Fictional Characters Who Treat Women As Badly As Donald Trump Does

I wish Donald Trump were fictional, but, alas, he’s real. Yet the Republican presidential candidate does remind me of literature’s sexist louts who emotionally and/or physically abuse women. Some of the men are rich and some not so rich, but all possess a high quotient of creepiness.

And those fictional characters are painful to read about, until they get their satisfying comeuppance. Perhaps it’s revenge at the hands of people they hurt, or perhaps they die young. But sometimes the jerks of literature continue to thrive, which is frustrating but also realistic. As realistic as Donald Trump, who — though destined to probably lose next month’s election — has mostly lived a charmed life despite being awful and amoral.

So many examples of repulsively sexist guys in fiction, but I’ll discuss just a few.

For instance, the father in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is a disgusting human being who treats women (and many a man) like garbage. His first name is Fyodor, but thankfully he’s not an autobiographical version of Dostoyevsky.

Also in 19th-century literature, we have Heathcliff (who, in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, deeply loves Catherine Earnshaw but is cruel to various other women in his life); Edward Casaubon (who’s condescending and contemptuous toward his young wife Dorothea Brooke in George Eliot’s Middlemarch); Gilbert Osmond (the loathsome, unloving husband of the appealing Isabel Archer in Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady); Roger Chillingworth (the vengeful, lost-then-reappears husband of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter); and Sir Percival Glyde (the nasty schemer in Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White who, under the direction of the more powerful Count Fosco, takes part in an ugly scheme whose victims include Glyde’s wife Laura Fairlie).

In post-1900 literature, we have these repellent men — among many others — guilty of domestic violence against their wives: police officer Norman Daniels of Stephen King’s Rose Madder; company heir Seth Duncan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novel Worth Dying For, and Frank Bennett of Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Two of Janie Crawford’s husbands (Joe Starks and Tea Cake) in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God are guilty of physically hurting Janie, though Tea Cake has a decent side, too. Still, there’s never a legitimate reason for a man to attack a woman.

More lowlifes: Slave owner Rufus Weylin, who is unspeakably cruel to slave Alice Greenwood in Octavia Butler’s Kindred; the vile Alphonso, who beats and rapes his daughter Celie in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple; racist town drunk Bob Ewell, who abuses his daughter in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird; Esteban Trueba, who rapes a number of peasant women living on the land he owns in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits; and all the rotten males who treat women as nothing but breeding machines in the patriarchal dystopia depicted in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Monstrous actions all.

Do you have other examples of odious, sexist men of fiction? With a slight variation on “trump cards,” we could call them “Trump cads.”

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area β€” unless you’re replying to someone else.)

I’ve finished and am now rewriting/polishing a book called Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Writers, but am still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as “Dear Abby” and Ann Landers, and other notables such as Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

100 thoughts on “Fictional Characters Who Treat Women As Badly As Donald Trump Does

  1. Here’s what I believe we have, this election go-round, but barely dodged. Next time?

    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” β€” HL Mencken

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    • What a quote! I don’t think the “morons” of which Mencken speaks are a majority of Americans, but Trump has been such a great ratings machine for the media that his voice — and, consequently, the voice of his followers — has been amplified.

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      • The “moron” in the quote is singular, and applies to the fellow the “plain folks” elect– though I don’t think the man who coined the word ‘booboisie’ can be faulted for having an over-faith in the common man.

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        • I realize “moron” was singular, but thought the line saying “the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people” meant a “moron” was sort of representing/channeling “morons.” Perhaps some overthinking on my part. πŸ™‚

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          • Reading over Mencken now, I find the quote a bit off-putting, as it is faithless in the collective will of the public to determine its leaders– and I can see the point, up to a point. After all a public without civic education is literally uninformed in ways essential to democracy itself. But if the people cannot be trusted to choose our leaders, in whom should we trust? A technocratic elite? The titans of finance? Those who gather behind closed gilded doors at Davos?

            I am reminded of what Winston Churchill famously said on the subject:

            ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.’

            The sorry state of the press, the ignorance of the public as to the workings of its government, the sheer viciousness of some among us who wish to return to an America that never actually existed except as nostalgia— all these things have left me a bit jaded, I guess. Enough to find the Mencken quote attractive, and even insightful. But with this proviso, and the hope we might, as a nation, rededicate ourselves to this proposition:

            “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” — Jefferson

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            • Very well said, jhNY.

