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A Reader of Fictions: Top Ten Wednesday: Top Ten Book Characters I Would Love to Punch in the Face

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top Ten Wednesday: Top Ten Book Characters I Would Love to Punch in the Face

I'm starting something new: Top Ten Wednesday. These lists will mostly be quite silly, although I will do some more staid ones (like favorites and so on, because I love talking up awesome pop cultural things). The lists can be about anything I want, and that may not just be books (warning: it will not just be books).

The contents of this list are, as with all lists I make, completely subjective and based on my rather unfortunate memory. These are the characters who irritated me so much, I still remember them. I have delivered rants about them to unfortunate friends. Interestingly, most of them are characters you are supposed to like.

So without further ado, let the countdown begin!

10. Alaska/Margo from Looking for Alaska/Paper Towns

Technically, this is cheating. I know. Those are two separate characters from two different books by John Green. However, I combine them, because they sure felt like the same character. Both Alaska and Margo are interestingly named, gorgeous, mysterious girls, who are wanted by pretty much every guy in school. You hate them already right? I have read Looking for Alaska twice and Paper Towns once, and hated both characters all the way through. They're great books, but would be even better if I could sympathize with the main character for his obsession with these self destructive girls.

You never forget the crazy ones.

9. Mary from The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves

I disliked Mary from the start of the first book, but what really cemented her on the list of characters most deserving a beat-down was book two. *Spoiler Alert* In the first book, you have to sit through all of her whining about how much she wants the younger brother; then, she gets him and you have to sit through all of her whining about how she's bored of him. Realistic? Perhaps. Fun reading? Not in the least. Along comes book two, which stars Mary's daughter (who is just as frustrating as Mary). In this one, Mary is now back with the older brother. What the hell? I am so glad I sat through all of the earlier whining.

8. Cho Chang from the Harry Potter Series.

I love Harry Potter and adore many of the characters (especially the ginger twins!). Cho, however, I have wanted to toss into the branches of the Whomping Willow ever since her first appearance. Why does she make me so angry? Mostly because she really does not seem like she is worth all the drama she causes. Harry is obsessed with her for a long time, but in the scenes in which they interact, she really does not seem to have all that much character. What personality she does have seems like a sham. I never felt like she really liked Harry; she liked his fame. In my book, Cho needs to go!

I date all the cool boys.

7. Hamlet from...well, you know

Shakespeare wrote some pretty rocking plays, pretty much all of which I enjoy reading. His characters, however, can be pretty darn obnoxious. Like Hamlet. An idiotic professor in undergrad liked to call him 'a Renaissance man.' Not so much. He's not really good for anything, except for moping. He does a grade A mope. All he has to do is kill Claudius, and considering he doesn't really care about what happens to him afterward, that ought to be pretty damn simple. And yet, it's not. Someone get that procrastinator some Nikes.

6. Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre

Some crazy people want to argue that Rochester is a better hero than anyone Jane Austen devised. This is, of course, one hundred percent false. Rochester is a major creeper and an ass. His best quality is that he is not above dressing in drag to mess with people. His worst quality would be that he is a control freak truth-omitter, who likes to keep crazy wives in his attic. Also, he wants to be a bigamist. And he can only accept help from a woman, even one he purportedly loves, if he is blind. Now, that's true romance.

"Jane, make me a sandwich."

5. Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia

Yeah, I know, this is one of the most-loved characters from one of the most-loved children's series. I also know that this is allegorical Jesus (I wish I didn't). What drives me crazy about Aslan is that he never gives the kids a chance to solve their own problems. How will they stop being obnoxious themselves (particularly Lucy), if he never lets them learn from their mistakes? I, for one, am not a fan of deus ex lion.

4. Petruchio from The Taming of the Shrew
Shakespeare again. Although I prefer the comedies to the tragedies and histories, I really hate The Taming of the Shrew. I have read it several times, hoping to find some hint, some clue to indicate that its not a play about a misogynist who breaks a woman's spirit the way people do to horses. Yeah, Katherine's not much fun either, but no one deserves Petruchio. The play can be done well, changing his character a bit (see John Cleese as Petruchio...), but the text itself does not indicate anything besides a whipped woman. Petruchio is a big, ugly jerk who deserves to hang out with the cast of Titus Andronicus for a while.

3. Almost Everyone from Wuthering Heights

Here are some characters you aren't supposed to like. The hardest thing to decide is which character to punch first. Whiny Linton? Violent Heathcliff? Creepy, codependent Catherine? Annoying and largely unnecessary Mr. Lockwood? Pretty much everyone in this novel is entirely awful. Props to Emily Brontë for still managing to make it a book worth reading.

