Who is your favorite villain in literature?
When I think about villains I love, they either have little purpose behind their villainy or are seen as villainous because of their purpose.
Aaron in Titus Andronicus is a cold hearted individual among a cast of truly evil people. He doesn’t have too many if any redeeming qualities, but he’s one of my favorite Shakespearian villains. I’m kind of intrigued by the fact that I don’t know everything that motivates his evil.
On the other hand, Javert in Les Miserables, Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and even Satan in Paradise Lost (yes, I’m literally playing devil’s advocate) all have goals and a purpose; punish Valjean, run a hospital ward in an orderly fashion, and reign in Hell rather than serve in heaven. Their purpose and oftentimes their methods cast them in the role of villain next to the more likable protagonists.
So, who is your favorite villain? Is it the vile dastardly excuse for a human being (or non-human life form) type or a character who just happens to have goals that puts them at odds with the story’s hero?