Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Do Women Make the Scariest Villains?

Yesterday, I finished rereading A Tale of Two Cities (and bawled, of course), and in the ten years since I read Dickens's tale, I forgot about the malevolent Madame Defarge. How she sits quietly in her husband's wine-shop, ever knitting, never looking, but always watching. This woman knits a list of 'the accused' and sends them to La Guillotine with a warrior's shout and a knife in her belt. Men, women, children. Ahh, it makes no difference to Therese Defarge.

It that doesn't scare you like spiders in the shower, I don't know what will.

But let's go a step further. Is it Madame Defarge that gives us the heeby jeebies, or is it just the idea of a truly, evil woman? Death-wielding menfolk are plenty terrifying. I'm looking at you, Voldemort (TOMORROW, TOMORROW!!!!!!), but woman are often thought of as loving, motherly, sympathetic, protective. Right?

Maybe that's why 'scary' isn't a good enough adjective when Vamp Willow shushes away a trembling girl's tears, then rips out her throat. Or how about when Ursula absently touches up her lipstick while pressuring sweet, pristine, my-hair-never-looks-crappy Ariel to sign over her soul. And I won't go into detail about our dear Bellatrix Lestrange.

So, who are your favorite villains? The men, or those lovely ladies? What is it about them that gives you nightmares? What dastardly thing propels totally sane writers to create that type of villain? :)



Tonya said...

Cruella Deville,the queen from Snow White, the mother from that old movie Mommy Dearest, the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz...these woman terrified me as a child!! That fear wedged itself deep into my memory and I am convinced that women can be just as scary as men. Women can be vicious!!

Christa said...

I'll take either a great man or woman villain and it doesn't really matter as long as they are well-written and complicated enough.
And for Madame Defarge...the knitting, the knitting, the utterly ridiculous and impossible and yet I remember it all these years later. What a great device.