They may deserve to get punched, but they don't deserve this...
Also, "love never dies?" I don't think they read this book.

2. Everyone from Jude the Obscure

Even worse than the characters from Wuthering Heights is everyone from Jude the Obscure. Most of the book is a blur now, because I promptly began trying to forget it even as I read it. From what I recall, it starts with an abusive farmer and ends with children who kill themselves for their parents. First up for punching is Jude himself, who makes awful decisions and, like the old school version of John Green's character's, can't get over Sue, a girl who is incredibly bad for him. And yet, I'm pretty sure he married someone he didn't really like, while still in love with Sue. Gah!

1. Fanny Price from Mansfield Park

Jane Austen is perhaps my favorite author of all time. Mansfield Park is one of the books I have read that enjoyed the least. Why? Fanny Price. Unlike Austen's other heroines, Fanny lacks spirit of any kind. She simply wants to be a good Christian girl and marry her cousin. Sure that was common back in the day, but at least be sassy while you're being incestuous. Is that too much to ask? All through the book, Fanny gets treated like crap and does absolutely nothing about it. Because she is a good girl. Screw that. I like my heroines with backbone. For what Mansfield Park should have been, see the movie version, in which Fanny is spunky.



Blogger Unknown said...

Ohhh characters I want to punch in the character. I HAVE A LOT OF THOSE, though most of yours are not on my list. To be fair, I haven't read all those books. So.

I read/saw/observed John Green at some point mentioning that Paper Towns/Margo was kind of a response to Looking for Alaska a few years distanced from the first, and how Alaska was just this manic pixie dream girl whose imperfections/reality weren't seen by the narrator, and Paper Towns is about the narrator realizing that his image of Margo is a manic pixie dream girl whose imperfections/reality weren't seen until she ups and disappears and he chases her and, you know, discovers how wrong he was. Which is to say, I feel like wanting to punch Alaska and Margo in the punch is a very appropriate response to the books.

RE: Rochester and Heathcliff, I alas cannot retrieve the original post whence this cometh, but at least I found the part I wanted!

"This book reminded me of a dreadful TV show about Romantic Heroes, in which the opinion was expressed that every woman wanted to marry Heathcliff, Mr Rochester or Mr Darcy.

I took offence, both for myself and for my beloved Mr Darcy. I mean, can you imagine them all in a room together?

TV PRESENTER: Boys, would you like to talk about your interest and hobbies?
ROCHESTER: Well, there’s the compulsive lying. And then there’s the cross-dressing. [Er, there's nothing wrong with cross-dressing.]
HEATHCLIFF: I enjoy long romantic walks on the moors-
TV PRESENTER: Oh, that’s nice!
HEATHCLIFF: And then I like to round off the day by hanging a puppy.
TV PRESENTER: So, do any of you have a special lady?
ROCHESTER: Well, I may have gotten the syph from my score of mistresses. And I have this illegitimate kid. And I do have a wife, but she’s crazy and in the care of a drunk, so that won’t stick.
HEATHCLIFF: Oh snap, I have a wife too! I beat her.
DARCY: I am as yet unmarried, madam.
TV PRESENTER: Thank God for that… So, uh, what would you consider your greatest, uh, fault?
ROCHESTER: Some narrow-minded fools frown on tricking defenceless girls into bigamy.
HEATHCLIFF: So I practise incestuous necrophilia. Don’t be a hater.
DARCY: Sometimes I’m a little judgemental. And aloof at parties.
TV PRESENTER: *hides behind Mr Darcy*

Not that Heathcliff and Rochester aren’t fabulous characters. But there are cases in which ‘Watch out, ladies, this one can’t be tamed!’ should contain the explanatory note: ‘Because this one’s rabid.’"

(credit: Sarah Rees Brennan sarahtales.livejournal.com)

March 16, 2011 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger JoJotheLibrarian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 16, 2011 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger JoJotheLibrarian said...

Gonna pretend that you avoided the alliteration just for me. Anywhichway, it was super awesome.

*Gasp* Hamlet diss. We will battle with poison swords."

March 16, 2011 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I love your list even though I haven't read most of the books you mentioned. I agree about Cho Chang...she is totally overrated, but the character I most want to punch in the HP books is Harry.

March 17, 2011 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Becca, that little tv interview is hilarious! Poor Darcy, subjected to such vile personages!