              It seems the government, corporations, etc., want a mostly dumbed-down/misinformed citizenry, because that kind of citizenry is easier to control and more accepting of whatever “the powers that be” dole out. As you note, the media plays a role in that — Fox News is just one example — as does the education system, etc.

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      • Meant to add, that the quote was dated 1920– thus a couple of years before either Harding or Coolidge were on the political horizon! His excoriations of those two would peel the paint off a battleship.

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  2. Surprised nobody has mentioned him, so I will: Bill Sykes, the fearsome, loathsome beater and eventual killer of his wife in Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.”

    Perhaps his example goes beyond the parameters of even Trumpian mistreatment, as might Raskolnikov’s hatchetation (a word coined by Carrie Nation) on the the lady pawnbroker in “Crime and Punishment.”

    Come to think of it, the narrator in Dostoyevsky’s “The House of the Dead” was delivered to the mercies of the Russian prison system for the murder of his wife.

    Reminds me of a lyric, from an American murder ballad (obviously a late entry in the genre) I have otherwise forgotten:

    “I may not be the world’s most reasonable cop/ But this killing of women has just got to stop.”

    To which, I hope, we can all agree!

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    • Thanks for correcting that oversight, jhNY! As a matter of fact, I don’t think any Dickens villains have been mentioned.

      And two very relevant examples of other Dostoyevsky characters who did wrong by women. Funny, I don’t see Raskolnikov as especially sexist, but of course he did murder two people (who both happened to be women) for his psychological experiment or whatever one might call it.

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  3. Lermontov’s character Grigory Pechorin, the subject of the novel “A Hero For Our Time”, qualifies for inclusion under this week’s blog topic.

    From wikipedia: “Pechorin treats women as an incentive for endless conquests and does not consider them worthy of any particular respect. He considers women such as Princess Mary to be little more than pawns in his games of romantic conquest, which in effect hold no meaning in his listless pursuit of pleasure. This is shown in his comment on Princess Mary: β€œI often wonder why I’m trying so hard to win the love of a girl I have no desire to seduce and whom I’d never marry.”

    Though I must add, there were in at least two instances, women in whom his interest amounted to a bit more, if but momentarily in his pursuit of Vera, and sadly, only after the death of the Circassian princess Bela.

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    • Grigory Pechorin sounds like he fits perfectly with this theme, jhNY. What a major cad. Yes, misogynistic behavior is often kind of a game for some fictional (and real) men. Seduction for seduction’s sake. Interesting that Pechorin actually had a rare instance of deeper feelings.

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      • I have read “A Hero For Our Time” twice, and I intend to read it again– this time Nabakov’s translation, which I recently purchased. I am entirely sure I have yet to get to the heart of all the book offers to the truly perceptive — a group I hope eventually to be at least able to hale from my distance away. I’ve never read anything quite like it, even as a matter of structure and point of view (there are more than one of these), though in superficial ways it has elements of the picaresque. I recommend it unreservedly for inclusion on your ever-lengthening list.

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  4. Dave, I must say that I was even surprised about last night’s debate, and Trump’s latest threat. As I think I’ve said before, I’m afraid what will happen if Trump wins or loses, they are equally disturbing scenarios. With that in mind I thought I’d share a very nice story as a sort of antidote to the rest of all the bad ones, and one that occurred in my new neighborhood. I was slightly aware of some of the story, but yesterday I was able to pull up some YouTube videos featuring one of my neighbors who I’ve just started to get to know. For some reason I have technical problems every time I try to insert a link in comments, but I will try with this one:
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=paralized+dog+in+Macedonia&view=detail&mid=C9CCF5825D657B0EB9D3C9CCF5825D657B0EB9D3&FORM=VIRE
    The couple who live catty-corner from me found this dog, Zhile, on the Internet a few years ago. Zhile was living in the mountains of Macedonia as the pack leader of a group of dogs. He was shot by someone, and though every attempt was made to get his back legs working again, it didn’t happen. “Z” (as my neighbor calls him) is a big dog, too big for most Macedonians’ houses, which are apparently quite small. A video was put on YouTube and/or Facebook for someone literally anywhere in the world to adopt Zhile. My neighbor John and his wife agreed to do so for a companion for their daughter. He flew to Macedonia and brought him back (with help from a lot of people). I had the privilege of meeting Zhile yesterday while out walking my dog Willow, who generally freaks out when seeing new dogs, but she was calm as could be. “Z” is so sweet and it’s heart-breaking, yet so inspiring, to see him get around in the yard with doggie diapers on. John told us that Zhile was too big as well for his daughter now, so they adopted a very small terrier mix, named “Angel.” They are the best of friends. πŸ™‚

    P.S. If my link doesn’t work, just google “paralyzed dog in Macedonia,” if you are interested.

