Maybe we shouldn’t, but we love a character who is all about themselves. Rather than acting out of logic and reason, these self-absorbed protagonists act out of their own interest, which causes a delightful amount of conflict in their books.
And it’s not just in fiction; some of our most beloved pop-culture icons have had their moments of misspoken arrogance. In a controversial 1966 interview, John Lennon infamously remarked that the Beatles “were more popular than Jesus.” Lennon later went on to apologize and explain that his words were misunderstood, but not before it caused a lot of damage to the Beatles’ reputation— and their records.
While these seven self-obsessed literary characters may never go so far as to say they’re bigger than Jesus, they certainly have no trouble demonstrating their arrogance and egocentrism.
James Gatz has always thought highly of himself: Even when growing up in a poor family, he dreamed of having enough money to do whatever he wanted. Feeling entitled to a lavish lifestyle, Gatsby uses nefarious means, rather than hard work, to become a self-made millionaire and build himself up into a legend of the Jazz Age—throwing lavish parties at his mansion, yet never attending them. Once he has the wealth, he believes it entitles him to what—and who—ever he wants. But as he soon discovers, money doesn’t make the man.
Source: Tumblr/The Teenage Gentleman
2. Paper Towns
Margo Roth Spiegelman
Margo Roth Spiegelman thinks she is pretty damn important. First, she drags Quentin (a boy she hasn’t spoken to in years) along with her on a personal quest to seek vengeance against those who have “wronged” her—like graffiting the car of a girl who made fun of her. Then she runs away, leaving extremely obscure and difficult clues behind for Q., who’s worried that she’s either hiding out for good or dead. Without any concern for those around her, Margo thinks she’s worth the effort she forces Q. to exert. Of course, lovelorn Q. does follow the clues, but Margo’s egocentric behavior is still incredibly off-putting.
It is hard to imagine anyone who loves himself more than Gilderoy Lockhart. His first day as the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, he gives a pop quiz… where all the questions are about him. All of the assigned readings? Books written by him. For detention, he has his students sign autographs for him. Even though his fame comes from him stealing stories of bravery from others, he has sold his greatness so well that he believes it himself.
The story’s been told many, many times, but Don Juan always stays the same. A bed-hopper who goes from woman to woman, he doesn’t care if the ladies he spends his time with have husbands or if he’s ruining their marriages. You can tell from his self-serving actions what he thinks about his own worth. His pleasure comes first; we’re sure any lady he’s been with can tell you that. Karma comes back for him, however; it’s his arrogance that ultimately leads to his ruin.
While John Lennon liked to think he was bigger than Jesus, Doctor Victor Frankenstein believes he is God. Obsessed with the idea of creating life from inanimate objects, he uses the parts of deceased men to bring “the Creature” to to life. Once he’s succeeded, however, he’s disgusted by it and by what he’s done. Frankenstein once again resumes the role of God when he decides to kill his creation.
It’s one thing to defend yourself when you know you’re right; it’s another to be willing to destroy all of existence to prove it. Saint Dane is so convinced that all people are weak and selfish that he will destroy all of Halla—everything that has existed and will ever exist—to prove it. Worst of all, he doesn’t even do the dirty work himself: He manipulates the 10 territories of Halla into destroying civilization for him! Of course, he plans to build a new Halla: one where he is the supreme ruler, because obviously no one else is worthy of such a title.
7. Fight Club
Tyler Durden bases his movement on the belief that consumerism is ruining the world. Feeling entitled, because he’s one of the few who sees that the things we used to own now own us, Tyler thinks he has the right to destroy the world as he pleases. He damages property, messes with minds, and lures men into a dangerous organization where they put their lives at risk—all because he believes that he has the right to screw a world that’s screwed him. To Tyler, nothing and no one else matters.