The slave-hunting Ridgeway, Whitehead writes, “was six and a half feet tall, with the square face and thick neck of a hammer. The Earth, The Broken Earth series, N. K. Jemisin. . She tries to set Rochester on fire, and then … The worst villain is the one who knows you best—the one you might even love. Oh, Henry—brooding, brilliant, bone-tired Henry. Likable Characters In Children’s Literature. 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. When Veda becomes famous and successful, she ends up seducing her stepfather, which sends her mother into a murderous rage. 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. 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). Dresses up as a gypsy to mess with Jane’s mind! Tom Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith. 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. Mr. Hyde, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Because the very worst villain is . Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Cate Kennedy's Like a House on Fire. Listen: Annie Wilkes is a fan. Mired in self-pity! 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). 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. Few villains are quite so aggressively ugly as Uriah Heep (even the name! Sometimes I like to think about what this novel would be like if someone wrote it today, with Dorian as a social media star. This kid is the actual worst. The housekeeper so devoted to her dead ex-mistress that she’s determined to keep her memory alive—by goading her boss’s new wife to jump out of the window to her death. Aaron the Moor But I can’t really put it better than Lorrie Moore did in a 1993 review of the novel: Oddly, for all her inscrutable evil, Zenia is what drives this book: she is impossibly, fantastically bad. Keeps his first wife locked in the attic! This is not an exhaustive list, of course, and you are more than invited to nominate your own favorite evildoers in the comments section. Hubris, almost all of literature but let’s go with Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton. The Grand Witch. 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). Mickey Sabbath is a depraved, cruel, aging ex-puppeteer — the dirty old man to rule all dirty old men — and one of the most reprehensible characters in literature. I meant it more as an indictment of American life in the 1950s. lord, fie! In fact, she'll be with him forever and ever. âThey are the bane of my life. Like Professor Umbridge, this character is particularly terrifying and infuriating because she's backed by the Establishment, and there's nothing you can do about her power. fear who knows it, when none can call our power to Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Rebecca Solnit on the Empty Violence of the Underachievers’ Coup, 6 Disorienting Reads for a Very Disorienting Time. Heroes and villains From Beowulf and Grendel to Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, drama hinges on the characters we love, or love to hate. The end! He is dancing, dancing. The villainess of choice for every man who has ever claimed his wife made him do it. Where to start? He does undercut her, in fact, a number of times—but when he goes too far, she has him lobotomized. In literature as in so-called “real” life, evil is, by far, the purview of the male gender; it is men who are the villains, evildoers, rascals and killers. But what exactly does “best” mean when it comes to bad guys (and gals)? Some in the Lit Hub office argued that it was Julian who was the real villain in Donna Tartt’s classic novel of murder and declension, but I give Henry more credit than that. I know Ratched is meant to be evil, and it’s supposed to be depressing that she wins, but I can’t help but sort of like the fact that after a man chokes her half to death and rips off her shirt in an attempt to humiliate her (because no one with breasts can have power, you see! Heroes can be flawed, tragic, brave, or even villainous, and knowing which type of hero your protagonist is can help you write an interesting and convincing main character. By the way, for those of you who think that great books can be spoiled—some of them might be below. 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. 679 Riot readers answered the call, selecting 681 unique characters. 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. Sullen and annoying! Gaslights her constantly! Hannibal Lecter, Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, etc., Thomas Harris. Interestingly, the villain in Hemingway’s debut novel is actually the nicest guy in the novel, Robert Cohn. For a character who never actually appears on the pages of a the novel, Norma Bates sure gets her point across. 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. Faux Affably Evil: The villain acts nice and friendly, but it doesn't change how vile they truly are. Here’s another novel with multiple candidates for Supreme Villain—should it be the Binewski parents, who purposefully poison themselves and their children in order to populate their freak show? 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. Obviously, Harry Potter is the main character. . She's an emotionless manipulation machine, and does everything with cold calculation, including killing her parents, abandoning her children, and shooting her husband. 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. She is an autoimmune disorder. It can’t be any of the prisoners, nor any of the guards in particular. Evil Genius: A villain who is highly intelligent. Any questions? But I’ve always found Lady Macbeth more interesting than Macbeth himself—she’s the brains behind the operation, not to mention the ambition. Thank your lucky stars they only show up in books... Cathy Ames is the sociopathic embodiment of everything you hope your children will stay far, far away from. Think of these as noteworthy villains, if it clarifies things. In fact, that’s why we like them. 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". Sauron I have to say, that’s smart. By the end, the novel seems to judge her pretty harshly—but I’ve always loved her. More importantly, despite the fact that he might be a genius, he inflicts senseless and remorseless violence wherever he goes. Big Nurse rules the patients of the asylum ward with an iron fist. out, I say!—One: two: why, What’s their secret, asks David Robson. She is Richard III with breast implants. 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. Robert Cohn from The Sun Also Rises. 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. 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.. Apparently all this is available to her because of her remarkable beauty. Grimm's fairytales are sprinkled with awful stepmothers, but it's hard to compete against this queen, who hired a huntsman to cut out her stepdaughter's heart â and that's only the first murder attempt. As slaveowners go, Rufus isn’t the worst (his father might rank) but he isn’t the best, either. He is terrifying because we all know him—or someone who could oh-so-easily slide into his long overcoat, one winter’s night. . 