Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

5 Literary Villains You Love to Hate

Good summer reading starts with a great villain.

by
Hannah Sternberg

Bio

June 4, 2014 - 10:01 am
Page 1 of 5  Next ->   View as Single Page

It’s easy to write a passable hero. No, not an interesting hero or a complex one, but if all you need is someone to stand shining in the radiance of his righteousness with a sword in his hand, a journeyman writer can whip one of those out with her eyes closed. A great story doesn’t always need a great hero, or even an especially memorable one. It needs a fantastic villain.

A fantastic villain — a villain you love to hate, a villain that you almost, just a little bit, want to root for, a villain whose very name makes your skin crawl — is incredibly difficult to write, which is why fantastic villains are very rare. It’s often the villain who makes an adventure especially delicious and suspenseful; it’s the villain who elevates an interpersonal drama into an epic. A great villain makes a great story — and a great story makes great summer reading. Follow the villains to your summer reading list — and start with these if you want to know what a good villain looks like.

5) Hatsumomo, Memoirs of a Geisha

I’m only about halfway through this one, but already Hatsumomo has made the book for me. A vicious beauty, Hatsumomo is the working geisha at the okiya where Chiyo, the narrator, works as a maid and trains to become a geisha herself. From the instant Hatsumomo sets eyes on a nine-year-old Chiyo, she smells a potential rival and sets out to destroy Chiyo’s life. Hatsumomo’s main competitor, Mameha, takes Chiyo under her tutelage when she learns how much Hatsumomo hates her, and the young girl becomes a pawn in the established geishas’ social war.

There are no depths Hatsumomo won’t sink to to try to prevent Chiyo’s rise to prominence, or damage Mameha’s reputation. Planting stolen goods, spreading disgusting rumors, and driving up the debt Chiyo must repay before she can become a free and independent woman — Hatsumomo practically crackles with insane energy every time she enters a scene, and I find myself turning the pages not just to cheer Chiyo on, but in a sick fascination to find out what Hatsumomo will do to her next.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Obadiah Hakeswill from the Bernard Cornwell "Sharpe" series. A truly sinister and treacherous character.

Pete Postlethwaite brought him to life in the TV version.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
my friend's aunt makes $68 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $19006 just working on the internet for a few hours. you can try here
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
www.jobsEG.com

""""""""""""""""""""""
""""""""""""""""""""""
19 weeks ago
19 weeks ago Link To Comment
Penelope's suitors.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
My first thought was Madame DeFarge. Evil, and yet one is somewhat sympathetic to how she became that way.

By the way I am reading that book Matilda to my 5 year old right now and I really hate it. I'm starting to think Dahl was a sicko. It's also boring as heck.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
No list is complete without the evil Aunt Reed who bedeviled Jane Eyre.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
+1 vote for Javert. I'm annoyed I was beaten to the punch on that one.

The only other character that comes to mind may actually be my first choice on a different day: Dracula.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mervyn Peake's Steerpike in the Gormenghast books. You start admiring his chutzpah and end loathing his wickedness.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Shakespeare's where it's at, baby! Greatest villain of the tragedies is Iago, of course, and the greatest of the comedies is Don John in "Much Ado about Nothing."
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
A corollary to how the quality of the villain makes the story seems to be that actors who can play the villain seem to remain in demand after the leading men types fade.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Heathcliff from "Wuthering Heights" (Emily Bronte)
Brian du Bois-Guilbert from "Ivanhoe" (Sir Walter Scott)
General Woundwort from "Watership Down" (Richard Adams)
Thoth-Amon from "The Phoenix on the Sword" (the first-written Conan story by Robert E. Howard)
Pavel Young, especially in "Field of Dishonor" (David Weber)
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the children's literature genre, I'd like to think that Count Olaf, in the Lemony Snicket series ("A Series of Unfortunate Events") has to be right near the top. Purely evil, and ruthlessly determined, he just keeps coming back with some new and imaginative plot that the kids have to foil.
20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 Next View All