The person we love to hate; the man we’d like to see incarcerated for life; the woman who needs to be bitch-slapped right now. These are the characters we call Villains.
The true definition of a villain is: the person or thing responsible for specified trouble, harm, or damage.
In romance novels the villain can be:
- the old flame who comes back into the hero’s life, flooding the heroine with doubts about his love
- an ex-spouse, or co-worker, or a boss
- a parent or family member who wants to break the hero and heroine up for any number of selfish reasons
- ANYONE who has a vested interest in pulling the love interests apart.
Some of my favorite characters are what could be termed villains. They are all self -serving, narcissistic and (mostly) devoid of principles.
Here are a few of my favs:
Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice. The quintessential bitch in a ball gown.
Rochester’s first wife, Jane Eyre. Truly, one insane biatch.
Briony Tallis, Atonement. (most people won’t agree with me on this one because Briony sets out to atone for her acts, but for much of the novel, she’s the bad guy, and therefore a villain in my mind.
Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca. The original psycho-bitch.
Iago, Othello. Master manipulator and jealous creepazoid.
The best villains I’ve ever read, though, are those characters everybody likes and would never suspect are performing acts of villainy. The good ‘ole southern girl in who’s mouth butter wouldn’t melt, while she’s backstabbing the s**t out of our heroine; the charming rake with a grin a soccer field wide who’s stripping the company’s bankroll bare. Walt Disney had this thing for step-mothers cast in the role of villains – a true mommy complex if there ever was one. Ever see Dangerous Liaisons? Best villains EVER.
And of course the best part of reading a book with a good villain is the scene where he/she gets their comeuppance. I live for Karmic payback scenes, absolutely live. Since I’m not quick on the witty repartee comeback ( I need to think and think…and think some more before it’s absolutely a perfect zinger), I appreciate people who are. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than seeing someone get what’s coming to them if they’ve been a rotter to our dear H/H. Remember the last scene in Dangerous Liaisons when Glenn Close gets booed and hissed at during the opera? I booed and hissed at the television right along with the pretend French people in the movie. I know…I’m a little off the beaten track, but hey: I’m happy.
So, dig into your memory banks. Who’s your favorite villain and why? Let’s discuss…