Friday, March 18, 2011

Fantastic Five Friday!

Welcome back for another exciting addition of Fantastic Five Friday! I say exciting because this week I'm dealing with the always intriguing topic of literary villains. Oooo! Ahhh! Villains can be horrible indeed and love 'em or hate 'em they certainly do make for a more exciting read.

So let's talk about my Fantastic Five Literary Villains!

Humbert Humbert
in Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

I've seen this book listed in other lists of famously intriguing and awesome villains in literature, but to my surprise they have the character of Quilty listed as the awful villain. Now, I'm not going to say that Quilty was a good guy, he wasn't. He was just as despicable as Humbert. But one of the whole points of the novel is that Humbert is trying to convince the reader and himself that he's a good guy, that he always loved Lolita. Well, he's the one that took her from her home. He's the one that prayed upon her when she was just a child. He's a pedophile. Quilty was horrible as well but it's as though he felt that by the end if he got rid of Quilty he had somehow absolved himself of all the horrible things HE had done. Sorry, no dice. You sir, Humbert, are the villain of this tale because you don't even realize that you're the scum.

Mrs. Danvers
in Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
If you haven't read this book then I have one thing to say to you: read it. Now. It's just fantastic. And Mrs. Danvers is one of the main reasons. She is a remarkable villain indeed. The new Mrs. de Winter comes to live with her husband at Manderlay and the head of the staff, Mrs. Danvers, cannot let go of her old employer, Rebecca. She constantly haunts Mrs. de Winter with images of Rebecca and her perfection, how nobody could ever replace her, how nobody wants a new Mrs. de Winter, etc. At one point she basically almost goads her into jumping out of a window and KILLING HERSELF! Now that's a villain!

Alec d'Urberville
in Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
I just finished this book the other week and posted my review yesterday, so if you haven't read that you can check it out HERE. But this character is a real S.O.B. I explained the horrible stuff he does in my review so I don't want to rehash it here, but what makes him a great villain in my opinion is that he is so charming. Smarmy is another word for it. He seems to charm almost every woman he comes across in the novel. And after he happens across Tess again much later in her life, after the dreadful incident in The Chase, one can't help but feel drawn to him. Therein lies his power. The jerk!

General Woundwort
in Watership Down by Richard Adams
I don't know how many of you have read this book but it is a lovely tale of survival told by...rabbits. It's a classic and one that I just read a little less than a year ago. And I was so glad I did. They're journeying to find a new warren and on their way the find the warren known as Efrafa led by the horrible General Woundwort. He's a tyrannical beast of a rabbit and they basically battle like...well the animals that they are. I've never been so afraid of a rabbit in all my life.

in Othello by William Shakespeare
This play is all about the evilness that is Iago in my opinion. I mean, the character of Iago whispering and spreading hateful lies in another person's ear has been copied over so many times it's ridiculous. That's because the character is just so wonderful. Nobody writes them like Shakespeare. Iago plays ALL sides and does it to such a masterous level it's astounding. And he thinks nothing of the consequences of his actions as long as the end result is that he gets more power. He gets people KILLED in the process and doesn't bat an eye. Best villain ever.

So what about the rest of you? Who are your favorite villains in literature?


Wall-to-wall books said...

I LOVE Watership Down!!! One of my favorites!

Wall-to-wall books said...

If you could call her a villain - I love Scarlet in Gone with the Wind.

Vee said...

I haven't read Rebecca in years, but I remember really enjoying it when I did. Maybe I should re-read it! Also, I think Humbert Humbert is my number one villain. Love this post!

bookspersonally said...

Rebecca/Mrs. Danvers one of my all time favorites. *Shivers*

Adam said...

Ooh, General Woundwort. That's a good one!

llevinso said...

@W2W and Adam, so happy to see the love for Watership Down! It's one of my favorite books :)

Oh and W2W, I've never read Gone with the Wind but I saw the movie a looooong time ago.

@Vee and books, Rebecca is ANOTHER one of my favorites. And Mrs. Danvers is soooo good. Anyone seen the Hitchcock movie? It was great!

Red said...

I love, love, love Iago. Probably my favorite Shakespeare character and absolutely the best villain.

Jamie Poag said...

I'm always excited to see someone else acknowledging my favorite book of all time, Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers is definitely an underrated literary villain. You did her justice! Bravo!

llevinso said...

@Red, yes. I think that makes Iago such a great villain is he doesn't seem to have a single redeeming characteristic.

@Jamie, glad you approve ;) Yeah I'm always surprised Mrs. Danvers isn't mentioned more. She's fantastic.