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Books or films with narcissistic characters?

(110 Posts)
Biscuitsareme Tue 20-Aug-13 11:37:15

I've only recently 'discovered' narcissistic behaviour and it's been a real eye-opener to me. Now there are some characters in books and films that really hit me as narcissistic.

I'll go first:

Muriel's Wedding: Muriel's awful awful father

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair
(although Strange and Norrell have traits I suppose)

Any more?

bruffin Tue 20-Aug-13 11:55:46

Gone with the wind

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 20-Aug-13 11:57:44

Wuthering Heights.

Pawprint Wed 21-Aug-13 13:35:44


mammadiggingdeep Wed 21-Aug-13 14:03:51

Daniel cleaver in bridget jones diary.....what a twat.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Wed 21-Aug-13 14:06:54

The Talented Mr Ripley

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Wed 21-Aug-13 14:07:29

oh definitely Scarlett O Hara! She's a classic.

FatherReboolaConundrum Wed 21-Aug-13 14:28:17

Sunset Boulevard.

Can't think of any narcissistic characters in Lolita, just a paedophile.

DragonsAreReal Wed 21-Aug-13 14:30:10


FatherReboolaConundrum Wed 21-Aug-13 14:33:26

Good one Dragons, but which character? All of them, I'd say!

DragonsAreReal Wed 21-Aug-13 14:34:31

Oh what's that book called with the awful Constance.
Perfect example of narcissistic behaviour.

The little girls parents die and the sort of aunt takes her on and when she grows up she finds out how awful her sort of aunt was. Her aunt has her traipsing all over America looking for her to. Constance was poor and her dad was having an affair with a rich lady in the country and ends up dead and she grows up in their country house. Argh I need to remember the title and read this book again!

DontActuallyLikePrunes Wed 21-Aug-13 14:34:41

I actually thought Muriel (in Muriel's Wedding) was a hideous character, I don't know about narcissistic but definitely a horror.

DragonsAreReal Wed 21-Aug-13 14:35:21

The husband, Rebecca and the maid father!!

FatherReboolaConundrum Wed 21-Aug-13 14:40:00

Yes, and in the film version, I'd add the cousin and the Second Mrs DeWinter too, plus the woman she's companion to at the start. But then it's Hitchcock and he has a rather jaundiced view of people.

Mrs Norris in Mansfield Park. My English teacher told us to circle every use of the word 'I' by her in the first chapter - the pages were covered in circles!

TheCrackFox Wed 21-Aug-13 14:47:14


Repunzel' s mum is a grade A narc.

lalalonglegs Wed 21-Aug-13 14:53:14

Lola in Charlie and Lola. She's grim.

Wellwobbly Wed 21-Aug-13 14:58:24

Citizen Kane.

Gordon Gecko in Wall Street

The mother of the ballerina (played by Barbara Herschey) in Black Swan

DragonsAreReal Wed 21-Aug-13 15:19:49

I have never seen the film didn't know there was one. (off to amazon)

Pawprint Wed 21-Aug-13 15:42:26

Mommie Dearest written by Joan Crawford's daughter. The book and the very cheesy film.

TheFallenNinja Wed 21-Aug-13 16:20:07

cup of gold

TheFallenNinja Wed 21-Aug-13 16:21:33

shallow Hal

vipersnestling Wed 21-Aug-13 16:22:00

Bruce Anderson in the 44 Scotland Street books

DontActuallyLikePrunes Wed 21-Aug-13 16:30:55

My Cousin Rachel, of course (chilling, when you put it down...)

colafrosties Wed 21-Aug-13 17:01:27
Bluestocking Wed 21-Aug-13 17:06:51

Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron, is a hilarious/bloodcurdling portrait of a narcissist.

Somethingtothinkabout Wed 21-Aug-13 17:10:55

Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.

lottieandmia Wed 21-Aug-13 17:11:07

Scarlet O Hara in GWTW is supposed to be a narcissist isn't she?

Blanche in a Street Car Named Desire

Tony's mum in the Sopranos and Janice, too I would say

Dorian Gray, too - surely?

mignonette Wed 21-Aug-13 17:13:19

'Margot's Wedding'. The character played by Nicole Kidman.
'The Squid And The Whale'- the parents are both self centred and self indulgent.

