Top Ten Tuesday: Jerks In Literature

Top Ten Tuesday

TTT is by The Broke and the Bookish. Gotta say, I am having fun picking stuff from their list of past TTT topics!


Mostly I try to forget jerks as soon as possible. However, here are a few memorable awful people. I take jerks to mean a mundane level of evil or asocial behaviour. Real villains, the cackling, black-cape-cad types are another thing, in my opinion.

[Edit: I meant black-cape-clad. But cad is true too.]

I find it interesting that “jerk” is one of the relatively few common male-specific insults in the English language. “Jerk” can be leveled at a woman, but is much more likely to be directed at a man. Anyway. Here are the jerks:

Oh. Spoiler alert, obviously.

  1. Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. No list of jerks is complete without Mr Collins, who is pretty much the antithesis of everything women (or at least I) admire in males. Mr. Collins is condescending, conceited, foolish, blustering, falsely humble, “obsequious” (ch. 15), insensitive, fumbling, unforgiving, irritating… I will refrain from continuing on so unpleasant a subject as Mr. Collins’s character. I will also refrain from mentioning Mr. Wickham, who is likewise a jerk, and, unfortunately, adds to his jerkishness by being adept at concealing it. Mr. Collins’s nature is as an unpleasant stink; Mr. Wickham’s, an unpleasant slime.
  2. St. John Rivers from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. A cold-hearted, manipulative, calculating man, Mr. Rivers profanes not only love but the God whom he claims to serve. Happily, he meets his just deserts by dying after ten years in India. Hooray for the Indian climate! Would that he had proven less hardy and succumbed sooner.
  3. Cousin Ivo and Sir Egin from Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell. A wonderful book.
  4. Timos IX from Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. Also Mervin Thurless (megalomaniac), Kornelius Punt (voyeur) and Tansy-Ann Fisk (has a wet blanket for a soul, and will make yours just the same). Of course the book has more nasties, but those ones go beyond jerk to certifiably insane and power-mad-psychopaths.


I like Janet’s description. I’m going with that.

  1. Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter: Man, what a jerk. I used to adore his character when I was reading the series but the more I think about the more I dislike him. Manipulative behaviour in parental figures/figures of authority is a horrid thing.
  2. Jace Whatshisface from The Mortal Instruments: Do not get me started on this guy. He may be tolerable by the last book, but that just means he stepped down from being super-annoying to being just annoying.
  3. Enzo Valenciano from The Young Elites: I know he’s presented as a love interest (as is Jace), but Enzo manages to be straight-up creepy without being a villain. It’s rather, uh, unique.
  4. Alan Ryves from The Demon’s Lexicon: Another Dumbledore-type figure. He’s a charming, kind, conman. He ends up using the people who love and trust him most and even though he does it for the “greater good”, it still makes him a jerk IMO.
  5. Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle: Possibly the only jerk character that doesn’t creep me out, despite being the one who’s most openly hostile? Hmm. I think I should mention Adam Parrish here, who is also a jerk but for different reasons …


Jerks eh? Hm… It’s hard to think of specifics, I always have a hard time. Top Ten Tuesday you are difficult! I’ve read too many books to pinpoint stuff! I’m terrible with names.

*ahem* I’m done ranting.

Let me think…

  1. Saruman from LOTR. Obviously, this guy is playing both sides for a long time. He plays minds games and undermines the good guys but in passive aggressive ways (well, until the battle at Helm’s Deep, but that’s besides the point!). He attacks poor hobbits, and when it comes down to it he is really quite spineless. He’s a jerk.
  2. Wickham from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – who doesn’t hate this jerk? He woos young girls for their money and then scarpers off. Slimy, gross, sissy jerk.
  3. That awful racist guy from To Kill a Mockingbird, Bob Ewell. This guy hits kids, scares kids, lies under oath because he’s a racist piece of crap – and there is no guilt! I think, perhaps, he is more than a jerk, but I remember him right now and so he makes the list.
  4. Gale from The Hunger Games. I never liked this guy, and I think it’s because he’s a bit of a plot device. In fact, most jerks in fiction are plot devices but Gale feels very contrived and obviously not the hero for Katniss (particularly with the whole Mockingjay ending implications). Anyway, he’s a jerk, but is it really his fault?
  5. Prince Humperdink from both the movie and the book The Princess Bride. The duke character is a pure evil villain, but the prince, well, he’s just a jerk. He wants to marry this lowborn girl and have her murdered to start a war so that he, what, won’t be bored? Jerkwad.


Er…. I agree with Steph. This is haarrrrrd. But I shall rally.

  1. Mrs. Umbridge from Harry Potter.
    It’s not that she’s not evil because she most certainly definitely is but her level of evilness is one that’s like a gnat in your brain. Bzzzzzzing away and I wanted to choke her so many times during my reading that I just…yeah.
  2. The boyfriend in Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Oh my gosh, he was the jerkiest jerk in all of jerkdom. I can’t give much away because I’d spoil the book and I want people to read it but ugh. He wins all the awards for Worst Boyfriend Ever. All of them.
  3. The ghost groom in The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. He was creepy and refused to understand how a little thing like death could stand in the way of the fulfillment of his lust. *shudder*
  4. Mrs. Dell from Copper Magic by Julia Mary Gibson. Her racist ways turned my stomach.
  5. Flora’s mother in Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. I will not forgive her actions towards Ulysses any time soon though the book may have. Nope.