Our 30 favourite villains in literature

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Love them or hate them, villains provide some of the most memorable characters in Literature. From the blood-sucking Count Dracula to Shakespeare's dastardly Iago, Stylist looks back at some of our favourite literary nasties.

Words: Dipal Acharya

  • Lord Voldermort

    Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling

    Key quote: "He disappeared after leaving school ... traveled far and wide ... sank so deeply into the Dark Arts, consorted with the very worst of our kind, underwent so many magical transformations that when he resurfaced he was barely recognisable."

  • Claudius

    Hamlet by William Shakespeare

    Key quote: "Oh my offence is rank, it smells to heaven. It hath the primal eldest curse upon't- a brother's murder."

  • The Grand Witch

    The Witches by Roald Dahl

    Key quote: "My orders are that every single child in the country shall be rrrubbed out, sqvashed, sqvirted, sqvitted and ffrrritered before I come here again in vun year's time. Do I make myself clear?"

  • The White Witch

    The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

    Key quote: "You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill... And so, that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property."

  • Captain Hook

    Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

    Key quote: "It is a princely scheme,’ cried Hook, and at once it took practical shape in his great brain. ‘We will seize the children and carry them to the boat: the boys we will make walk the plank, and Wendy shall be our mother."

  • Professor Moriarty

    The Final Problem by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    Key quote: "[Moriarty] is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the center of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them."

  • Lady Macbeth

    Macbeth by William Shakespeare

    Key quote: "Yet do I fear thy nature: it is too full of the milk of human kindness."

  • Nurse Ratchet

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

    Key quote: “Now calm down. The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine.”

  • Sauron

    The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

    Key quote: "But Sauron was not of mortal flesh, and though he was robbed now of that shape in which had wrought so great an evil, so that he could never again appear fair to the eyes of Men"

  • Iago

    Othello by William Shakespeare

    Key quote: "So will I turn her virtue into pitch, And out of her own goodness make the net That shall enmesh them all."

  • Humbert Humbert

    Lolita by Vladamir Nabakov

    Key quote: "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul"

  • Richard III

    Richard III by William Shakespeare

    Key quote: "Since I cannot prove a lover to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain."

  • Javert

    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

    Key quote: "He (Jean Valjean) asked himself whether human society could have the right to...seize a poor man forever between a defect and an excess, a default of work and an excess of punishment. Whether it was not outrageous for society to treat thus precisely those of its members who were the least well endowed in the division of goods made by chance, and consequently the most deserving of consideration."

  • Mrs Danvers

    Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

    Key quote: "Why don't you go? We none of us want you. He doesn't want you, he never did. He can't forget her. He wants to be alone in the house again, with her. It's you that ought to be lying there in the church crypt, not her. It's you who ought to be dead, not Mrs. de Winter."

  • Big Brother

    Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

    Key quote: "There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science."

  • Goldberg

    The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter

    Key quote: "Whereas in other plays of mine every single character, even a bastard like Goldberg in 'The Birthday Party, I care for."

  • Ferdinand

    The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster

    Key quote: "Whether we fall by ambition, blood or lust, Like diamonds we are cut with our own dust."

  • Fagin

    Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

    Key quote: "he looked less like a man than some hideous phantom"

  • Dr No

    Dr. No by Ian Fleming

    Key quotes: "The Americans are fools. I offered my services, they refused. So did the East. Now they can both pay for their mistake."

  • Augustus Melmotte

    The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

    Key quote: "Of course he had committed forgery;--of course he had committed robbery. That, indeed, was nothing, for he had been cheating and forging and stealing all his life"

  • Count Dracula

    Dracula by Bram Stoker

    Key quote: "We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things"

  • Mephistopholes

    Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe

    Key quote: "I am a servant to great Lucifer."

  • Kevin

    We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

    Key quote: "You regarded redemption as an act of will. You disparaged people for their cussedly nonspecific dissatisfactions, because to fail to embrace the simple fineness of being alive betrayed a weakness of character."

  • Volpone

    Volpone by Ben Jonson

    Key quote: "I glory More in the cunning Purchase of my Wealth, Than in the glad Possession"

  • Arturo

    The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht

    Key quote: "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again. "

  • Hannibal Lecter

    Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

    Key quote: "Oh, he's a monster. Pure psychopath. So rare to capture one alive. From a research point of view, Lecter is our most prized asset."

  • Aaron the Moor

    Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

    Key quote: "Oft have I digged up dead men from their graves, and set them upright at their dear friends' door."

  • Count Olaf

    A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

    Key quote: "Man hands on misery to man, it deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, and don't have any kids yourself."

  • Patrick Bateman

    American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

    Key quote: "I have all the characteristics of a human being: flesh, blood, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don't know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip."

  • Judge Holden

    Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

    Key quote: "The judge tilted his great head. The man who believes that the secrets of this world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life."


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