Top Ten Deeply Irritating Female Characters

I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself.”

Charles Dickens

  1. Pamela Andrews – Pamela, Samuel Richardson. OK, I know Pamela is set in the 18th century when women were all wusses, but oh my god Pamela is the worst. Self-righteous, constantly swooning at convenient moments, hypocritical and passive to the point of inaction – trying to escape her would-be rapist’s house, she gives up when she opens the garden gate and sees some bulls outside. Ugh.

  2. Esther Summerson – Bleak House, Charles Dickens. Most of the above, actually. Like many of Dickens’ heroines, Esther is sickeningly angelic, pale, passive and long-suffering. The novel is not improved by having great swathes of chapters dedicated to her point of view.

  3. Mary Musgrove – Persuasion, Jane Austen. Shallow and hypocritical and thoughtless, Mary is irritating not because she’s villainously callous – as her sister Elizabeth and father Sir Walter are – but because she’s so relentlessly small-minded. She feels like she could be real, which is part of why you want to shake her until she gets some sense.

  4. Fanny Price – Mansfield Park, Jane Austen. Like Esther, she’s far too perfect to be real: passive, long-suffering, passionless, bloodless. Mansfield Park is my least favourite Austen novel, because of Fanny.

  5. Bella Swan – Twilight, Stephenie Meyer. Does this really need elaborating? Bella has absolutely no self-respect, a wannabe emo who seeks out dangerous situations deliberately and refuses to listen to anyone’s advice.

  6. Becky Bloomwood – The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella. Utterly thoughtless, usurious without realising it, a shallow fantasist who refuses to face up to reality. It’s a mark of Kinsella’s humour that an entire book written from her point of view is even remotely bearable.

  7. Cordelia Delgado – Wizard and Glass, Stephen King. A heartless, gold-digging woman who effectively sells her niece to the Mayor, refuses to listen to her fears and then BURNS HER AT THE STAKE. A study in how terrible normal people can be.

  8. Belladonna Took – The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien. Belladonna is irritating because, functionally, she doesn’t exist; her only purpose is to provide an explanation for Bilbo’s adventurous side. She literally exists for her child.

  9. Goneril and Regan – King Lear, William Shakespeare. These two are poison: full of flattery to those in power, and cruel to those who aren’t. They have no love for anyone save themselves, and are full of spite and petty meannesses.

  10. The Marquess – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente. Though she has a deep and troubled backstory, she too is spiteful and miserable and pettily cruel, hurting others to salve her own feelings.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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