Top Five: Characters I’d like to punch in the face.

24 January 2012 by 76 Comments

Good morning afternoon (don’t judge), Booksluttians. Today, I’m still in The Great Reading Drought of 2012, although I just started a very promising book that I received as an advance copy from New Directions (it’s called Varamo, and it’s totally funny); however, that means I still don’t have anything new to review for you right now. Also, I am feeling very . . . aggressive, today. I had an unfortunate run-in with some people on the internet. Mostly this run-in was due to some key miscommunications, I think, but it still makes me want to bash my head against the wall until I lose all memory of the incident and probably consciousness.

I’ve recently decided to stop using Twitter as my go-to outlet for releasing aggression upon the universe. Partially because it feeds my anger, and you should never feed your anger on the internet (much like not feeding Mogwai after midnight), but mostly because I’m so annoying when I complain that I even annoy myself. Eventually. After everyone else is already way past their annoyance limit. Even when I’m curmudgeonly, I generally like people, so I don’t want to frustrate them with my highly aggressive tweets. That leaves me with few options; of those options, I chose to bring my aggression here. You’re welcome.

But I’m not going to rehash a stupid internet fight; nay, nay. I’m going to be creative. I’m going to bring you a top-five list of characters that, if I could, I would like to punch in the fucking face, and totally would if they walked into my house today, and weren’t imaginary. (This is a lie. I’ve never thrown a punch in my life. But if I admit that, I’ll look like a total wuss–crap, I just admitted it, didn’t I?)

1. Mr. ______ from The Color Purple

Yeah, I’d love to wipe that smile right off of your face. With a hammer.

If you’ve never seen or read The Color Purple–well, for one thing, it’s just an excellent book and film, you really should experience it. But for those who might need an explanation of why I would deck Mr. ______, the story centers around a young girl, Celie, and her supposedly more attractive sister, Nettie. Mr. ______, being from that era when creepy old dudes look for wives who have barely hit puberty, wants to take Nettie for a wife, but “settles” for Celie. He treats Celie like crap, sends Nettie away and hides her letters so Celie thinks she’s dead or something, and constantly cheats on Celie (but it’s not cheating if a man does it, amirite Mr. ______?) openly with a singer named Shug Avery. Not only that, but he beats Celie and emotionally abuses her while she takes care of his children and his house. He won’t even let her learn to read; she has to do it on the sly. He’s a world-class jerk. As a woman from a bygone (good riddance) era, Celie has no recourse for a long time but to shut up and take it.

Until this happens, of course.

If you haven’t read it, I won’t ruin what happens in the end. Suffice to say that I would have no compunction decking Mr. ______ if I ran into him on the street. And maybe giving him a swift kick in the balls.

2. Claudius from Hamlet


It’s bad enough that Claudius murdered his brother so he could shack up with his brother’s wife. It’s even worse that he did this because he wanted to become the king of Denmark. But murdering one person is one thing–Claudius, though, he just keeps on murdering when his initial murder causes him some problems. And that murdery instinct just causes all kinds of people to keep on being murdered. Everyone gets murdered because Claudius is a dick who murders people.

He can’t even man up and murder Hamlet directly when Hamlet becomes an insurmountable obstacle. Claudius has to trick Laertes into being involved in his murderplans, which makes him a murderer, too. And he makes Hamlet so crazy that Hamlet accidentally murders some people. It’s like Claudius has a murder virus and he goes around coughing all over people on purpose. Which, again, might not be so tragic (although certainly very tragic), except that we’re dealing with the royal family of Denmark. Do you know how upsetting it is to people when just one of their rulers gets murdered? But the King, the new King, the Queen, and the Prince of Denmark all get murdered, plus some other really important Danes. It probably costs a lot of money to bury royalty, too. You can’t just put them in pine boxes; there has to be a procession, and people have to buy new clothes, and this was back when people couldn’t just go to The Gap for something reasonably-priced in funeral black. It must have been very stressful for the people of Denmark. Claudius deserves a good fist to the mouth for causing undue murderstress on his whole country and getting his entire family killed.

But not if he’s being played by Patrick Stewart.

3. Adam Gellin from I Am Charlotte Simmons

It’s been awhile since I read this book, and even though a good deal of the characters were A-list asshats in the book, the one I was the most angry at was Adam Gellin. “But he’s supposed to be the nice guy! Who helps Charlotte! Who doesn’t take advantage of her!” I call BS on this theory.

