What drives some bad girl protagonists to be so bad? Sometimes, mental illness can play a role. If Lavinia had lived today, she probably would've been diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder, which, according to MayoClinic.com, "is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism."
Lavinia's personality, combined with her actions, make for some rather interesting situations, to say the least. Lavinia joins the ranks of other bad girls in fiction, including Ellen Berent from the 1944 novel, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN by Ben Ames Williams. Ellen Berent, like Lavinia, is mentally imbalanced. As well as having some unresolved father issues, Ellen is overly jealous for the attention of her husband, Richard Harland. She indirectly causes Richard's crippled younger brother to drown, and then, when pregnant, throws herself down the stairs to cause a miscarriage. Without a baby, she won't have to share hubby's affection. Finally, when it becomes clear that Ellen's adoptive sister Ruth is attracted to Richard, Ellen commits suicide, making her death appear to be murder and framing Ruth for the "crime." Unbelievable! Oh, yeah, it's fiction...
Another motivation that drives bad women is control. Let's take a look at fiery southern belle Scarlett O'Hara, from Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel GONE WITH THE WIND. Scarlett's sanity is in tact, but she's a total control freak! Scarlett is determined to marry Ashley Wilkes (the wrong man who's already betrothed to his cousin, Melanie), and after the war, driven to save her plantation, Tara. Scarlett marries once for spite (Charles Hamilton to make Ashley jealous) and twice for money (Frank Kennedy, her sister's fiancé, and then the handsome rogue, Rhett Butler). Scarlett eventually does fall in love with Rhett, after she's been married to him for a while. But when she realizes this, and that a life with Ashley never would've been realistic (after numerous attempts to get him to dump Melanie, before, during and after her marriages), Rhett has had enough and leaves her.
The need for power, status and money drive some bad girls, like Undeen Spragg, the ruthless heroine from Edith Wharton's 1913 novel THE CUSTOM OF THE COUNTRY. Undine is a social climber, who through multiple marriages and divorces, experiences the pleasure of money and aristocratic titles. Eventually, she settles on marrying someone from her hometown. He's a millionaire, his money is new, and he's actually on her original social level. At this point, Undeen has all that money can buy—yet she wants more. At the end of the novel, she imagines what it would be like to be an ambassador's wife—a position she can never hold due to her divorces.
Bad girls may not endear themselves to readers, but their escapades are certain to keep the pages turning! Who are some of your favorite bad girls in fiction? One commenter will win a signed paperback copy of MASQUERADE.
23 comments posted.
Can't think of any favorites but I like how some bad girls
A huge thank you to Fresh Fiction for hosting me today! Hi, Xoun, you've made a good point! It's great to see a bag girl redeem herself.
Personally, I really like Undine---she was just so driven.
Hi, Sue! Yes, Undine was driven, indeed. Perhaps driven is an understatement;).
Lavinia ~ I am already hooked ~ seems like the perfect lady for a Southern Lit book, not a *bad* girl but I can't wait to find out!
Masquerade sounds wonderful. I hope I win! Meanwhile, I am going to
Hello, L.Lam, I wasn't familiar with Nix and had to do a little research on her. A soothsayer gone mad--what a juicy character!
@Susan Coster: Hi, Susan! So glad Lavinia has you hooked:). I hope you enjoy her story!
I would have to say Scarlett O'Hara. With all the back stabbings she did to her siblings, she really have good intentions. She is someone that audience would love to hate but can't blame her for making the most of her situations.
@Kai: Hi, Kai! Scarlett definitely made the most of her situations. When life gave her lemons, she made lemonade--big time;).
Bad girls are forever trying to prove themselves to others.
While I was reading your posting, Scarlett O'Hara popped in my head, and there was your explanation of her!! Outside of her, and because it's late for me, and I'm so tired from housework today, nobody comes to mind!! I do love the cover of your book, however, as well as the story line, and would love to read your book!!
This sounds amazing... I can't wait to pick up the book and start to read. It's nice to see a different kind of female protagonist.
It seems that you like bad girls. There are many on T.V. but I can't think of one in books that hasn't been mentioned. Evelyn Harper on Two and a Half Men is one.
@Alyson: Well said, Alyson! They have such nerve and it's fun to see how they do things we'd never think about doing!
Definitely agree that Scarlett O'Hara is the best written bad girl to date. She knows what she wants and goes after it.
i love the bad girls i dont have a favorite
@Pam: Hi, Pam! I agree--Scarlett is the best bad girl written to date. No obstacles could ever hold her back!
seems like a good read; thanks for the giveaway!
I've always loved reading about Rebecca Sharp in VANITY FAIR.
Can't think of any bad girls but it always makes a novel interesting.
Bad girls always make me shake my head. I can wrap my mind around how
@Barbara: Hi, Barbara, and thanks you for your comments!
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