4.26.2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Mean Girls

Today's Top Ten topic calls for a list of the girls you'd most like to... well, I try to keep profanity off my blog most days, but the phrase is "b*tch slap."
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...
It's a tough topic for me; it really is. I like most people. But men and women have distinctive ways of making themselves unlikable (maybe we should do a top ten list for cads?), and here are a few fictional girls that have made an effort to fill this category.

Out of a great admiration for decency, I tried to include a mix of girls who have some and girls who don't.

Mean through and through:

1. Caroline Bingley (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen). I’d say she’s one of the most annoying characters in fiction, except that she shares a book with Mr. Collins.

2. Mierin/Lanfear (The Wheel of Time books, Robert Jordan). Ripping Kadere’s skin off and then nearly killing both Egwene and Aviendha was just the tip of the evil iceberg.

3. Dolores Umbridge (The Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling). Can you help hating a woman who wears pink bows and cardigans, has a soft little bubble-gum voice, and takes delight in forcible injustice? She gives me the shivers.

4. President Coin (Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins). Here, let me help you defeat this murderous regime. Oh, and then let's be just as horrible to them as they've been to us. 

5. Miss Minchin (The Little Princess, Frances Hodgson Burnett). Of all the evil spinsters in all the tales of orphan children, I'm not sure there's a worse. She starved Sara and Becky and worked them cruelly, and shamed Ermengarde. Horrible woman.

Likable in the long run:

6. Emma Woodhouse (Emma, Jane Austen). She manipulates Harriet Smith and company, carries on some shameful gossip with Frank Churchill about Jane Fairfax, cuts down Miss Bates in public, and winds up so repentant at the end that I love her as much as any other Austen heroine.

7. Edith Carr (A Girl of the Limberlost, Gene Stratton Porter). The scene where she confronts Elnora Comstock always makes me happy, simply because Elnora holds her own so gracefully. Edith is mostly a spoiled drama queen, but she finds a redeemable side of herself in the end. Annoying as she is, I can't help liking her.

8. Grushenka and Katarina (The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky). It would help if I remembered more about this book, but with the assistance of a Wikipedia summary: both of them were strong-willed, proud, and cruel at times, yet both showed signs of having better natures underneath and some hope of improvement.

9. Katar Jinsdaughter (Princess Academy, Shannon Hale). She spends a fair portion of Princess Academy hissing and spitting at everyone, especially Miri. But she, like Edith Carr, gets a moment of redemption, and I love what Miri does for her at the end. Which in turn makes me love Katar.

10. Iras the Egyptian (Ben-Hur, Lew Wallace). I love Esther, and Iras walks all over her. Plus, Iras plays Ben-Hur in order to spy on him for Messala. Twerp. I wouldn't call her story redemptive, exactly, but she does make something of an apology at the end.

Runners-up:

Bellatrix LeStrange (Harry Potter, Rowling. I'm not sure I'd slap her--Mrs. Weasley had the right idea there)
Narcissa Malfoy (Harry Potter, Rowling)
Mary Crawford (Mansfield Park, Austen)
Mrs. Norris (Mansfield Park, Austen)
Mrs. Clay (Persuasion, Austen)
Elizabeth Elliot (Persuasion, Austen)
Fraulein Rottenmeier (Heidi, Spyri)
Nellie Olson (Little House on the Prairie, Wilder)
Mrs. Brewster (The Long Winter, Wilder)
Josie Pye (Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery)
Aunt Reed (Jane Eyre, Brontë)
Berelain sur Paendrag (The Wheel of Time, Jordan)
Katerina (The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare)

Credit where credit is due: Kathy at Books Kids Like reminded me of a few of these. I totally wish I'd have thought of Katerina myself. :)

Who am I forgetting?

16 comments:

  1. Quite a few Aes Sedai in The Wheel of Time seem very slappable.

    Pansy Parkinson would be another good Harry Potter candidate for slapping.

    And Lady Gaga...I think she should count as a fictional character for purposes of slapping. :)

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  2. HAHAHAHA! Lady Gaga... well, I'd better not go there. :P

    Almost every Aes Sedai could use slapping at some point or other--I've even been annoyed with Egwene a time or two, and I really like her. And Pansy Parkinson was in my first draft. I forgot to include her in the runners-up.

    Other people I forgot: Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Jadis, Fanny Dashwood, Jane from the Volturi... where was my brain?

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  3. Definitely Jane from the Volturi--oh for someone who could turn her horrible talent back upon her, and then slap her hard for good measure. Narcissitic and annoying Jessica would be a strong candidate, too.