In the book, Charlotte is a girl who is far more innocent than she really has any business being in this day and age (because, hello, internet? Even if you’re a virgin, the world is saturated with sex–wait, that doesn’t sound right). She’s a terribly smart girl who goes off to college completely dumb about the world of men and sex. She gets taken advantage of by a popular jerkwad, who tricks her out of her virginity. Adam, who is supposed to be her friend, helps her through her hard times by letting her sleep in his bed when she’s cripplingly depressed (totally innocently, supposedly).

But wait! Adam has the major hots for Charlotte. So, his taking care of her is not exactly altruistic. And even though she is not interested in Adam, he tries to manipulate her later by having his own “breakdown” and whining that he needs to be taken care of. He took care of her, after all! But Adam is not cripplingly depressed. He’s being a whiny asshole and taking advantage of her kindness so that she’ll pay attention to him.

Why can’t you just love me? Or, barring that, sleep with me? WHY?

Adam is also far too obsessed with having sex with Charlotte. Which is the same problem that she’s having with the other douchebags in her life, who are really only different because they’re more aggressive than Adam. If Adam had the balls that those other guys had, he’d probably have tricked her into having sex with him, too. Or rather, succeeded in manipulating her into having sex with him.

I hate him the most because he’s supposed to be the nice guy. But he’s a douchebag in nice guy clothing, which is the hardest douchebag to spot before it’s too late.

4. Humbert Humbert from Lolita

Close your robe, get up, and go set yourself on fire.

Don’t get me wrong, at all. I am not one of those people who completely misses the point and thinks Lolita is a crime against nature because it deals with a disturbing topic. I just can’t stand HH, and if I met someone like him, I would punch him in the face. I don’t think I have to explain why.

5. Lin from Waiting

(Note: I tried really hard to find a female character that I felt was deserving of this list. But all the ones that came to mind were either poorly and unrealistically written, or they got totally beat down in the book, and I don’t like to punch a person while they’re down.)

Lin from Waiting is married to a very good woman. Unfortunately, he married for all the wrong reasons, and he thinks his wife is ugly. Like, really ugly. She didn’t just get beaten with an ugly stick, she got run over by an ugly semi. Lin takes a post that takes him away from home (and away from uglywife), serving as an army doctor; he falls in love with a colleague, and decides to divorce his ugly wife. His ugly wife who has taken care of his children and his dying parents. The only problem is, she won’t agree to the divorce. She cries every time Lin takes her in front of the judge to get a divorce so he can be with his new girlfriend.

He does this once a year for eighteen years.

After eighteen years, the law decrees that he can be divorced if he has been separated from his wife the whole time. So why, after, oh, three or four or ten years of forcing his wife to be shamed annually in front of the court and the whole village, does he persist? And why does he string along his girlfriend when he knows he won’t be able to divorce for years? Oh, because he’s upset that his life didn’t go how it wanted, so he’s going to make two people suffer for him.  Screw you, Lin.

(pants heavily) Whew. I think I have all of that out of my system. Now it’s your turn to sound off, my lovely friends–what characters make you want to feed them a knuckle sandwich? Tell me in the comments!


Susie is the Bitch-in-Chief at IB and is also a contributor at Book Riot. She's an ice cream connoisseur, an art fanatic, a cat-mommy of three, and a wife. She runs the @thebooksluts Twitter account and may be slightly addicted.

76 thoughts on “Top Five: Characters I’d like to punch in the face.

    • Oooh, yes! I wanted to smack her so hard every time she opened her mouth. Except, of course, when she opened her mouth to eat a certain…ahem…pie. That was very satisfying :)

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with wanting to Hulk-smash Mr. Johnson and Humbert Humbert. Funny you should mention The Color Purple, since I will be re-reading it for a book club in February and will therefore want to put a hurtin’ on Mr. Johnson all over again.

  2. 1. Severus Snape – I don’t care that he did it for Johnny Lily.

