5.10.2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Jerks, Cads, and Other Male Fiends

A few weeks ago, we listed the Top Ten Mean Girls. This week, it's the guys' turn. As with the girls, I'm going to divide the list into groups, according to whether or not the bad boys had any good at heart.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Do come join the fun...

As the majority of literary villains seem to be male, I'm afraid the competition will be tough. And I'll probably forget a lot of very important ones.

Evil psychopaths:

1. The Adderhead (The Inkworld trilogy, Cornelia Funke). I'm not sure I've ever come across a fantasy villain depicted in nastier terms. Orpheus and Capricorn deserve mention, too, of course.

2. Achilles (Ender's Shadow and sequels, Orson Scott Card). One of the more chilling young men to wield a syringe full of poison amid the pages of fiction.

3. Voldemort (The Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling). Horcruxes. Also, he kills babies and unicorns. The red snake-eyes and high, cold laugh are just the outward manifestations of the monster.

4. Aro, Caius, and Marcus (The Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer). These guys make me very angry, which isn't the best response to have to three extremely powerful vampires.

Managed to find their good side, or at least something resembling one:

5. Severus Snape (The Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling). Snape put the 'hero' in 'Byronic hero', and none of us can help loving him a little, even if we can never quite get past how mean he was to Neville.

6. Monsieur Cocq de Noir (The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge). A poacher and all-around uncouth local thief, he strikes a hard bargain with Maria Merryweather and keeps his word when she wins.

7. Peter Wiggin (The Ender books, Orson Scott Card). I've never quite figured out how much of a good side Peter really had, but the last I saw of him, he seemed less of the cruel, blackhearted squirrel-torturer he was in Ender's Game.

At least were forced to respect their comeuppance:

8. Brian de Bois-Guilbert (Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott). After hounding Rebecca till his boss accuses her of bewitching him and she threatens to jump from a tower window, Brian dies of internal conflict. And while such a death certainly preserves the old Gothic sense of melodrama, it also suggests he had some desire to be heroic.

9. Rabadash the Ridiculous (The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis). Behaved like such a fool that Aslan turned him into a donkey. Upon restoration—in the sight of several thousand people—to his normal princely form, he had enough sense to obey Aslan so as to avoid becoming a donkey again.

In a class by himself:

10. Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger). There's just not much to like about this guy. He walks around cursing and demeaning the entire human race in his head, and as far as I know, he never gets over it. While no psychopath, he's also no Snape. Three words, young man: Get over yourself.

9 comments:

  1. Love the breakdown of your list! Wish I'd thought of something like that! :)

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  2. Oh. My. Goodness. Where was my brain? I'm going through other people's lists, and... George Wickham? Alec from Tess of the D'Urbervilles? I seem to have left cads entirely off the list. Even Mr. Rochester would have qualified. Ebenezer Scrooge as one of the redemptive ones?

    Gah. :)

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  3. Great list! I totally agree with your selection of the Volturi and Snape.

    Reading Lark's Top 10

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  4. Austen has the best cads.

    And, ah, Mr Rochester! What a brilliant cad he was: wife, love child, and Jane.

    I would have cheated and included Arabella from Jude the Obscure.

    And Snape is probably my favorite jerk ever.

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  5. Mr. Collins, of course. I groan just thinking of him... ughhhh...

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  6. Andrea, thanks! I'm glad you stopped by.

    Annie and Carrie, I'm still kicking myself for leaving Austen's cads--including the awful Mr. Collins--and Mr. Rochester from the list. :)

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  7. The Hunger Games' President Snow; that bloody breath and rose fragrance; ugh, describes his heart.

    I would also consider Haymitch in the second category.

    And how about Vernon Dursley, the way he treated Harry. Dudley would be second category.

    And may I suggest one of the most complex fictional characters, period--LOST's Benjamin. Ben, wow, words can't convey, but he fits every category.

    --Arabella 

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  8. I meant Benjamin Linus. (Editing on small device.)
    --Arabella

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  9. Arabella, what I've heard about Ben Linus almost makes me want to watch LOST just for him. :)

    Haymitch definitely qualifies; so do Pres. Snow and Vernon Dursley. And I kind of wish I'd thought of Dudley for category 2--great choice!

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