The Best Fictional Mean Girls
30th Apr 2014
Mean Girls turns ten this year, and to celebrate the For Books' Sake (Girl) Gang have elected our favourite literary Mean Girls. From Scarlett O'Hara to Blair Waldorf via Mrs Danvers, this collection includes Jane Austen and JK Rowling and takes in a real-life Mean Girl too (lack of consistency... that's so fetch!).
Tell us your favourite Mean Girls in the comments section or just caps-lock your favourite MG quotes. Now get in loser. We're going (book) shopping.
Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
I love Blair Waldorf, despite her many flaws, because for an It girl in a bitchy novel series, she has serious smarts. How else would she manage to scheme her way to the top of the social hierarchy in New York’s Upper East Side?
This is the place where you have the world watching you as well as on your shoulders and the fact that she survives while hiding an eating disorder, battling immense family pressure and having a best friend as selfish and betraying as Serena Van der Woodsen? She’s top of her class too – and top of my Mean Girls list.
Nominated by: Laura Vickers
Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Scarlett O’Hara is tempestuous, self obsessed and sharply intelligent, making her a force to be reckoned with. Constantly lying and scheming to get her own way, Scarlett even goes so far as stealing her own sister’s beau in order to raise money for taxes.
While Gone With the Wind’s legacy has been more recently overshadowed by discussions of racial representation in the book, Scarlett O’Hara remains literature’s ultimate mean girl.
Nominated by: Emily Reynolds
The Devil, Miranda Priestly needs no introduction after the iconic portrayal of the character by Meryl Streep in a movie based on the book ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. Caustic, finicky, inspiring terror and not a small amount of trepidation in those around her with only a glance, this mean girl is one you wouldn’t want to cross.
She’s become a cultural reference for mean bosses the world over, so if you’ve ever been told “Not to be such a Miranda”, you now know it wasn’t a compliment.
Nominated by: Sadhana Chathurvedula
Mrs Danvers from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
A typical mean girl, in the thrall of queen bee Rebecca de Winter. Highlights include trying to goad her rival to suicide, getting glassy-eyed over see-through knickers, and a grade-A meltdown when it all goes tits up. Who wouldn’t do all that for Rebecca, when her replacement is such a wet blanket? Rebeccas, as we know, are the best. Luv u long time, Danny.
Nominated by: Rebecca Winson
Jeanine Mathews from The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth’s best selling Divergent trilogy has plenty of characters with mean-streaks, but the meanest of them all is the evil genius, Jeanine Matthews.
We aren’t told much about her, apart from her intelligence initially (“she’s a walking, talking computer”), but her true colours (read: utter ruthlessness in destroying everything that’s in the way of what she wants) are revealed later on.
She’s the most mysterious, calculating and formidable of the lot on the “opposition” side, and that’s why Jeanine Matthews is the poster girl of all mean girls in dystopian YA.
Nominated by: Sadhana Chathurvedula
Lucy Steele in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Austen was the queen of biting social commentary, and she did nothing better than write a good bitch. Lucy Steele, from Sense and Sensibility is the ultimate in snide; she fake-friends our heroine Elinor despite knowing that Elinor likes Edward (who Lucy is secretly engaged to).
Television and film depictions of Lucy make her vaguely Mean and a bit foolish, but in the book she is vicious and almost cruel-she’d definitely stab you in the back and snog your crush at a party, in true Mean Girl style.
Nominated by Jess Haigh
Hilly Holbrook from The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Hilly Holbrook from Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is the ultimate mean girl. From afar, she comes across as a respectable character, collecting canned goods for The Poor Starving Children of Africa.
However, you only have to spend an afternoon with her to realise there is an ulterior motive to every word that leaves her mouth and every action she carries out.
She has her inner circle of friends and you won’t last long around her if you don’t agree with everything she says and does. She’s a young socialite who goes to great lengths to make life miserable for others.
Nominated by Dina Patel
Cordelia from Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood
In Cat’s Eye, Atwood adroitly explores how power struggles can originate in the playground, before the players can comprehend the consequences. At nine, Cordelia claims jurisdiction over narrator, Elaine. Her manipulation and ‘mean-girl’ treatment of her supposed friend manifest in much darker themes of self-harm, intimating the perils of power in a child’s hands.
Nominated by Abbie Salter
Catherine Earnshaw from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Emily Brontë’s Catherine Earnshaw is a mean mean girl. She’s cruel and manipulative and knows exactly how to get what she wants from both Edgar and Heathcliff, and it’s her relationship with the latter that consumes the both of them.
Bewildered Edgar Linton strays into the wilderness that is Catherine without truly understanding the strength and selfishness of her passions and she soon ceases hiding them from him. She is to the Yorkshire Moors what Regina George is to North Shore High School: a woman to be reckoned with.
Nominated by Hannah Goddard
Bellatrix Lestrange is one of J K Rowling’s most disturbing and deliciously mean girls, portrayed to perfection by Helen Bonham-Carter on the big screen. Arguably the most fanatical follower of Lord Voldemort, she is incredibly powerful, thoroughly insane and completely wicked.
Although her sheer madness and helpless infatuation with this most evil of men could leave us feeling rather sorry for her, her inherent malice; a combination of sadism, temper tantrums and snobbery, brings her out at the top of the mean scale. Escaping from Azkaban to join her leader in his quest for power she is ultimately defeated, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake.
Nominated by Lucy Rock
Biba Capel from The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
Although on Wednesdays Biba is more likely to wear a wedding dress with chunky trainers than pink, she has a Regina-like effect on narrator Karen. Biba is a Bohemian queen bee with a selfish streak, ruler of a glamorous world as alien to Karen as high school is to Cady.
Nominated by Alice Slater
And one real life Mean Girl: Florence Harding
Former American First Lady Florence Hardy is surely one of history’s finest Mean Girls. Chief amongst her qualifications was her habit of recording every perceived slight in her “little red book of revenge” so she could later pay back the offender in kind. She’s also rumoured to have poisoned her husband President Warren G Harding in retribution for his repeated infidelities, but it’s never been proven…
Suggested reading: Florence Harding by Carl Sferrazza Anthony
Nominated by Alisande Fitzsimons
Further reading: Check out For Books’ Sake fave Dawn O’Porter’s Paper Aeroplanes which features Sally; an absolute bitch who bullies one of the main characters, and generally makes her life hell.
Direct quote from our Reviews Ed: “Sally’s comeuppance at the end is that she gets pregnant at like sixteen and they laugh at her which seemed a little harsh to me, but anyway. She is def a mean girl.”
Which other fictional mean girls do you love to hate?