2rebecca Wed 21-Aug-13 17:13:34

Madame de Bovary, Wuthering heights (Cathy Heathcliffe and Earnshaw all narcs) Gone with the wind.
Many romantic heroines in fiction are narcs, it's a shame they are regarded as heoines. Agree also the talented Mr Ripley.
Snow White's mother.

mignonette Wed 21-Aug-13 17:13:46

Yes 'Young Adult'!!!

forgetmenots Wed 21-Aug-13 17:18:32

+1 for Young Adult and for me the most realistic are Tony's mother and sister in The Sopranos

lottieandmia Wed 21-Aug-13 17:20:28

Mr Ripley seems to be more sociopathic to me, although he's a complex one perhaps.

madmayday Wed 21-Aug-13 17:23:01

Patrick Bateman - American Psycho (and also quite possibly the man who played him; Christian Bale)...

MrsWolowitz Wed 21-Aug-13 17:29:39

Barney and Ted - How I Met Your Mother.

lottieandmia Wed 21-Aug-13 17:31:15

Patrick Bateman is a psychopath isn't he? I suppose the diagnoses can overlap?

2rebecca Wed 21-Aug-13 17:38:37

Mr Ripley may be more sociopath / psychopath as he's less melodramatically "me me me" than narcs usually are and not wanting other people to run around after him as other people don't matter to him other than as a means to getting stuff.

Lweji Wed 21-Aug-13 17:46:31

Snow White's mother.
Not stepmother?

Lweji Wed 21-Aug-13 17:47:38

Emperor Palpatine?

clarequilty Wed 21-Aug-13 17:49:16

I you really truly want an illuminating read about narcissism and how culturally steeped we all are (and how our parents' generation is the first truly narcissistic one) you should read this blog by a forensic psychiatrist. Many of his posts on pop culture and trends in diagnostics and education focus on narcissism

Narcissism isn't what many think it is, it's much more insidious and pervasive.

clarequilty Wed 21-Aug-13 17:57:09

narcissism is misunderstood.

you can equally be a charitable 'do gooder', a loner, a moper, a quiet, reserved person and still be a raging narcissist.

It is a disorder of identity rather than simply being a self-obsessed, self aggrandising shitbag.

you grow up unable to connect with others as fully fledged other beings, so you have to fake your feelings, deriving your narratives about love and sadness and happiness from crappy pop culture.

JaceyBee Wed 21-Aug-13 18:42:24

yy to Nicole Kidman in margot at the wedding and the 'mother' in tangled. Also, I would hesitantly suggest Nate from six feet under. Maybe not full blown but he certainly has traits.

Frikadellen Wed 21-Aug-13 18:56:20

the mother in " Flowers in the attic"

Sherlock Holmes

corlan Wed 21-Aug-13 19:41:27

Thomas the Tank Engine and Bella from the Tweenies.

lottieandmia Wed 21-Aug-13 19:45:45

Bella couldn't be - she's only supposed to be about 4. I think she's just bossy.

Biscuitsareme Wed 21-Aug-13 20:23:00

grin at Thomas the Tank engine!

I agree that Nate from 6 Feet Under could be a narc, or definitely develops into one towards the end.

Oh, and My Cousin Rachel- do you mean the narrator or Rachel herself? I'd say both?

Muriel's father in Muriel's Wedding is a classic one I think: sees his family only in the way they reflect upon him;undermining of everyone he sees as a threat; wants constant admiration; when press comes to his wife's funeral, that's more important than his wife being dead etc

Another classic male one is (less well known French film) Look at me/ Comme une image

Wellwobbly Wed 21-Aug-13 20:39:27

Thomas the tank engine????

I thought - who is the grumpy one?

morefalafel Wed 21-Aug-13 21:06:27

Daughters of Narc. Mothers lists Cher in Mermaids. Never noticed that one before but of course she is!

middleclassdystopia Wed 21-Aug-13 21:52:55

I think Livia Soprano is dead on.

Daniel Day Lewis' character in There Will Be Blood

The wizard in Wizard of Oz

I think Cathy and Heathcliff represent the two sides to the narcissist. The damaged side (Heathcliff) and the image (Cathy). I cannot bear it described as a love story.

The Fighter - the mum of the boxing brothers is a classic.

Peacocklady Wed 21-Aug-13 22:06:26

Zenia in The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

bruffin Thu 22-Aug-13 10:19:32

Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter

StickyProblem Thu 22-Aug-13 10:47:31

Did anyone say this Dragon? The one with Constance is Dark Lady by Sally Beauman, fab book, but lots of creepy characters!

DragonsAreReal Thu 22-Aug-13 14:27:26

Oh yes that's it sticky thank you, and I love Sally Beaumans Rebecca to.

