And so here is my ‘surprise’ for the week. Talking of surprises we will also have one on Sunday for you – a Halloween themed one.
Continuing on from three favourite characters, and three favourite adults I have decided to look at my top three baddies. Why not favourite baddies, you ask? Well, mostly because I couldn’t say that I like any of these people. They are the kind you probably love to hate and enjoy reading about, though.
Jo-Jo is only marvellous as long as he is actually Jo-Jo, and not the insipid Joe of later updates. The original Jo-Jo is truly masterful, playing the slightly deranged and very stupid handyman/servant at Craggy Tops. Jo-Jo is neither stupid nor entirely deranged, rather he is extremely clever, cruel, devious and evil. He is a criminal mastermind, essentially, under the bumbling exterior he presents to others.
Jo-Jo is such a good villain because he is frightening whether he is playing his stupid and cruel servant role or being his true coldly evil self. Could you imagine being caught by him and his rope-end on the cliffs at night? Makes you shudder.
LOU AND TIGER DAN
I’ve had to keep these two together as really they are a criminal double-act. They work together as cat-burglars, using their circus skills to break into homes to steal valuable jewels. They are incredibly unlikeable as people, however. We never get to see them doing their circus performances where they are probably marvellous, but in their every-day clothes the Five can barely believe than Dan is a clown. He is the least clown-like person you could ever imagine, even if most circus clowns are known for looking rather sad when out of the ring. They, Dan in particular as he is the uncle, are cruel to Nobby and very bad-tempered with him and the Five. They are also not above poisoning animals to try to protect their secret stash of jewels. Nor would they think twice about pointing a gun at a group of kids.
GWENDOLINE MARY LACEY
Gwen probably isn’t the sort of person you would have expected to see in this list. (To be honest I didn’t think she would crop up either.) I was struggling a bit to choose between the remainder of Blyton’s traditional baddies – I mean you have a fairly long list from the Famous Five alone – as although they are all proficient at being scary, cruel and bad there weren’t many that stood out on their own.
And so, Gwen. She was actually a suggestion from Stef – never let it be said that I don’t give credit where credit is due. Is Gwen a baddie? I think she is. She is certainly an important antagonist through her six years at Malory Towers. She has many undesirable qualities like vanity, laziness, selfishness and boastfulness, but she also shows many behaviours which make her the villain of the piece, and certainly an enemy of sorts to Darrell.
First of all, she can be a bully. She pushed Mary-Lou into the pool in their first year – and not in a joking way. She did it purely out of spite. She will do anything to get her way, including carrying out acts of vandalism to frame innocent parties.
In her defence she had a spoiled upbringing and her mother and governess seemed to do everything in their power to make her vain and selfish, and she does have a huge epiphany at the end of the series when her father becomes seriously ill. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s one of those characters that you can love to hate for their sheer awfulness. I’ve read a few posts from people defending Gwen and saying she never had a chance, but I think you’ve got to look at girls like the O’Sullivan twins, Elizabeth Allen and all the others who turned up at boarding schools and learned some very hard lessons about their inner selves. It takes the near-death of her father to get through to Gwen.
I’m not saying that the other girls don’t have their faults. When it comes to writing stories set after the girls have grown up I rather tend to have Alicia as a baddie, because let’s be honest she was a rather unkind person. She does learn a couple of lessons along the way though. Darrell has her flaws too, being quick to anger and judgement but she knows this and fights a battle against it her whole time at school.
So go on Gwen, give me one of your best scowls!