“Women We Love to Hate”
by Ursula Wong
With all due respect to the naughty rascal in Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, I prefer women who are bad. They take on unexpected careers. They deal with people who oppose them. Bad women flip a bird at conventional behavior. How many of us have enjoyed the thought of taking revenge? Perhaps we wouldn’t act, but fictional bad girls make it happen!
The bad girl antagonist in my Amber War series is Vera Koslova, the first female president of the Russian Federation. In making her deliciously hateful, I took characteristics from several women in literature.
My cue for deviousness and manipulation came from Mrs. Danvers, faithful servant of the dead socialite Rebecca de Winter in Daphne du Maurier’s mystery Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers’s flair for the dramatic comes into play when she convinces the new Mrs. de Winter to wear her predecessor’s dress to a ball, causing hubby to go ballistic—all the more poignant when we learn that hubby is responsible for his first wife’s death.
In Black Amber, when Vera is blamed for a pipeline hack, she claims two of her associates are the traitors responsible for this heinous act of terrorism. It is a treacherous show of deviousness and manipulation brought to the world stage. Go Vera!
A woman who is very good at getting what she wants is Cathy in John Steinbeck’s classic literary novel East of Eden. After killing her parents, Cathy turns to prostitution. She marries a man, shoots and wounds him, then presents him with twin sons before abandoning him and her children. She joins a brothel, murders the owner, and takes over the business.
In Amber Widow, we learn that Vera came to power after hearing about an indiscretion by the, then, head of state. She obtains proof and presents him with a choice: name her as president — or sully his family name and watch his grandchildren grow up in shame. Vera didn’t murder anyone as Cathy did, but the choice she presented her predecessor feels just as grave.
Then there are loveable bad women like Nyx in Kameron Hurley’s God’s War. Nyx is an amiable assassin who makes a few bucks on the side as a bounty-hunter in a futuristic war-torn desert-world. She kills when she must, and when she wants. I can’t imagine a situation where Nyx doesn’t come out on top.
In Amber Wolf, long before Vera comes to power, young Ludmelia Kudirka joins a resistance movement fighting the Russian Red army occupying Lithuania. She stands on the side of freedom and justice—I love that in a girl. Ludie kills to defend herself and when her victim deserves to die—just like Nyx.
There are many more examples of perfectly wicked women. The White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, loves the cold, sweets, and statues. Dolores Umbridge in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has a flair for jewelry and for being in charge. Annie Wilkes in the horror story Misery by Steven King enjoys reading a good book, and if the story isn’t to her liking, she does something about it!
Who are your favorites?
Ursula Wong writes about strong women who battle impossible odds to achieve their dreams. Her Amber War series of historical fiction chronicles the relationship between Russia and her European neighbors beginning with the Soviet occupation of Lithuania during WWII. The fifth book in the series, Gypsy Amber, will be available in the fall of 2020 from Genretarium Publishing. For more information, go to www.ursulawong.wordpress.com
-Scene from Rebecca: By Trailer screenshot – Rebecca trailer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7498594