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  • Kat Rosenfield 5:15 pm on 2016/04/07 Permalink
    Tags: , curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal, dangerous liaisons, , , public enemies, , the lion the witch and the wardrobe   

    The 10 Worst Traitors in Fiction 

    Whether for love, for money, or just for the fun of it, hideous betrayal never fails to make for a compelling story. From classic literature to contemporary fantasy, some characters are the best of the best (or worst of the worst, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to disloyal shenanigans. Below, we’ve rounded up the ten biggest traitors on the page.

    Winston, 1984
    There’s no shortage of double-crossing in George Orwell’s bleak dystopian novel about a man struggling beneath the thumb—and constant surveillance—of an all-powerful government; Winston has been sold up the river several times over by the time he turns traitor himself. But the moment when he cries out, “Do it to Julia!” (the “it” in question being mauled to death by rats) is a stunner of a betrayal, as Winston gives up not just the woman he loves, but the last dying shred of his own humanity.

    Brutus, Julius Caesar
    Et tu, Brute? Damn straight, Ceezy. The whole Roman senate rose up to assassinate Caesar in Shakespeare’s political tragedy, but it was Brutus’ knife that cut the deepest —because in addition to doing serious damage to Caesar’s epidermis and internal organs, it also really hurt his feelings.

    Peter Pettigrew, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Everyone put your hands together for the most hideous traitor in wizarding history. Peter Pettigrew not only sold out his friends to Voldemort, he allowed Sirius to take the fall for it while he himself lived a life of luxury as the Weasleys’ prized pet rat. If not for this son-of-a-blast-ended-skrewt, James and Lily Potter would still be alive—along with Cedric Diggory and all the many wizards who lost their lives during the second coming of the Dark Lord.

    Charles Trask, East of Eden
    Steinbeck’s novel inspired by the story of Cain and Abel is packed end-to-end with double-crossings and back-stabbings by three generations of perpetrators. Out of the book’s many betrayals, the moment when Charles Trask drugs his brother Adam and takes his wife to bed is a standout for sheer soullessness.

    The Marquise de Merteuil, Dangerous Liaisons
    This old-school epistolary dive into the sexual intrigues of the aristocracy in France’s Ancien Regime is rife with two-faced friends and lovers, but no one plays all sides like the beautiful, villainous Marquise. By the time she gets her comeuppance in the form of exile and a ruined face, she has betrayed basically every major character in the book—sometimes more than once.

    Edmund Pevensie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    The good news is, Edmund ultimately redeemed himself to become a crowned King of Narnia and a wise, just ruler, along with the rest of the Pevensies. The bad news is what he did to require redemption: he sold his sibs and Mr. Tumnus down the river for a few bites of Turkish delight—which makes him not just a traitor, but a traitor with abominable taste in candy.

    Dennis Nedry, Jurassic Park
    Granted, Nedry didn’t have a world-ending catastrophe in mind when he betrayed his employer, stealing a bunch of dinosaur embryos and shutting down Jurassic Park’s security systems in order to make his escape. He just wanted to make a quick, cool million bucks. But for sheer scale of consequences, Dennis Nedry is one helluva turncoat; even Benedict Arnold fell short of unleashing a horde of hungry velociraptors on an unsuspecting public in the process of changing sides.

    Mr. Wickham, Pride & Prejudice
    Bad, naughty Wickham made a play for the honor of Darcy’s sister, shamelessly flirted with half the Bennett daughters, and nearly brought the family to ruin when he seduced Lydia into eloping with him when he abandoned his military post. Not only is the dude a traitor to King and country, he’s a traitor to every basic Edwardian notion of common masculine decency.

    Danglars, Mondego, and Caterousse, The Count of Monte Cristo
    These so-called “friends” of Edmond Dantès were so jealous of his good fortune in life and love, they accused him of treason, kicking off a series of increasingly unfortunate events that culminated in Dantès’ imprisonment in a 19th-century island supermax jail. (Bonus extra traitor credit: Mondego not only sold Dantès up the river, he married the man’s fiancé to boot. Rude.) On the other hand, you don’t get this epic tale of adventure and vengeance without a big, stinkin’ betrayal to kick it off, so…thanks, gentlemen.

    Gollum, The Lord of the Rings
    Poor, pathetic Gollum battled his demons all the way to Mordor, but his heart always belonged to the One Ring—aka his preciousssssss. Hence, the ghastly moment when he stopped leading the heroic Frodo toward Mount Doom, and started luring him into the lair of a giant, Hobbit-eating spider.

