TOP TEN ON TUESDAY:- Literary Villains

01:49 Jazz Blackwell 0 Comments

To quote a certain deliciously creepy little Irish man in a certain wonderful BBC series, every fairytale needs a good old-fashioned villain. And, as much as I'd like to say that Andrew Scott is the absolute authority and correct about everything, I think it goes one step further. Whether you love them, or love to hate them, no story is complete without a villain of some kind. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we all have our favourites and I thought I would share mine with you. Because sharing is caring, and caring is fun.

10. Annie Wilkes - Misery (Stephen King).
As portrayed by Kathy Bates

With Stephen King as the long reigning monarch of all things horror, its not surprising that the dude has created some of the most genuinely chilling literary villains of all time. The worst of them share some commonground; they're sickeningly believable. Sad and frightening though it is, there are people like the ones that King creates scattered all over the world  and, at least as far as I'm concerned, none is more frightening than Misery's Annie Wilkes. The very definition of a creepy stalker, Annie's violence doesn't come from malice - at, least, not at first. Rather, it comes from an obsessive love, and is all the more frightening for it.  

9. Sid and Sadie - Shades of London series (Maureen Johnson). 
Does it come any creepier than posh blond twins?

Relatively new in the literary world, the Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson - while admittedly not the most well-written - is great if you're into YA paranormal detective stories and/or strong female leads. Cult leaders Sid and Sadie don't actually come in until the second novel, but they're infinitely creepy from the get-go. Their charmingly posh, ever-polite and perfectly charismatic nature only sees to make them more disturbing, and the religious cult they've made up from the waifs and strays of London gives them each a distinctly Jim Jones feel. Posh blond twins (and implied lovers) who are evil just for the sake of it, they're more than just creepy. They're downright disturbing.

8. Alton Turner Blackwood - What the Night Knows and Darkness Under the Sun (Dean Koontz). 
An artist's interpretation

The only thing better than a villain? A villain with a back story - and good God, does Alton Turner Blackwood have a back story! Born from incest into a life of abuse, Blackwood is severely deformed and never allowed to forget it. You'd almost feel sorry for him if he was a little screwed up. Thing is, he's more than a little screwed up - he's positively demonic, even coming back to kill from beyond the grave. 

Now, while I love Blackwood's character be warned - What the Night Knows is shoddily written by Koontz' usual standard, and contains themes of incest, rape and child abuse. If you're sensitive to any of these, please approach this book with caution. 

7. Tom Riddle/Lord Voldemort - Harry Potter series. (JK Rowling). 
Avada Kedavra!
Speaking of villains with a back story... 

Being of the Potter generation as I am, old Tom was bound to find his way onto this list somewhere. Similar to Blackwood - though admittedly slightly less horrific - you're almost inclined to feel sorry for Voldemort when you hear about his past. And then you remember what a colossal bell-end he is, and any sympathy disappears. As if by magic.

6. Macbeth - Macbeth (William Shakespeare). 
Spoiler alert: yes, he does die in this one too.
Ah, it's the age-old question that plagues every A-Level Literature student's life. Macbeth - is he a villain, or is he a victim? Or, as was so eloquently put by my own Lit teacher; to what extent is the character of Macbeth a complete bastard? The answer, as far as I'm concerned, is a lot. Oh, I understand the idea that he was controlled by supernatural forces and the witches had everything to do with it and the absence of god, etcetera, etcetera. But when it really boils down to it, the guy is nothing short of a colossal dick-head. After all, you've got to remember, before he even met the witches, he cut a bloke clean in two in battle. He was always brutal. It's just, in the beginning, he was brutal in the right context.

So, I hear you cry, if you hate him so much, why is he on this list? The answer is quite simple - he's easy to hate. As much as I like a villain like old Voldy, who sometimes makes you feel guilty for loathing him, who doesn't love a baddie they can hate with every fibre of their being?

