Characters You Love to Hate (Top Ten Tuesday)

It's been a while since I participated in Top Ten Tuesday, but welcome (or welcome back) to this fun feature hosted by one of my favorite book blogs The Broke and The Bookish!  This week's topic is The Biggest Jerks in Literature.  I've come up with nine loathsome characters so let me know which you think is the biggest jerk of the bunch or weigh in with your own choice for the not-so-coveted tenth spot!

(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
2. Joffery Baratheon from A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.  There really is no lack of villainous characters in Martin's books so in a way it's hard to only pick one other character from the Song of Ice and Fire series, but I had to go with Joffery.  He's spoiled, arrogant, stubborn, cruel, snotty, rude, disrespectful - and the only thing that could make that combination worse is to wrap all those character traits up into someone who wields a great deal of power.

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.

9. Bob Ewell from 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!

11 Response to "Characters You Love to Hate (Top Ten Tuesday)"

  1. Red says:
    May 10, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    I think I've seen Wickham on almost everyone's list. Austen created a great "jerk" character, awful without being evil.

  2. Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic says:
    May 10, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Fantastic list! I definitely think Edward deserves to be on the list.

  3. LBC says:
    May 10, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    I've seen Gale on a couple lists. I haven't read Mockingjay yet, so I haven't seen the extent of the jerkiness, but I already wasn't on his team.

    Read my list here.

  4. Lark Andrea says:
    May 10, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    Edward, Gale, and Draco made our list too.

    Reading Lark's Top 10

  5. gautami tripathy says:
    May 10, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    These are TOTAL jerks!

    Here is my Top Ten post!

  6. Sarah says:
    May 10, 2011 at 11:34 PM

    TOTALLY agree with Theon! He is the biggest jerk, I might hate him even more than Joffrey... it's a tie.

  7. Sugar and Snark says:
    May 11, 2011 at 6:25 AM

    Interesting perspective on Gale!

  8. Anonymous Says:
    May 11, 2011 at 10:38 AM

    Great list, at least the ones I'm familiar with. I don't know who would be on my list.

  9. SweetMarie83 says:
    May 11, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    Wow, I never thought I'd see Edward Cullen or Gale on a list for literary jerks, but in these instances, you're absolutely right. I especially wasn't pleased with Gale in Mockingjay - the whole thing just felt wrong to me, I wanted more from their relationship especially after he claimed to care so much about her. Other than that, Malfoy would have to be my favorite I think - he's a consistent jerk lol.

  10. Ellie says:
    May 11, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    I'm missing Game of Thrones on TV as I don't have time for one more show but the books sound a bit daunting.

  11. Tominda Adkins says:
    May 18, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    Great list, Lisa! Glad to see a Top Ten Tuesday again, they are always fun. Have you done a 'Villainess' list yet? Seeing Wickham there made me think of Lady Catherine. Since reading P&P, I can't hear the word 'condescend' without thinking of her!

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