Evil Women in Literature

“You got to change your evil ways…, woman” I am probably misquoting this song but between Santana’s song “Evil Ways” and ELO’s “Evil Woman” bouncing around in that radio station in my brain, I have the topic of evil women on my mind. When I recently asked my co-workers to name some literary evil women, most of them named wicked step mothers from a variety of fairy tales (Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.)
Evil Women in Literature The second most commonly named were also characters out of children’s literature. These included the Wicked Witch of the West, The Snow Queen in Narnia, and Cruella de Ville. Of more modern children’s literature, people mentioned Mrs. Coulter from His Dark Material and the deadly duo in the Harry Potterseries, Mrs. Dolores Umbridge and Bellatrix Lestrange.

But I want to concentrate on adult literature in this post. And the discussion got more interesting! Was Scarlett O’Hara evil or was she just vain and selfish? Was Carrie’s mother in the Stephen King novel evil or just mentally ill? Are evil men and women treated differently in literature?
So, in no particular order, here are some evil women for you to ponder over:
Evil Women in Literature Mrs. DanversRebecca (M) by Daphne du Maurier. Danvers is the housekeeper of Manderley, home of Maximilian de Winter and his unfaithful wife, Rebecca. A year after Rebecca dies in a boating accident Maxim brings home a new wife. Danvers remains faithful to Rebecca, refusing to accept any changes that the new Mrs. de Winters wants. Danvers tries to break up the marriage in a number of ways, including setting fire to Manderley!

Annie WilkesMisery (M) byStephen King. I love this character even though she is evil and, in my opinion, batshit crazy! Kathy Bates won the Academy Award for best Actress for her movie portrayal of Annie. King has stated that Wilkes is cunning, brutal and dangerously disturbed, and who hides this all behind cheery facade. A nurse by training, Wilkes does not have the best bedside manner. She find Paul Sheldon, a writer, after a car accident and brings him to her home to recuperated. She fawns over him stating that she is his” number one fan” of his character, Misery Chastain. The care that Wilkes gives to Sheldon is enough to give any one nightmares.

Evil Women in Literature Nurse Ratchet One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (M) by Ken Kesey. This is another nurse that you would not want at your bedside. She is a cold, heartless tyrant who loves throwing around her authority, often at the expense of her patients. She is the head administrative nurse at the Salem, Oregon State Mental Hospital. She is such a bully that one patient even commits suicide. Not the best nurse to have on a psychiatric ward!

Evil Women in Literature Lady Macbeth is a character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. (M) I feel most people will have heard of this character and her most famous line of “Out, damn’d spot! Out”. For those who are unfamiliar with this story, here is her character in brief. She is the wife to the play’s protagonist, Macbeth, a Scottish nobleman. She is power hungry but woman at this time rarely have power. So she nags Macbeth into committing regicide so that she can become the Queen of Scotland. Nasty stuff.

Evil Women in Literature AkashaQueen of the Damned (M) by Anne Rice. Queen Akasha of Kemet became the first vampire when an evil spirit named Emel entered her body. She rules with King Enkil, who she turned into a vampire, circa 5,000 B.C. When the vampire Lestat becomes a rock star in the end of the 1980’s, Akasha is awoken by his music. Rice describes Akasha as fundamentally dark and nihilistic, without morals, ethics or compassion. I know some would not mind a vampire killing other vampires, but when you have become as fond of Lestat and Louis as I have, well, you mind.

Hilly HolbrookThe Help (M) by Kathryn Stockett. God, this woman is a piece of work!. From outward appearances she is the model of society. She is the president of the Jackson Junior League and various other charities. Yet, cross her and she can have you arrested, imprisoned for stealing, your friends and family fired, have you evicted, and have your car repossessed. She can even run you out of town, all without getting her pretty little hands dirty.

And finally, Cersei Lannister from George R.R. Martin’sSong of Ice and Fire (M) (aka Game of Thrones series) She is the woman I loved to hate this past summer, as it took the better part of the summer to read all five books. I love the series (as you can tell from my previous posts about this book). I won’t go into this again, but I will submit a couple of comments about Cersei. It is interesting she never took her husband’s name of Baratheon. And even if she loves you, you can not trust her, as her brother and children find out. She is nasty, evil and conniving. Hating her helps the reader love the books even more.

Evil Women in Literature And there is one true character that came up when talking about this subject. Joan Crawford is depicted as an abusive mother in Mommie Dearest (M). But that is the subject for another blog post someday.

So, Dear Reader, who would you vote for as your most evil literary female character?

Source: http://www.thereader.ca/2012/10/evil-women-in-literature.html

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