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    • Your link worked, Kat Lib! What a poignant/inspiring/amazing story — and to think the dog is so close to where you live!

      Trump threatening not to accept the election results when Clinton mostly likely defeats him is yet another example of The Donald’s beyond-the-pale behavior. What a pathetic, crybaby, sore loser of a human being.

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      • Another nice thing about my neighborhood is that walking around I’ve seen only Clinton/Kaine signs and none for Trump/Pence. I was just reading on Huffpo about Donald’s speech today in Gettysburg about his plan for his first 100 days in office, and it seems the major takeaway is that he’s going to sue all the women who have accused him of sexual assault. While I’m not really surprised by this, I hate the fact that he chose to give this speech at Gettysburg, which I consider to be hallowed ground. I don’t mean that in a religious sense, but the battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln’s magnificent address there were watershed moments in this country’s history. I’ve been there at least 3 times in my life and was just telling my friend I’d like to go back again sometime soon, but it’s almost as though he has sullied the entire history and importance of this place. Does that sound ridiculous?

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      • bebe, I agree with you wholeheartedly on your comment. I (we) sometimes lose sight of how good people can be, but Trump is like a cancer on this country and can only hope he’ll be soon forgotten.

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    • Thank you, Carol!

      I’m also shocked and disgusted that the vile Trump became the Republican presidential nominee. I guess he offers a more blunt version of the attitudes (sexism, racism, anti-immigration, etc.) that many GOP leaders have, and Trump’s supporters seemingly mistake bluntness for honesty. Many of those supporters are people who have been badly hurt by the U.S. economy in recent years, yet Trump has been among the super-wealthy people doling out a lot of that hurt.

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      • I think there are many of us who are frightened by a possible President Trump, as well as being afraid if he doesn’t win. Already this week I’ve read about a sheriff somewhere or other who talks about bringing the pitchforks out if Clinton “steals” the election (73% of Republicans believe this election is “rigged” in her favor). Then there are reports of media following Trump’s campaign and have to be escorted out of his rallies because of threats of violence. I’m also wary of his calling for vigilante poll-watchers, especially in the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. I live in the suburbs of Philly, and though there isn’t a large African-American population, there is a fairly large number of Hispanics/Latinos. I hope that none of these poll-watchers show up at my polling place.

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        • Very true, Kat Lib. Trump is a huge danger if he somehow wins, but also a danger before and after he probably loses. In addition to what you aptly mentioned, I’ve been reading that Trump might start his own media empire after the election — perhaps with disgraced former Fox News pervert Roger Ailes and that Breitbart News guy (forgot his name) who’s been working on the Trump campaign.

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          • I would tell you his name, but it would only increase, if only by a mere iota, his celebrity. So I won’t. He does, I will hint, have a name that sounds about perfect for a police reporter in a b-grade film noir. If only his journalistic scruples were comparably robust…

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      • He has removed the fig leaf of euphemism from the old elephant in the room, the GOP. Not a pretty sight, I must say. Trump has managed to bring out the worst of us for purposes of self-aggrandizement, for which too many will vote.

        But that will not matter as much as it might, if only the rest of us discharge our civic duty and come out to vote! A landslide for Hillary Clinton is the best refutation Trump’s attack on our democracy.

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        • Very true, jhNY. While other Republicans sort of dog-whistle, Trump is just totally out there as a racist, misogynist, etc.

          A landslide for Clinton would certainly help, but Trump and other GOPers will just claim the election was rigged, that the “liberal media” (which isn’t liberal) put its foot on the scales, etc. I still see tons of Republican obstruction in the next four-to-eight years, even if the Dems take the Senate. Taking the gerrymandered House doesn’t seem likely.

