Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters

ImagePhoto Credit: Bubblews

Recently a survey was conducted of the British public to determine who they believed to be the most haunting male literary characters. Before I read the original article I had two characters immediately come to mind. One made the list and one did not. But who cares who I was thinking, let’s get into the list.

#10. Kevin – We need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

Kevin doesn’t sound all that haunting to me, but I’ve also never read the book. Eh. Moving on.

#9 Caliban – The Tempest, William Shakespeare

I’ve read very little Shakespeare in my life. Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. When I say I read Hamlet, I mean I listened to the chapter reviews in class so that I could get a 100 on the tests without ever reading a single page. High school is fun like that. I did read Romeo and Juliet and to this day still believe it to be the greatest love story I’ve ever read. So I don’t know who this guy from The Tempest is.

#8 President Coriolanus Snow – The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

WHAT A SURPRISE! Yes, I hate President Snow. Yes, I think of him as being evil. But I did not expect to find his name on this list. Especially when we move along and see some of the other characters who are included. So suck it, President Snow!

#7 Pennywise the clown – It, Stephen King

I haven’t read the book, but I have seen the movie from the 80s? And boy, this guy could easily give you nightmares. Good thing I wasn’t afraid of clowns growing up. Just Chuck E. Cheese.

#6 Frankenstein’s monster – Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

In high school some students were required to read this, but I wasn’t. But I mean, EVERYONE knows this guy. I just hope your take on the story and the character does not come from the movie that was released earlier this year. Because even though I didn’t see it, I know for certain that the movie was nothing like the book. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

#5 Alex – A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

No idea who this is, but I THINK a movie was made from this book? I don’t know.

#4 Mr. Rochester – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Well I think some of you may be upset with me, but I also have not read this. But hey, I think Isla Fisher’s character had one of these books given to her by her dad in the movie Definitely, Maybe. And then she didn’t have it. And then Ryan Reynolds found it and kept it forever and everΒ  before giving it to her and then happily ever after. Good movie. But what the heck am I even talking about now?

#3 Jack Torrance – The Shining, Stephen King

Haven’t read any King. You all should know this by now.

#2 Count Dracula – Dracula, Bram Stoker

Well this is one of the two characters I thought of before reading the list. I’ve written several papers analyzing several aspects of the book and it is easily one of my all-time favorites. I was talking to my sister about the Count just the other day and all I could tell her was that he is the first character who comes to mind when I think of evil. He’s the first character who comes to mind when I think of monster. This story is also the first that comes to mind when I think of good vs. evil or man vs. monster. This book is truly great and the Count is the only character I think of when I think of vampires in literature.

#1 Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Unfortunate that I don’t know this character. No commentary from me on the top spot.

Lastly, the only change that I could justifiably make to this list based on what I’ve actually read would be to have Dracula at number one. For all of the reasons that I listed above. He IS evil. He IS haunting. But as for the other character who I thought would make the list, Lord Voldemort. I was quite surprised that he wasn’t named. I mean, we have seven books to realize how bad he really is, whereas these other characters don’t. Remember the London Olympics opening ceremony in 2012? When HE was one of the featured acts when British literature was on display for the entire world to see? I rest my case.

So these are the most haunting male literary characters according to the British public. Do you agree with the list? Were there some characters missing?

You can read the full article that also lists the most haunting female characters here.

*The image is from the NBC series Dracula that was cancelled after just one season. But Mina, who you see in the image, in the show is seriously perfection. Oh my goodness. Just a thought for you all.

78 thoughts on “Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters

  1. I agree with you! I can’t believe Snow was included, but Voldemort wasn’t. Ummm… hello?! Moving on… as for Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, in my humble opinion, you don’t need to waste your time. Just know it’s brit lit and you’ll be fine.


  2. Some of the best ways I’ve learned about characters or the synopsis of a book is Wikipedia. I would have to agree that a lot of this list is pretty accurate, and again, you have to realize this is a British list. Mr. Rochester and Heathcliff are classic male antagonists/protagonists within British literature. As well as Caliban. And it actually might be a few more women that would read this list vs. men. As per Voldomort being on the list, eh, well, I personally didn’t think him haunting. He doesn’t really make you creep out like some of the others. His psychological aren’t played the same way as others. He isn’t quite as manipulative.


  3. Kevin in the novel We Need To Talk About Kevin is brilliantly written, horrifying, and one of the scariest characters to spring from the mind of fiction writer. The novel is a masterpiece in the portrayal. of evil. And too bad you don’t read King. “It” was a formative book in my development as a reader. No one writes children of the working class better than Mr. King. Frankenstein’s monster is far more sympathetic than anything else. And Caliban has no business on that list as he is much more an object of pity than haunting.


  4. Love this post! Yes, Pennywise, incredibly scary. And Yes, there is a movie called A Clockwork Orange. I think it’s streaming on Netflix currently.

    I, too, was expecting a HP character lol


  5. I’ve not read a lot of those book either, but the important ones. I am a huge fan of Shakespeare but it isn’t that scary. What a great blog idea for the day! Now what books would characters would you put on this list?


