Wednesday, July 20, 2011

RTW: Villains

This week's RTW question asks: Who is your favorite literary villain?

Reading this question, two characters came immediately to mind. And they are both the same type of character: a sort of maybe villain.

First: Severus Snape. He's not too nice to Harry right from the start, and he's kind of a sketchball. I mean, sure, Harry can be kind of an entitled little pest, so I kind of liked that he had a few people who weren't fawning over him. But seriously you just never. knew. what was going on with Snape. He would do nice things, then he would do bad things. Dumbledore trusted him, but no one else seemed to--or seemed to even understand why. By the seventh book, I had grown kind of fond of Snape, because he'd been such a huge part of the books and he seemed like a person with a lot of really shitty decisions to make. Plus, it was fun to have that confusing emotional back and forth that comes from just having NO idea what to make of someone.

Second: Mrs. Coulter in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. Mrs. Coulter is another one of those confusing characters. She does some really effed up things. And at first she seems pretty much like a straight up super villain, but as the trilogy goes on, you start to almost...understand her. I mean, she still makes effed up choices. (Stop kidnapping people, Mrs. Coulter!) But she's kind of badass. I can't say I ever truly liked her. And if we hung out, I would not eat or drink anything she gave me, and I would probably also not be alone with her because I'd fear she was going to kill me, but by the end, you realized that she did actually have a heart in there, and that her villainous behavior wasn't just for the sake of it.

So I guess I like ambiguous villains. The kind who aren't corrupt to the core, but maybe are a little more morally flexible than the average person might be comfortable with.

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15 comments:

Rachel Pudelek said...

My answer to that question was really similar to yours as far as the "why". :)

I like the ones who you're not sure about.

Kirsten Hubbard said...

I also love ambiguous villains.

Rebecca B said...

Ambiguous villains are the best villains--I love witnessing the push/pull of morality on their actions.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

Mrs Coulter is such a phenomenal example of this-- I love the way we got to know her over the course of the books.

The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

Morally flexible--- TOTALLY the phrase to describe my favorite villains! I think it's important that we understand them, that leads to a different kind of fear all together, one that helps us get to know ourselves. Lovely, lovely, lovely post!

Sarah Nicolas said...

Oh yes, Mrs. Coulter is fantastic! I especially loved her role in The Amber Spyglass, when my feelings about her got really muddled.

Tracey Neithercott said...

Embarrassingly, I haven't read the His Dark Materials books. But Mrs. Coulter sounds like my kind of villain. I love villains who have more to them than being mean/evil or whatever.

Alison Miller said...

I pretty much chose Snape for the same reason. AND I love the name you bestowed upon them: ambiguous villain. Awesome.

Georgia Summers said...

I put Mrs Coulter as well. Creepy, yet the reader can sympathise with her at points.

Katy said...

Snape is a great choice. He's got such a fascinating back story, and you never quite know if he's entirely bad or entirely good.

Sarah Enni said...

THe ambiguous ones were my favorites too! And you are absolutely right, Harry was a totally arrogant dbag at times and I got a very real thrill of every time Snape'd kick it down a notch. Severus: Keepin' it real.

Stephanie Allen said...

My English teacher in high school used to say, "Embrace the ambiguity." I've taken these words to heart where my villains are concerned. =)

Kathy Bradey said...

Snape is a great villain. I love that you're never quite sure what he's up to.

Speaking of HP, I always thought Umbridge was pretty psychotic ;)

A.J. Mullarky said...

EXCELLENT choices. Mrs Coulter, now why didn't I think of that? Lord Asriel is a bit of a villain in his own way, too, I suppose... how I love him.

Jessica Therrien said...

Lol! Snape is a sketchball...ahaha.