(And again, these are in no particular order. There are definitely some that are more wretched than others, but I certainly would not want to interact with any of them in real life.)
1. Theon Greyjoy from A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. I know Theon is on this list due to the Recency Effect (I finished my reread of Clash of Kings last week), but he certainly earns his place. Those who have only read book one or are following the Game of Thrones TV series, might not think much of Eddard Stark's ward, but he becomes a more prominent character in book two - with his own chance at chapter narration - and the peek inside his head is not a pretty sight.
|Joffery played by Jack Gleeson|
3. Edward Cullen from New Moon by Stephanie Meyer. I may get some flak for this choice, but I'm going to stand by it. The whole Edward-Bella relationship has a load of problems overall, but the part of it that irked me most was always Edward's behavior in book two. Most of his actions seem drawn more for plot convenience than from character composition and especially in New Moon, I think he qualifies as a jerk.
4. Assef from The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni. Do I even need to explain this choice? I shudder to even mention his name on this blog - truly a character that made me sick to my stomach.
5. Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I'll admit that Draco became a more interesting character as the books progressed, but I still think he counts as a literary jerk. From his very first interactions with Harry and Ron, Draco is painted as a villain and I know plenty of us cheered when Hermione slugged him.
6. George Wickham from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I suppose the term for Wickham is "rogue" more so than "jerk" but the fact that he is a bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing earns him a place on my list. If he were an outright cad he might be less reprehensible, but the fact that he acts the gentleman while playing others falsely is what I find most infuriating about him!
7. Gale Hawthorne from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. This one might get me in even more trouble than Edward Cullen but hopefully Team Gale will hear me out. I think Gale could have been a much better guy in this book. He professes to love Katniss but throughout the book I don't know that he ever really listened to her or cared about her feelings. Toss in his moral ambiguity and - at least in Mockingjay - he makes my list.
8. August Rosenbluth from Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Again, I probably don't need much explanation here.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Bob Ewell's not a character name that usually jumps to mind when people think of Harper Lee's classic - Scout, Atticus, Jem, Dill, Boo might be more familiar - but Mr. Ewell is Mayella Violet Ewell's father, and for those a bit rusty on the story, Mayella is the plaintiff in Tom Robinson's trial. Bob Ewell takes the crown for despicable characters for his racism and bad parenting, but he tops this list because Harper Lee didn't pull his character out of thin air. He's fictional, yes, but he's also a frighteningly true character; and Harper Lee's ability to realistically capture characters possessing hardened hatred alongside those with unconquerable innocence is part of what makes her work a masterpiece.
Again, I'll leave number 10 up to everyone else. Feel free to debate my choices or add in your own pick, and if you've posted a list on your own blog, drop me a link and I'll be sure to stop by and see it!