My Favorite Literary Bad Boys

So it is Valentine’s Day. The hallmark holiday to celebrate love. I am a hopeless romantic, thanks to years and years of reading and a secret love of rom-coms (the more unrealistic and tear-jerking the better, thank you very much).

However – I think the idea that I have of love; this kind of “can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over-the-fence, worlds series kind of stuff” (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen movie style), is unrealistic and unattainable in the real world, especially if we look at some of the men that I have had literary crushes on. So today I want to talk about those men – why do I love them, and for some; why I shouldn’t.

6. Stanley Kowalski, A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams; Honestly, I’d be lying if I said a lot of the reason why I love Stanley wasn’t because in the film (one of my favorites actually) he’s played by Marlon Brando in his prime, and can you blame me for that? Look at him:


(I mean, really)

Stanley Kowalski is a man’s man. There is nothing about Stanley that doesn’t scream masculinity. He is almost a caricature of it. He is brutish when you are first introduced to him, he’s literally swinging a package of meat around, I mean lets read into that for a minute. He is violent to both of the leading ladies in the play, Stella, his wife (who also is pregnant with his child) and Blanche, Stella’s sister who comes for an indefinite stay with them. His violence towards women is appalling from hitting his wife to even raping Blanche.

I honestly struggle to come up with any reason to like Stanley, and then I picture the scene where he is screaming for Stella at the bottom of the stairs, distraught and begging for her to come home and I have to admit my heart melts a little bit.

5. Erik, Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux; The Phantom is probably the worst on my list. He is obsessed with the innocent Christine Daae, stopping at nothing, even killing, in order to try and be with her. This screams unhealthy yes? I LOVE HIM. I’ve got no good explanation for you. I don’t have any excuses. But I absolutely adore him. I first was introduced to The Phantom of the Opera when I listened to the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I then read the book, and the movie version with Emmy Rossem and Gerard Butler is one of my favorites. It never fails to have me sobbing at the end. There is something about a brooding man that sets my heart a flutter – I’m sure you’ll pick up the pattern as I move forward in my list. Plus, check out Gerard’s skill with that cape:



4. Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald; What’s not to love about Jay Gatsby? He’s handsome, rich, throws great parties and he is madly in love with Daisy. The problem with Jay Gatsby? He has built his whole life around reclaiming the past. He is self centered enough to believe that Daisy will abandon everything about her life to be with him, because he did all of this for her. When you look at it on the surface it seems so hopelessly romantic, a man willing to do anything to win back the woman that he loves. When looking closely, you realize that Gatsby is chasing an unattainable dream, he is fatally idealistic. He believes he is doing what is right, however he fails to realize that Daisy ultimately does not want to be with him. The worst part is, the woman that he’s done all of this for is not the woman that Daisy is, it is the woman he believes Daisy to be.

3. Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte; Okay. So thinking about it, I don’t have any good reasons why I love Heathcliff or this book. Both he and Catherine Earnshaw are awful people. Neither of them have any good qualities really, and the only redeeming thing about them was their love for each other. I mean, Catherine’s ghost haunts him after she dies, pretty intense stuff. And I’m a sucker for a happy ending, or as happy a ending as you can get with a book as dark as Wuthering Heights.

2. Mr. Rochester, Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte; Something about these Bronte sisters and their ability to write a wonderfully brooding man. If I had to chose though, Mr. Rochester is my favorite leading Bronte man. Mr. Rochester, while not described as particularly attractive, offers Jane her first sense of love and a real home. He is a complex character, wounded and brooding because of a mistake and he’s able to melt any woman’s heart the way that he talks. And then we find out he’s hiding a wife by keeping her locked in a tower. Why Mr Rochester??

“I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame.” Mr Rochester

1. Rhett Butler, Gone With the Wind – Margarett Mitchell; My favorite bad boy of the bunch. I don’t know if I love any one more than I love Rhett Butler, at least any literary characters. He’s dashing, bold, charismatic, and doesn’t give a damn about the rules or what people think of him. He is unapologetically himself at every turn. He can be brutish and a rascal, but underneath that rough exterior he has a heart that is warm and full. He loves Scarlet for who she is and wants her to be the best her possible. Not the best version of her which society will like, but her true self, and he loves her the most when she is being her most authentic self, which I adore him for.



So tell me, who are the literary characters that you fell in love with? Are any of them bad boys that I missed?

– Hannah