Sometimes nasty characters get exactly what they deserve (here’s looking at you, Veruca Salt). And sometimes, they’re frustratingly under-punished (argh, Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy!). But sometimes, a character’s comeuppance outstrips their crimes, rocking our sense of fairness to its core. Here are a few characters I wish would’ve caught a break. To the fanfic forums, so that justice may prevail!
Susan Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia). The twisted fate of Susan Pevensie is one of the saddest and strangest in fiction. In The Last Battle, the final Narnia book, C.S. Lewis kills off Susan’s entire family—Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and their parents—leaving her alone on earth. And what did Susan, one-time queen at Cair Paravel, do to deserve this horrendous fate? She got too into parties and lipstick. Problem solved, Mr. Lewis: Susan may never go to a party again.
Severus Snape (Harry Potter). Pity Severus Snape, the only Death Eater to truly reform. Pity him for the fact that he was raised by parents who never bought him shampoo. Pity him for loving only one person his entire life, a person who married someone else and then died tragically. And pity him most of all for living a double life that allowed him to have no true friends. Couldn’t Rowling have written in just one person who enjoyed his company? Or a pet? Even Filch had Mrs. Norris. All Snape’s got is Professor Sprout’s incessant “winks” on Wizardmatch.com.
Maria Bertram (Mansfield Park). Yes, Maria treats her poor cousin and foster sister, the obnoxiously noble Fanny Price, like an unwanted glove. For her much-deserved ill rewards, we prescribe a stiff round of snubbing and a severe lack of new ribbon. But Bertram goes too far when she ditches her boring husband, Mr. Rushworth, for the handsome cad Henry Crawford. Adultery? Very bad. But in this case (and in the case of most cheating women in Austen’s day, we assume), the punishment is insanely harsh: Maria is forced to live out the remainder of her life in near-seclusion, in the home of her dreadful Aunt Norris. We bet Mr. Rushworth could’ve cheated without so much as a slap on the wrist.
Lydia Bennet (Pride and Prejudice). More unfairness from the pages of Austen, who we’re sure was only calling it like she saw it. Yes, Lydia’s a giggly twit, but who among us stands by every decision we made when we were 15? We’ve all crushed on somebody who ended up being so not worth it. Now think of being tied to that person for life, with hardly any money to boot. And that’s why we don’t understand the people who wish they could be transported back to Austen’s day. (Even though we’re totally addicted to this.)
Jess Aarons (Bridge to Terabithia). Jess didn’t really cause the heartbreaking death of his best friend, Leslie, but he’s left feeling responsible for life. After ditching Leslie without warning to spend time with his teacher crush, Jess returns home to learn that she drowned while waiting for him at their spot by the creek. Now poor Jess will forever associate romantic feelings with crushing guilt. But maybe we’re just bitter because of how hard we cried the first time we read this book.
What character’s fate do you most disagree with?