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          • There is, I’m hoping, a number so big, and out of so many places, that should we get it, only the bitterest die-hards can cling to the lie. Obstruction is inevitable out of the GOP House– because it’s been the GOP policy for 8 years (4 election cycles for representatives) and most of them now are fit for no other purpose.

            A minority party that will not change its bases of attraction to court a changing public will revert to every trick they can pull off to subvert the will of the majority in any democracy. It’s a bug, not a feature. I’m afraid the GOP has lost faith in the citizenry and our form of government.

            And yet– should Trump lose, wouldn’t they accept victory wherever they can get it down-ballot? And wouldn’t such victories prove the baselessness of their original claim? I don’t think I’ve heard anybody anywhere say that only the votes for president would be, or somehow could be, ‘rigged’.

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            • Great points, jhNY. If the Republicans win enough to maintain at least the House, how can everything be “rigged”? Or is selective “rigging” a thing? πŸ™‚

              An absolute landslide would have some impact, but, given voter suppression, sexism, disillusioned Sanders supporters, the votes for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein (who I might cast my ballot for), the rock-hard conservatism of some people, and other factors, I’m wondering if an absolute landslide is possible.

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              • I hope you will reconsider, as I have done. A couple of years ago, I fully intended not to vote for the presidential candidate from either portion of the duopoly. I always knew, however, that my protest vote would be swept under the will of my fellow Upper West Siders, and that my intention, possibly noble in a small way, could only satisfy the idealist in me, as it would otherwise have no practical impact on the outcome city-wide.

                But I want a landslide now, big as can be got, to repudiate the odious candidate the GOP has offered up for president. Join me. It might be fun to be a rolling stone.

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                • Thanks, jhNY! I’m still thinking. Hillary will easily win NJ, so it’s not an Electoral College issue. But I see what you’re saying about the desirability of a nationwide vote-total landslide.

                  There’s always Charlotte Bronte, who’s an appealing candidate despite being English and dead for 161 years. “Reader, I voted for her…”

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                  • Dave, I was going to second jhNY’s comment about voting, but I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here. If you want to know why I support Hillary, please let me know, but I completely understand that you should vote for the candidate who you think will be the best one for the job.

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                    • Thanks, Kat Lib. I totally understand why anyone would vote for Hillary — and I still might. Amid her glaring flaws, there are also her attributes of much intelligence, hard work, perseverance, experience, coolness under pressure, etc. And while it almost seems like an afterthought, the United States FINALLY having its first woman president is an amazing thing. I would have preferred Elizabeth Warren if Bernie Sanders couldn’t be the candidate, but Warren didn’t run and Hillary has “paid her dues” for many years more than Warren has.

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  5. Good topic, Dave. For me the saddest part about despicable fiction characters is that they reflect real people. The authors were able to write about their flaws so vividly because they had lived or observed the miscreant behavior. Re: our current candidates – I remember my dad mentioning that he and others had been “cussing and discussing” the candidates of whichever election cycle we were currently observing.

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    • Thank you, energywriter!

      Excellent point — despicable fiction characters couldn’t exist without the “model” of real despicable people, though of course the personalities of protagonists in literature can be exaggerated. Yet it would be hard to imagine how someone like Donald Trump could be made more of an exaggeration than he actually is.

      “…cussing and discussing” candidates — a great way to describe the sorry politician choices we often have.

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  6. Hi Dave, There’s the despicable Gus Trenor in “The House of Mirth,” who tries to take advantage of Lily Bart by making her think the $10,000 he gives her to settle her gambling debts was from investments. He invites her over to his home one evening, and she thought the invitation was from Trenor’s wife; in reality it is Gus alone and he makes it clear that the $10,000 was in return for sexual favors. She rejects him, but this $10,000 hangs over her head for the rest of the novel, as she is determined to pay him back and ultimately brings about her downfall.

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    • Great example, Kat Lib, and described so well! Lily Bart was treated badly by several other men, too, whether by their direct actions or by their waffling. Some of the snooty women she knew weren’t a big help, either. A shame the part of her that had a lot of integrity led to her downfall. It reminds me a little of how the characters in Guy de Maupassant’s short story “The Necklace” and Balzac’s novel “CΓ©sar Birotteau” were brought down by paying “debts” that were either imaginary or not really their fault.

