Top 7 most hateful characters in Russian literature
1. Nikolai Stavrogin from ‘Demons’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Stavrogin is the personification of the darker side of human personality. There is probably no character in the novel that Stavrogin wouldn’t hurt, seduce, insult, offend, or destroy.
Actor Maksim Matveev as Nikolai Stavrogin
Vladimir Khotinenko/Non-stop production, 2014
“I was also struck by his face: …it looked like he was a handsome man, but, at the same time, he looked disgusting. They said his face looked like a mask,says the narrator, describing the protagonist. Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev considered Stavrogin the most mysterious fictional character in world literature.
The picture of a “charming demonwas created by Dostoyevsky with incomprehensible artistry. Stavrogin has an exceptional mind and a bruised soul. He is an anti-hero, a man of a thousand faces, a psychopath, a manipulator and a serial womanizer.
“…He’s a whole social type (in my opinion), our type, the Russian, an idler who doesn’t want to be idle, but who once dearly loved has lost everything and, above all, faith; depraved with melancholy, but conscientious and making convulsive anguished efforts to refresh himself and begin to believe again…” Dostoyevsky wrote about Stavrogin.
READ MORE: 5 reasons why Dostoevsky is so great
2. Victor Komarovsky from “Doctor Zhivago” by Boris Pasternak
Komarovsky is the embodiment of evil. Lecherous and sinful, Komarovsky, who is a well-to-do Moscow lawyer, is a magnet for weak women.
Actor Oleg Yankovsky as Victor Komarovsky
Аleksandr Proshkin / Central Partnership, 2005
There is no room for taboo subjects for the middle-aged man, who is described as a “confident, strong and arrogant person…”. This description fits Komarovsky like a glove. He first seduces the widow of a Belgian engineer, then he molests his 16-year-old daughter, Lara. A man of no principles, Komarovsky uses people like casino chips to achieve his goal. Once a person has fulfilled their “role”, they can be instantly dismissed. Komarovsky is not only a lawyer, but also a schemer and politician, who wants personal gain from just about anything. During World War I, he maintained good relations with liberal politicians and socialists. An egocentric career, Komarovsky would make any deal with his conscience to achieve the desired result.
3. Iudushka from ‘The Golovlyov Family’ by Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin
Porphyry Golovlyov, alias Iudushka (or “little Judas”) is one of the central characters in the novel “The Golovlyov Family” by Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin. His reputation precedes him: A vile man, traitor, tyrant and parasite, he is incapable of empathy and ready to betray anyone for his personal gain.
Actor Yevgeny Mironov as Porfiry Golovlyov during a performance directed by Kirill Serebrennikov at the Moscow Art Theatre.
the eyes of Judas “give off an enchanting poison”, while its “the voice, like a snake, crawls into the soul and paralyzes the will”. The hypocritical man, nicknamed “Judas the Bloodsucker”, is a member of a bitterly dysfunctional Russian family plagued by excessive drinking, despair and madness. Driven by extreme greed, hatred and cruelty, “little Judas” will single-handedly lead all his loved ones to death without the slightest remorse. “Unlimited neglect has become the dominant characteristic of his relationship to himself. A long time ago he became fascinated by this total freedom from all moral restriction…”
4. Alyona Ivanovna from ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The old pawnbroker of Dostoevsky’s unparalleled tour de force lives on wear and tear.
Actress Vera Karpova as Alyona Ivanovna
Dmitry Svetozarov/ASDS 2007
Alyona Ivanovna, who most likely suffers from tuberculosis, because she coughs all the time, sets up something resembling a pawnshop in her home. She lends money at huge interest rates in exchange for jewelry and valuables.
Dostoyevsky does not hide his contempt, describing her as a “dry old woman with evil piercing eyes and a small pointed nose… Her slightly gray blond hair was greased with oil… She was so small and ugly…”
Her clients call her “a terrible bitch” and hate her like a sin. If someone is even one day late with redeeming the pledged property, the capricious old woman does not allow the person to redeem their pledge. She treats her younger sister Lizaveta (who is pregnant) like a doormat. According to Rodion Raskolnikov, it is the “cause of suffering” for many people.
5. Alexei Shvabrin from “Captain’s Daughter” by Alexander Pushkin
Alexei Shvabrin is the antonym of decency, rectitude and fair play. He makes romantic advances to the captain’s daughter, Masha Mironova and even proposes to her, but refuses to take “no” for an answer.
Actor Sergei Makovetsky as Alexei Shvabrin
Alexander Proshkin/Studio Globus, 1999
Pushkin describes Chvabrin as a “young officer of small stature, with a dark complexion and a superbly ugly, but extremely lively face”. Slanderous, but also vindictive and bitterly wicked, he makes offensive jokes about the young woman in revenge. When the Pugachev revolt occurs, Shvabrin, who is a born liar, acts like a traitor and joins the rebels to save his bacon.
READ MORE: Top 5 books Pushkin liked to reread
6. Marfa Kabanova from ‘The Storm’ by Aleksandr Ostrovsky
Marfa Kabanova could probably go down in the history books as the most nightmarish mother-in-law ever! A cruel and heartless old witch, she is jealous of her son’s love for his young and beautiful wife Katerina.
Actress Olga Tumaikina as Marfa Kabanova in a performance directed by Ulanbek Bayaliev at the Vakhtangov Theater.
The wealthy widow is constantly dissatisfied with something and keeps her whole family in terror and fear. Kabanova rules the house with an iron fist and offends her two children, Tikhon and Varvara, as well as her poor daughter-in-law, whom she ends up driving to suicide. “If you are not afraid of me, what kind of order will there be in the house?” Kabanova wonders. She’s fanatically religious, but that’s just for show. Gestures of forgiveness, compassion and mercy are totally foreign to his nature.
7. Sharikov from Mikhail Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog
Poligraf Poligrafovich Sharikov is not your average neighbor. A doomed bastard nicknamed “Sharik” finds his new home in the spacious Moscow apartment owned by the world-renowned surgeon.
Actor Vladimir Tolokonnikov as Sharikov
Vladimir Bortko/Lenfilm, 1988
Professor Preobrazhensky embarks on a Frankenstein-like experiment and transplants a human pituitary gland into a stray dog. While the experiment is a huge success, the bad news is that the poor animal turns into a veritable bastard who is only able to drink, smoke and swear. “The most horrible thing is that he no longer has the heart of a dog, but the heart of a man. And the ugliest of all that exists in nature,” said Professor Preobrazhensky.
Comrade Sharikov is the Bolshevik type of man to the core. short and “unsympathetic in appearance”, he is so indecent and reckless that he almost makes you cringe. Like a leopard that never changes its spots, Sharikov behaves like a savage even after officially becoming a man. His range of interests is very predictable. He finds his true aesthetic calling as a Soviet official responsible for purging Moscow of cats.
READ MORE: 3 KEY reasons why you should read Bulgakov, the creator of Master and Margarita
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