any worse than that as a person—but as a character, he’s endlessly entertaining. from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”. Satan, The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri. Made iconic by Anthony Hopkins, of course, but made brilliant and terrifying—a serial killing psychiatrist cannibal, come on—by Thomas Harris. A quick-reference summary: Like a House on Fire on a single page. Patrick Bateman, American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis. . It’s José Ignacio Saenz de la Barra who is the most bloodthirsty, but the unnamed General (of the Universe) who is the most compelling villain in this novel: an impossibly long-lived tyrant who has borderline-magical control over the populace, and even the landscape, whose roses open early because, tired of darkness, he has declared the time changed; who sells away the sea to the Americans. Some are terrifying because of their utter heartlessness, while others are terrifying because they pretend to care. That said, the real antagonist in this novel might actually be the unknown and unexplained force that keeps transporting Dana from her good life in 1976 California to a Maryland slave plantation in 1815. Welcome to a new episode of The Book Report!This week Mike and Janet talk about six literary villains they liked even though they weren’t supposed to.. We may not love them in our lives, but they’re often the best part of our literature—on account of their clear power, their refusal of social norms, and most importantly, their ability to make stories happen. You feel his pain as he tries to insinuate himself into the life of the man he so admires (and perhaps loves), and as he is first welcomed and then pushed away. She manipulates and exploits all the vanities and childhood scars of her friends (wounds left by neglectful mothers, an abusive uncle, absent dads); she grabs at intimacies and worms her way into their comfortable lives, then starts swinging a pickax. Villains are the best. Today’s post will focus on character types and what they mean to a story. Anti-heroes are villainous people who function in a protagonist’s role. The sand that keeps coming, and must be shoveled back. Vanity, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. By Heba Hasan. 9 of Literature's Least Likable Protagonists. 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