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      • There also many examples in Jane Austen’s novels, which were probably considered “cads” during those days. Of course, Jane never mentioned anyone ever kissing, let alone anything sexual happening. Probably the worst was Wickham in “Pride and Prejudice,” who first tried to take advantage of Darcy’s sister until Darcy bought him off, then eloped with Lydia Bennet, which would have ruined her if Darcy hadn’t stepped in to make sure Wickham married her. In “Sense and Sensibility,” Willoughby romances Marianne Dashwood, then drops her when he learns he’ll have to marry a woman of wealth, which nearly kills Marianne when this is exposed. There is Henry Crawford in “Mansfield Park,” who may perhaps love Fanny Price, but in the end he seduces a married woman, Sir Bertram’s daughter, who is then cut off from society and is forced to live with the horrid Mrs. Norris (right, Dave?). In “Northanger Abbey,” Catherine Morland is treated very poorly when General Tilney kicks her out of the Abbey once he learns she isn’t an heiress of a wealthy couple and must make her way back home without servants or protection. There are a couple of cads in “Emma,” one being a social climbing man of the church, Mr. Elton, who proposes to her and tries to force himself on her. The more respectable man is Frank Churchill, but he acts like he is attracted to Emma, until it is learned that he is just trying to hide an engagement with Jane Fairfax. Finally, in “Persuasion,” the presumptive heir of Sir Walter Elliot is Mr. William Elliot. He is attracted to Anne Elliot, and thinks that marrying her will ensure that he will inherit the estate and title. Anne then learns he was the executor of his friend’s estate, and his widow has been living in poverty due to his lack of performing this function. OK, Dave, is that all of them or have I missed anyone?

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      • I liked the way you started this week’s post, Dave: “I wish Donald Trump were fictional, but, alas, he’s real.” If it were fiction, it would be of the cheesy variety and not very well-received, much like Trump himself. Except, that’s not completely true, is it? There are still a LOT of people who continue to receive his message as valid, and are willing to overlook his comments and demeanor. Hillary has the lead, but it needs to get wider before I exhale.

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        • Thanks, Pat, for the compliment about the post’s opening line — and for your very well-said comment!

          If Trump were fictional, he’d not only be cheesy but almost impossible to believe — as in, could a person like him actually exist? Unfortunately, yes.

          And you’re right that many people are somehow willing to overlook Trump’s astoundingly awful flaws because he kind of articulates their anger, their racism, their misogyny, etc. Maybe even 40% of the population — heavily white male, of course. The fact that Trump also has some female support is just beyond belief. And support from many working-class whites when he has treated workers so badly over the years.

          Hillary Clinton would have a huge lead if she weren’t such a flawed candidate herself — the vote for the Iraq War, the lucrative/favorable to Wall Street speeches, the frequent changing of positions, etc.

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          • White men, ‘and God I know I’m one’, cannot be defended for their support of this decisively unfit con artiste (looks classy with the e on– wish the site allowed a font of gold). I feel sorry for the rest of the population who have to deal with us, knowing our druthers as a group this endless campaign season.

            But Hillary’s flaws, and I agree with your partial list of them, include neither malfeasance or incompetence. She is the most prepared candidate we have seen in many years, even perhaps ever.

            We don’t deserve her, my sorry group. Thank goodness, we’re liable to get her anyway.

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            • Nice “House of the Rising Sun” reference, jhNY!

              You’re right — Hillary is undeniably competent, smart, prepared, and experienced. She even talks somewhat progressive these days, though her long track record shows she’s a centrist at heart (sometimes tacking a little left, more often tacking to the right — she’ll definitely be partly a president for conservative white males πŸ™‚ ).

              Not sure how much of a moral compass Hillary has — for instance, she obviously knew the DNC was weighting the scales against Bernie Sanders during the primaries. But there are very few politicians as honest and principled as Sanders.

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              • I think it’s unreasonable on all our parts to expect lifers in a party hierarchy to make nice to a man, however principled, who never saw fit to join the party before running in its primaries. I actually thought Sanders was treated generally well by the Democratic party.