Faezy Thu 22-Aug-13 14:31:07

My first thought was Gone With The wind bruffin

Biscuitsareme Thu 22-Aug-13 16:03:18

yes to Zenia in The Robber's Bride!

Never thought of Heathcliff & Cathy as 2 sides of the narcissist before.

alto1 Thu 22-Aug-13 16:16:28

Don Giovanni

Chubfuddler Thu 22-Aug-13 16:19:14

Valmont and merteuil in dangerous liaisons. Other people aren't really real to them.

JaceyBee Thu 22-Aug-13 17:30:20

Definitely chub, I was thinking that while watching it the other night.

Sparklysilversequins Thu 22-Aug-13 18:43:42

Don Draper.

shadesofwhite Thu 22-Aug-13 19:05:57

Hi OP ,

I'd highly recommend an excellent book by Dr Albert J. Bernstein called Emotional Vampires dealing with people who drain you dry .

People do misunderstand narcissism quite a lot, this book has various types of personality disorders but narcissism is hugely covered. Its a self help book and worth every penny. Its a humorous book filled with real life examples and the writter is a clinical psychologist. Can get it from Amazon/Waterstones.

Once I'm done reading it I'll post it to my narcissistic STBXH grin.

colafrosties Fri 23-Aug-13 10:42:26

If I can sneak in a TV one, the ghastly Jill in Nighty Night. Absolutely everyone is subordinate to her whims and desires.

DragonsAreReal Fri 23-Aug-13 12:46:01

I have the all time one here Jilly coopers Roberto Rannaldini!

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Fri 23-Aug-13 14:09:57

Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. Livia Soprano is a good one, but also Janice.

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Fri 23-Aug-13 14:11:32

Ooo, sorry lottieandmia - missed your post about Livia AND Janice blush

But as we concur with each other we are obviously both right grin

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Fri 23-Aug-13 14:15:26

Patsy's mum, Patsy and Eddy (in order of "narcness") in AbFab.

Wellwobbly Fri 23-Aug-13 15:36:28

I also thought Mrs Bennett, IlkelyMoor!

Absolutely the Wizard of Oz, brilliant Dystopia

Any boffins out there who can explain Wuthering Heights? It was my O level book and always gave me the creeps...

GetStuffezd Fri 23-Aug-13 15:57:47

Oh definitely Mrs. Bennett. Also, perhaps, Alfie (Judle Law/Michael Caine)

lottieandmia Fri 23-Aug-13 16:32:14

Definitely OnI - to me Janice seemed even more dislikable than Livia but I suppose Livia had more effect on Tony perhaps which is why that angle is played up. Janice's level of self delusion is hilarious!

Biscuitsareme Fri 23-Aug-13 18:31:00

God yes, Patsy's mum! And Patsy and Eddy. I find some scenes between Eddy and Saffy painful to watch really, def. not laugh out loud funny!

Thanks for the book ref. 'Emotional Vampires'. I'm interested in the PP's view that narcissism is a disorder of identity and that narcissists fake relationships- thought that was a sociopath's thing? Or are narcissists less cool and calculating in doing so?

Will also follow up 'Trapped in the Mirror'.

Surely not every selfish or immature person is also a narc?
I always thought Mrs Bennett, though irritating, as having a point: the only way out of poverty for her daughters is a good marriage, and she gets not support whatsoever from Mr Bennett.

2013go Fri 23-Aug-13 18:54:15

Has anyone said the mum in Arrested Development?
Def Heathcliff, probably Cathy.
Yy to Tangled!

NanettaStocker Fri 23-Aug-13 19:17:42

Narcissists deep down feel they are actually inadequate and worthless, that's why they can't take criticism. Psychopaths or sociopaths have no such inferiority issues.

Anyone seen Sightseers? The mother and leading man are so spot on, it's pretty triggering.

Silverfoxballs Fri 23-Aug-13 19:20:35


With Natalie Wood, hugely disturbing especially as it has the golden child/ scapegoat dynamic and baby June is blonde and Gypsy Rose has dark hair. Exactly the dynamic in my family.

Lucca22 Fri 23-Aug-13 19:27:18

My husband of 28 years who has just left me and our son is a narcissist, there is a film called gaslight with Ingrid Bergman where her husband slowly sends her nuts and these two conditions just about sums the horrid little man up.

Biscuitsareme Fri 23-Aug-13 20:25:22

Lucca22 I'm so sorry; here's to rebuilding your life flowers

I've heard about the film Gaslight before and really want to see it.

Will look out for Gypsy too.

