Welcome back to Top 5 Wednesday. This is a meme started in November of 2013 and is still going strong! If you’re interested in being a part of it please see the group on Goodreads.
This week’s topic is Favorite Villains. Heh heh heh, *maniacal laugh*.
Madame Theresè Defarge
A quintessential villainess. A victim of the upper class in pre-revolutionary France, her sister was raped and became pregnant by a rich aristocrat. He arranged the death of the woman’s husband, brother and eventually the woman and the baby she was carrying. Madame Defarge devotes her life to the destruction of that aristocrat’s family, down to the very last child if she can find a way to do it. She is also instrumental in the Revolution itself, present at the Bastille and a fixture at the trials and executions by guillotine of the French upper class. While you can understand her anger, her desire to revenge turns her into a killing machine. She even knits an encoded register of people who are to be executed. Motivated always by her lust for vengeance.
“I communicate to him that secret. I smite this bosom with these two hands … Defarge, that sister of the mortally wounded boy upon the ground was my sister, that husband was my sister’s husband, that unborn child was their child, that brother was my brother, that father was my father, those dead are my dead, and that summons to answer for those things descends to me!’ Ask him, is that so.”
“It is so,” assented Defarge once more.
“Then tell Wind and Fire where to stop,” returned madame; “but don’t tell me.”
Captain Kennit Ludluck
(artwork by Nathan Roussel)
Here is a fabulous villain. One thing that makes a really great villain is that there’s something in them for the read to empathize with. It makes them real. Kennit is just that kind of villain. He lived through a truly horrendous childhood. A lot of things happen to him, none of which I can mention because huge spoilers! What I can tell you is the result is a hideously maimed personality. Kennit is murderous, manipulative and lacking in any fellow feeling. It is a tribute to the wonderful Ms. Hobb that he is also the most compelling character in the books (imo) and I found myself thinking about him and how he became what he is long after I finished reading the books. He is a terrific villain.
Before you say anything, I know that is a picture of Jennifer Lawrence. But it works because she looks evil, and she is playing Cathy Ames in the upcoming production of East of Eden so it’s all good. I know I’ve talked about Cathy before in my blog. I can’t help it. I first read the book as a young girl, and she absolutely fascinated me. Steinbeck described her as a “psychic monster” and a “malformed soul”. Spot on! She is lovely and desirable, with this pearly aura of goodness and sweetness but inside she is pure evil. In this book, which is largely based on the drama of Adam & Eve and Cain & Abel, surpisingly Cathy does not represent Eve. She is the snake. She is Satan. She gives me the shivers. Cathy is not a “Criminal Minds” over the top kind of villain. She is a malevolent, real woman and I think that makes her all the more scary. I can’t wait to see Jennifer Lawrence play her!
Bertha Mason Rochester
The madwoman in the attic. She is the perfect foil for Jane Eyre. Debauched where Jane is chaste, drunken where Jane is sober, violent and crazed where Jane is calm and collected. Is it any wonder that Rochester, having experienced life with Bertha is drawn to Jane? I’m not surprised, though I still don’t forgive him trying to fool her into a bigamous marriage. Bertha is a malicious ghost, waiting to destroy Jane’s happiness. But is she a villain? In the times this book was written it’s easy see how she can be written off as some monster and not as what she really is. Which is a woman who suffers from mental illness, without any services to help and protect her. She inherited her illness and it has been with her since before her marriage. Rochester was fooled into marrying her before he realized she was ill. To his credit, he did hire a nurse and try to care for her at home instead of shipping her off to the hell-holes that were lunatic asylums of the time. However, it is sad that we can all see the writing on the wall. For Jane to live, Bertha has to die, and she does die in spectacular fashion. Trying to take as many people with her as she possibly can.
The most high-achieving villain of the group. He starts out young and has an impressive body count before he even becomes an adult. Go Johan! Seriously though, he is the product of East German efforts to produce the ultimate sociopathic, killing machines. They do their job a little too well. What they end up with is a handsome, charismatic serial-killer with a hit list of his own making. What Johan wants most though, is for someone to stop him. He is truly frightening.
Well that was fun! I will leave you now with some of my honorable mentions…
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis