17 September 2012

The Characters We Love To Hate

Gollum. Maleficent. Cardinal Richelieu. There's no doubt about it---these aren't the type of characters you'd bring home to meet your literary mother. Most great pieces of literature have a memorable antagonist battling our protagonist for power. It's what makes the hero's journey worthwhile. There's a reason they're villains and every story needs someone to pit the heroes against. But what exactly is it that makes us love to hate them so?

These are just a few of the characters that I love to hate (and just sort of secretly love):

Captain Hook (Peter Pan) - He's always trying to make our beloved Peter Pan and his Lost Boys walk the plank. Why is it that the grown-ups are always trying to spoil a kids fun? Okay, can you really blame the guy? First off, he's a pirate so it sort of goes with the territory. Secondly, PETER PAN CHOPPED OFF HIS HAND AND FED IT TO A CROCODILE. Talk about a need for revenge. I'd be pretty irate about that one too.
Annie Wilkes Dugan (Misery) - Oh, sure she seemed nice at first, right? But after imprisoning, tormenting and belittling her favourite author, we come to learn that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Look, not that I condone psychological torture or anything, but in her defense, haven't you ever been so frustrated with the end of a book series that you sort of wish you could break someones ankles? No? Really?

Count Dracula (Dracula) - He stalks the night. He is the definition of the undead. He drinks human blood. Yeah, okay. All of those things aren't the best qualities in a man but how about we cut the guy some slack here. I mean, he is cursed for all of eternity. I bet he gets awfully lonely lying in the dirt for over 12 hours every day. Wouldn't you?
Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs) - Cannibalism. There isn't anything decent I can say about cannibalism, that's for damn sure. Well, if you have to look on the bright side, he did help Clarice solve a heinous crime and he is a doctor, right? That's gotta count for something.

Seneca Crane (The Hunger Games) - He's head Gamemaker for the brutal Hunger Games. His only job is to create horrible and sadistic ways for the tributes to violently kill one another... all for the delight of the Capitol viewers. While he may not be our primary role model, he does show some sense of mercy towards Katniss and Peeta. And to his credit, he did defy President Snow. I certainly don't have the balls to do that.
Severus Snape (Harry Potter) - He's grumpy, greasy and just plain ol' mean to our friend Harry Potter. The guy has sided with he-who-shall-not-be-named! Talk about unforgivable curses. While all that is true, he does these things with very good reason and we do learn that unpleasant as he may be, there is a softer side to Severus.

So now it's your turn. Which literary characters do you love to hate? Are they totally evil or just misunderstood?


  1. I'm thinking Annie was onto something. Maybe a trilogy writer or three that left me hanging for years on end needs a sledgehammer waved in their faces.....oh that was evil!

    1. I completely agree with you, Kat! There have seriously been times where I've read a book and/or series and been so, like, "WTF!?" that I've kinda wanted to do a hobbling... not that I'm a psychotic maniac or anything. :P

  2. Great list. I also love a good villain, they are what makes the book/film truly interesting. I developed a Snape crush while reading the HP books. I so wanted him to be a good guy after all.
    Hannibal Lector is so wicked and such a genius, it's hard not to love to hate him.
    I'd have to add Heathchiff from Wuthering Heights to the list. He's my favorite anti-hero, he's so tortured. I'd also have to add Scarlett o'Hara. She's a baddie in her own right, a husband stealer and a manipulator.

  3. My first thought was Scarlett O'Hara too. I swear, I've never even made it through that book and it's all Scarlett's fault.

    I think my most hated ever literary character has to be Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. OMG, she's the worst.

  4. I haven't read Wuthering Heights yet but I definitely think you're on to something with Scarlett O'Hara. She's reeeeeeeal good! I'm sorry I didn't think to add her to the list.

    Ooh, Karen, I totally agree with you on Umbridge. She's a badie for sure.

  5. CAPTAIN HOOK. I always had a soft spot for him. Maybe because his vulnerability was SO BLATANT. He deserved it, let's be honest. Still, my heart goes out to that coward in some weird, twisted way.

    And UGH. Severus Snape. The whole last half of Deathly Hallows broke me time & time again.

  6. I loooooved Captain Hook the moment I saw Dustin Hoffman's rendition in the movie, Hook. Right you are though, Jen, he is a coward albeit one who is justified in a weird way. And OMG, yes, Snape! I don't even know what to say about Snape other than I really wished I could hug him and hit him all at the same time.

  7. Great list! Love Snape.


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