It’s been waaaay too long since I last took part in Top Ten Tuesday. This weeks list is a lot of fun, Top Ten Books That Were Hard for Me to Read. 10. Elusion by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl … Continue reading
So J.K. Rowling’s apparently acknowledged what I’ve been saying for years – Harry and Hermione were the better match. And yeah, yeah, yeah opposites attract and whatever. I’m sorry the chemistry was always better between Harry and Hermione. And now Ms. Rowling has finally validated my thoughts! VINDICATION!
I know I care way too much about this. But watch the scene below and then tell me I’m wrong.
Inspired by the resurgence of V.C. Andrews in my life thanks to Lifetime I’ve found myself dwelling on the theme of terrible parents in literature. Sprinkled throughout book history are evil, awful, questionable or simply giant failures of parental examples from Queen Jocasta from the three Theban plays to Christian-crazy Margaret White from Carrie.
So please sit back and enjoy this list of god-awful parents brought to you by the minds of your friendly, neighbourhood authors.
*This list is weighed on a scale of Bambi’s mum to a V.C. Andrews book parent*
Corrine Dollanganger -Foxworth, (Or any parent in the V.C. Andrews canon of borderline sociopathic parental units) Flowers in the Attic, V.C. Andrews
What’s worst than a girl-child mother? A girl-child, lazy, kind of slutty, definitely selfish, self-involved, obviously lazy because really she could have attempted to get a job or just marry rich for the sake of her children mother. Oh did I mention she shows shades of the crazy her psycho mom definitely called dibs on years earlier? Cause she totes does. There’s also that whole thing where she married her half-uncle/half-brother, agrees to lock up her four children in her crazy mother’s attic, then tries to poison them to death with arsenic laced doughnuts. Can you say evil?
Obviously a V.C. Andrews parent. The original to boot.
Eleanor’s Parents, Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Poor Eleanor, she gets dealt a pretty rough hand as a teen – quirky, with red hair and a bit of extra weight she stands out like the proverbial sore thumb of lore before. Lucky for her she has Park to act as her port in the storm (this post is just littered with lame sayings, let’s see how long I can keep it up.) With a mother more concerned about pleasing her abusive, alcoholic second husband, a father more concerned with being cool, reliving his youth and shucking all parental responsibility, oh and again that alcoholic, abusive stepfather, who kicked her out of her own home, let her come back and then haunts her with crude sexual messages and on occasion beats her mother is it any wonder they make it on this list?
Definitely leaning towards the V.C. standard of parents (but with far less cheese.)
Marisa Coulter – His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman
In the words of Damien from Mean Girls “She’s fabulous but she’s evil.” Marisa Coulter, mother of Lyra, one of two children enlisted to *spoiler* basically kill God works for the Magesterium, and uses her position and influence to manipulate the church into giving her the money to fund her evil schemes. Her Daemon is nameless which suggests she may be lacking in the love gene. Yet she’s curiously kind to Lyra. A greater parental oxymoron has there never been.
On a scale of Bambi’s mum to a V.C. Andrews adult, let’s place her in the middle beside Katniss’ mum from The Hunger Games.
Uncle Vernon & Aunt Petunia, Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
The best worst guardians ever, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were so concerned with keeping up appearances (another saying! Also a delightful British comedy from the 1990s FYI) that they locked poor Harry in a closet under the stairs, told him lies about his parents and pretended to send him to St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys (best fake school name of all time) all to save face. The brilliance of J.K. Rowling eventually reveals that at least for Aunt Petunia there was jealousy and envy on her part that led to her behaviour. Uncle Vernon however, is just a jerk.
Why this clip? I don’t know.
On the Bambi-V.C. Andrews Scale they’re a solid Uncle Vernon & Aunt Petunia.
Marcus Eaton, Divergent series, Veronica Roth
Allegiant controversy aside – one thing Veronica Roth did well was bad parents, especially in the form of Poppa Don’t Preach preaching poppa (seriously my verbosity knows no bounds) Marcus Eaton. Leader of the Abnegation, a group that is meant to be selfless, controlled and understanding, is instead manipulative, power hungry and abusive (a common theme on the bad parent scale.) Tobias “Four” Eaton got his nickname because his fear landscaped showed he only had four fears to master – the biggest, scariest of them all? You got it, Poppa Marcus. Oh and Mama Evelyn? Well she ain’t no walk in the park either.
Not quite V.C.A but definitely a head above the Dursley’s.
Stepmothers the literary world over, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretl, Snow White
Lady Tremaine with her big bouffant and hideous daughters, the evil Queen with her desire for hearts ripped straight from the cavity (or in the original a meal of freshly procured virgin lungs), H&G’s mommy dearest with her super awful “the world revolves around me” mentality that leads her to demand her husband take his children to the woods and lose them. *Cough bitch cough* Is it any wonder that children with divorced parents fear remarriage? Thanks for that Hans Christian Andersen. Thanks a bunch.
The Bambi-V.C.A. Scale goes something like Bambi, mediocre parents, Evil Stepmothers, V.C.A parents.
