Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Who is the most despicable antagonist in fiction?


Next Tuesday I will be hosting a meta-blog on this very site. All writers and readers are welcome to participate, and it only takes one sentence to pitch in. To participate, simply answer the following question:

Who is the most despicable antagonist in fiction?

Give us the name, the source material, and if you please, a sentence or two on why. Ideally you’ll tweet this to me @Wiswell or leave it in the Comments of this post. It can be from any form of fiction, including sequential art. The answer will look something like this:

Ken Kesey says:
Screwtape from C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. He spends the whole book advising Wormwood on how to ruin a life and he’s insipid about it.

Though I doubt Mr. Kesey will participate, you are welcome to. I’ll be happy to you’re your name to any blog, page or book you please. Submissions end on Sunday, July 22nd. On Tuesday, July 24th, we'll see a master list of everyone's answers. Keep your answer short, keep it honest, and we ought to have an interesting and diverse list of what people see as despicable.

So, what do you think?

20 comments:

  1. Sounds interesting. I'll have to give this some thought. :)

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    1. Great! Look forward to your pick, Cathy.

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  2. I'll have to check my bookshelves and Goodreads shelves. I rarely despise any antagonist. It's much more common for me to despise a protagonist, but I'll see what I can do. :)

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    1. While it's not a despicable protagonist list, I would be interested in your top five of those...

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  3. Okay, well in print (but MEANT to be performed) Iago from Othello is the most despicable imo because he ruins lives for no other reason than sheer spite and jealousy. Voldemort from the Harry Potter books would be a close second, because while he kills for power he's barely human. Iago is all too human, so he's still my number one.

    If we were to extend this to films, I would say Darth Vader of the original Star Wars trilogy because even above all the evil he does to the galaxy, he also seeks to corrupt his own son.

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    1. Shakespeare is so often lumped into the prose-canon in a way no other playwright is, so more than any other such source I'd admit someone from his works. Also, Iago is a great pick, Cathy., and I like that he's worse than Voldypants for you.

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  4. For me it's Voldemort from Harry Potter, because he's power mad and will try to destroy anyone who stands in his way.

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  5. Oh! I have one- but I have to find the book to get the name. But I SO have one!

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    1. What's the book? I've got to know!

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    2. Baby Kochamma from The God of Small Things because she destroys lives using the most age-old weapons available: religion and manipulation.

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  6. You're probably growing tired of hearing about my favourite book, but in The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B the main character meets a little boy at boarding school of the same name. He goes by the nick-name Beefy. They become life-long friends, but Beefy has a way of turning everything to shit. He is one of the most vile, despicable and endearing characters I have ever met. I love him and hate him at the same time.
    I also like to think Beefy could be his alter ego, much like (but nothing like) Fight Club.

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    1. Is it ever floated in the book itself that they're the same person, Josh? I obviously don't mind hearing more about it from you.

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    2. It's not mentioned in the text, but Balthazar meets Beefy at a very young age at boarding school and he keeps showing up throughout Balthazar's life when he needs him most.
      I could be wrong, (probably am) but it's just another way of interpreting it.

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  7. Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane".... She was frightful. It's very old and not many may remember the horrible things she did to her sister. But she was truly despicable. She kept her sister locked up and tormented her physically and emotionally.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. This movie was based on the novel written by Henry Fowler, but I think the title was different. I'll have to research it.
      Bette Davis' character's name was Jane Hudson.

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  8. I'd say Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King's It has to be up there. Just the way he gets Georgie at the very beginning would put him on the list, and he's just getting started there.
    Special (non-supernatural) mention goes to Max Devore in King's Bag of Bones. He's described as basically an awful human being throughout his life, and he proves it in his last few days and beyond.

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  9. I know I said Mornelithe Falconsbane from Mercedes Lackey before, but I've changed my mind. For despicability, I nominate the Patriarch Rostov from Jacqueline Carey's book Naamah's Curse. Over the months of her captivity, he forces the main character to tell him about sleeping with the multiple people she's fallen in love with, one of whom is now dead, and tells her it's a sin, sullying her memories of her loved ones and her opinion of herself. He's sadistic too, of course, but I hate that he tries to turn her own thoughts and feelings against her.

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