  6. I guess I can’t pass too much judgment on the list because it depends on what people mean by the word “haunting.” Could it be scary? Absolutely. But it can also mean disturbing, ethereally dark, troubled, eery, etc. If they didn’t specify what they meant by haunting, it can take on a large variety of connotations.

    Personally, I love British literature. I’ve read a lot of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, etc. The characters are not scary, per se, more brooding and odd.

    I did expect to see Voldemort on there, though. I could envision the Dementors on that list, as well. And President Snow? I’m sorry. As much as I love the books, I cannot see that. There are lots more characters that could take his place on that list. Such as: Jack from Lord of the Flies (a bloodthirsty kid bent on controlling his peers), Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist, Hannibal Lecter, and I know there are lots more, but I can’t think of them right now.

    It’s an okay list, but again, subjective based on what people mean by “haunting.” Another great post, Wordsmith!


      • British literature can be difficult to read sometimes, but that’s where a lot of our writing origins come from. My own writing is not near as fancy and verbose, but I learn a lot about storytelling and word usage. Plus, you need to google Shakespearian insult generator. Hilarious!


      • Haha!! That’s the point. They’re so ridiculous. I don’t understand most of them, either. And to each their own, I guess. It’s probably because I’m a bit of an Anglophile that I love almost all things British.


      • Emma Watson, to me, is the polite, British version of Jennifer Lawrence. Kind of like Britain’s sweetheart, ya know.

        Okay, story time.

        This one’s from high school, junior year I think. I was in the theater club and we were out of town at a regional theater competition. There were about 10 schools there. We could all watch each others’ plays, but we were instructed by the judges not to make a noise.

        So, of course, I ended up with the single faulty chair in the auditorium and, halfway through one of the plays, the seat broke, and I landed on the floor with the broken cushion under my butt.

        Thank God the theater was dark, but every eye still focused right on me. Even though it wasn’t my fault! I held myself suspended for the next 20 minutes while they finished their play. I was mortified.


      • Okay, maybe polite wasn’t the right word. Umm… maybe proper? I think that’s what I meant. Jennifer is hilarious and always talking about things in very blunt and open terms. Emma is equally charming, but isn’t as frank about it. I think it’s a British thing.

        Trust me, I wasn’t meaning to say anything bad about Jennifer. I think she’s awesome.


      • Haha I know. She’s always talking like you’d expect a normal person to. And tell me she’s not the greatest human being ever. She is. I bestowed the honor myself. πŸ™‚

        Hmm. I wouldn’t like you if you were. Okay. Haha


      • Okay, I need some help. I’m getting bogged down in plotting my fantasy series. And it’s a bit overwhelming. I need some inspiration/motivation, or swift kick in the pants to keep me going.

        And… GO!


      • Crap! You can’t put me on the spot! Um. How about a mild joke? You’re a million times better than me at this whole writing thing, so whatever you’re experiencing would have caused me to lie on the floor in surrender. πŸ™‚


      • Well, don’t prop me up by putting yourself down. I don’t like it. So there.

        I always feel like lying around on the couch. 90% of the time I’m home, I’m so tired I don’t want to do anything but sleep.


      • Hehe. I do, too. But mostly, I just like to relax.

        And I still want some good motivation. Take your time. Get back to me tomorrow or in a day or two.

        And it’d better be good! πŸ™‚


      • So what’s it mean if you type “hehe?” (I couldn’t figure it the question mark should go in or out of the quotations) A smile? Or slight chuckle?

        I don’t think I’m going to have anything. I thought what I said was perfect. Then you yelled at me.


      • I typed a question mark? Oops. It didn’t show up like that on my computer.

        Fine, then. But I’m not apologizing for yelling. It was a good reason to. Maybe it’s the frustration of not writing like I want to that brings out all my violent tendencies. Hmm…


      • I was talking about my question mark.

        Well I was just trying to make you laugh! You can’t yell at me for that. I think Mildred may have done it. I blame her.


      • Oh, sure. Blame Mildred. πŸ™‚

        And you did make me laugh. Right before Mildred took over and yelled. Drat!! Now you’ve got ME blaming Mildred!

        Ah, what the heck.

        As for the question mark, I say it means an unsure chuckle. Like you’re not sure whether to laugh or not.


      • That’s no good. You were supposed to laugh and then keep writing. Tell her to go hide under a rock. Force her.

        I was just asking what it meant if you typed hehe. Since “haha” means a laugh. But then we started talking about my question mark.


      • Okay, wow. I was really over analyzing. I do that a lot. Hehe is a chuckle. Haha is an all out laugh.

        And she’s asleep for the night. Old ladies go to bed early.


      • Then what’s “bahaha?” I think I’ve gotten a few of those. Is that like….that was the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read! Or something similar?

        Good. If she died in her sleep I wouldn’t be sad. Haha πŸ˜‰


      • Sorry for the delay in answering. I fell asleep.

        “Bahaha” is like “it’s so funny I couldn’t contain myself for just a polite haha.” It’s like it exploded out of me because I wasn’t expecting something so funny.

        And don’t hate too much on Mildred. Knowing her, she’d become a ghost and haunt me (and you for hating her).


