Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, Love to Hate 'Em

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme from The Broke and the Bookish.  I really had fun with last week's list, Top Ten Characters I love; this week's list is The Top Ten Characters You Hate.  Here's my interpretation:  characters I hate, and characters I love to hate.  You know a book with only the good and the nice is just going to be boring.  So I will start right at the top....or the bottom?

1.  Okay, so he lives in a burning lake.  Does that bother him?  Hell no, he's SatanJohn Milton's character of Satan from Paradise Lost.  He's not just bad, he's extravagantly bad. Luminous to begin with, Satan suffers a drastic fall, and then he decides that he will just revel in his sin--nanny, nanny boo boo,  I'm just going to tempt everyone to sin.  Satan readily admits that he is his own worst enemy--ah, me, miserable, I myself am hell.
2.  Not so much a character as a terrifying warning of what awaits the worst sinners, Dante's Satan is in the ninth circle of Hell, and he has three heads, all the better to chew on the three worst sinners of all:  Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Cassius.  The rest of the sinners in the ninth circle of Hell are frozen in place, because in Dante's Inferno Satan has enormous leathery wings (six of them); the constant flapping of Satan's wings causes Hell to freeze over. 
3.  Victor Frankenstein.  I have to agree with Tahleen at The Broke and the Bookish.
The most despicable character in the novel Frankenstein is not the so-called monster (or creature). Victor Frankenstein is the selfish creator who then abandons his creation, and exposes the woman he loves to danger.  Frankenstein is driven by impulse, by an unholy desire to compete with the Creator, and no sense of consequences.
4. Not evil, just servile and conniving.  Okay, maybe she is evil.  I'm talking about Caroline Bingley from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
5. Then there's the guy we just love to hate:  loathsome, creepy, shallow, obsequious--I'm talking about Mr. Collins of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  His proposal to Elizabeth Bennet is the most entertainingly horrid proposal in the history of the novel!
6.  Uriah Heep (rhymes with creep) from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
7.  Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  I know, last week he was on my list of Top Ten Characters I Love.  But let's face it, the guy's a murderer.  Yeah, I love him, but he's bad.
8. Pap in The Adventures of Hucklberry Finn by Mark Twain.  This man has absolutely no redeeming value.  He's abusive, a drunk, so greedy he would rob his own child, and so perverse he would beat his son for attending church and learning to read.  But wait, his rant against the government is one of the funniest things written in the English language.  And strangely like some of the rants out there in the blogosphere today.
9. That Hurricane in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. There, it wasn't so hard to get this most wonderful book on the list.  So the hurricane in this book isn't, strictly speaking, a character--it does have some pretty diabolic characteristics.
10.  Let's get Middlemarch by George Eliot on this list.  Okay, so *spoiler alert* there's this dried up old prig of a so-called scholar called Casaubon.  Let's just say that dried-up old prune-faced stuffy old men are not good marriage material, especially for a passionate woman in the flower of her youth. He just sucks the life out of poor Dorothea....until....well, you really have to read the book.

This post is so late!  I was up cooking black-eyed peas and cornbread for my colleagues--we're having a potluck lunch tomorrow.  So now, to bed.


Jamie said...

Great list! Thanks for joining in!! And you are making me hungry by telling me what you were cooking! :)

Daisy said...

Haha, Caroline Bingley and Mr. Collins sure can be annoying, but I enjoyed reading about them so much I can't hate them. Same goes for Mrs. Bennett, I love the interaction between her and Mr. Bennett (who's just awesome). Though I think she should have spent a bit more time instilling some sense in her younger daughters.

Grad said...

Great idea for a post. Mind if I borrow it one day? I know you're busy with getting ready for a new school year. Thanks for being a teacher. I think all of us can remember at least one teacher who made a big difference in our lives.

the Ape said...

Isn't it weird though that Raskolnikov might nto even make the top 5 most loathsome characters in that book?

It's also strange that the putative "bad guy" of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Wickham, doesn't make your list, even with two P+P characters on it. Not saying I disagree, just a pecularity of the novel

bibliophiliac said...

@Jamie-thanks! btw the food was a hit!
@Daisy-that's why I love to hate 'em!
@Grad-feel free to borrow the idea! Students come next week, I'm starting to get excited!

bibliophiliac said...

@Ape-I thought about putting Wickham on my list--he is an obvious villain. But Collins & Caroline Bingley are more interesting "baddies" in a way, because on the surface they are socially acceptable, but Austen satirizes their ridiculous and hypocritical behavior in such an entertaining way. About Dostoyevsky--what I love about his novels is even the loathsome characters become sympathetic. Dostoyevsky does something brilliant, upending all our notions of morality....Do you think Raskolnikov is redeemed?

Stephanie said...

This is a fun meme. I love the fact that you put Raskolnikov on both your "love" and "hate" lists. It seems fitting somehow.

Anonymous said...

Great list! Uriah Heep was the first character that came to mind for this topic. I'm in the middle of Middlemarch right now, I'm kinda feeling sorry for Causabon but we'll see what happens. Fantastic book!

Emily said...

This list is fabulous. Your description of Satan was right on!

Christopher said...

Let's add Alec d'Urberville, and Angel Clare from "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" (I could kill 'em both); and Tom Tulliver from "The Mill on the Floss" to your list.

Excellent post, made me stop and think! Cheers! Chris

thomascalvocoressi said...

Right on Satan.....You gotta love him.....Better to be a king in hell than a slave in Heaven....or is it? He expresses no doubt, but my own experience (!) has suggested that being a slave in Heaven has its good points....