Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday!

Out of all of the little extra things that I do here on my blog, Top Ten Tuesday has become my absolute favorite. The girls over at The Broke and the Bookish give a prompt every week and each blogger that participates comes up with their own top ten list in order to answer that prompt.

Today's prompt is: Top Ten Biggest Jerks in Literature

1) Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights): I've already hinted at my hatred of this book and Heathcliff isn't the only issue I have with it but he is, in my opinion, one of the biggest jerks in literary history. The man spends his entire life being a jealous, angry man; obsesses over a woman that he knows he can't have; and then when she dies, he becomes an alcoholic, abusive father and husband. I've heard a lot of people--surprisingly, mostly women--say that he's a dark and brooding soul and that he's one of the greatest men in literature. Have you even read the book? On top of everything else, the guy hits his wife! If that's the mark of a great man, maybe you'd all better stop getting up in arms about Chris Brown hitting Rhianna!

2) Mal (Numb): My review of this book will be up tomorrow, but I'm talking about this particular character today. I really liked Mal in the beginning. He looked out for Numb and tried to help him. But as the book progressed, Mal became jealous, angry, and stupid. He completely broke off his friendship with Numb, went off to do some stupid stuff, and let his anger consume him until he's not at all the guy you meet on the first page of the novel. I didn't even feel bad about what happened to him. By that time, I just didn't care about the guy.

3) Achilles (The Iliad): I know that we're supposed to feel bad for him because, really, his fate is not his own. The gods play with his life just as much as--if not more than--they play with the lives of the rest of the men on the field of battle at Troy. But you know what, Achilles, not everything is about you. The first line of the Iliad tells you all you need to know about this guy--he's angry. Achilles' has a temper unrivaled in literature and he lets it completely destroy him--and then he gets angry about that. If he hadn't thrown a temper tantrum and refused to fight, Patroclus would have lived. Yet, he doesn't see it that way. Instead, he blames Hector (who's really only involved in any of this because his brother, Paris, can't keep it in his pants) and chases him around the walls of Troy before killing him and dragging his body behind a chariot for twelve days. Before his death, Hector asked Achilles to be merciful and to respect his body, but Achilles, because he has a flare for the dramatic, told him flat out that that wasn't going to happen anytime soon. In fact, he says what is probably my favorite line in all of literature: "Would to god my rage, my fury, would drive me now to hack your flesh away and eat you raw." Yeah, I'm thinking somebody needs anger management.

4) Kurtz (Heart of Darkness): Talk about the devolution of man! This guy had it all before he went to Africa: a promising future, a talent for art, a sense of right and wrong. But something snaps in him while he's "in the jungle" and he starts to think himself worthy of being a god. He treats the natives poorly and makes them worship him, acting as a tyrant. They bring him offerings and they try to appease him but, like any tyrant (and you can ask Plato about this), his appetite will never be assuaged and he just keeps on demanding more and more. He eventually gets to the point where he desires to "kill all the brutes," showing that the next thing that he would have demanded of them is blood. Thanks to the boring but essential Marlow, Kurtz gets out of Africa and dies before he can begin his eventual reign of violence and terror.

5) Curley (Of Mice and Men): Curley is the epitome of Napoleon Complex. As a short, scrappy kind of guy, he decided early on in life that if he was going to make it he'd need to be tough. So, he became a boxer but he never actually stepped out of the ring. For him, life is one big boxing match. He purposely picks fights with other guys, always bigger than him (which is pretty much everyone), and he married a woman who couldn't be trusted around other men so, naturally, he's got plenty of excuses to beat people up. I don't think there's even one redeeming quality about this guy.

6) Jack (Lord of the Flies): Someone did not get enough spankings as a child, I swear. Whereas Ralph starts off being a pretty good guy and a decent leader, Jack's just an a**hat the entire book. He's the kind of kid who grows up to be a man like Kurtz. After failing to kill a pig, Jack goes berserk and starts hunting like nobody's business. He decides that hunting is more important than being rescued and eventually he gets a following of boys who treat him like a demi-god. He devolves so much that, in the end, he tries to kill Ralph. He goes from hunting animals to hunting people, his fellow man. Way to go, Jacky; make your mama proud.