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. In one of her most memorable scenes, she forces Harry Potter to write lines in his own blood. You could also argue that the British Aristocracy is the villain in the Patrick Melrose books, but . An astronaut-cum-gardener … from Stoker’s “Dracula.”. The main character is often called the protagonist. one who comes up with diabolical plots to somehow cause harm or ruin A list of the 10 greatest villains in all of literature – the most memorable bad-guys of the fictive world . 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. She is addicted to order and power, and can be quite cruel in commanding it. He never sleeps, the judge. All the genres have one thing in common. (So has Buffy. He is a fantastic villain, a dangerous trickster, whose character has stumped (and intrigued) critics for centuries. 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? In the end, Sonoko is still so devoted to her that the grand tragedy of her life is the fact that Mitsu did not allow her to die alongside her. Ah, Evil Earth! That’s right, I said it. from Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.”. Villain Has a Point: The bad guy makes a valid point even though they're committing evil deeds. It simply depends on the villain. 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. Give villains explicit or implicit trauma. It's hard to say exactly what makes the best characters scary, because it varies so wildly. 17-year-old Abigail is a prime example of using power and hysteria and misinformation for evil. 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. Take, take, take. Whatever. 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. Dickens did not go in much for subtlety). The man murders (and, it is suggested, rapes) children and throws puppies to their doom. A quick-reference summary: Like a House on Fire on a single page. In the world of horror, there's nothing quite as eerie as a really good female villain. These characters are dark, nuanced, and eternally creepy. Article by ayushi khemka, October 24, 2013. We can just make dinosaurs! He is desperately unhappy; he considers himself a god. Lord Voldemort. Utterson is a lawyer and therefore a respectable, wealthy man in Victorian London. Professor Moriarty, “The Final Problem,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. . A sealèd bag, two sealèd bags of ducats, of double ducats, stol’n from be by my daughter! villain definition: 1. a bad person who harms other people or breaks the law: 2. a criminal: 3. a character in a…. Humbert Humbert, Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. Just like Alyosha, Natasha Rostova, a young noblewoman from Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, proved herself more popular than the two other most important characters … 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. Anti-heroes are villainous people who function in a protagonist’s role. Can’t really get any worse than that as a person—but as a character, he’s endlessly entertaining. We may boo them, wish for their demise, and gasp in horror at their latest evil deeds, but deep down, we love the villains. Judge Holden, Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy. Forget all that sexual stuff you see in the movies. 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. From Batman to Gandalf, compelling heroes give the reader a character to root for and a pair of eyes through which to follow the story. Uriah Heep, David Copperfield, Charles Dickens. . Intelligence. In the end, of course, no amount of fancy prose style is enough to make you forget that he’s a murderer and worse, but for this reader, it’s pure pleasure getting there. Creepy Ms. Corrine marries her half-uncle, and when he dies, forces their four children to live in an attic for years, so that her father â her husband's brother â doesn't find out about their existence. Shelley treats him as a tragic figure, but that only makes him a much more interesting villain. 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. It’s true that the monster is the murderer in Shelley’s classic novel—and also, you know, a monster—but it’s Dr. Frankenstein who decided he had to play God and build a creature in his own image without thought to the possible ramifications! Banquo is another general in King Duncan's army and Macbeth's best friend. She is pure theater, pure plot. get this . to have had so much blood in him. The assumption that as readers we necessarily must identify with some character in the story we are reading has been seriously questioned by contemporary literary theory. Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë. ), Glanton’s deputy is over six feet tall and completely hairless. 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. The problem with cartoonish, caricature-like villains is that … Cora is involved in a classic kill-your-husband-to-be-with-your-lover plot, but her first attempt goes wrong, and ends up giving her husband retrograde amnesia. Some are terrifying because of their utter heartlessness, while others are terrifying because they pretend to care. In the end, she has a single feeling of remorse and promptly kills herself. 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. Most of the novel is seen from Mr Utterson's perspective. 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. Note that an antagonist is not the same as an anti-hero like the Joker or Walter White. Traits of a Likable Antagonist Intelligence and Cunning Internal Traits Sympathetic Backgrounds Humor Shylock: “My ducats and my daughter! 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. She's beautiful, except for her eyes, which are "not human eyes.". The General, The Autumn of the Patriarch, Gabriel García Márquez. 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. Nor is this a book with no villain, because the pulsing sense of injustice is too great. Patrick Bateman, American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis. Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, William Shakespeare. 9 of Literature's Least Likable Protagonists. Less so when he murders his beloved and assumes his identity—but somehow, as you read, you find yourself holding your breath around every corner, hoping he will escape yet again. Sand. In comes McMurphy, our hero, who wants to undercut her. 9. You’ve never met a more dedicated hustler. The scariest motive is the lack of one—what Coleridge called Iago’s “motiveless malignity.” The most interesting villain is the one who has even more lines than the titular hero. She’s also kind of brilliant—I mean, murdering children by turning them into animals their parents want to exterminate? extremely stifling. . The Witches by Roald Dahl. Isn’t it awesome? 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