Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the girls at The Broke and the Bookish blog, for those literary list-lovers out there. This week's subject is The Ten Biggest Jerks In Literature: bloggers' most hated male characters, whether designated villains or anti-heroes. I missed the female equivalent a week or two back, so instead I'm listing the five male and five female characters I think would most benefit from a good smack.
May contains spoilers
5: Bob Ewell - To Kill A Mockingbird. Ewell is a disgusting piece of work; an abusive, cowardly slob of a man who covers up violence with lies, threats and more violence. He is the catalyst for the major events of the novel, going after the helpless and innocent because he is too afraid to challenge those who can protect themselves.
4. Mr Casaubon - Middlemarch. Mr Casaubon marries Dorothea Brooke early on in the novel, attracted by her beauty and intelligence, then spends the rest of his life grudging the virtues that first caught his attention. He can't stand that she might disagree with him, and is fiercely jealous of any other man who might look her way. Even after his death, he stands between his wife and happiness.
3. General Tilney - Northanger Abbey. What a snob General Tilney is! He is keen for his son to marry young, innocent Catherine when he believes her to be an heiress to a fortune, but the minute he discovers that he has been deceived, he practically throws her out of his door, sending her home unaccompanied, without money or chaperone with no concerns for her safety. Catherine concludes that, though she may have let her imagination get carried away with her about Tilney's dark and secret past, "in suspecting General Tilney of either murdering or shutting up his wife, she had scarcely sinned against his character or magnified his cruelty."
2. Edward Cullen - Twilight. Edward, Edward, Edward, what do the girls see in you! Sneaking into a girl's room to watch her sleep without her knowledge is not romantic, it is creepy! Does the word "stalker" mean anything to you? That's just the tip of the iceberg, but what makes it more worrying is the number of girls - and grown women - who claim that the sparkly vampire has spoiled real men for them.
1. Angel Clare - Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Although Angel isn't the real villain of Thomas Hardy's novel, he provokes more anger in me than the smarmy Alec D'Urberville for his sheer hypocrisy. You do not confess your guilty secret to your new wife and let her forgive you, then abandon her when she admits the exact same thing. Slimeball.
5. Luce - Fallen. Other contenders are Bella of Twilight and Nora of Hush, Hush for sheer drippiness and the "I Can't Live Without My Sparkly Boyfriend" attitude that is a brilliant checklist of How Not To Act When Dumped. But Luce is worst of all because her conviction of being "In Love" with Interchangeable Magical Boyfriend Creature Daniel, comes after minimal interaction with him, which is aggressive, abusive or indifferent on his part. But she "feels a connection with him." So that's all right, then.
4. Aunt Elizabeth - Emily of New Moon series. She gets better as the series goes along, but when a recently orphaned little girl comes to live with her, Elizabeth makes it is quite clear she is not wanted. And she only agrees to let Emily, a writer to her core, continue her education to High School, if Emily will refrain from writing fiction. This may not sound much, but to someone like Emily, writing is not just a hobby. It is an essential part of life.
3. Aunt Read, Jane Eyre. Another unwilling adopter of a lonely orphan, but where Elizabeth was just old-fashioned, Aunt Read is nasty. A bully, and mother to other bullies, she makes sure Jane knows that she can never be worth anything.
2. Mrs Norris, Mansfield Park. Yet another aunt of the same type, Mrs Norris puts Fanny in her place as the poor relation dependant on her wealthy family, making sure she knows she is second best, and chiding the timid, good girl for being a nuisance. A nuisance? Fanny Price? I'm sure she doesn't know the meaning of the word.
1. Dolores Umbridge, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The Umbridge Woman makes the fifth Harry Potter book hard work to read, and is the reason that this is my least favourite book of the series. A mixture of cutesy-poo and sadistic, Umbridge sneaks her power into everything that makes the world of Harry Potter so magical, and breaks it down - or attempts to - a bit at a time. I don't even love to hate her - she is too horrible even for that.