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Margaret from Carrie
Margaret is more of a psychotic bitch than a spiteful one, believing everything is sinful and thus in need of punishmentvia gorod-c.ru

The most spiteful bitches in literature

Stabbing you in the back with a smile on their face – the girls so steeped in hate they make Amy Dunne from Gone Girl look a treat

Today’s world is a spite-filled one; deliberately causing harm to another person, most often with a smile on one’s face, is easy, especially on the internet. While women may be having it tough recently – just look at the increase in revenge porn and the mass leaks of nude iPhone photos, both almost entirely inclusive to women, by faceless internet wankers (sorry, “hackers”) – spite is still very much a girl’s game. Mean little girls make boys cry on the playground every day, and Rosamund Pike's delicious turn in Gone Girl (2014) should give them all something to look up to. In recognition of these moments, this week we champion ten of the most spiteful bitches ever to bless literature.

EVELYN RICHARDS FROM AMERICAN PSYCHO, BY BRET EASTON ELLIS

Patrick Bateman gets all the credit for being the chief maniac of this novel, which is a great injustice to Evelyn. She may not do any actual killing, but Evelyn’s mean-girl snobbery grounds Patrick’s sociopathy in socially acceptable terms: ’Carruthers is wearing a lamb’s wool sport coat, a cashmere/vicuña cardigan sweater, cavalry twill trousers, a cotton shirt and a silk tie, all from Hermès. (“How tacky,” Evelyn whispered to me; I silently agreed.)

MRS DANVERS FROM REBECCA, BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER

We never find out Mrs Danvers’ first name, but we do find out that she is a seriously spiteful woman. When the second Mrs. de Winter arrives at Manderley, Mrs. Danvers does everything in her power to destroy the marriage: she had been her predecessor Rebecca’s maid in childhood, and loved her with an inappropriate passion. Tricking the second Mrs. de Winter into wearing the dead Rebecca’s gown to a costume ball is perhaps the ultimate bitch move in fiction.

THE MARQUISE DE MERTEUIL FROM LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, BY PIERRE DE LACLOS

You may know the Marquise de Merteuil better from her equivalent character in Cruel Intentions (1999), the version of Les Liasons Dangereuses updated for the 1990s. That’s right – it’s everyone's second-favourite Sarah Michelle Gellar role, Kathryn Merteuil. In both versions, Ms. Merteuil schemes, manipulates, and enjoys the downfall of the young woman whose virginity she toys with. Yes, she gets what’s coming to her, but Merteuil’s sheer spite is what makes the book worth reading in the first place.

PHYLLIS NIRDLINGER FROM DOUBLE INDEMNITY, BY JAMES M. CAIN

When Barbara Stanwyck played her in the movie adaptation, Phyllis’ surname got changed to Dietricher. As plain old Mrs. Nirdlinger in the book, however, she is no less nasty. In fact, it is implied that she killed children in James M. Cain’s novel. In both versions, however, Phyllis is the ultimate blonde bitch who will step over any man to get at cold, hard cash. A truly twentieth-century heroine.

BRENDA LAST FROM A HANDFUL OF DUST, BY EVELYN WAUGH

Critics have wondered, not without reason, how much Waugh must have hated his first wife in order to base this truly abhorrent character on her. Brenda Last cheats on the protagonist, Tony, with an idiot named John Beaver; when she find out her son has died, who is also named John, she’s relieved it’s not the other one. Brenda’s best move in the novel is to convince Tony to divorce her as if she is the victim, then to extort him for a huge settlement. Inspiring behaviour.

BECKY SHARP FROM VANITY FAIR, BY WILLIAM THACKERAY

Vanity Fair may be the ultimate “novel without a hero,” but Thackeray essentially invented the modern villainess in the character of the rapacious Becky Sharp. Socially eclipsing the well-off, sweet natured moron Amelia Sedley, Becky uses her considerable personal charms to climb the novel’s social ranks. Becky is a moral vacuum but a very intelligent one, and one of the most memorable bitches in literature.

MARGARET WHITE FROM CARRIE, BY STEPHEN KING

Okay, Margaret is more of a psychotic bitch than a spiteful one, but her cruelty to poor Carrie is pretty spectacular. To Margaret, literally everything is sinful and thus in need of punishment. She deserves what she gets in the end, but we have a grudging respect for her inventiveness in calling Carrie’s breasts “dirty pillows.”

AMY MARCH FROM LITTLE WOMEN, BY LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Cute little blonde Amy steals Laurie from her sister Jo, and good riddance – they deserve each other. Amy burns one of Jo’s manuscripts while she’s out seeing a play, just because she’s jealous that she didn’t get to go. A cherubic but loathsome girl.

DOMINIQUE FRANCON FROM THE FOUNTAINHEAD, BY AYN RAND

Everybody loves to hate Ayn Rand these days, but Ayn herself had nothing on the strange Dominique Francon. A philosophical pessimist, Dominique gets it into her head that she has to destroy Howard Roark’s career precisely because she loves him. It kind of makes sense in the book. She’s ferociously autonomous but fuelled by pure hatred for most of the novel, making Dominique an interesting heroine indeed.

CATHY FROM EAST OF EDEN, BY JOHN STEINBECK

Finally, the most spiteful wench of them all: Cathy, Adam Trask’s wife in East of Eden. She’s the ur-bitch, an abhorrent creature who lives to torment men sexually. She frames them for rape, drugs them, fucks their brothers – the full gamut. Steinbeck used Cathy as an allegorical figure for Satan himself, but he also made her so good-looking that her Latin teacher killed himself. A spiteful, fascinating bitch indeed.