    I also thought of Josie Pye. And yes, Edith Carr is really rather pathetic; Elnora had her number.

    Shannon Rutherford on LOST.

    Although the book characters get no enjoyable, three-dimensional treatment,I adore TV's Nellie Olsen, and Mrs. Olsen, delicious characters you love to hate, and find some sympathy for. I only saw some of those shows, but when those two were one, they owned the screen.

    --Arabella

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  4. Delores seems to be appearing on a ton of lists today - I wonder why? I am a new follower. :)

    Reading Lark's Top 10

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  5. Arabella, yeah--Jessica probably deserves the list, too. And Shannon definitely does. From the two or three episodes of LOST I've seen. :)

    Andrea, thanks for the follow! I think Dolores makes a lot of lists because she's incredibly cruel (maybe you already got that. I couldn't tell whether your "I wonder why" was facetious or not. :))

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  6. Jenna: I really like the "likeable in the long run" category. I thought of putting Mary Lennox of The Secret Garden on my list but she did get much nicer as the book went by. I would have put Elnora Comstock's mom on the "likeable..." list, too.

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  7. Comment most likely to be disliked:

    Bella Swan. Not at every point, but by the end of book three I was so sick of her inability to stand up and make a decision and stop drawing out the ridiculous feud over her, I think I may have literally shaken the book hoping someone's fictional hand would find its way stinging across her face.

    Still haven't been able to face the fourth book, though I've heard it's worth it.

    Feels good to get that off my chest.

    To be fair though, there were some moments in book five when I wanted to slap Harry. And I'm pretty sure nothing as benign as *slapping* Delores Umbridge ever crossed my mind. (I'll leave it at that.)

    Good list.

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  8. anniekoconnor, I don't dislike your comment. In fact, I thought of including Bella Swan but didn't want to push Jenna too far. :)

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  9. I'd add at least on the Runner-Up list Blanche Ingram from Jane Eyre, who (along with her equally mean-girl mother) says nasty things about "it" (i.e., Jane Eyre) in her presence in order to denigrate her as a governess. Actually, as I write this, I'm getting angrier about this character and definitely want to move her up to the eminently slappable category...

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  10. Kathy, thanks! Mary Lennox and Katherine Comstock are excellent choices. Funny, I didn't think of either, even with the mention of Edith Carr.

    Annie (and George), maybe someday I'll write an essay in defense of Isabella Swan. :D In the mean time, a lot of people had her on their lists, and I can understand why even though I liked her. As for book 4, I enjoyed it, but might not recommend it for someone who didn't like the protagonist. Although you do spend about a third of the book in Jacob's head.

    Carrie-Ann, Blanche Ingram crossed my mind, but apparently not seriously enough. I'd forgotten about her denigration of Jane. You're right. She totally deserves a place on the list.

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  11. , I offer to "assist" you on Bella Swan-- ;-) --because I consider her to be the most underrated, denigrated, and misunderstood character in fiction today. There's this almost automatic revulsion (although I'm not saying that's you, Annie), yet she's quite psychologically complex. One doesn't have to like her to find her interesting and relatable. Even when she's annoying, which she can be.
    --Arabella

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  12. And that's not even considering the symbolism and metaphor in her story.

    I meant the above to start: Jenna, I offer.... And that was a joke. I'd be very interested in what you'd write about Bella. I already wrote my essay(http://fhsprofessor.com/?p=14)after I first read the books.
    --Arabella

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  13. Ooh, Arabella, I'm glad you posted that. I'd forgotten about it. If I ever do write a defense, I'll definitely have to reference your piece--it's far more thorough than anything I could write.

    Here's Arabella's hotlink for anyone who wants some fascinating information on the psychology of Bella Swan.

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  14. I'd add Portia from The Merchant of Venice. Actually everyone in that play needs a slap. Let's save the bother and just slap Shakespeare instead, for writing it.

    Excuse me while I harrumph in a corner.

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  15. LOL, Mr. Pond. Of all the Shakespeare plays I've ever read (most of the comedies, only a couple of the tragedies), The Merchant of Venice is definitely my least favorite. Pretty much every character is a jerk at some point. :)

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  16. I almost forgot to add one of the truest Mean Girls--Petunia Dursley. How many times I wanted to shake her until her teeth rattled. Nothing she list ever compared with what she dished out to an innocent child, and encouraged others to also do. Umbridge is evil in broad brushstrokes; Petunia is evil in pointillism.

    --Arabella

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