An interesting daily post today but I am going to go slightly off topic here and suggest one favourite villain for each of the seven sins before suggesting my own eighth sin. We love our villains, don’t we? We love to hate them as well as enjoying the dynamic they bring to the book, film or game. Most are representations of the age old seven sins. Here are my favourites.
There is no greater manifestation of lust than in the original vampire himself: Count Dracula. It isn’t just the act of sucking blood, it isn’t just the act of trading bodily fluids, there is a lot of sexual subtext and Stoker was living in the late 19th century, a time blighted by syphilis and other sexual diseases, and coupled with Victorian stoicism and denial of sexuality. From a truly menacing perspective, Count Dracula is a highly sexual character and represents the dangers of unbridled lust.
Second choice: Mrs Coulter (lust for power rather than sexual)
I’m reinterpreting this slightly to include all excess (and perhaps entitlement) and not just of food. I think one of the finest examples in literature is Alec d’Urberville. His reckless pursuit of everything born purely out of selfishness, always demanding and getting what he wants and believing himself entitled to it, makes him quite possibly one of the vilest villains in literature. Did he rape Tess? Or did he seduce and then “slut-shame” her? The jury – it appears – is out. Either way, Alec ruins Tess’ life and continues to take from her.
Second choice: Baron Harkonnen
Greed / Avarice
Often these two are conflated but I see subtle differences. Whereas gluttony is excess, greed is the single-minded focus on the acquisition of material things. Avarice (the love of money) is the most common form of this – which makes it even more amusing that religious institutes are often so guilty of it. The love of money – need I say anyone but Ebenezer Scrooge? His desire to screw every little penny out of people, the world around him and often to the detriment of others, shows what danger such selfishness can do.
Second choice: Gollum
Meh, can’t be bothered with this one 😉 It isn’t just laziness, it’s inaction and inability to even make up your own mind what to do. It’s procrastination too. So which character represents any of these things? Well, seeing as part 3 of The Hobbit movie has just been released, I would say Smaug. He attacks the mountain, takes the gold and does nothing with it apart from sleep on it. It serves no purpose to keep it or to stay there.
Here, I choose Captain Ahab. His single-minded anger and inability to turn the other cheek has driven him to obsession over catching and killing the white whale. Personal vendetta is his motivation and in ascribing human emotions to a large sea-dwelling mammal, he is leading others to destruction with no thought for others. His wrath is not just his own undoing (he dies at the end trying to kill the creature and spectacularly fails), but also brings tragedy to his ship and to his crew. His name has become synonymous with the futility of vengeance.
Second choice: Darth Vader
English teachers and literature enthusiasts have studied this for decades offering all sorts of motives for Iago’s actions. Most suggest wrath as he states how much he hates Othello but surely there must be more to it than that. After all, Iago was excluded from the highest echelons of the military – he thinks Othello acted maliciously in offering the role to Cassio. Couple that with his envy at Othello’s success and then imagines that the Moor is having an affair with Iago’s wife and I think the green-eyed monster ruined everything here.
Second choice: Wicked Witch (Snow White)
Pride (or Hubris)
Victor Frankenstein. Similarly to Captain Ahab, he too is single-minded and driven to achieve his goal but the fog that he cannot see through is not red mist, but one where he does not know when to stop. He simply must be right, he must be the victor at all costs and show his creation just who the master is (perhaps the clue is in the name here). He has opportunities to make deals with the creature, he has the perfect opportunity but ruins it spectacularly because he could not bear to compromise even for a moment.
Second choice: Miss Havisham
My Proposed Eighth Sin Is… Cruelty
Cruelty is defined as “feeling indifferent to the pain in others and taking pleasure in inflicting suffering”. Most villains are cruel in one way or another but I think the one who exhibits it most of all is The White Witch from Narnia. She displays a calm indifference most of the time, rarely showing any emotion except when she is trying to manipulate someone. She kills Christmas, turns people to stone and generally revels in making people’s lives a misery.
Second choice: Bellatrix Lestrange