Most fiction readers root for the characters who are nice and admirable, not the villains. But after America’s far-right Republicans voted May 4 for a Trumpcare bill that would heartlessly yank medical insurance from millions of non-rich citizens, I’m thinking the majority of those soulless GOP scoundrels might identify with literature’s “bad guys.” So…
— When Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, etc., read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, they love them some Mr. Brocklehurst — the wealthy “religious” hypocrite who cruelly allows Jane and the other girls at the Lowood institution to freeze, be badly fed, and more. Some of the girls die as a result, as would many Americans “thanks” to Trumpcare.
— Many far-right Republicans perusing John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath would undoubtedly cheer when a thug murders compassionate fighter against injustice Jim Casy — whose sharing of initials with the humane (not the GOP version of) Jesus Christ is no coincidence.
— A good number of GOP ghouls are most likely thrilled when brutal slave-owner Simon Legree viciously abuses the brave/kindly Tom in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
— In George Eliot’s Silas Marner, William Dane frames the sympathetic title character and steals his fiancee — making Dane a hero to many a far-right Republican.
— Nathan Price of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible is a sexist and racist missionary, earning him the undying love of countless reactionary GOPers — including various Christian-evangelical leaders.
— The despicable, patriarchal men ruling the roost in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale? Thousands of Republican ultraconservatives want to party with them.
— In Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Delight, department store owner Octave Mouret is a ruthless capitalist who drives mom-and-pop shops out of business — a Walmart approach that sends numerous right-wing Republicans into ecstasy. But Mouret does have a bit of humanity, so that’s troublesome to the Paul Ryan crowd.
— The far-right GOP also has mixed feelings about Samad Iqbal. That character in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth is obnoxious, overbearing, sexist, and not as smart as he thinks — all catnip for Trump and his ilk. But Samad is Muslim, which mostly disqualifies him from Republican admiration.
— The husband of the title character in Stephen King’s Rose Madder is a policeman who’s a racist and a wife abuser — two qualities very endearing to Trump and other lowlife GOP leaders.
— Erich Maria Remarque’s Spark of Life? Many far-right Republicans may feel a kinship to that novel’s Nazi concentration-camp guards. (And Trumpcare’s motto should be the second half of the title of Remarque’s A Time to Love and a Time to Die.)
— Finally, pathological right-wingers pull for Lord Voldemort in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Role model!
Of course, who knows how much literature America’s reactionary GOP bigwigs actually read? Maybe the occasional Ayn Rand novel…
Any novels you’d like to mention featuring villains far-right Republicans would adore?
Here’s a review of, and a video interview about, my new literary-trivia book Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.
In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com, which covers Montclair, N.J., and nearby towns. The latest weekly column is here.