  • Ginni Chen 3:00 pm on 2014/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , bah humbug!, , , , , , grinches, , , holden caufield, , , , , the lion the witch and the wardrobe,   

    The 8 Grinchiest Characters in Literature 

    collageThe holidays usually bring out the best in people, but every so often you witness the worst. That woman who had a tantrum in the checkout line? The parents fighting over the last toy on the shelf? In most cases, it’s nothing a steaming cup of cocoa can’t fix. But once in a while, you just might encounter a misanthrope of epic proportions. Someone who kills the holiday buzz, ruins the magic, and curdles the eggnog—a real-life Grinch. Literature has shown us that Grinches have always been around, but we still shouldn’t let them ruin your holiday cheer. (That’s exactly what they want for Christmas.) Here are some Grinches to watch out for.

    The Grinch (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss)
    The one, the only, the original holiday villain himself: the Grinch. His name has become synonymous with all the grouches who make the holidays less merry. It takes an evil soul to put so much time and effort into destroying the happiness of an entire community of people. (Or Whos.)

    Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens)
    We might call misers and meanies “Scrooges,” but this cold-hearted character actually grows into a generous, kind old man by the end of Dickens’ novel. Bumping into four ghosts in the course of one night seems to have a positive effect on old Ebenezer. By the end of the book, his catchphrase, “Bah, humbug!” is as much a part of Christmas tradition as Santa’s “Ho ho ho!”

    Patrick Bateman (American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis)
    This list just got a little bit grim with the inclusion of the ultimate hater, Patrick Bateman. At once schmoozy, pompous, and uncouth, Bateman is the worst Christmas party guest ever. He forces his girlfriend to ditch her own party before the hired “elves” sing carols, drags her to club called Chernobyl to indulge in some “expensive Christmas frost,” and gets into a drug-addled altercation in the restroom stall. Oh, right, and he’s also a sadistic serial killer.

    The Dursleys (The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling)
    This pair is guilty of doubling up on Grinchyness to make the holidays horrible throughout Harry Potter’s childhood. In Harry’s pre-Hogwarts years, he receives a box of dog biscuits at Christmas. In later years, he receives a toothpick, a fifty-pence piece, and a single tissue from his aunt and uncle. Leave it to the Dursleys to turn the generous tradition of gift-giving into a passive-aggressive way of saying, we hate you.

    Aunt Alexandra and Francis Hancock (To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee)
    Nothing ruins Christmas like racist relatives, something Scout Finch knows all too well. Scout’s strict, snobbish Aunt Alexandra finds fault with Scout’s tomboyishness at every opportunity, and her spoiled tattletale of a grandson, Francis Hancock, is even worse. When visiting the family for Christmas at Finch’s Landing, Francis insults Atticus with a bigoted slur. Scout fights back, but their Uncle Jack catches them. Francis lies his way out of it, and it’s Scout that gets an undeserved spanking. If you think kids can’t be miserable little Grinches, Francis Hancock will make you think again.

    Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger)
    We all know angsty teenagers can be the biggest killjoys, and that’s never been more true than with Holden Caulfield. Kicked out of his boarding school just before Christmas break, Holden heads to New York City and spends the holiday season wallowing in disillusion. He means well, and okay, he’s not a bad guy, but he could really suck the joy out of your holiday festivities.

    The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)
    This ice queen curses Narnia so that it’s always winter but never Christmas. That’s about the Grinchiest thing one can do as the tyrannical ruler of a magical land. This villainess also lures in children with Turkish delights and makes them betray their siblings, which goes against two of the most important aspects of the holidays: family and love. Thanks for the Turkish delights, though!

    The Murderer (Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie)
    What kind of person murders someone at Christmas time, in a house full of his family members? We won’t spoil it by telling you who the culprit is, but when you find out you’ll agree he or she is an awfully gruesome Grinch for sure. Everyone’s in an uproar because they’re stuck in a house with a murderer, and it really puts a damper on the seasonal festivities. Don’t people know the holidays are a terrible time for homicide?

    Which of these Grinchy characters is THE WORST?

  • Ginni Chen 5:00 pm on 2014/07/21 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , the lion the witch and the wardrobe, , , voldemort,   

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Cures 5 Fictional Villains 

    Mrs Piggle Wiggles Farm

    While writing this post, I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble to revisit the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books. When I asked the sales assistant where the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books could be found, she asked me if I was the woman who called earlier about them. “No,” I said, “that wasn’t me, but I’m happy to hear someone did!”

    When we got to the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle shelf in the children’s book section, we discovered that not only had the unknown woman called about them, she’d bought every last book on the shelf! I was delighted. Someone is as big a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fan as I am! Dear Unknown Lady who bought all the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books from the Barnes & Noble on New York’s Upper West Side—this post is for you.

    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is the lovable title character of a children’s book series written by Betty MacDonald in the late 1940s and ’50s. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is the widow of a pirate, lives in an upside-down house full of animals, toys, and books, and magically cures neighborhood children of bad habits. From children with poor table manners to incorrigible show-offs, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle manages to cure them all with (fairly) harmless and (always) humorous magic. But what would Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle do if called upon to cure some really bad habits in some really awful adults?

