Controversial characters are like chocolate: the darker the better and chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa tastes tantalisingly good! Here is a run-down of my five most unforgettable and very dark heroes-come-villains.
Darth Vader - Star Wars Trilogy, by George LucasThe masked, caped Sith Lord possessed a certain complexity, a character who I never considered to be pure evil, just sadly mis-understood. His evolution from the angelic child, Anakin Skywalker, in the first of the new films ‘Phantom Menace’ prompted me to wonder what might have turned him into the dark and sinister character, he would become renowned for.
His switch to the dark side was spurred by love. Anakin Skywalker possessed a powerful fear of losing those he loved and even his Jedi masters recognised his weakness. His metamorphosis into a ruthless villain was first inspired by a vision of his mother dying. But he was too late to save her - kidnapped by a species known as Tusken Raiders, she died in his arms, so he took his revenge; but darker forces recognised his Achilles heel and exploited it in the final episode of the trilogy. Plagued by further torturous visions of his wife, Padmé Amidala, dying in childbirth, he was ultimately seduced to the Dark Side, convinced he could alter the future. Thus, the monster within, Darth Vader, was finally unleashed.
Heathcliff - Wuthering Heights, by Emily BronteHeathcliff became a bitter and demented character, relentlessly driven by revenge. He started off as a gypsy orphan, taken in by the Earnshaw family of Wuthering Heights. Set in the wild countryside of northern England, Cathy befriended and loved him, though he was despised by her spiteful brother, Hindley, who treated him little better than a slave.
The passionate love between these characters was doomed, from the moment Cathy met her shy, but well-bred neighbour, Edgar Linton. It was the catalyst which forced her to abandon her affair with Heathcliff, considered to be some low-class vagabond, ill-suited to her class - despite the fact that she was clearly besotted with him. Heathcliff, depicted as a tortured hero whose all-consuming passion destroyed himself and all those around him, turned to Edgar’s sister, Isabella - who he treated with cruelty and contempt. A tragic tale - how one man was driven almost to madness, by an obsessive love turned to hatred.
Lucius Malfoy - Harry Potter series, by J.K. RowlingMy favourite dark wizard from the Harry Potter series and beautifully portrayed by Jason Isaacs, in the films. With his dark cloak and flowing, white-blonde locks, I found him sinister and alluring - not to mention that velvet-soft voice which always sent a shiver through me!
Lucius first appeared in the second book of the series (“Chamber of Secrets”), when he slipped the diary of Tom Riddle into the cauldron of Ginny Weasley, fully intent on unleashing the Dark Lord’s evil into Hogwarts School. He was ultimately revealed to be one of Lord Voldemort’s ‘death eaters’ in the graveyard scene (“Goblet of Fire”) where his true allegiance was exposed. Lucius possessed a slick demeanor and his aristocratic stature disguised a cruel nature, laced with racial superiority. Yet, in the end, it was his devotion to his family that won over his desire to appease the Dark Side - and so Lucius was saved.
Rupert Campbell-Black - Riders, by Jilly CooperI’ve been a fan of Jilly Cooper novels since the 90s, but the hero of her first book (“Riders”), Rupert Campbell-Black, was an evil piece of work! Promiscuous, superior, a blatant upper-class bully, he didn’t have much to endear him, apart from being depicted as drop-dead gorgeous.
Rupert unashamedly cheated on his beautiful American wife time and time again - put her down, derided her friends and gradually eroded her self-esteem. It was an utter delight when Mrs Campbell-Black eventually ensnared a lover of her own - none other than Rupert’s show-jumping rival, who Rupert had mercilessly bullied at prep school. But Rupert did mellow with age. He adored his second wife, Taggie, and even managed to stay faithful to her; but love him or hate him, Rupert will always remain one of my darkest literary heroes.
Lisbeth Salander - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg LarssonI wanted to feature a female character in this blog. This book was not a pleasant read and exposed a fiendish side of human nature - yet I had to admire the spunk of its damaged heroine, Lisbeth Salander! Portrayed as a fragile girl, covered in tattoos and piercings, yet gifted with a brilliant brain - and a world class computer hacker.
The vulnerable teenager, declared mentally unstable by the authorities, was placed under the care of a legal guardian, Bjurman - a particularly loathsome character, who forced her to endure humiliating sexual acts in return for an allowance. After a particularly harrowing rape, Lisbeth set out to exact her revenge; she stunned him with a taser and handcuffed him to his own bed - then gave him a taste of his own medicine, before tattooing the words “I am a sadistic pig, a pervert, and a rapist,” on his bare torso. Although, the scene was pretty gruesome, it’s the type of justice every rape victim would wish for their attacker.
Bianca’s Note: Helen had me at Darth Vader. I am a Star Wars freak (and may be known on occasion to quote whole scenes verbatim. Just saying.). I love the 1940 film version of “Wuthering Heights” with Sir Laurence Olivier as the brooding Heathcliff and that scene in “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” certainly made me shudder!
Helen is offering an eBook copy of her very dark suspense novel, “Beginnings,” which is the first book in her "Same Face Different Place," series. Enter below for your chance to win, along with tons of other great prizes!