There is nothing readers like more than characters they love to hate. Some of the most popular books have parents that were anything but parents. I’m not talking the moms who want to be their kids’ friend more than their mother or dads who work too hard and come home late for dinner on a regular basis. I’m talking the worst of the worst, Mommy Dearest type, the beaters, cheaters, and downright ugly mothers of mayhem and dads of destruction. Here is a list to make your parents look like angels.
1. Queen Gertrude, Hamlet
Poor neglected Hamlet. He just wanted to do right by his family. When his father dies, Queen G has zero interest in processing her lack of emotions and wastes no time marrying Hamlet’s good-for-nothing uncle. It’s safe to say that at least *some* of Hamlet’s rage for avenging his father’s death stems from a creepy brand of motherly love.
2. King Laius of Thebes in Greek mythology
The Oracle of Delphi doesn’t lie. While it’s understandable that Queen Jocasta was totally bang-worthy, if the Oracle suggests you don’t have a child because his son would kill him and marry your wife, you might want to listen. Spoiler Alert: Despite Laius’ best efforts to get rid of his son, Oedipus survived and, unaware of the identity of his parents, killed Laius, marrying the Queen. All in the family – the original version.
3. Medea of Greek tragedy
Talk about a woman scorned. Her husband, Jason left her for the Greek princess of Corinth and in an overrated show of feminism actually murders her two sons to exact revenge on Jason’s infidelity. While she did off the princess as well, her family principles are really out of whack.
4. Lord Capulet, Romeo and Juliet
When it comes to his daughter’s happiness, Lord Capulet obviously has his own ideas for Juliet. He arranges a marriage between her and wealthy, well-connected suitor, Count Paris. But, it’s too late, Juliet has married her true love, Romeo and refuses to become Paris’ bride. Unkindly Capulet threatens to disown his daughter and, as we all know, probably wasn’t the best wat to react to Juliet’s choice of husband.
5. Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby
Remember Daisy’s daughter, Pammy? Yeah, neither does Daisy. While she’s off getting trashed, having an extramarital affair, and getting mixed up in manslaughter, Daisy manages neglect poor Pammy and says only a few unencouraging words of her daughter: “I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Someone call Child Protective Services before she gets back, please?
6. Jack Torrance, The Shining
You have to commend Jack for attempting recovery from his addiction to alcohol after breaking his son Danny’s arm in a drunken stupor. He even gets a job at The Overlook Hotel in Colorado, but at the climax of the novel, Jack attacks his wife with a croquet mallet, and not stopping there, goes after Danny.
7. Margaret White, Carrie
Religious psycho extremist, Carrie’s mom did a great job in making Carrie want to crawl out of her own skin. I mean, come on, ‘dirty pillows’?! Margaret managed to epically fail at parenting, resulting in an innocent girl getting the best high school revenge in history, but at what cost? Warped by traumatic experiences at school and guilt for being born, Carrie at least got back at her mother in the most sickly satisfying way.
8. Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights
Despite looking like an elusive romantic hero, an all-around crappy dad, Heathcliff couldn’t care less about Linton, who he deems as weak as he is sick. He forces Linton into a marriage with Catherine because he hates his some and has a heart for vengeance. Way to take out your own heartbreak on you son, Heathcliff!
9. Corrine and Olivia, Flowers in the Attic
Wrapping up with a double-whammy, mother Corrine and grandmother Olivia form a terrifying duo. Corrine abandons her kids in an attic and Olivia takes pleasure in whipping and starving the children. I thought grandparents were supposed to spoil their grandkids? I guess Olivia never got the memo…