Nov 15, 2010

Top Ten Most Terrifying Villians

I’m jumping in on The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday party. They host it every week. Check out the other lists here.

I can’t think “villain” without thinking “Disney”, but this list is supposed to be about my top ten book villains, so “Maleficent, Maleficent, Maleficent…” would not be appropriate. Just know that’s what I’m thinking while I make this list.

So, here is my list of top ten non-Disney villians, in no particular order…

Lady MacBeth in Macbeth by William Shakespere

Without Lady MacBeth, there’d be no story. MacBeth’s conscience would have kicked in, and there would have been quiet and peace among the people. Everyone would have gone home happy. Shakespeare could have written a comedy about the Weird Sisters and their cat. But no, Lady MacBeth comes in and challenges every excuse that MacBeth tries to make to get out of the murder he has to commit.

The White Witch from Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe by C.S. Lewis

I love the White Witch because she’s consistent. She turns up in at least three of the seven books. She’s always there with the same temptation for the kids: power.

She’s beautiful and cold, and surrounds her self with coldness. She gives the children Turkish delight. Have you tried that stuff? Totally villainous.

And, she reminds me of Maleficent.

Imaginary Jesus from Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

This villain isn’t quite so overtly terrifying. Well, I mean, I guess he’s as terrifying as you make him. Imaginary Jesus is the Jesus you invent to supplant the real thing. I just re-listened to this book, and it reminded me of how easy it is to be distracted…and how scary that is.

Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

I’m not cheating here. I don’t mean the Disney one. The literary Cruella is much scarier than the movified one. She’s the opposite of the White Witch: she’s craves heat. Her house is always kept 10-degrees higher than comfortable. She eats so much pepper that it becomes a natural defense system when the puppies try to bite her.

Dorian Gray from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

He doesn’t start out as a villain. He starts out as a nice young man. Then, he falls in love with himself. I love this book because you watch the villain become the villain. Instead of getting the Cruella De Vil-type, the ready-made baddie who is bad at the beginning, continues to be bad, and then dies before they stop being bad, you get Dorian: he starts out good, grows a little less good, gets really bad, has a small (possibly fake) turn for the better, and then dies fully bad.

Nellie Olson from Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The spoiled brat. The one who has everything, including the blond hair. She goes out of her way to make Laura’s life miserable. It’s a relief when the Ingalls family moves away from Walnut Grove, if only to get away from Nellie. Laura gets a few quiet years (you know, poverty, hunger, Mary going blind. Typical, quiet prairie life). but then, wonder of wonders, Nellie shows up again in De Smet. Same thing: she goes out of her way to ruin Laura’s life. Not only that, but she goes after Almanzo. The nerve.

Miss Minchin from The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The woman who made a pauper out of the poor Little Princess. Well, she didn’t make her a pauper. But she hurried it along. She didn’t like poor Sara Crewe from the beginning, and you know she was just waiting for a way to make Sara’s life miserable. No one needs to put a 12-year-old girl to work. She just did that out of spite. A lot of my little-girl hate went toward Miss Minchin.

Evil Stepmothers from…95% of all fairy tales.
I lived on Grimm’s fairy tales when I was younger, and believe you me, Evil Stepmother is a scary lady. All they ever do is order limbs cut off and organs cut out. I think they had too much time on their hands, what with their stepchildren doing all the housework. Maybe they should have learned to knit.

So here’s what I’ve learned while making this list: one, woman are way scarier in men, at least in literature. Two, I need to read some more books with straightforward villains in them. Seriously, how many times can I read “man vs. himself” before my brain falls out for lack of, I don’t know, adventure. And three, when I was little, and should have been reading books about adventure and villains, I was reading books about conversations. Maybe I should have let ol’ LMA rest for a bit while I fought some pirates.

I’ve been reading more genre fiction lately, and it’s been quite pleasant. More real villains. I could get used to this.

Yeah, still can’t help it.



  • 1. Sleeping Beauty is my all-time Disney fave. Kudos.

    2. You need to try Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, or his mega-novel The Stand. You’ll get your dose of villains in those for sure.

    • @fivebares 1. Mine too. 2. The only Stephen King I’ve read was The Green Mile when I was a freshman in high school. It was a bit much for my just-out-of-homeschool brain. (Oh…and On Writing, but that doesn’t really count.) I’ve thought about the DT series, but I guess not very much.

  • Yeah, you know I had no idea that 101 Dalmations was a book before this week’s meme? I’m a terrible bookworm 🙁 I’m with you on needing to read more books with straightforward villains in them, though! This week was a pain in the butt for me, because I read so much paranormal romance and the villains in there are mostly the “bitchy cheerleader” or “flavor of the week variety”, or flat-out lame/unimpressive. This week’s really made me think “Wow, I need to read *real* books.”

    Also sdakflkasfn MALEFICENT. That’s cruel, man, ust letting her pop up like that. She’s terrifying T_T

  • I agree that women villians are more scary than men. Why is that? I wonder if it’s because men are more straightforward in their evil intentions…

    I just read Zorro by Isabel Allende. That was a good adventure + villians book; Rafael Moncada was quite the nasty nemesis. It was also interesting because she spent over 1/3 of the book building up his character just through his childhood.

  • Maybe you should spend more time watching “The Rifleman.”

  • Oh dear. Imaginary Jesus. Probably Imaginary God, too, for many of us. Not good.

    Here’s my Top Ten Baddies List.

    I hope you will also stop by my blog, Readerbuzz, and enter to win A TRIP TO PARIS or a $25 AMAZON GIFT CERTIFICATE!

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