While I was driving all over God's-green-Earth, I was thinking about literary villains. What's a good guy without a bad guy? To me, a great villain works as the most effective foil for your hero. The contrast can highlight your protagonist, thus strengthening characterization. So I thought: What makes a great villain? And which ones are my favorites?
Here's what I came up with:
Lord Voldemort - Harry Potter Series. Nevermind that he looks like an evil Ninja Turtle. This is one badass dark wizard. He reminds me of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in the Harry Potter world. Here's this gifted kid, who turns to the darkside, and wants to kill people. Voldermort embodies pure evil in the series as he pursues immortality. Oh, and he tried to kill baby Harry!
|"Who are you going to use as a shield today, Potter?"|
Hannibal Lecter - Red Dragon. What makes Hannibal evil? Um, he eats people. And he's pretty proud of it. The dude pairs a human liver with freakin' fine Italian wine. What makes Hannibal extra creepy is that he's profoundly intelligent and cultured. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.
|I love a good thigh.|
Iago - Othello. I LOVE me some Shakespeare, and I will admit that a lot of my writing is inspired by the bard. Iago is one bad dude. Driven by jealousy (and racism), he tricks Othello into thinking that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him. He's a master manipulator, and eventually his dastardly schemes come to fruition when Othello kills Desdemona. And Iago almost got away with it, but his own wife turns him in. Ha!
|Don't listen to him Othello!|
Pennywise the Dancing Clown - It. Clowns are scary, and Stephen King's demon shape-shifting clown that lures and murders children might be to blame. The 1990 TV movie scared the hell out of me too. Everything scary is embodied in this freaky clown: it's a demon, uses your phobias and fears against you, and dares to target innocent kids by biting them or ripping their arms off. Geez, Stephen King is one troubled bastard.
|Pennywise the SCARY!|
Alex - A Clockwork Orange. I read this book in college, and man was it disturbing. This is one of the granddaddies of dystopia, and I think what makes books like this so haunting is the dark truth in all of them. Alex is a crazy teenager and gang leader that engages in just about everything bad you can think of . Violence and assault, breaking and entering, stealing, raping, and murder. Karma's a bitch, and in the end, he gets his!
|Alex about to ravage two girls|
How about you? What are some of your favorite literary baddies?