We may enjoy the good guys but it’s my thought that a great baddy is really what makes a story. There has to be something pretty evil to motivate the hero to defeat them, otherwise…what’s the point? What would Harry Potter be without good ol’ Voldykins? There would be no story, because without Voldemort, there would be no boy who lived, and there would be no issue.
So here is my own list of my Top Ten favorite bad guys 🙂 (SPOILERS)
10. Hatsumomo in Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha
I’m still actually reading this book right now, but I can just tell that Hatsumomo has a big influence in the way this story will unfold (plus, I’ve seen the movie–but I remember hardly any of it). Hatsumomo might not be considered the “bad guy” so much as a typical rival of Sayuri’s. But even before Sayuri got close to the same status in society as Hatsumomo, she was making Sayuri’s young life miserable for her. Perhaps she knew it would be easier to ruin Sayuri when she was young because Hatsumomo knew she was meant to be a rival when she grew and was educated as a geisha. I think Hatsumomo is really one of the major driving forces behind the story. And, actually I think the success that Sayuri will enjoy is due, in large part, to Hatsumomo’s intent to destroy her.
9. The Seeker in Stephenie Meyer’s The Host
I absolutely loved The Host and especially the battle between good and evil. At the beginning, we’re lead to believe that Wanderer, the soul that took over Melanie’s body, is the real bad person in this book. But as their relationship grows, Melanie manages to convey her feelings to Wanderer/Wanda, and the Seeker has to hunt them down–a soul cannot be controlled by the host body. I think without the Seeker in this novel, there would be no real story after Wanda and Melanie begin to live together and share their one body. Much of the story is based upon this struggle between the last “wild” humans and the seekers who are responsible for rounding up these humans for souls to invade. I’ve never read a book like The Host–it is not like the Twilight series, at all (except for the fantasy aspect).
8. Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre
This is a pretty obvious ones. While I don’t necessarily feel Mr. Rochester is bad towards Jane in the story–it’s his history that makes him seem the monster. It’s my opinion that he did genuinely care for her, even if it’s not necessarily love and was a little influenced by her sudden inheritance–but at that time people married for less than “genuinely caring” for one another. But, how can it be a good thing to keep a demented and crazed wife locked away in his house…and never mention her?! I mean, yes, it was a bad thing that Mr. Rochester tried to marry Jane while he was still married to another woman. But I feel Mr. Rochester was much worse to his wife than to Jane. And I’m not sure about the social conventions of the time the story was set, but what was there to really do with a crazy wife? Were there respectable institutions in which to put them away? And why didn’t Rochester just divorce his wife?
7. Briony Tallis of Ian McEwan’s Atonement
This is probably the youngest “villain” I have on the list–Briony is only 13-years-old. Essentially, Briony makes a gross accusation based on an assumption about her older sister and her “lover”. Now, she is only thirteen, so she doesn’t really understand everything that goes along with sex–because of this, she accidentally sets in motion a long chain of events that basically ruins their relationship. But she is, because of this, the bad guy and a catalyst for bad things to come. Even though she sort of realizes later in the story the mistake she made, it was too late to really fix anything.
6. Drayle in Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench
Drayle is a slave owner who took Lizzie as his slave mistress. From this brief description, it’s easy to see how he might be the villain in this novel. It’s not so much how he physically treats Lizzie–he is actually quite nice to her. But I think he was actually more evil for the mental and emotional damage he incurred on Lizzie. Drayle continuously promises to let Lizzie go free and to take their two children with her. But whenever he tries to get him to sign the necessary pages, he makes up some sad excuse. And then he begins to use the children against Lizzie–they will be treated better if she behaves and stops bugging him. He even starts to slowly separate Lizzie from the children by sort of adopting them and allowing them to live like white children, as opposed to the slave children they really are. He is one of the main characters, so it is for obvious reasons why he’s so important as the villain.
5. Heathcliff in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights
Heathcliff is just so mean to everyone. Yes, he was scorned in love. So, basically this story focuses on his goal of avenging that. What makes it even worse is that Cathy did love him back–but was talked out of marrying him for more a more prosperous prospect 🙂 I think Heathcliff is actually a little crazy, too. Like insane, crazy. I mean, he sees things and somehow believes Cathy is still out there on the moor somewhere. But, again, he is a major driving force for the story–couldn’t have Wuthering Heights without Heathcliff.
4. Voldemort in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series
Okay, this might seem a little cliche. But really, you couldn’t have Harry Potter without Voldemort–he would’ve been a normal boy with wonderful parents and no cares in the world. Harry could have only got into scrapes like he did in Prisoner of Azkaban, which is the only book (my favorite book in the series) that doesn’t directly deal with Voldemort–he’s only mentioned in this one because Sirius was believed to have “sold out” Lily and James to Voldemort.
3. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Patrick Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Grenouille is the villain in this story. But he is also the main character. Grenouille has no scent himself–he smells like nothing. But he has a super-sensitive sense of smell, excellent to become a perfumer. But he smells something so perfect once and spends his life trying to replicate that scent, which often involves murdering innocent young women to take parts of their scents–their hair, for example. It’s really a weird story with the perfect scent saving his life (which causes an orgy…). But yeah, it’s not often when the main character in a story is the villain too.
2. Willoughby in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
Of all Jane Austen’s bad guys, I think I like Willoughby (as a villain, of course) the best. Willoughby genuinely loved Marianne, but dumped her to marry for money before the news got out that he had illegitimately impregnated a young girl. Later, when Marianne is deathly ill, Willoughby tries to correct his past wrongs and beg her forgiveness for doing what he did. I think the fact that Willoughby really did love Marianne makes him different from most of Austen’s other bad guys: Wickham was just mean with no regret; Henry Crawford just liked to play with people’s minds; and Lady Russell just needed to get off her high horse. None of the villains in Austen’s other stories genuinely loved heroines (with the exception of Crawford, who grew to love Fanny for awhile, but forgot it when he eloped).
1. Fernand Mondego and Baron Danglars in Alexandre Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo
These two are quite a pair. And I have them together for a reason: they both loathed Edmond Dantes. Fernand was in love with his cousin, Mercedes, who is betrothed to Dantes. Danglars felt Dantes got his promotion from sailor to captain of a ship too easily, plus he wanted that job. So, together Fernand and Danglars ruin Dantes’ life by scheming and sending him to prison. The rest of the novel is Dantes, disguised as the Count of Monte Cristo, getting his revenge. (This is my favorite book of all time 🙂 ) In an odd twist, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights was just trying to get his revenge–which would make Dantes the villain, too. I guess it really depends on how you read this novel–some might feel Dantes is the villain and shouldn’t have ruined so many lives in his vengeance.
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