Literary Villains! – Top Ten Tuesday

This is a weekly meme run by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s top ten list is:  “Top Ten Villains/Criminals/and other Nasties”  Sounded like fun, so here’s my contribution. My list is somewhat biased towards books I have read recently, but here we go…

10) Simon LeGree
From Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; I have to include a character whose name has become synonymous with evil…

9) Ellsworth Toohey
From Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. He is not a physically dangerous character, but the more insidious type. A schemer. A behind the scenes troublemaker. He made my skin crawl…

8 ) Mrs. Danvers
From Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. My view of this character may be somewhat corrupted by having seen the movie version of this book, where the character is portrayed perfectly by Judith Anderson.

7) Madame DeFarge
From A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. This character is quite evil and bloodthirsty. As with number seven, my view may be tainted by the movie portrayal and Blanche Yurka’s grinning malignity..

6) Saruman
From The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. (honorable mention from this same work goes to Sauron, but I gave the nod to Saruman, since he is a human – it could be argued – and should know better; and he’s a traitor to boot…)

5) Voldemort
From The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (who doesn’t know that already?). He’s not really human, or I would’ve ranked him higher, as his evil spans across several volumes and thousands of pages…

4) Edward Hyde
From The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’ve blogged once before about the murder scene where he dispatches Sir Danvers Carew. Absolutely chilling.

3) Assef
From The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini. An evil sadist. As a kid. As a man. He never grew out of it.

2) Wackford Squeers
From Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. An evil schoolmaster. I’ve always particularly hated those who victimize and terrorize children or other people who are helpless or weaker than themselves. He is a piece of work.

1) Bill Sikes
From Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. The quintessential villain/criminal to my mind. This may be because I read this book when I was younger and more impressionable, thus burning his image into my brain forever. The murder scene involving him is in my top two along with the one from Mr. Hyde…

Honorable mention that I also considered: Lord Henry Wotton (The Picture of Dorian Gray), President Snow (from The Hunger Games), Catherine deBourgh (Pride and Prejudice), Martin Vanger (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo); I’m sure there are countless others but I spent a finite amount of time on this… 🙂


  1. EL Fay said,

    November 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Sauron was my #3 just for being the Big Bad.

    I completely forgot Simon LeGree. But you can argue that the institution of slavery itself is the real villain in that book, and he’s just a symptom.


  2. Rummanah said,

    November 16, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Great list! I also thought about adding Mrs. Danvers, Lord Wotton, and Dorian Gray, but I had already hit the limit. 😦


  3. Anne said,

    November 16, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    Really good selections. I’m surprised that Martin Vanger didn’t even make it into my mind when I was creating the list.


  4. Danya said,

    November 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Yes, Saruman was a very nasty piece of work. Good choice!


  5. Kristie said,

    November 16, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I totally agree with you about Assef. He was so close to making my list.

    As for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I couldn’t really decide which was the villain–Mr. Hyde, who did all the bad stuff, or Dr. Jekyll for creating him (even if by accident). For that reason, neither made my list.


    • stentorpub said,

      November 20, 2010 at 11:32 am

      I didn’t see Assef on anyone else’s list, which was a bit surprising to me.

      Jekyll & his kind (e.g. Dr. Frankenstein) probably should have a different list of their own – not intending evil, but wreaking it nonetheless…


  6. November 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    There sure are a lot of Dicken’s super villains….good call on the Nicolas Nickleby, I forgot all about him!

    And Sauron too! They don’t get much worse than him :p


  7. Sarah said,

    November 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Love your honorable mentions –Catherine deBourgh !! Ha, yes, I can totally see her on a list like this. Nice call.


  8. November 18, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Great list!

    Here’s my Top Ten Baddies List.

    I hope you will also stop by my blog, Readerbuzz, and enter to win A TRIP TO PARIS or a $25 AMAZON GIFT CERTIFICATE!


  9. Vaishnavi said,

    November 19, 2010 at 9:21 am

    I love your list! Voldemort would probably make the top of my list with Ellsworth Toohey a close second! I love that you have included Mrs.Danvers. I was as afraid of her as our heroine when I read Rebecca


    • stentorpub said,

      November 20, 2010 at 10:59 am

      I didn’t see Toohey on any other lists. I’m glad to hear someone concur with me 🙂


  10. Ann Marie said,

    November 20, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Love the list. I’m going to have to give some thought to this but off the top of my head I would add Hannibel Lector (the book was even better than the movie in my opinion) and the bad guy from The Stand (whose name escapes me as I sit in the car). But maybe he doesn’t count since he has some supernatural powers. Since I read more suspense and horror rather than classics I’m sure my list will be different!


    • stentorpub said,

      November 20, 2010 at 10:57 am

      I actually never read any of the Hannibal Lector books (I may be the only one, I know). I think the “guy’s” name in The Stand was Randall Flagg(?). He was a “supernatural” character though, and I was trying to keep them off th elist (although Voldemort found his way In).


  11. Ann Marie said,

    November 20, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Oh! And either the lawyer or shrink from “the Girl Who” books should get an honorable mention.


    • stentorpub said,

      November 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

      Ooh yes, both would be worthy additions. Heck, that series could almost populate a list by itself…

      Personally, I’m waiting for someone to do a top ten kick-ass heroines list so I can put Lisbeth on it. 🙂


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