Are you ready for some character duels?!? Wesley of Library Educated brings us some fun match-ups today, pitting character vs character. Who will will and who will lose?!?
Matchup #1: Friend Who Would Always Get You Into Trouble -- Falstaff (William Shakespeare’s Henry IV) vs. Mr. Wednesday (Neil Gaiman’s American Gods)
Falstaff is the friend you can always count on to be irresponsible. A sloppy mess of a drunk, he’d be the one who was always “forgetting” his wallet once the bar tab comes due. In Shakespeare’s Henry IV Falstaff spends all of his days in the pub, drinking, debauching, and cavorting with loose women. Young Prince Henry spends a lot of time with Falstaff, much to the chagrin of the rest of the royals. Who can blame them? The only things that you will learn from Falstaff are how to cheat at bar games and how to acquire mysterious sicknesses.
Mr. Wednesday is not someone with whom you should throw in your lot. In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Mr. Wednesday, at first glance, seems to just be a smarmy old man. However, it’s much worse. He’s a con man with a secret identity, with a never ending quest to bed beautiful virgins. He lies, cheats, starts wars, drags unsuspecting people into horrible situations and will never do anything unless it will benefit himself in some way. If this man is your friend, run, don’t walk as fast as you can the other direction.
Winner: Mr. Wednesday
Falstaff might be an embarrassing drunk but at least he keeps his activities to the pub. Mr. Wednesday is a straight up criminal who never stays in one place for long, making more trouble for more people.
Matchup #2: Worst Witch -- White Witch (CS Lewis’s The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe) vs. Bellatrix Lestrange (JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series)
C.S. Lewis’ White Witch is the ultimate kill joy. She sinks Narnia into endless winter, where Christmas never comes. Her evil army contains ghouls, ogres, incubi, hags, wraiths, wolves and other horrifying creatures. She pays Narnians money to turn in friends and neighbors if they exhibit opposition to her rule. She turns people who stand up to her into stone statutes that dot the landscape around Narnia and her castle. She convinces Edward Pevensie to give up everyone he holds dear just for a hot beverage and some Turkish delight. Cold, calculating, and ruthless this woman is bad news.
Winner: White Witch
Bellatrix is very scary, but she can’t make it be winter constantly or command an army of all of the worst critters from your nightmares. However, I would want to tangle with any of these ladies.
Matchup #3: Scariest Pirate -- Captain Hook (J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan) vs. Long John Silver (Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island)
Jim Barrie’s Captain Hook and Walt Disney’s version of Jim Barrie’s Captain Hook are 2 different kinds of men. Disney’s Hook is a little sad, a touch comedic, and a little bit menacing. Barrie’s Captain Hook is a maniacal basket case. He apparently had been a genteel reasonable man before his encounter with Peter Pan. After the encounter, that left him handless he took a turn for the crazier. (Though really can you blame him? Some punk kid cuts off his hand and throws it to a croc who decides that his favorite snack is Captain Hook a la carte?) He makes it his life’s work to destroy Peter and his band of lost boys; he even goes after Tiger Lily to try to draw him out. He isn’t afraid to use anyone if it will help him get closer to his goal of exterminating Peter.
Long John Silver is the pirate that set the tone for every literary pirate after him. He’s got a peg leg, a parrot on his shoulder, and a map where X marks the spot, just like you would expect. Robert Louis Stevenson crafted a seafaring villain for the ages. He puts on a friendly face and jovial front but it masks a scary, immoral man, who is always looking out for his favorite person, himself. He starts a mutiny that leaves several people dead. He holds hostages, and kills indiscriminately. He is greedy and barbaric and nothing will stand between him and getting what he wants, no matter what it is.
Winner: Long John Silver
Captain Hook’s wrath is mainly directed at Peter Pan and his cohorts, but Long John Silver is so angry and brutal that he thinks everything in the world is his for the taking and torching.
Matchup #4: Worst Boss -- Fagin (Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist) vs. Miranda Priestly (Laura Weisberger’s The Devil Loves Prada)
If you find yourself in Fagin’s employ, your life has probably not been a good one. Fagin is in cahoots with the also terrible Bill Sikes in this Dickens’ tale of childhood woe. Fagin is called many things in this book, “the merry gentleman,” “the receiver of stolen goods,” and often “the Jew.” (We’re just going to call him Fagin.) No matter what you call him he’s just one thing: terrible. He recruits people in desperate situations to be a part of his nasty criminal enterprises; mostly prostitution and thieving. The group of small children that he teaches to pickpocket and steal don’t get any loving family guidance. These small children go around swilling gin and smoking cigars. He takes all of the children’s earnings in exchange for pathetic food and a creaky roof over their heads. He is pathetic, cold, delusional, and maybe a little lecherous but at least he isn’t violent. He lets Bill handle that.
Miranda Priestly is a modern time boss nightmare. Miranda is the editor-in-chief for renowned fashion magazine “The Runway” in The Devil Wears Prada. Guess who the devil is, and guess what she wears? Her assistant Andrea catches the brunt of Miranda’s witchiness but there is plenty enough to spread around to everyone. She makes impossible demands, demeans people in public, makes promises she never intends to keep, and makes sure you are on call 24/7. She literally, drives people to drinking problems. Not even the occasional trip to Paris or designer duds make working for this woman worthwhile.
Miranda might be the devil, but at least she won’t kill you and leave your body in a ditch (probably). None of the children who are under Fagin and Bill’s rules have a happy ending. They are either dead, imprisoned, or in the prison colonies in Australia. Fagin also doesn’t pay any real wages which makes escape hard, where at least with Miranda you can quit and maybe sneak out some designer duds in your purse.
Matchup #5: Scariest Animal -- Flying Monkeys (Frank L Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) vs. Cujo (Stephen King’s Cujo)
I know a few people who had so many nightmares from the flying monkeys from watching the movie version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that they refused to watch it again for a long time, nearly waiting until adulthood to see it again. In Baum’s book we get the monkeys backstory that you don’t see in the movie: the flying monkeys start out as being free and living in odds, they weren’t evil but they like to cause a little bit of a ruckus. However, they fall on the wrong side of a woman named Gayelette and become enslaved. We see more of what happens to them in the popular film, but no matter who is telling the story it ends badly. Monkeys that can fly and who are out to get you is not a pretty picture, bad enough to still be fodder for an adult's nightmare.
For me, this was our closest matchup. I’m legitimately don’t like monkeys so the thought of winged ones is truly terrifying. However Cujo gets the win because of the added heartbreak of a beloved family pet going bad through no fault of his own.
Ok, those are my match ups. Do you agree or disagree on our winners? What other matchups would be good?
Wesley blogs over at Library Educated where she reviews books, makes funny lists, highlights her favorite authors, and shares random funny things that happen to her. She’d love it if you popped over for a visit.