Thursday, August 11, 2011

Disturbing Characters

 It has been a while since I've done one of these.  I know I said there would be less time in between this one and the last but...the best of intentions and all that.  After doing the post on heroes, I said I would do villains next.  I don't feel like I can apply the word "favorite" to them.  They are, after all, unfavorable characters.  I am labeling them "most disturbing" instead.

This time I put them in the order in which I was exposed to them in my literary life:
I read A Tale of Two Cities for the first time when I was seven.  It was this version.  Each page has an illustration.  The illustration that went with the climatic confrontation at the end of the book between Therese Defarge and Lucy is forever burned in my brain.  It was scary for a little kid to look at.  A deranged crazy lady attacking with a knife.  I loved the book and read it over and over and whenever I came to that page my hand immediately covered the illustration so I wouldn't have to look at it.  Even today I can not separate the character from that illustration.  That might be unfair but I don't think so.  The illustration showed clearly what Therese Defarge was.  I mean this is a woman who spends her days knitting in the middle of a bloodbath.  And what is she knitting?  The names of the  people she wants to see die at said bloodbath.  She is not a nice woman.  (I suppose she does have mad knitting skills though.)

Madeleine L'Engle did a wonderful job creating this one.  The story builds up mystery and suspense about IT, so you're really curious by the time the children are confronted with IT in the book.  She built up the tension and expectation beautifully.  Then IT does nothing much but talk through thoughts.  Until IT turns Charles Wallace into a creepy minion.  There is nothing more terrifying than someone else controlling your mind.  I was terrified of IT when I read this book for the first time (I had nightmares) and really that terror hasn't lessened much now I'm an adult.  Because (did I mention?) nothing is as terrifying as someone else controlling your mind.

Captain Beatty 
Captain Beatty is not what he appears to be in the beginning of the novel and that is always disturbing.  He gets extra disturbing points for being one of those people who uses his own knowledge as a weapon to destroy and tear down.  Captain Beatty knows the power of the written word and is determined to keep other people away from that power by destroying it.  He is a megalomaniac who enjoys causing and watching the pain of others.  

When thinking of the characters that most disturbed me Screwtape was actually the first to jump into my head but I debated whether or not to actually include him.  The Screwtape Letters is, first and foremost, a work of theology and not a novel.  However, it does tell a story and Lewis used a fictional character to tell that story.  And that character is creepy as hell (literally).

If Lord Voldemort and The White Witch hooked up and had a kid, Nimiane would be the result.  Despite the fact that she is present in person very little through the course of The 100 Cupboards trilogy she is always there.  She is the creepy dark presence hovering over everything and her choice to work through others and remain aloof is one  major factor in making her so disturbing.  She is largely an unknown entity and those are always the scariest.

Honorable Mentions:
Jadis (The White Witch; I actually find her more scary in The Magician's Nephew.)
Lord Voldemort
Big Brother
Richard Lopez
The N.I.C.E.

Can you tell from this list what one of my greatest fears is?

This list isn't nearly as long as my other two because I really don't like being disturbed that often.

What characters disturb you most?

This was originally published on my livejournal in January 2011.

No comments: