Tuesday 25 February 2014

Top Ten Tuesday REWIND: My picks for 'Villains/Criminals/Other Nasties'

This week's topic is a little broader, as it is a 'REWIND'. This means I get to choose from a list of past topics and pick one that I have missed/haven't done. I had a good look at the list but just couldn't resist picking the 'Villains/Criminals/Other Nasties' list because I am a sucker for a good villain! In fact, in most cases I think they can make or break a book depending on how well they are written. So here goes, my top ten!

1. Miss Trunchbull from 'Matilda'; Roald Dahl

How could I not start with this one? As a young girl, I really related to Matilda and her plight. I felt for her, having such nasty parents who actually deserve a spot on this list too for being so horrid. But by far, the character in the book that most terrified me was Miss Trunchbull, the militant, evil headteacher of Matilda's school who hates children with a passion. The thing I found most terrifying is that I genuinely felt that Matilda was in so much danger when this woman was about. There was no end to her evil, her anger. The thought of a teacher that could exert that much power, to the point of physically and mentally abusing children, and get away with it is actually a pretty scary one when you think about it. I shudder at the thought. Honourable mentions to Pam Ferris also, who plays her perfectly in the film.

2. Mr Wickham from 'Pride And Prejudice'; Jane Austen

Another mention for this wonderful book from me. It is one of my favourites and Mr Wickham is the closest thing to a villain in this one. What a slimy, horrible man! When we first meet him, he is of course the picture of charm, eloquence and friendliness. But Mr Darcy's intense dislike of him immediately gives way to some suspicions about his character. But after he elopes with Lydia Bennett (and has to be paid off to marry her and restore her honour), and we find out later that he tried the same stunt with Darcy's young and vulnerable sister, he makes it to this list just for being a massive sleazeball.

3. Dolores Umbridge from the 'Harry Potter' series; J.K Rowling

Yet another nasty teacher makes it to this list, but unlike the physically overpowering, brown suited, strict Miss Trunchbull, Professor Umbridge is a short, waddling, fluffy pink wearing nightmare. She loves kittens and politely coughs before speaking. So what if she takes an instant disliking to Harry Potter? What threat could she possibly be? Well don't let the sickly sweetness fool you readers. This woman has been instated into the school by the Ministry Of Magic and it has certainly gone to her head. She uses the power she has to perform all sorts of cruel acts, and if you don't shudder at the Detention Scene when Harry is forced to use her 'special quill' and write lines, then you are definitely not of this earth. She is present throughout the series but her evil deeds are most notable in the fifth book, 'Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix'.

4. Iago from 'Othello'; William Shakespeare

Iago is one of the most well written villains I have seen in a Shakespeare play. His complex motives of envy and hatred for the titular lead cause such devastation that even his own wife is disgusted by his actions at the end of the play. His cleverness too is just astonishing and I am totally drawn in by his ability to twist a situation and manipulate Othello's mind, turning him from a loving husband to a desperate and jealous madman, finally causing him to commit an unspeakable act on the innocent woman. Most Shakespeare plays are full of wonderful villains but this one just gets me every time.

5. Rafi Sadler from the 'Lion Boy' series; Zizou Corder

There are plenty of villains within this series of books. I think there are more villains than heroes in fact, and each of them are horrible in their own way. Rafi, a local Teenage thug that lives near our young hero Charlie and is hired to keep an eye on him while his parents are kidnapped is probably the least threatening of them all. He really is just a hired lackey. And yet he made it to this list above all the others because his stubbornness is actually really admirable. I never wanted him to catch Charlie but at the same time, I admired his relentless pursuit, despite being constantly outfoxed. He was very memorable too, I think out of all the villains in the book, Rafi was the one I most enjoyed reading and so that is why he is on this list!

6. Bob Ewell from 'To Kill A Mockingbird'; Harper Lee

This is a man you would never want to be in the vicinity of him. He is the very definition of lowlife scum. The book is set during a time when segregation and racism is at an all time high. A black man, Tom Robinson, is on trial for rape. Bob Ewell and his daughter Mayella are his accusers. As I read the book, it just disgusted me that despite Tom Robinson's obvious innocence and the rancid behaviour of Bob Ewell, Tom is still found guilty because of the colour of his skin. He gets his just desserts in the end after trying to commit the murder of two young children, one of which narrates the story. The evil of that crime in itself is enough to put him on this list.

7. General Woundwort from 'Watership Down'; Richard Adams

A bad tempered bunny rabbit? Not your average 'villain'. The rabbits that the story focuses on face many trials and nasties throughout the book. Men are ever present and many dangerous animals are after them for food. But a warren that they encounter on there journey, Efrafa, proves to be their biggest challenge. At it's head is our villain, General Woundwort. He rules with an iron fist, dictating each rabbit's rank, when they eat and where they sleep. He has guards everywhere and is generally a pretty scary creature to be around. His tragic back story too got him on the list, as I always look for motive in a villain and motive is definitely what we have here.

8. Henry Bowers from 'It'; Stephen King

Now anyone who has read my review of 'It' knows I am not overly impressed with the book itself. But this guy was very messed up and very scary. The local bully, he leads an ever-present, terrifying gang of followers who answer his every beck and call. As the book progresses, his actions become more and more psychotic and honestly? He was scarier than the monster. Much scarier. He wanted to kill every one of those children and he didn't care how. At one point he tries to carve his initial on a boys stomach, I mean come on, you can't say that that doesn't deserve a place here on this list.

9. Jude McGregor from the 'Noughts & Crosses' series; Malorie Blackman

From the moment I started reading this, I knew that Jude's character dynamic was going to change. And it certainly did. He turned over the four books from being an extremist (that you almost supported because he was rebelling against the ongoing racism) to a monster. I found him fascinating because the never-ending tragedy in his life is the root cause of it. He has a right to be as angry as he is. But he goes too far. He is tipped over the edge, to the point where he is prepared to train his young niece (the daughter of his deceased brother, wrongly accused of rape and hung) to become a suicide bomber and die for the 'good of the cause'. I do understand his actions but I don't agree with him, and to me, he is one of the best and most complicated villains I have ever read and deserves to be on this list.

10. Big Brother from '1984'; George Orwell

This one definitely gets a place on the list. Big Brother covers more than one person, it covers the entire Government that set out the regulations of the Dystopian Future that Orwell creates. The 'Thought Police', O'Brien, The Inner Party, they are each horrible and create a horrible image of what the world could (and hopefully won't) become. In essence, they are a dictatorship. They create a world in which people are spied on constantly, and thoughts are monitored heavily. Any signs of thinking differently or rebelling/criticising the political party are punishable by death. A dangerous, scary enemy that needed to be on the list.

I had great fun writing this list, and I am so looking forward to seeing what topics other participants pick, and what books that they choose! 

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