Friday, October 9, 2009

The Face of Evil

So, after posting about The Scarlet Pimpernel last week, I was thinking-- Some of literature's best characters... are totally evil.

For example-- Chauvelin (seen here played by a very young Ian McKellen) and Iago (seen here played by Kenneth Branagh). Love to hate 'em.

I mean, really, listen to Chauvelin singing "Where's the Girl?" and tell me there's not something freakishly compelling about the man.

No really, go, go listen now. I'll wait.

You can download it for 99 cents--Where's The Girl (LP Version) or you can listen free if you have an account on Kazaa or Napster.
Or you can watch it on Youtube-- not the most fabulous sound and it comes in part way through, but the best clip I found. (I don't like that they actually kiss in this one, though.)
But I digress. What was I talking about?
Oh yes, evil. Why is it evil is so compelling?
Iago is possibly one of the best-written characters in literature... and there's not a single nice or redeeming thing about him.
And we've already talked about Chauvelin's complexity and intensity. (And that song... *shivers*)
So what is it about these evil characters? And it's not just the men-- of all the characters in A Tale of Two Cities, the one that has stuck with me is Madame DeFarge.
And frankly, I think really good villains are harder to write. I know I could never match the complexity of Chauvelin. Not sure I'd want to try.
So what is it? Or am I the only one that's fascinated by the evil side of things? I'm not, right?
(To quote the fabulous Phineas and Ferb-- "A hero is a hero, but everybody loves a great villain.")


  1. Great post! I think you need a really evil character to even out your characters. I mean how else are you supposed to celebrate your hero? A hero can't be a hero if there is no conflict. So I say hurray for villains. Oh yes, Chauvelin is a great villain.

    I would also suggest Long John Silver (since I just read Treasure Island not long ago). I am currently reading The Three Musketeers, and there are some sinister villains in that book. Milady de Winter is possibly one of the most evil femails I have come across.

  2. Oops, I meant to write females. I thought that looked a little funny. Tiredness and spelling don't go together.

  3. Ooh, I'd forgotten about Milady de Winter. That lady's got some serious issues.

    (Confession, I sometimes watch just the first half of the movie, to avoid the unpleasantness of dealing with her!)

    Femails-- hehe. Good to know it's not just me that does crazy things like that.

  4. I often think villains can be the most interesting characters. What inspires their villainy? What makes them do evil stuff? Then again, I am sometimes dissatisfied with a completely evil person who has no redeeming qualities or motivation for his (or her) evilness. I really like Snape from HP, but not so much Voldemort for this reason.

  5. Ah, Snape.

    Snape actually drove me nuts. Because in the end, I can't think of him as a hero, and yet somehow it's like the book wants me to.