    2. Daenerys Targaryen – Especially after her shenanigans in ADwD.

    3. Harold Lauder – Especially he walks in wearing Corin Nemec’s stupid face.

    4. Donna from A Scanner Darkly – Nobody likes a drug-dealing cocktease. Nobody.

    5. Fenchurch’s brother – Look, dude, even if your sister IS mentally ill, that doesn’t mean you go blabbering about it to random Hitchhikers you pick up in the rain. I don’t care if you think she thinks she’s a hedgehog, how do you know Arthur Dent isn’t a serial killer/rapist?

      • I hated Snape, and it really pissed me off when Rowling made him a martyr at the end of it, all ’cause he ‘loved’ Lily…please…yeah, he loved Lily, a sick, twisted, obsessive, unhealthy love…

        guilt wasnt Snape’s problem, rage was because his plan to get rid of James Potter and their mongrel kid, Harry, got fucked…

        he was a fucking creep, period…

    • I wouldn’t really punch Daenerys. Maybe shake her a few times and slap her around a bit. Because the girl is bloody daft. What don’t you get about “fire and blood”, woman? Ugh.

      Okay, yeah, I guess I want to punch Daenerys, too.

  3. I nominate Graham Hancock of Aliens Made Humans Smart fame. Give me a moment to explain this choice.

    1. He is a fucking tool.
    2. He thinks we are such dumb fuckers that creating civillization, language, artwork, mathematics, architecture, etc is beyond us. Apparently, we went from dumb to dumb to aliens lifted us out of our shit-throwing phase.
    3. He is a tool with bad hair.

    Now, I realize that he is a “real” person. However, I submit him for this list based solely on his idiocy in writing The Sign and the Seal, as well as the number of times I threw said book across the room in anger and frustration for his stupidity.

  4. Dolores Umbridge.
    Every single character in the Twilight series except Bella’s dad (and I suspect, were he to have been more of a major character, I’d have wanted to punch him, as well.)
    Cordelia from Atwood’s “Cat’s Eye.” I don’t deal well with mean girls.
    All the lying girls in “The Crucible” for getting people put to death for funsies.
    Bjurman from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

    I’m sure I can think of more. I have a lot of hatred.

  5. *pats GGG on the back* There, now doesn’t that feel better? Yech, these characters definitely sound like people I’d want to deck, too. Especially Humbert.

    But my most hated, most fist-in-face-worthy character is Squire B (that’s what he’s called throughout the novel, except for one tiny hint that B = Brandon), from Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. I talk way too often about my desire to throw this book against a wall, but it’s . . . *seethes* . . . This guy:

    1) waits until his mother dies, and then starts sexually harassing her favorite maid,
    2) scolds said maid for being so ridiculous as to get upset at his advances,
    3) threatens the other servants when they try to defend Pamela,
    4) is furious at her for writing to her parents about him and *le gasp!* thus harming his reputation, and then [SPOILERS from here on]

    5) pretends to let her go back home after she’s had enough of his harassment, but pays the coach driver to take her to his other estate instead, where she’ll be a prisoner guarded by the equally punch-worthy Mrs. Jewkes
    6) belittles the frantic-ness of Pamela’s father when he comes looking for his daughter, since poor people have no right to complain when a rich person is mistreating them,
    5) goes to the estate where he’s keeping Pamela, disguises himself as a servant woman so she’ll let him sleep in her bed while Mrs. Jewkes sleeps on her other side, thereby trapping her so B can rape her — luckily he has the one … well, not redeeming, but at least lucky for Pamela … quality of getting all confused whenever she faints, so he’s too “concerned” about her to rape her
    6) demands to see her letters and journals so he can monitor how she’s representing him, because heaven forbid anyone outside of his household hears anything negative about him
    7) and THEN, after he has a totally believable (hear the sarcasm) change of heart and for-realsies-this-time lets her leave, pulls an Adam Gellin and gets all sick and depressed and begs Pamela to come back and take care of him.

    I could go on and on and on, but I’ll spare you :)

  6. The character I’d most love to punch in the face is Briony Tallis (the child version not the grown author-woman version) from Atonement.

    Yes. I’m aware she’s a small child when I’d like to punch her.

    Yes. I get the point that in the end she does see the error of her ways (though her fame and fortune may negate some of said atonement…)

    Still want to deck her.

    The mind of an entitled child will do that to me. It’s bad enough just seeing the actions much less the logic behind it. Add to that, she ruins MULTIPLE good people’s lives…*punch*

    Not. Cool.