Jordan, Hamlet the play is pretty good. Hamlet the character is a whiny little loser.

Kelly, why the desire to punch our hero?

March 17, 2011 at 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I definitely agree with your comments on Wuthering Heights. I have friends who have that book on their top ten lists of favourite books of all time and I don't understand it one bit. The characters are so annoyingly frustrating that I want to strangle them all, sadly, they are fictional and I hate to ruin books (although the book sucks).

Also, I am taking a Novels of Jane Austen class in college at the moment and we just started Mansfield Park. I've read it before and I have to agree, she is just so plain and has no spirit and no "umph" like Austen's other characters do. I'm sad to say that when Austen is one of those authors that can only write one thing: a strong female character with a strong male character. Going out of the norm is just a bad move, look at Northanger Abbey for example.

March 21, 2011 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I did actually enjoy Wuthering Heights, although it wouldn't make it onto my list of very favorite books ever, because the characters are so obnoxious.

Northanger Abbey, though, I truly love. The comments on fiction and the delightful Mr. Tilney make it well worth reading. Plus, her take on gothic is really amusing. I know most people don't like it but it may be my favorite.

March 22, 2011 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Owl In A Cloak said...

Totally agree with 8,7,6 and 5 (I've not read the rest). I would really like to punch Zoey Redbird (I think that's her name) from HoN series. She is just so irritating.

April 8, 2012 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

HAH! This list cracked me up. I agree on most counts (especially Cho Chang), but I can't believe you put Fanny Price on the list! I mean, okay, I can understand - lots of people found her insipid. But I liked her; she's different than the usual Austen protag, and I found that refreshing. Plus I was totes in love with Henry Crawford and desperately wanted her to marry him instead of Edmund, but alas, I was disappointed. lol

August 2, 2012 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Cho Chang is THE worst. For a more recent list, I almost said that I wanted to be Cho Chang for a day, but I worried her awfulness would rub off on me.

I do like that Austen always tried something new with her protagonists, but Fanny never stood up for herself and I HATED that. I also read it after I'd seen the film adaptation with Frances O'Connor and I liked that WAY better. That Fanny had more spirit. Henry Crawford's pretty hot, but...he's such a jerkface. Still, it is hard to ship Edmund and Fanny, what with them being freaking FIRST COUSINS.

August 2, 2012 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Alessandra said...

I'm totally with you regarding Alaska/Margo. I would want to give them both a good shove, to shake some sense into them. Although probably it wouldn't be enough to save them. I tend to be more sympathetic towards Alaska because she had to deak with guilt over her mother's death and not being able to help. What's Margo's excuse? That her parents stifled her? I've read Paper Towns twice, but if there's an explanation, I missed it.

As for Wuthering Heights, I agree that the characters are all creepy and awful... to the point that they become fascinating. Like a ghost/horror story. I feel that the author thought morally good characters would be boring, so she chose to write about these disturbed, obsessive people. I don't know how to explain it more clearly. I also thought that the book structure was very clever.

Cho Chang... heh, she was pretty irritating. But don't you want to punch Bella Swan? She would be in my top three, together with Nora from Hush, Hush and her best friend whose name I've forgotten. And what about Elizabeth Elliot and Sir Walter from Persuasion? At the beginning of the novel, they're told they need to cut their expenses, so what do they say? "We won't bring Anne any present from London". They're THAT mean.

August 9, 2012 at 8:18 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I love John Green, but those two are my least favorites (probably 3.5/4 star reads), because I can't connect with those characters at all. I actually found Margo more sympathetic, because it seemed like she ACTUALLY LIKED the guy, whereas it seemed like Alaska was leading Miles on because she liked the attention.

Despite how awful all but maybe two of the characters are, I really enjoyed Wuthering Heights, which is evidence of how masterful it is, since I read for character. That definitely makes her book unique!

Well, I definitely wouldn't mind punching Bella, preferably with a straight shot to the babymaker, but I wanted to focus on more unique books. EVERYONE wants to punch Bella, so I think that's under control.

I actually haven't read Hush, Hush yet, but from what I've seen I'll want to punch everyone in it, and everyone in Fallen. The Elliot's are pretty terrible. I could probably make a separate list just for Austen. MAYBE I WILL.

August 9, 2012 at 8:34 AM  
Blogger @_julietearjerky said...

I also find Mr. Rochester a bit creepy. Glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. And yes, Cho Chang is not really likeable. I don't get her.

January 1, 2013 at 1:58 PM  

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