    Here’s how we think Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would cure some of the most dastardly villains in fiction:

    Voldemort (The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling)
    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would put two drops of Auto-Correct Elixir in Voldemort’s mouth while he slept. Auto-Correct Elixir does just what it sounds likeit autocorrects everything Voldemort says in ridiculous ways, much like a smart phone. Whenever he rants about Muggles and Mudbloods, it comes out of his mouth as “Puggles and Mudhuts.” When he wants to say horcrux, he says “s’more crust,” and when he says “Harry Potter,” it comes out “Scary Daughter.”  This soon causes the Death Eaters to dissolve into laughter whenever Voldemort opens his mouth. Bellatrix Lestrange keeps taunting him, asking him to say things like “Dark Lord” (“dart board”) and “Avada Kedrava!” (“I’ve had a cadaver!”). Eventually, Voldemort can’t take the ridicule anymore and gives up on his evil schemes.

    The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)
    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would sprinkle Frigid-More Powder on the White Witch’s cloak. The powder would render her white fur cloaks useless, and the White Witch would start to feel cold in her own Endless Winter. Teeth chattering and shivering uncontrollably, she’d have to resort to hugging other creatures of Narnia for warmth. Eventually, after many hugs and many sleepless icy nights, the White Witch would see the error of her ways. She’d lift her Endless Winter curse and experience a change of heart toward the creatures of Narnia.

    Count Dracula (Dracula, by Bram Stoker)
    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would blow People Pepper Powder in Dracula’s direction. Once he inhales it, it changes his sense of smell. Every time Dracula gets near his human victims, he gets a terrible itching in his nose as if he’s just sniffed pepper, and he sneezes. Loudly. This makes it impossible for him to sneak up on his prey. What’s worse, everyone keeps saying “Bless you!” before they run away, which vampires simply cannot abide. Dracula eventually gives up trying to suck people’s blood, stops sneezing constantly, and discovers he much prefers donuts.

    Agatha Trunchbull (Matilda, by Roald Dahl)
    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would serve this evil headmistress her daily slice of chocolate cake alongside a big steaming cup of Tiny Tyrant Tea. The tea causes the Trunchbull to shrink a little each time she does something terrible and tyrannical. Since the Trunchbull is a particularly nasty bully from the moment she wakes, she’s reduced to the size of a teacup in no time at all. She’s unable to exact any punishment on anyone and she lives in constant fear of being trampled under other people’s feet. The only way to survive unsquashed in her tiny state is for her to beg for forgiveness and rely on the kindness of the schoolchildren she used to torment.

    Count Rugen (The Princess Bride, by William Goldman)
    Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would cure this six-fingered nobleman of his sadistic fascination with torture devices by swapping his regular six-fingered gloves with Goof-up Gloves. The Count’s Goof-up Gloves give his two hands a mind of their own. Whenever he tries to activate his torture devices, his hands mess up and push the wrong buttons. He tries to correct them, but they just keep yanking on the wrong levers and twisting the wrong dials until the torture machine malfunctions and the victim is left sitting there unharmed. Embarrassed, the Count is forced to let his prisoner go while he calls maintenance. He eventually gives up trying to operate torture machinery and picks up knitting instead, which his six-fingered hands are surprisingly good at.

    Which fictional villains would you like to see Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cure?

  • Rebecca Jane Stokes 5:30 pm on 2014/06/27 Permalink
    Tags: book titles, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , the lion the witch and the wardrobe   

    Honest Book Titles 


    Someone excellent at penning clichés once wrote this: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” I would argue that this person had only a limited understanding of books and the saucy trappings that hold them together; in my opinion, very often all you need to judge a book is its cover. After all, everything you need to know is there! The art tends to hint at the story inside, and the title, well, the title is the key to unlocking the story you’re holding in your hands. At least, it should be. Except that unfortunately, sometimes a title can be vague—or, worse still, just plain deceptive. Think about how much easier it would be if some of the more confusing titles just spelled it all out for us. For your edification, here are 8 books and their “honest” titles:

    1. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

    Honest Title: British People Who Confuse Sexual Attraction With Rudeness

    2. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

    Honest Title: Cancer Is The Worst

    3. It, by Stephen King

    Honest Title: The Only Thing Scarier Than a Clown Is a Demon Clown

    4. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

    Honest Title: Trains Are Not Playing Around, You Guys

    5. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

    Honest Title: Women Be Straight Trippin’

    6. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson

    Honest Title: Sexual Violence, Snow &  Some Ads For Pricey Electronics

    7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis

    Honest Title: Four Children and their Imaginations Partake In a Massive Religious Allegory

    8. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

    Honest Title: Bigamy & Time Travel in Scotland

    What other honest book titles should there be?

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