Everyone has a taste for villainy in fiction or films. Even good characters have flaws or imperfections so that they do not seem too far away from us. Shakespeare gave his tragic heroes, ‘tragic flaws’. These flaws lead each hero inevitably to their own fated downfall and yet these flaws also serve to remind us of our own weakness and fallibility.
Dickens enjoys creating villains however who usually seem irredeemably BAD and he created so many of course, that we could compile a long list of deeply wicked types.
I have always enjoyed his ability to create a sense of repulsion too, as he unveils his character’s habits and looks.Dickens is perhaps one of the most physically aware writers ever.
He writes like the acute awareness of an animal.
Who would want to shake hands with Uriah Heep? EVER?!
As I came back, I saw Uriah Heep shutting up the office; and feeling friendly towards everybody, went in and spoke to him, and at parting, gave him my hand. But oh, what a clammy hand his was! as ghostly to the touch as to the sight! I rubbed mine afterwards, to warm it, AND TO RUB
It was such an uncomfortable hand, that, when I went to my room, it was still cold and wet upon my memory.
Here Dickens stresses the repugnant hand shake of Uriah Heep. The capitalization ‘AND TO RUB HIS OFF’ reinforces the horror David feels when he touches Uriah’s damp, clammy hand. David feels contaminated and haunted by this creepy figure, whose palpable, ingratiating insincerity is SYMBOLISED or ENCAPSULATED perfectly in Heep’s cold wet hand.
Heep’s hand LEAKS his REPUGNANT NATURE! Even when he keeps telling everyone he is ”ever so ‘umble” , his hands tells us something very different!
So if you wnat to create a villain or to maintain the attention of a reader, make someone or something REPULSIVE!
Oh dear, I do feel like I am on the brink of writing a horrible histories episode!
(But then as a child I never got over my horror at the Pirate Blind Pugh in Treasure Island, coming towards us, with his tapping cane, dangerously approaching the hero’s Inn, bringing death and evil through his infamous placing of a BLACK SPOT in the palm of a hand. Pirate Voodoo! )
Tap Tap Tap. The Grim Reaper approaches. With the terrible plague of his Black Spot!
Makes a lot of James Bond villains tame by comparison.
How to analyse a text quickly!
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