      • I’m not. The real one. So if I show up weilding a cleaver looking thing, fear not, it’s for her and not you. Then we’d celebrate her being gone forever! At least I would celebrate.


      • That’s okay. Funny faces probably make for good writing. Unless you’re making a funny face because you don’t like what I’m writing, or think it’s stupid. Then I’d have to fire you.


      • Funny faces ARE fun. I’ve been told by far too many people that my face looks funny when I’m caught by surprise or an shocked by something. Apparently, I have a very expressive face. Who knew?

        And writing is not bleh. Well… not ALL the time. I hope you’re not caught in a “bleh” moment of writing. I hope you can find the fire behind it and enjoy it again. GO, WORDSMITH!


      • Ooh! See, if you were on Twitter I’d be like….tweet a selfie of your best surprised face. Haha but now you can’t.

        Haha maybe it’s the story. I don’t know. :\


      • I hate Twitter. Sorry. And I don’t know if I can fake a surprised face. It just happens in the moment, ya know?

        Having trouble plotting the story? Or are you pantsing your way through?


      • I used to too. I had an account for four years and didn’t use it. Now it’s fun. Except for the crap people I know tweet about. I talk to more bloggers on there than friends or family.

        I don’t plot. I just pull my hair out and write.


      • Well, that’s unfortunate. You’re going to be bald before you hit 25.

        I’ve never had an account. It’s just never appealed to me. I don’t even like my Facebook. It’s just a habit now. I stay off as much as possible. And I never wanted one. A friend set it up for me without my knowledge back in the day. Then told me later. Sigh. I didn’t use it for a few years, either, but then grad school happened and a lot of our class stuff was organized on FB. Now I’m unable to keep in contact with some people except via FB. And I hate that.


      • No I won’t. I hope not.

        Welllll then you can stay a dinosaur using Facebook. I don’t use it. At all.

        And since I don’t want to have two conversations going, I can’t plot anything. I’ve never done that. I’ve never written a single outline for anything.


      • Well, I hope it comes to you, then. I know first hand how sucky writer’s block (or any variant of it) can be.

        And just because you’ve never done something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Just sayin’.


      • And maybe you should try plotting if the pulling out your hair thing isn’t working.

        I just finished plotting out my second book in my fantasy series. And by plotting, I mean I wrote a short paragraph for what needs to be included in each chapter in order to move the plot along, and to make sure all the foreshadowing I need is included. After that, I give myself free rein.


    • Pennywise the clown is scary but the creature from the book It is actually female, although that’s not really revealed until the end.


  7. Okay, I probably have no right to comment since I haven’t read most of these (whoops) but I agree on the President Snow…a great character but on the all-time list of most haunting characters? I don’t think so…or Heathcliff. Maybe I’m thinking more of villains than male characters in general, but somehow I don’t think a romantic lead should be number one over Dracula, no matter how brooding or tortured he might be. I agree, where’s Voldemort? Or any of the Death Eaters, really. And I was going to say Hannibal too! Didn’t think about Lord of the Flies, but that’s an excellent suggestion. I mean deranged murderous kids? Come on. Dreamy Mr. Broody can’t beat that. I think for this list to work, they need to change their word choice, or explain what they mean by “haunting.”


    • Voldemort and Dracula are every negative word you can think of. So no matter what exactly they were looking for, they both should be here. I don’t even know what Hannibal does. He’s from…..Silence of the Lambs? I honestly don’t even know.


  8. Interesting list. I know some of those characters, others I’ve only heard of. It’s good to consider characters in books we’ve read and how we feel about them. It’s amazing the powerful effect that memorable characters can have on us. πŸ™‚


  9. I’d have to agree about Heathcliff! No wonder he’s #1 on the list. Pretty interesting, but dark character.
    I don’t really understand Frankenstein’s monster though. If you’ve never read it, the book is well worth a read. The things you pick up from pop culture about Frankenstein (the monster) is nothing at all like the character in the book. Dr. Frankenstein himself is the haunting creep here, in my very humble opinion. The doctor is eh slightly obsessed, because he is collecting body parts (imagine what his apartment must have smelled like after several months of collecting and storing random body parts), sowing them together, and making a ‘monster’ out of them. He didn’t create a monster though – the creature is actually quite gentle and sympathetic in the beginning. However, the creature is abandoned by its maker. The doctor is too horrified (or whatever) and entirely shirks its responsibility of the creature. The creature, in turn, is so horrible and scary looking that noone wants anything to do with it. Which makes him want to get revenge/retaliate. At that moment, he becomes a bit scary, but it’s not how he was ‘born’. It’s been a long time since I read the book, but it’s a very good story and you would not be wasting your time. For me, it was anything but what I was expecting (in a good way). If I can still say that a couple of years after I finished the book (and have not opened it since), that’s a good indication that it’s a pretty good story.


  10. Yeah Kevin isn’t that “haunting”. He was very ‘Michael Myers’…. too evil to be taken seriously as a character. I know the author was trying to have a shocking and… well… evil character… and i guess he did. But I just found myself not finding him complex at all. He was just the same thing you find in every horror movie… just it wasn’t a horror movie


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