  7. Pingback: Top 5 Literary Roles Played By Sir Patrick Stewart « Armaitus on…

  8. I pretty much wrote an essay in Uni on how Humbert Humbert was a total dickwad, and, pedophilia aside, just a terrible boyfriend in general to EVERYONE.

  9. Micah Samon in Harry Harrison’s Deathworld 2 (subtitled: The Ethical Engineer but I guess “Deathworld” is a better hook for the target audience).

    I think I would ask my Kung Fu instructor to help me develop a devastating uppercut especially for Micah Samon.

    At first he captures the series’ main protagonist, taking him away from his home society to bring him to justice for crimes against his own society’s morals (the core theme of the whole trilogy is societal identity, morals and the like).

    Throughout the story he persists in imposing his own ethics and morality upon everyone he meets, despite being the only person who sees them as morally correct. Ultimately this jeopardises not only his own well being but the well being of the societies around him.

    To be fair to him, it isn’t his fault. I am fairly sure that Harry Harrison wrote Micah Samon with the express desire of having me punch his lights out.

    I honestly can’t think of any other character that fills me with as much rage as Micah, to make up for that, I’ve written on my own blog about how awesome Sir Patrick Stewart is – thank you ever so much for not punching Claudius whilst he is being played by him.

      • I would like to go back to University and work through a whole 3 year degree just on the off chance that he presented my certificate at graduation.

        There are members of the student’s union there that are taken out to dinner with him, when he is in the area!

        The very thought turns me green with envy… it is almost worth giving up the security of paid employment… almost…

  10. Well, I must say Thanks to this blog entry :). It definitely made me just burst out laughing several times, and got me thinking about something I don’t normally do. Very infrequently do I have strong feeling of anger towards any characters in particular, but there are some that definitely irritated me enough that I’d back you guys up if you were willing to punch them in the face for me lol… I will be reading ‘Lolita’ and it sounds like Humbert might be one of those characters. Others I’ve read would have to be Benjamin Braddock from ‘The Graduate’ for being such a coward in life and having an affair with a married woman; Gatsby for being so irritably stuck on Daisy that it leads him to his own murder; Assef in ‘The Kite Runner’ for being a dumb numskull bully; several characters from Jane Austen’s novels lol; Jacob in ‘Twilight’ annoyingly scarring my intellect; Catherine Linton in ‘Wuthering Heights’ for not following her heart and not being loyal to Heathcliff…. If I were to channel my anger towards any characters these would be at the top of my list.

  11. – The Bolton father and son tag team from A Song of Ice and Fire series
    – Amy from Little Women. Because I’ve never forgiven her for taking Laurie. Yes I know Jo said no first, but still. Ugh. I’m being unreasonable.
    – Li Kui from Water Margin. Dude kills innocent people, and he’s still a “hero”?

  12. female? bella of course from “twilight.” she’s a drama queen who sets herself up in dangerous situations that force others to risk themselves to save her. jumping off the stupid cliff, walking down dark streets without any common sense, wandering through the woods when she knows people are disappearing in the area. she’s a one-woman train wreck, and she needs to be tied to the tracks so she could run herself over while i applaud. with popcorn.

  13. Pingback: Books: Top 5 characters I’d like to punch in the face… « UKIAH BLOG

  14. OK, I found a female for you. I know it’s not high literature or anything, but Katniss from The Hunger Games trilogy needs a good swift punch in the nose, and preferably other places as well. I get the whole reluctant hero thing, I really do. But early on she crosses the line into whiny bitch territory and never comes back.

    Another for the list is the Stephen King character in the Dark Tower series. Ugh. Not only did the author write himself into the book (which is bad enough), but he made himself a douchebag. Or maybe he’s a douchebag in real life. Can’t say; never met the guy.

    • I disagree about Katniss — given the extreme (to put it mildly) situations she’s put through, I think she’s allowed to complain. What 17-year-old wouldn’t become an emotional mess after all that physical and psychological torture? She has been punched — and stabbed, and shot at, and more, so I think she has every right to be “a whiney bitch.”

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  16. H. Humbert. . . hard to argue that one.
    Ditto Claudius

    I read a couple books once, but for whatever reason I’m having a dilly of a time coming up with characters to murder.

