Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - You Jerkface!

I’m finally participating in the Top Ten Tuesday blog hop over at The Broke and the Bookish. I don’t usually do it because it conflicts with my Tuesday meme (the Bechdel Test) but I’m doing it early enough in the day that I think I can get both in.
This week's Top Ten is Biggest Jerks in Literature (oh and I guess they’re supposed to be male as well). Now I’m having a much more difficult time with this than I originally thought I would. I figured it would be easy but then I took a gander over at my friend Laurie’s blog What She Read and she made a really good point about the differentiation between jerks and truly evil characters. I can think of many truly evil characters in literature; it’s harder to think of who are just simply jerkfaces (although I’m having no problem coming up with people in my real life that fit that description!).

But I’ll give it a try! Here goes nothing…

1. Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Lord Henry is a completely self-absorbed character who basically has time for no one other than himself or people that he finds just as snotty as himself. He likes to feel superior to others and takes pride in the fact that he turned young Dorian Gray into his own jerky little protégé. I think he fits this category nicely.

2. Dr. Sloper in
Washington Square
by Henry James: Dr. Sloper’s treatment of his daughter, Catherine, can most certainly be described as jerk-like. He may be accurate about his reasons for objecting to her chosen suitor but he constantly puts her down and does not give Catherine the respect she deserves…ever.

3-5. All of Janie’s husbands in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: That’s right. They were all jerks. Even precious Tea Cake. I’m sorry but if you beat your wife you’re no longer okay with me. They stunk.

6. Adam Robert Ryan in In the Woods by Tana French: He’s the main character of the book and at times you feel sorry for him, because yeah he did go through a traumatic experience when he was little that he has no recollection of where his friends were murdered, but he’s still a jerk throughout most of the book. His partner is a great woman and he treats her like garbage most of the time when she’s trying to be there for him. So you’re rooting for him but at the same time, you know he deserves what he gets. Great book by the way.

7. Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild by John Krakauer: Is it wrong to call this kid a jerk when it’s a true story and he’s now dead? I don’t care because it’s all I could really think while reading it. He was so selfish and pigheaded and just…I don’t know. He just infuriated me every step of the way! I’m not a parent but I couldn’t help but feel for them as I was reading it because he just didn’t care at all how his actions might affect others in any way, how other people cared about him.

8. Holden Caufield in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: I know a lot of people have him on their lists and I have to agree. Holden is the epitome of a jerky kid. I could totally relate to him when I read the book in high school but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t selfish and a jerk and treated others like crap a lot of the time. Sure, he was confused and scared and depressed, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a jerkface.

9. Odysseus in The Odyssey by Homer: I’m sorry. Yeah yeah he’s trying to make his way home against all odds but he’s off sexing up different women left and right while his wife is alone for years and years doing everything possible to fight off tons and tons of suitors. Then Odysseus has the NERVE to come home and perform some kind of TEST to see if she has remained faithful to him this whole time? JERK!!

10. EVERYONE in The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen: Yeah, wasn’t really a fan of this book. All the characters were horrible and jerk-like. What was there to like about them exactly? Nothing in my opinion.

And I'm spent!


Red said...

You know, Lord Henry is a jerk but I sort of loved him so I never even considered him for this topic. Holden on the other hand I wish I'd remembered him. Angsty teens are such a pain.

Deborah Lawrenson said...

I shall never think of Odysseus in the same way again! OK, of course I worked out that was a helluva commute home from work, but it's your phraseology I will cherish.

Birdie said...

Yes! I've often wondered why more people don't see Odysseus for the jerk he is!!! Penelope is the *real* hero of the story

Laura said...

I agree on Chris McCandless. I thought the same thing.

Anne said...

I totally agree about the Corrections, there was not one decent character in the whole book, hated it!

llevinso said...

@Red, Oh how I wanted to strangle Lord Henry every time he spoke!

@ Deborah and Birdie, you should take a look back at one of my first posts ever back in January. It was ALL about the sexist craziness of The Odyssey. One of the posts I’m most proud of actually.

@Laura, thanks, at least I’m not alone.

@Anne, yes totally unlikable people. I didn’t HATE the book, but I really disliked the vast majority of it.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I always thought that about "The Odyssey" too. Great post.

Audra said...

Oh, I loved this -- thank you for making me smile so late in the day (an especially aggravating Tuesday)! Loved your selections -- not sure I could limit myself to 10! ;)

Bibliophile said...

Great list, you have some really well considered and reasoned choices.

Kayleigh said...

I agree with what you've said about Chris McCandless. The whole time I was like fine, go on an outdoor adventure, throw away all your money and become a bum, but call your damn parents! You may have thought they were driven by consumerism or whatever, but they're still your parents and they love you!

Laurie said...

I am SO with you on ALL of Janie's husbands (although I adore that book, they were all jerks!). Who hasn't - at one time or another - fallen in love with a jerk, I ask you?
And Chris McCandless: What is the fascination with him? Modern day Holden?
But Odysseus? Somehow for years I've been reconciled to think of him as a heroically (pun intended) flawed guy, but not entirely a jerk. However, you make a strong, succinct case. Time to go sit and mull.
And speaking of mulling: I've been doing that about whether/not to read The Corrections. Your comment just sealed the deal: On to possibly-not bigger but better books.

LBC said...

McCandless made me mad too, although I also feel a little bad about it. Oh well, it also made me sad.

Read my list here.

Anonymous said...

How about Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility?

Willa said...

Holden Caufield is def a jerk!