This week on Broke and the Bookish it’s all about the villains. With Halloween approaching, I can’t think of a better topic, but when I finally sat down to pick out my favorites… my picks were few and far between. A lot of my reads have villainous characters, but that doesn’t necessarily make the character a villain. To me, a great villain is made by an exceptional character, someone who’s not afraid to take dangerous or deplorable risks for the sake of their devilish goal, and someone who just so happens to be the perfect foil to our hero, a character so rich, you’re practically slapped in the face with all the hero’s greatest flaws.
Who are your favorite villains?
Jane Eyre is the epitome of villainous characters. Seriously, take your pick: poor, mad Bertha, lonely and deranged, hidden away in a tower, Aunt Reed who’s never offered a single kindness to anyone who actually deserved it, Mr. Brocklehurst who tortures children, St. John Rivers, a man too good to see the faults in his own crusade, Blanche Ingram, the gold digger after Mr. Rochester with little regard for those below her station, or even Mr. Rochester, even he may be construed as a villain. Each of them present a foil to Jane, especially, in my opinion, St. John Rivers who loves in the lack of passion, making Jane realize the merits of her relationship with Mr. Rochester, and even with herself.
Of course, Dracula. He’s a perfect gentleman until he’s stealing away your girlfriend.
Alec d’Urberville is the quintessential villain. Even with a subtle hint of creepiness, Alec oozes charm and sophistication, driving the tragedy forward with his all-consuming obsession for innocent Tess.
Vampire Lestat is the perfect villain. Ruthless, calculating, maniacal, haughty… I could go on and on, but for as weak as he might seem, wrapped up in his own beauty, Lestat is not to be underestimated. He will stop at nothing to make sure Louis is his, and only his.
A capable and dangerously beautiful spy, Milady de Winter is absolutely captivating. Truly the golden star of all villains: independent, fierce, remorseless, seductive… she’ll stop at nothing to keep her secrets.
Though not a traditional villain, Anna Karenina is the perfect foil for just about every other character in the novel. Where her brother is full of guilt, Anna is pitiful, where Levin is jealous out love, Anna is jealous out of helplessness, where Kitty is happy with love, Anna is happy from spite. Anna is her own worst enemy, consumed by her social disgrace, she projects her unhappiness onto nonsuspecting victims, dragging them down with her even in death.