Wednesday, October 7, 2009

13 Great Literary Villains

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, today's list is all about great literary villains.

When I started out this next list, a bunch of characters entered my head, which made me think this list would be the easiest so far. The problem, I soon realized, was trying to narrow the list down to just 13. So while my 13 may not be your 13, what I'd like to spotlight is that each character signifies or brings about the worst of humanity. They are our horrors, and horror touches every form of literature.

13 Great Literary Villains

13. Randall Flagg - Such a bad ass that Stephen King couldn't limit him to just The Stand. No, Flagg has appeared in one form or another in nine of King's novels.

12. Patrick Bateman - Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho took Wall Street and gutted it. The book is as violent as it gets, but Bateman is mostly bored with the whole rape, murder and dismemberment thing. Perhaps that's what makes him so very appealing.

11. Medea - You can argue that she belongs in the tragic hero category, but killing your children to spite your ex-husband makes you a villain in my list.

10. The White Witch - About the only good thing that can be said about the witch from C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is that she likes to hand out tasty Turkish Delights.

9. Cthulu - First spawned in Lovecraft's Call of Cthulhu, this gigantic, tentacled-head creature bides its time until it can feast on the world's souls.

8. Judge Holden - Part child molester, part monster ... every bit a Renaissance man. As violent as the characters from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian are, even they are disturbed by the Judge.

7. Lord Voldemort / Tom Riddle - Who doesn't love a villain on a quest for supreme power? Well, a boy wizard named Harry Potter for one.

6. Bill Sikes - From Oliver Twist comes one of Dickens most memorable villains. From beating a dog to murdering a prostitute, there isn't much that old Sikes won't do.

5. Hannibal Lecter - If this were a fictional list of serial killers, Thomas Harris's couture killer Hannibal Lecter would win easily. He is a perfect mesh of homicidal sophistication.

4. Sauron - J R R Tolkien's ring-crazed lidless eye. "The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable."

3. Count Dracula - Though his presence is minimal in the Bram Stoker classic, his impact is monumental. Has there ever been a more covered villain? I'd venture to guess only number 1 has been duplicated more times.

2. Lady Macbeth - You can talk about Iago and Claudius and Richard III as being Shakespeare's greatest villains, but to me they are all cut from the same mold. It was Lady Macbeth who showed us that behind every great man's tragic fall is the woman that pushed him off the ledge.

1. Satan - I wonder if John Milton purposely gave Satan the best lines in Paradise Lost? "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n."

Later Fiends,


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