                I voted for Mr. Sanders, and I prefer him to Hillary Clinton in many, but not all ways. Since he had no reasonable hope of taking the presidency AND Congress, his solution, as stated to Chris Matthews (a man I wish mightily would retire) to getting his agenda enacted, if elected, would have been to call on a million supporters to camp outside the Capitol and pressure those within. A bit of the old quixotic, I find that to be.

                Clinton is a realist through and through, practical patient, studied and tough. She will work with anyone who will work with her. Centrist compromise, despite my preferences, is more or less the history of lawmaking in our country. Having less of it around these days, we also have fewer laws passed per congressional session than ever before.

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                • I hear you, jhNY — the DNC didn’t owe Sanders anything, given that he was a longtime Independent before running in the Democratic primaries. Still, the DNC is supposed to be neutral (though I realize that’s in an ideal world, not the real world). And, while the mainstream media won’t touch it, there’s a possibility that there were some serious dirty tricks — for instance, when it came to support for Sanders, the difference between exit polls and actual vote totals was astounding in some states.

                  Heck, Sanders may have been a better candidate to beat Trump for reasons that include not having all the unethical baggage of Clinton and Trump. And Clinton could well have lost to a non-Trump Republican.

                  Clinton’s vote for the Iraq War (which, despite revisionist history, was opposed at the time by many Americans, myself included) still rankles me — and helped cause immense carnage for millions of Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers. I realize Clinton, as a female politician with presidential aspirations, may have thought she needed to “act as tough as a man.”

                  Then there were her lucrative paid speeches to Wall Street when there was so much anger after the Great Recession — greedy and tone-deaf.

                  And taking so long to publicly support marriage equality.

                  Yet…yet…I still may vote for her. Trump is just beyond the pale.

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                  • The more the public loathes the press, the less likely that exit polling predicts election outcome.

                    I cannot defend the iraq War, or her vote for it, though I agree as to motive, given her aspirations.

                    Our political institutions are so presently weak, as compared to the power of finance, that one supplicates and cajoles and flatters– anyone– who would hope the supplicated might be persuaded to police themselves (since government cannot police them), or hope to gather their support and cooperation. It would be preferable, infinitely, that their power was not what it is, yet it is. We may be able to expand the power and force of government to control finance in future, but we cannot change the immediate past, or present.

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                    • Good points, jhNY.

                      And, yes, a huge part of what’s wrong with American politics is the enormous influence of finance, corporations, the rich, and the lobbyists for all of the above. It’s hard for any ambitious national politician not to kowtow to “Big Money.”

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  7. Actually, George Eliot gave us a bonus asshole in ‘Daniel Deronda’ with Gwendolyn Harleth’s husband Henleigh Grandcourt, who is so awful she is driven to kill him and try to cover it up with an alibi (spoiler: she gets away with it but is still disappointed when the man she really loves, the title character, chooses someone else). Also, Emily’s little sister Anne created another jerk, the husband of Helen Huntington, who mostly successfully leaves him taking their little boy with her and living in another town under a false name. Thankfully, Huntington self-destructs with alcohol before doing too much more damage. And speaking of Bronte men, Rochester is something of a jerk as well, hiding his mad wife up in an attic and attempting to persuade poor Jane to marry him even after she discovers the existence of his wife, effectively rendering her a willing accomplice in bigamy. Fortunately, Jane’s own self-respect prevails and she rejects him and returns only after the first Mrs. Rochester is safely dead. I know Rochester is supposed to be the romantic hero of ‘Jane Eyre’ but I find that treatment pretty reprehensible. True, he’s not as abusive as these others we’ve mentioned but he is selfish and neglectful.

    With Dostoevsky fresh on my mind, having just finished ‘Demons’, there are some jerks in that novel as well, foremost among them is Stavrogin who impregnates one man’s wife, molests a minor and is irresistibly attractive, despite his playboy attitude, to two adult women who remain steadfastly devoted to him. Of course, old Karamazov is a reprobate but so is his son Dmitri, to a lesser extent. They are rivals for the affection of the same woman after all. There are plenty of other repulsive men throughout Dostoevsky. One notable exception is Shatov in ‘Demons’ who is devoted to his wife even with the knowledge that she’s given birth to Stavrogin’s child. He’s one of the few Dostoevsky characters that is actually commendable in his treatment of his wife, particularly with the extenuating circumstances.

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    • Excellent examples, bobess48, well described!

