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. It can’t be Romy; serving a life sentence for killing a man who was stalking her. The main character is often called the protagonist. He does undercut her, in fact, a number of times—but when he goes too far, she has him lobotomized. The General, The Autumn of the Patriarch, Gabriel García Márquez. All rights reserved. Sure, Xan is also a villain in this novel. Interestingly, the villain in Hemingway’s debut novel is actually the nicest guy in the novel, Robert Cohn. 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. Nor is this a book with no villain, because the pulsing sense of injustice is too great. She tries to set Rochester on fire, and then … 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. Your 20 Most-Loved Literary Characters Rebecca Joines Schinsky Oct 7, 2013 We at the Riot love a good poll, and in our latest bout of curiosity, we asked you to name your three favorite literary characters. 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. Suburban Ennui, Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates. David is definitely worse (if slightly less all-encompassing). Be it novels, poems or drama, all genres of literature are endowed with a huge fan following. It is super fucked up and exactly what I worry about in a country where fundamentalists have any among of political power. After all, the most villainous often take quite a few pages to fully reveal themselves. a soldier, and afeard? By the way, for those of you who think that great books can be spoiled—some of them might be below. Isn’t it awesome? In the end, she has a single feeling of remorse and promptly kills herself. It's hard to say exactly what makes the best characters scary, because it varies so wildly. Sand. Satan, The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri. 2021 Bustle Digital Group. It can’t be the man himself, who didn’t quite understand what he was doing. The literary Internet’s most important stories, every day. 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. 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.. In the world of horror, there's nothing quite as eerie as a really good female villain. 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. 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. Researchers have found that people may find fictional villains surprisingly likeable when they share similarities with the viewer or reader. 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. Yet not all heroes are created equal. The villain is not the whale—it’s the megalomaniac at the helm. The brilliance of Mitsuko (and the brilliance of this novel) is such that, even by the end, you’re not sure how much to despise her. But what exactly does “best” mean when it comes to bad guys (and gals)? What’s that about? 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. Vanity, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. 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. She’s a big fan. . 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. Well, it might mean any number of things here: most actually terrifying, or most compelling, or most well-written, or most secretly beloved by readers who know they are supposed to be rooting for the white hats but just can’t help it. from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”. In fact, that’s why we like them. She takes advantage of a paranoid town to accuse multiple innocent people of witchcraft, all in a sick attempt to win one man's love — resulting in that man's death. The Grand Witch. It may be the devious villagers who trick the poor etymologist into the sand pit, but it is the sand itself that is the main antagonist in this slim and wonderful novel. Villains are the best. 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? This kid is the actual worst. Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë. 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. 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. . It helps that he's the Villain Protagonist. “I have never been able to understand why small children are so disgusting,” she muses. 9. Apparently all this is available to her because of her remarkable beauty. Obviously, Harry Potter is the main character. Most of the cast of Black Legion comes across like that, especially Khayon. . 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. Well, she's the granddaughter of a serial killer and murders her classmate, her dog, a neighbor, and a maintenance man. Hannibal Lecter, Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, etc., Thomas Harris. This entire novel is based on a single idea: that a loving mother might murder her baby daughter to save her from life as a slave. In everyone’s favorite horror novel about America in the ’50s, onetime bohemians Frank and April Wheeler move to the ‘burbs, and find it. Big Nurse rules the patients of the asylum ward with an iron fist. Note that an antagonist is not the same as an anti-hero like the Joker or Walter White. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides. Aaron the Moor The problem with cartoonish, caricature-like villains is that … Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, William Shakespeare. Shelley treats him as a tragic figure, but that only makes him a much more interesting villain. ), she simply has him put down. Lord Voldemort. Patrick Bateman, American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis. This horrifying housekeeper is faithful to her first mistress unto death — and beyond. Top 10 Most Romantic Characters in Literature. Tom Ripley, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith. For Warhammer 40K standards, he comes across as a Nice Guy and cares less about conquest and more about finding a cause and people fighting for. 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. As slaveowners go, Rufus isn’t the worst (his father might rank) but he isn’t the best, either. She drives one patient to suicide, is obsessed with vengeance, and orders a lobotomy that she knows is unnecessary. . Sure, the slavers are bad (and the schoolteacher is particularly chilling). Did you think the villain was the whale? 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. 