    I’m going to go with King Moonraiser from the Rudolph animated holiday classic. You can’t make an exception to your toys only vacancy policy? die!

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  18. Just found this blog. read this, loved it. I would like to punch:
    Bella Swan, which is so unoriginal but I just can’t stand her and her stupid, obssesive infatuation.
    Both Anthony and Gloria in The Beautiful and Damned for being so damn lazy and superficial.
    And I agree with the girls on The Crucible and Briony.
    I think I have an issue with wussy girls LOL.

  19. I generally want to punch the lights out of bullies, abusers of the defenceless, sneaky bastards and bitches who set others up while looking all innocent themselves, and self-righteous, superior and entitled (in their own minds) pricks/ prickettes. Right now I can’t recall all the characters who made me feel that way, but here are a few who haven’t been mentioned so far:

    – Jessica from Merchant of Venice: a selfish, shallow little shit. Swapped her late mother’s jewellery, including wedding ring, for a monkey (read: memento of her mother for a shiny trinket that caught her fancy). Ready to drop her faith like a hot potato for the first good-looking guy who comes along. Doesn’t acknowledge or support her father Shylock when he’s a broken man, forcibly converted to Christianity and stripped of everything he had.
    – While we’re on Shakespeare, Bertram from All’s Well That Ends Well: rejects and humiliates Helena out of pure snobbery, tries to seduce a girl (while a married man) with promises he doesn’t intend to keep. Helena should’ve kicked him in the balls and publicly dumped him, instead of being happy to keep him as a husband.
    – Emil Brandt from The Good German (the book, not the movie): self-righteous, claims ignorance of what went on when he just doesn’t care; SPOILER ALERT gets away with murder just because the Americans want his knowledge.
    – From A Song of Ice and Fire: I haven’t read ADWD yet so don’t know what Dany’s done to deserve a bitch slap, but… Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger): abovementioned sneaky bastard responsible for multiple murders (directly and indirectly). A major creep – has designs on his old crush’s teenage daughter after having a hand in getting her father killed. I would’ve added Joffrey too but he’s already dead.

  20. Hmmm…sometimes I wonder what our POV on Humbert Humbert would be if Nabokov had left out the introduction at the beginning of the book. Would we still find him as deplorable?

    I agree that he did several terrible things, but I don’t right characters off as soley bad or soley good…unless they’re extraordinarily two-dimensional, in which case I won’t be reading about a story that includes them anyway.

    • I’m a little fuzzy on the content of the intro–it’s been years since I read Lolita and that bit didn’t stick as hard as some others–but I didn’t include him in my list just because of the pedophilia. He was also a rather self-centered, single-minded ass, who became so obsessive over his own desires that he manipulated and abused others to achieve his own end. His lustiness basically murders Charlotte, as well, since she lost her wits upon finding his diary and ran out into traffic. He’s a whole cocktail of personality disorder as well as being a rather pitiable lout.

  21. I know this is taking us down the childhood route… But I have always wanted to give Julian (from enid blyton’s Famous Five) a sharp smack on the nose. So haughty. So bossy. So misogynistic “jo George you can’t come along because you’re a girl and we boys must protect the girls. Go and prepare our tea with Anne”

    S-%4:*&& t-7=%6- f:*(/+%&@+:;!!!!!

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  24. I know I’m a bit late to the game but loving your blog and trying to read it all the way through. BTW there’s no easy way to get to the beginning and work your way forward is there?
    Anyway, just had to chime in with my own rage inducing character. I agree several mentioned above deserve a sharp smack, but I can’t think of any other character who has made me seethe so much as Rasheed from A Thousand Splendid Suns. The lack of respect and outright cruelty he shows to his two wives had me reading the book through clenched teeth. Still a 5 star read for me though.

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  27. Umbridge definitely.

    Also, Thénardier, because that dick never got punished for all the shit he pulled. Like, what the hell, he’s one of the three characters who survive (and matter), and he goes on to become a slave trader in America. Yeah he lost two of his kids and his wife, who all meant nothing to him.

    Ramsay Bolton, although less of punch and more feed him to a direwolf. Or his own dogs.

    And Verhovensky from The Demons. That cunthead survives and escapes while literally EVERYONE ELSE DIES. Even GRRM would have told Dostoevsky to chill the fuck out.

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