The Wormwoods, Matilda, Roald Dahl
My personal favourite book in the Roald Dalh oeuvre, Matilda herself is strong, smart, a lover of art and books, all around a real classy kid. Her parents however are dimwitted, lowbrow trash who wouldn’t know their daughters worth if it bit them in the butt. As a child I remember being nothing but disgusted by these two, and feeling a sense of great satisfaction when Matilda went on to live with Miss Honey.
No doubt somewhere along the lines the Woormwoods and the Dursley’s share some genetic makeup.
What other fictional parents are out there I’ve no doubt overlooked?
Dumbledore opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. Fawkes the phoenix let out a low, soft, musical cry. To Harry’s intense embarrassment, he suddenly realized that Dumbledore’s bright blue eyes looked rather watery, and stared hastily at his own knee. When Dumbledore spoke, however, his voice was quite steady.
“I am very touched, Harry.”
– Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
10. Carlisle and Esme Cullen, Twilight
The whole being creatures of the night thing aside, Carlisle and Esme Cullen are pretty normal parents – they’re understanding, easy going (what with that whole everyone shacking up with everyone thing), non-judgemental and supportive, because it can’t be easy when your adopted vampire son brings home a girl who’s blood apparently smells like filet mignon and you know deep down inside you’d like to bite her. *Restraint. Keeping families together since 1774.
9. Bob Cratchit, A Christmas Carol
He slaves away day and night for a dead beat employer without a complaint, goes without in order to take care of his family and does it all with a smile on his face. Though if he was smart he’d have listened to his wife and found himself another job, but hey, no one’s perfect.
Though at first she shows the same disdain for growing up as Peter while in Neverland Wendy’s loving nature has her acting as mother to the lost boys and her brothers even taking on some domestic duties (I know it’s a little sexist, it was written in 1904 okay?!) In the end she decides growing up isn’t so bad, goes on to marry and have a daughter of her own and when Peter comes back from Neverland Wendy allows her kid to run off with him too, trusting she’ll make the same choice her mother did. A parent who trusts their kid? Inconceivable.
7. Luke, The Mortal Instruments
There’s something to be said about a man who takes on another’s child as his own. Add to that the fact that Clary’s father happens to be his evil ex-best friend who tried to have him killed by a pack of werewolves, and then encouraged him to off himself after said werewolves infected him with lycanthropy and it’s fair enough to say that that man is pretty awesome. Also he’s crazy in love with her mom, a fierce protector and doesn’t get mad when her best friend eats all the pizza he’s just paid for. I’d say pretty top notch dad material.
6. Haymitch, The Hunger Games
So maybe he’s a bit of an alcoholic, and he might be a little on the rude side and he definitely does not know decorum or tact but he understands Katniss more than she realizes, and though he may seem like he doesn’t care he puts his life on the line to help fight against the Capitol. Even after the Games have finished and the rebellion is in full swing he remains a mentor to both of his tributes. Despite their often volatile relationship the bond between Haymitch and Katniss is one that’s both strong and honest.
He’s more than just a butler – in a way he acts as Bruce’s conscience, he keeps all of his secrets, doesn’t laugh when his charge decides to dress up like a bat and become a notorious vigilante, he even takes responsibility for Bruce’s son Damien after Bruce apparently meets his untimely end. Stalwart to the end, Alfred always puts Master Wayne first.
4. Mr. Bennett, Pride and Prejudice
It’s a good thing Elizabeth, Jane et al. had Mr. Bennett to counter their embarrassment of a mother or else they may have all turned out like the wayward Lydia. Mr. Bennett is the perfect counterbalance to Mrs. Bennett, quiet, clever, contemplative and witty, he treats his daughters as equals and though at times he may appear a little flippant in the end he’s not afraid to step in and rescue the day *cough Mr. Collins cough*
3. Cersei Lannister, A Song of Ice and Fire
Ok, hear me out on this one – Cersei Lannister is vile, there’s no doubt about this, that whole brother-lovin’ thing just ain’t cool. But, and this is a mighty big but – no one can say she wouldn’t do anything for her children. In fact she’s pretty damn fierce when it comes to her kids. Sure she doesn’t mind torturing and murdering other people’s children, in fact she probably, definitely delights in the misery of others. But only a mother could love Joffrey. An awful, terrible, despicable, villainous, sordid mother, but a mother nonetheless.
2. Molly and Arthur Weasley, Harry Potter
Sure they have too many kids and not enough money but theirs has to be the most love filled house in the wizarding world. Despite being tight on cash they welcome both Harry and Hermione into their home with open arms, they become surrogate parents to Harry – worrying about him, fussing over him, listening to his concerns, dolling out advice. There’s also the fact that Mrs. Weasley’s a secret badass who ultimately achieves justice for Sirius when she blasts murderess Bellatrix Lestrange straight to you know where. Lesson: Don’t mess with Mama Weasley’s kids.
1. Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
Because he’s Atticus Finch. Stoic, upstanding, heroic, progressive and honourable are only a few of the litany of adjectives that can be used to describe good old Atticus. From allowing his kids to call him by his first name, answering their questions honestly, standing up for what he knows is right despite the ridicule, disgust and anger bestowed on him by his neighbours – Atticus Finch is the dad any kid would be proud to call their own. Heck I’d take him as an uncle, or a friendly next-door-neighbour.