      I was thinking of mentioning Grandcourt of “Daniel Deronda,” but decided to go with one sexist jerk per author. πŸ™‚

      Helen’s husband in Anne Bronte’s “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” is definitely a lout.

      And, yes, Rochester is a very mixed bag as a person, but I guess readers excuse some of his behavior because of the nightmare first marriage he found himself in.

      You’re indeed right that Fyodor Karamazov is not the only problematic male in Dostoyevsky’s classic. And Sonya’s father in “Crime and Punishment” also treats his wife very badly — using much of what little money the family has to get drunk.

      You wrote a great review of “Demons” — saw it earlier today: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show?id=18950615

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        • Thank you, bebe!

          Yes, Rochester had a major selfish side and some meanness, and there’s no excuse for him trying to marry Jane when he was already married. Still, one could tell he had a good side until life embittered him. A complicated character…

          Very interesting to think how Rochester would have treated Jane in a sequel. I’m thinking treated her well…

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        • I was thinking the same thing, bebe. I suspect that a ‘Jane Eyre’ sequel would probably depict a less than satisfying marriage. After what he did to his first wife, who knows what Rochester might have in mind for Jane?

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          • Rochester did treat his first wife abysmally when she became so mentally ill, but I guess part of the problem was that Rochester felt pressured, even tricked into that loveless marriage. I think the Rochester-Jane marriage would have gone better (it certainly seemed to get off to a good start in the last pages of “Jane Eyre”), but who knows? πŸ™‚

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          • Exactly , Jane had total devotion for Rochester , and then he was possessive as well. I was also thinking with such a difference in age and him being blind. Let’s pretend he got his eye sights back. If any other one man pays attention to Jane how would he react ?

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            • No worries, as I recall, anyway. While not entirely restored, his eyesight, like nearly all other circumstantial impediments to his and Jane’s domestic contentment, had greatly improved by novel’s end.

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              • Yes, if I’m remembering correctly, Rochester’s eyesight improved a bit on its own and then an operation made it even better. Who knew there were eye operations in the early 1800s? (The time I think the 1847 novel was set.)

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      • Thanks for the appreciation of the review and the link to it. As we have seen, there are numerable less than admirable male characters in fiction, though not all of them rise, or rather, stoop, to Trumpish levels.

        Liked by 1 person

        • You’re very welcome, bobess48!

          I agree — countless not-very-savory males in fiction. As you say, many of them not quite as bad as Trump. He really is a shockingly vile person, though I suppose he hasn’t killed anyone (as far as we know).

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            • I guess he’s always been pretty sleazy, but now we’re getting it 24/7. Plenty of “inner ugliness” — great phrase by you. And one does wonder how many rich and famous people are kind of similar to Trump but just more quiet about it.

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                • Trump’s 40% or so support IS scary, bebe. Maybe I’m in a bubble in the New York City area, but it’s amazing that so many people are willing to tolerate his sexism, racism, and ignorance — and his bad treatment of his employees who are in the white working class that supports him so much.

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                  • Same in my neighborhood…27 houses and three couple that I know of that included us. Beyond that the street has same number of houses I know three couples . All were Sanders supporters but will vote for Hillary.

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                    • I’ve only seen one or two Trump signs in my town, bebe, but when I go a couple towns over (where I drive my daughter to gymnastics) I see plenty of Trump signs. One car I was behind in that town even had three Trump bumper stickers on its back window rather than its bumper. Making the driver’s sight lines great again…

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            • As GK Chesterton (most famous today as author of the Father Brown mysteries) once put it: ”In every society, the rich are the scum of the earth.”

              So to answer your question: perhaps. I cannot commit myself to conclude as I am also a believer in the quote from Henry James: “Nothing is my last word on anything.”

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              • “…the rich are the scum of the earth” — yes, a lot of truth to that. Absolute riches (often) corrupt absolutely. Some notable exceptions — J.K. Rowling, Paul Newman, Bruce Springsteen…

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                    • Recalled from memory. I can’t put my finger on the poem from which it comes just now, as I am for the week and next in Nashville, where Baudelaires are thin on the ground, as also, to my happy surprise, are Trump signs. I have faith the rural portions of the Volunteer State will not disappoint Trumplethinskin ( a moniker I would love to have minted, but did not).

                      Liked by 1 person

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