Mean female characters in books

Published on 17 April 2023 at 17:18

After the male bad guys, I was curious to see which female bad guys I would find. However, my keywords female, villain and books hardly yielded mean and evil female characters.
At guys-in-books/
I ran into Dolores Umbridge. In "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix" by J.K. Rowling, Dolores Umbridge is a high-ranking official in the Ministry of Magic and the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts. She is sadistic, cruel and dictatorial, and treats her students and colleagues in a horrible way. She is considered meaner than Voldemort, who is mean because of a loveless past, because Dolores chooses to be mean and act like a bully in order to assert her own superiority.

This site also mentions the witches from the book The Witches by Roald Dahl. These witches have no hair and no toes, and they turn small children into mice, which they then kill in mousetraps.
Roald Dahl is good at describing mean women. Think of the tyrannical, mean Miss Trunchbull from Matilda, who once competed in the Olympics in the hammer throw and is now the principal of the school Matilda attends.

Apart from female bad guys in comics, usually sexy, slim and beautiful women with mean eyes, I couldn't find any female book characters that fall under the bad guy category.
I wondered why I encountered so few female bad guys in books. One reason may be that only 30% of book characters are female ( Another reason may be that the characteristics of female bad guys can also be seen as positive. Openai mentions: manipulative, intuitive, determined/targeted, confident, seductive and complex. Female villains in books often have complex backgrounds and mixed motives for their actions. They are not always purely evil and can sometimes have sympathetic sides. Compared to the characteristics of male bad guys, people shouldn't be very shocked by these female evil characteristics.

An illustration of my suspicion that the characteristics of female villains are diffuse and not so bad,  is the 5th place Openai gives to Lisbeth Salander as the 'evil' female protagonist. She is a hacker who plays the main role in the trilogy "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. To me she is not a villain, but a heroine.

That other people also thought this, might be evident from her inclusion in "The 100 most influential people who never lived" by The Time (2013). She is placed here under the Heroes and Villains.

From: The 100 most influential people who never lived, The Time (2013).

Add comment


There are no comments yet.