7) Severus Snape (Harry Potter): I was debating whether or not to include him on this list because he's my favorite Harry Potter character but, as Meagan from The Blue Bookcase so rightly stated, "Snape makes a fascinating addition to this list as he is both mistakenly believed to be a jerk, and is also in fact a jerk." Snape has always been the character that I identified with most because we seemed to have quite a bit in common: not-so-wonderful childhood, never very popular, unrequited love, etc. But, while I've managed to turn out all right, Snape managed to just be a douche about everything. He joined the wizarding world's version of the Nazi youth, wound up getting the love of his life killed, and then spent the next few decades being a jerk to pretty much everyone he met, including those he could have counted as friends. In spite all of this, I still think that he's one of the deepest and most incredible characters that Rowling created because he's not solely good or solely bad. Morally grey is a great place for a character to be and Snape does it so darn well.

8) Internet Kid (American Gods): This guy doesn't ever really get a name, he's just the fat computer kid. He is, however, one of the New Gods and as such is not a very nice guy. He's jealous of the attention the Old Gods got and he's determined to eradicate them once and for all so that he and the other New Gods can have complete access to that unending source of power. The thing about the Internet Kid, though, is that he's not likable on a level that goes beyond that. He's egotistical, he's rude, he says things that he thinks are funny but that make you want to punch him in the face. Just an all-around unpleasant character.

9) Francis Begbie (Trainspotting): It seems like not a week goes by that I don't talk about this book or this character. As I've gushed about him before, I won't get into too much detail. Just know that Begbie is an angry, violent SOB who takes it upon himself to inflict as much pain on the world as possible. He hurts his "friends," his "family," and pretty much anyone else who gets in his way on a bad day. And every day is a bad day.

10) Crake (Oryx and Crake): Oooh, I'm so smart and no one understands me. That's pretty much the mindset that Crake has for his entire life. A self-pitying genius, Crake decides to wipe out humanity and start from scratch with a new life form that has been genetically modified to be perfect. But first he decides to step on everyone else to get what he wants. He mistreats Jimmy, his only true friend, and uses his girlfriend and the people involved in Madd Adam's group to achieve his goal of a lethal virus that can completely destroy human life while leaving the planet itself untouched. Not the kind of guy I'd want to go hang out with on a Friday night. "Hey, Crake, what do you want to do tonight?" "I dunno. I was thinking of mass murder, but whatever you wanna do, man." "...I was thinking of getting a pizza."



  1. Heathcliff and Snape made my list as well. Agree that Curley, Kurtz and Achillees were majour douchebags as well. And Snape, well, he's definitely Rowling's best written character, and she created some really great ones. But he's also a jerk.

  2. I love your list. Your arguments almost make me want to change mine to match. I love Snape but completely agree. He has reason to hate Harry's dad and friends (who were jerky too) but despite now being one of the good guys he takes his demons out on Harry, Ron and Hermione. I still feel for him though.

    I am not that far into the Iliad but I can definitely see Achilles as a jerk (actually there are a number of characters in there who could be classified as the same). It's the fact that he goes crying to mummy after Agamemnon took his pet slave. I almost expected him to point and say "he took my toys".

  3. good list! I'd wanted to put someone from 'lord of the flies' on my list but it's been so long since I've read it I couldn't remember any of the specific characters, so it was good to be reminded! Also your paragraph on Snape is fantastic, he was always up there as one of my favourite characters

  4. Bibliophile: Literature seems littered with douchebaggery. For every really great, good-hearted character there are three or four that you just want to punch.

    Karen: Your list was great, too. There were a few that you had that I wish I'd put on my list, Uriah Heep being chief among them. I don't like to think about Mr. Heep though, so that's probably why his name didn't automatically pop into my head.

    I love your description of that. Wait until his playmate gets taken away, too. Achilles isn't just angry and jerky, he's whiny, too.

  5. Kayleigh: Thanks!

    I'm going to admit that it's been a while since I've several of these books so I used the magic of the internet to jog my memory. I'm not ashamed of it. LOL

  6. You're so right, Jack from Lord of the Flies is awful.

  7. Wow! Great commentary! I completely share your loathing of Heathcliff. Great call on Internet Kid and Curly.

  8. danya: I didn't really like *any* of the characters from that book but I think Jack takes the proverbial cake.

    Two Bibliomaniacs: Thanks, I loved your list, too.

  9. Kurtz is a good call and I haven't seen him on any other lists. Heart of Darkness is a favorite of mine.

    Read my list here.

  10. Heathcliff is such a jerk :-) Great to see him included. Love your list :-)