10 of the worst wives and girlfriends in literature
The pages of literature are strewn with significant others that are just downright wicked. Be it honest portrayals of human nature or total misogyny, the fact is that there are quite a few evil wives and girlfriends in literature. And don’t get us wrong, there is an equal (if not larger) number of terrible husbands and boyfriends portrayed in literature too. The rap sheets on these ladies range from inflicting subversive psychological damage to downright homicide. It probably goes without saying that these women probably wouldn’t be the best types to bring home to momma. Here are the worst of the worst.
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10 Lady Macbeth (Macbeth)
Craziness, personified. Lady Macbeth, the power-hungry wife of the titular character in the Shakespeare tragedy, would stop at nothing to help her husband ascend to the throne. Not only does she drug an entire party just so Macbeth can marry Duncan, she smears blood all over the sleeping servants to frame the murder on them. She also loves to belittle and emasculate her husband for his perceived lack of courage. At the play’s end, Lady Macbeth dies an ignoble death off-stage, but her chilling character definitely remains alive.
9 Estella Havisham (Great Expectations)
You remember the girl that you always wanted a shot with and would do anything in your power to impress, but she would never give you the time of day? The lovely Estella is the archetype of girls playing a maddening game of hard to get. Ruined by the vindictive Mrs. Havisham, Estella is incapable of love, which doesn’t bode well for our protagonist Pip. No matter how many times Pip shows that he cares about her, she rebuffs his advances. What a glutton for punishment huh? Someone should have given him the “plenty of fish in the sea” talk.
8 Cora (The Postman Always Rings Twice)
The femme fatale is a staple of the crime novel, but our friend Cora here is among the most devious of the bunch. She, along with her drifter lover, plots to kill her husband Nick in order to take all of his money. After one botched attempt (in which they gave poor Nick amnesia) they finally succeed in taking him out. She’s eventually caught by the authorities, but is able to escape serious jail time. However, justice is served when Cora is killed in a car accident.
7 Carmen (Carmen)
A woman with power is frequently (and sometimes unfairly) portrayed as evil in literature. The fiery Gypsy Carmen is indicative of this literary trope. Commanding the attention of most males, Carmen seduces the young soldier Don Jose. Unfortunately for him, the hot girl just brings a whole mess of problems: namely mutiny against his superior and turning to a life of crime. However, she also gets hers in the end when Don Jose, after being dumped for a bullfighter, passionately stabs her to death in front of the crowd.
6 Dominique Francon (The Fountainhead)
Perhaps a controversial choice to some, but let’s look at the facts: for most of the novel, Dominique works to destroy the work her love, Howard Roark. She goes as far as to marry Toohey, Roark’s greatest rival, to assist him in his battle against the idealistic young architect. Even if she was determined to do so to spare him from a public destruction by society, it’s still a really terrible way to show your love.
5 Gertrude (Hamlet)
While you can’t fault anyone for adapting to a bad situation, it’s pretty much a scummy move to marry your dead husband’s brother with little to no mourning period in between. When the news comes out that her new husband Claudius was responsible for the King’s murder, it’s pretty much a safe guess to assume that she had something to do with the killing. Also, she kind of has this weird incestuous relationship with Hamlet, which is creepy enough to get her on this list.
4 Delilah (Samson and Delilah)
There’s nothing like biblical betrayal. In this narrative, the man of God Samson, is a super strong badass who falls in love with Delilah. Little does he know that Delilah is a double agent for the Philistines, and plots to betray him. After she find out that his hair is the secret to his strength, she cuts his locks and delivers him to his enemies. Though he grows his hair back and wreaks revenge on his enemies, Delilah’s fate is left unknown. Not every treacherous wench can die a fiery death huh?
3 Alison Poole (Story of My Life)
At first glance, Poole just seems like your average party girl with daddy issues. But on top of all that, she manages to betray and mentally scar her bonds trader boyfriend Dean. Alison’s sexual appetite, love for cocaine, and low self-esteem were never ending pools of suck. Fun fact: author Jay McInerney with some really really strong foresight, based this character on Rielle Hunter, the woman with whom John Edwards cheated on his sick wife.
2 Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby)
Sometimes people can be so clueless that others around them are damaged. Daisy is your typical lady of society, giving up her love for a marriage to a wealthy man (who just happens to be a total dick) Throughout the cause of the book, she unwittingly causes the death of two people: Myrtle Wilson and Jay Gatsby. This is only surprising because she never even really seemed that smart.
1 Lady Brett Ashley (The Sun Also Rises)
Now it’s not nice to call any woman a ho, but Brett comes pretty close. Throughout the novel, Brett leads on not one, not two, not three, but four poor saps. While she leaves the guys to fight over her, she runs away with a young bullfighter. She eventually leaves the bullfighter and drinks her problems into oblivion. But this isn’t before she tells Jake, the protagonist that they could have had something special if only he wasn’t impotent. Way to be sensitive.