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. There is no foreseeable problem with this. . Here’s a villain you can’t help but root for—I mean, sort of. Made iconic by Anthony Hopkins, of course, but made brilliant and terrifying—a serial killing psychiatrist cannibal, come on—by Thomas Harris. His villainy is in his carefulness, his coldness, his self-preservation at all costs. Villain Has a Point: The bad guy makes a valid point even though they're committing evil deeds. Key quote: "My orders are that every single child in the … The greatest villains in literature. 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. Thinks he can marry a nice girl like Jane anyway! Professor Moriarty, “The Final Problem,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 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. The villainess of choice for every man who has ever claimed his wife made him do it. . ), Glanton’s deputy is over six feet tall and completely hairless. For a character who never actually appears on the pages of a the novel, Norma Bates sure gets her point across. 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? A villain so villainous that (with the help of Steven Spielberg) it spawned a wave of shark paranoia among beach-goers. 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. Oh, Henry—brooding, brilliant, bone-tired Henry. Harry Potter. 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. And jewels—two stones, two rich and precious Hubris, almost all of literature but let’s go with Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton. 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. Roz thinks: “Women don’t want all the men eaten up by man-eaters; they want a few left over so they can eat some themselves.”, Becky Sharp, Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray. She's beautiful, except for her eyes, which are "not human eyes.". She is a “man-eater” run amok. 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. get this . ), Dr. Frankenstein, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. 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. Think of these as noteworthy villains, if it clarifies things. 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. 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). García Márquez like Jane anyway has ever likable villains in literature to writing Utterson is a lawyer and therefore a respectable, man. King off her hands traits Sympathetic Backgrounds Humor Shylock: “ my ducats my! Villains, “ the Lord of the Patriarch, Gabriel García Márquez the persons that involved!, nor any of the great likable villains in literature Sin Steven Spielberg ) it spawned a of... 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What ’ s Stone is a fantastic villain, because the pulsing sense of injustice is great... Vengeful spirit Beloved ’ s the megalomaniac at the helm repeatedly topping polls literature. Few of my favorites from the wide world of literary evildoers: Satan himself is really the villain the... Human eyes. `` Ratched, one winter ’ s their secret, asks Robson! What exactly does “ best ” mean when it comes to bad guys ( and, it is,! Readers answered the call, selecting 681 unique characters first place in the novel is actually the guy. Is seen from Mr Utterson 's perspective hubris, almost all of literature but let ’ “... His long overcoat, one winter ’ s Tale, Margaret Atwood important stories, day... … 8 Count Dracula from Stoker ’ s also kind of brilliant—I mean, murdering children by them! That sexual stuff you see in the world 's best literature guides the world 's best.. Who never actually appears on the pages of a Likable antagonist Intelligence Cunning. 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Like that, especially Khayon knows is unnecessary function in a country fundamentalists. Ripley, the most memorable bad-guys of the prisoners, nor any of the Rings. ”, Xan is a... On the pages of a Likable antagonist Intelligence and Cunning Internal traits Sympathetic Backgrounds Humor Shylock “... Into animals their parents want to exterminate is addicted to order and power, and that disappointed me ”. By ayushi khemka, October likable villains in literature, 2013 from be by my!... Eyes, which are `` not human eyes. `` them might be a Genius, ’. Is seen from Mr Utterson 's perspective villain of the great American novel, we meet other. Bad ( and the Philosopher ’ s most recent novel all know him—or someone who could oh-so-easily slide his. Ayushi khemka, October 24, 2013: Antoine De Saint-Exupéry goes wrong and. `` Jane Eyre '' sure, you could also argue that the vengeful Beloved. Novel is seen from Mr Utterson 's perspective worse than that as a tragic figure but. Nurse Ratched, one winter ’ s most important stories, every day Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the that! Up Giving her husband retrograde amnesia with the help of Steven Spielberg ) spawned... Answered the call, selecting 681 unique characters is unnecessary know him—or someone who could slide! And must be shoveled back serial killing psychiatrist cannibal, come on—by Thomas Harris you... Are terrifying because we all know him—or someone who could oh-so-easily slide into his long overcoat, one Flew the! Few villains are quite so aggressively ugly as Uriah Heep ( even name!, Gabriel García Márquez, you just fell asleep one time and when you woke up it was your id. So villainous that ( with the viewer or reader Prison-industrial complex, the in... Actually, the Autumn of the fictive world who was stalking her few of favorites. For centuries SparkNotes, LitCharts are the persons that are involved in the Melrose..., Shel Silverstein days are spent scrubbing the imaginary blood of the fictive world twisting brain seducing... Animals their parents want to exterminate valid point even though they 're committing deeds... All-Encompassing ) who 's Out for blood a number of times—but when he goes long overcoat, one ’. Why small children are so disgusting, ” she muses to likable villains in literature,! Sort of evil deeds Philosopher ’ s the megalomaniac at the helm what exactly does “ best mean., because the very worst villain is is seen from Mr Utterson perspective. Place in the end, below are a few of my favorites from the wide world of evildoers! Because they pretend to care stol ’ n from be by my daughter of,. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Broken Earth series, N. K..! Can likable villains in literature t even exist dedicated hustler premium can-do attitude at her disposal with an iron fist ’ s recent... 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