Villainous characters


The list of villains in literature continues. If you’ve missed the rest of the list, check previous posts.

35. Tom Ripley: A killer who feels no remorse whatsoever, Ripley is the antihero from Patricia Highsmith’s novels about the man, beginning with The Talented Mr. Ripley (Coward-McCann, 1955). Among others, Ripley’s skill set includes murder, confidence schemes, identity theft and impersonation.

It struck Tom like a horrible truth, true for all time, true for the people he had known in the past and for those he would know in the future : each had stood and would stand before him, and he would know time and time again that he would never know them…

34.  Jack Merridew: Perhaps he is just a boy, but that’s one of the things that makes him such an interesting villain.  When a group of English boys is cast away on a deserted island after a shipwreck, Jack quickly becomes the ringleader of the wilder of the boys in William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies (Faber and Faber, 1954).  Jack leads the boys away from an ordered survival plan, missing a passing boat at one point.  The boys follow Jack into primal chaos and he leads them there with great glee.

“We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.”

33.  Nurse Ratched: Described as evil by more than a few readers of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Viking Press, 1962), Mildred Ratched rules the mental institution where she works with an iron hand, overseeing nearly all aspects of the institution’s daily operations.  Sadistic and cold, she revels in her power over the patients of the institution.  When the protagonist of the novel arrives to the facility and begins doing everything he can to defy Ratched’s rigid rules, she combats him with electric shock, and when that doesn’t work, finally resorts to lobotomizing the man.

“I thought for a minute there I saw her whipped. Maybe I did. But I see now that it don’t make any difference…. To beat her you don’t have to whip her two out of three or three out of five, but every time you meet. As soon as you let down your guard, as soon as you lose once, she’s won for good. And eventually we all got to lose. Nobody can help that.”

32. Cthulhu: The ultimate freaky monster from beyond, Cthulhu was dreamed up by H.P. Lovecraft, making its first appearance in the short story “The Call of Cthulhu,” (Weird Tales Magazine, 1928). In Lovecraft’s fiction, the ancient many tentacled being from beyond was followed by a doomsday cult.  Cthulhu has become such a phenomenal hit with readers, anthologies are still written about the beast today.  It has also become the basis for role playing games, music, and my favorite – Cthulhu slippers! (An item I should be receiving any day now:)

They were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape…but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R’lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for Them.

31. Vladimir Harkonnen: Planetary baron and leader of the house Harkonnen in Frank Herbert’s Dune (Chilton Books, 1965), Vladimir is a master manipulator.  He engineered the death of the protagonist, Paul Atreides’ father, ironically setting into motion events that would later precipitate his own demise.  The baron devised elaborate tortures to be meted out upon his enemies and often used murder and slavery to maintain his power base.  Vladimir was a bad, bad man.

When law and duty are one, united by religion, you never become fully conscious, fully aware of yourself. You are always a little less than an individual.

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