5. Assef - The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini). 
No witty caption. He's just a dick. 
Speaking of villains you can unabashedly hate, big shout out to this tosser. 

Anyone who has read this book will completely understand why Assef made this list. Anybody who hasn't read it yet, I implore you to do so - one of my all time favourite novels, it's definitely one I recommend over and over again. In the meantime, I'll give you the four-one-one on old Assef. 

Essentially, he's a scumbag. Ruthlessly violent, sickeningly manipulative and skin-crawlingly creepy, the guy just doesn't even have one single redeeming quality. I don't want to give too much away and ruin the book for anybody who hasn't read it and plans to but know that, even as a child, Assef proves himself capable and willing of carrying out the most horrifying and heinous of acts. Don't worry, though. He very much gets his comeuppance in the end. 

*Please note while I recommend this novel, it contains some strong language and mature themes and as such, is not suitable for younger readers. Also contains strong themes of rape, child abuse and terrorism. If you are sensitive to any of these topics, please approach this novel with caution.*

4. Norman Bates - Psycho (Robert Bloch) 
"We all go a little mad sometimes."
So here's something that will damage my rep as a literature geek: I only very recently discovered that Psycho was a book before it was a movie. Perhaps he shouldn't really be included as one of my favourite literary villains, as I haven't actually yet read the book, but Bates is far and away one of my favourite film villains so I thought that he was worth a mention. He's another character whose evilness is questionable - he's obviously unstable, and so the same argument as Macbeth comes into play. Is he a villain, or a victim? Perhaps he's both. Either way, he's damn terrifying and, I feel, has very much earned his spot on this list. 

3. President Snow - The Hunger Games series (Suzanne Collins). 
Off topic, but I literally only realised when I searched for this picture that
Donald Sutherland is Kiefer Sutherland's dad.
I'm an idiot.
Snow is your classic dystopian tyrant - ruthless, cruel, uncaring and selfish, he's the epitome of all things horrible. Yet he carries it all out with a kind of gentlemanly elegance and charisma that is frighteningly reminiscent of some real life villains who have wormed their way to power. Unlike others on this list, Snow isn't at any point particularly frightening - Collins makes it quite plain that, underneath the facade and grandeur Snow is a weak and frail old man, and there's nothing really scary about that. He's just bad, bad, bad to the bone and when it boils down to it, is that not the very makings of a good villain?

2. Bill Sikes - Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens). 
In hell, he'll be there a-burnin'
Speaking of bad to the bone, does anybody fit that description better than Bill?

He's a bully, a criminal, a murderer and a woman-beater. In short, there's just nothing at all to like about the guy. In that sense, he's a lot like Macbeth. However, as far as I'm concerned, he's a little worse - he doesn't hide behind any pretense. He's the first to admit that he's a bully and a tyrant - in the wonderful musical film adaptation, he even sings a whole song bragging about it. The ultimate scumbag, I'm sure Sikes is on everybody's Top Villains list.

1. Mephistopheles - Doctor Faustus (Kit Marlowe). 
Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Okay so the most obvious thing that qualifies Mephistopheles as a villain; the dude is quite literally and servant of the devil. He deliberately tempts Faustus away from repenting with false promises of how life in Hell will be, including a rather sultry parade of the seven deadly sins. He's a compulsive liar and a purveyor of the dark arts. But that doesn't mean he's happy about it. Upon their first meeting, when Faustus initially proposes he sell his soul, Mephistopheles makes it pretty damn clear that he leads a miserable existence and even, at first, tries (albeit rather half-heartedly) to convince Faustus not to do it at all. Although he seems throughout the play to be loyal to Faustus, you've got to remember that, no matter how depressed he is about it, he's pals with Lucifer and you have to question whether or not you can trust him. The ambiguity sees to make Mephistopheles a complicated, complex character and that's why he's my all time favourite literary villain.

So those are my top ten literary villains. Who's your favourite? Do you dispute any of mine? Let me know :) 
Keep reading, 
Jazz xo 

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