I'm now thinking that a lot of 'Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell' is about irrationality: 'madness' vs sanity, but also extreme arrogance and fear of being thwarted in the guises of Mr Norrell and the Fairy he conjures. So about personality disorders really.

BatwingsAndButterflies Fri 23-Aug-13 21:09:39

Harry Potter has a few:

Lord Voldemort, classic narc to extremes
Gilderoy Lockhart
Malfoy Junior (poss seniors as well)
Pansy Parkinson
Ludo Bagman
Bellatrix Lestrange
All the Dursleys (golden child vs. scapegoat with Dudley (later redeemed somewhat) and Harry)

Probably more that will come to mind.

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Fri 23-Aug-13 21:15:49

God yes Batwings - the Dursleys DEFINITELY.

Would we say Blanche Dubois is a narcissist? Am on the fence on this one as she quite a tragic figure, so you can see why she ended up as she was...

This is a great game this grin

BatwingsAndButterflies Fri 23-Aug-13 21:26:51

Game of Thrones:

Joffrey Baratheon
Cersei Lannister
Viserys Targereon
Theon Greyjoy
Lysa Arran
Renly Baratheon???

KeepTheFaithBaby Fri 23-Aug-13 22:09:51

What about Jasper in The Holiday? I'm not quite certain I love that moment when Iris' blinkers come off and she sees him for who he really is.

Lucca22 Fri 23-Aug-13 23:07:35

Biscuitsareme, Thanks. Getting there, I see it as a test which I have to pass with flying colours because he sure as hell wont.

Shrekingallover Sat 24-Aug-13 07:30:40

Jay Gatsby in the Great Gatsby. The book is also populated by a host of other unsavory characters but Gatsby is the master narcisscist believing himself to be entitled in his behaviour and quest for Daisy's love.

Wellwobbly Sat 24-Aug-13 07:32:55

Lucca, could you start a thread and tell us your story?

There are a lot of us who have been blindsided by narcs... and it is a very hard concept to get, that these people who can behave so inhumanly, that is actually who they are. That acceptance (of the truth) is hard.

spanky2 Sat 24-Aug-13 17:36:34

I have a narcissist dm that must be why I love don draper and can't think why!

UseHerName Sat 24-Aug-13 18:35:47

mayor of casterbridge? thonas hardy...

mysterymeg Sat 24-Aug-13 18:41:04

Slightly OT but has anyone seen the current hollyoaks (yes I know but I'm still sort of youngish) storyline with Maxine and Patrick? Really good (if that's the right word) portrayal of how an abusive relationship starts showing how a confident outgoing woman can be changed. I think it will really educate some people who don't understand how abuse takes hold. Bits of gaslighting going on there too.

May start my own thread...

Back on topic - Emma in Emma?

spanky2 Sat 24-Aug-13 20:44:46

Ethan Hawke's character in Sinister . Who else but a narcissist would move their family to that house for fame?

Iwaswatchingthat Sat 24-Aug-13 20:52:13

Was just coming on to post Jay Gatsby! Just read that book and you are right - it is chokka with narcissists.

GetStuffezd Sat 24-Aug-13 21:14:59

Hatsumomo from Memoirs of a Geisha

lottieandmia Sun 25-Aug-13 00:50:03

Yes, Hatsumomo San was totally messed up imo!

Meringue33 Sun 25-Aug-13 01:08:36

White Oleander

skyeskyeskye Sun 25-Aug-13 01:37:11

Dark Angel is the book about Constance.

EugenesAxe Sun 25-Aug-13 01:51:17

Quentin Villiers in Dead Babies by Martin Amis. He's part psychopath too IMO but I'm no psychiatrist so I may be wrong.

Personally wouldn't consider Emma Woodhouse a narcissist. What about Larry Durrell in 'My Family and...'? I can't decide - 2nd opinions needed.

My DSis jokingly calls me Bella sad

spanky2 Wed 28-Aug-13 18:46:24

Obviously lowering the tone ...Squidward Tentacles in Sponge Bob.grin

FabricQueen Wed 28-Aug-13 18:55:36

Yy to Zenia in The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, and the character of Madame Bovary (what a fantastic book that is).
Also the film Imagine Me and You, in my opinion.

FabricQueen Wed 28-Aug-13 18:56:37

And Catch Me If You Can, that's a good one. (film)

Crumbelina Wed 28-Aug-13 19:38:46

Definitely Ferris Bueller. Not a thought for poor Cameron when he took the Ferrari. Everyone enabled him (and even Jeanie succumbed at the end).

bumbleymummy Wed 28-Aug-13 19:47:12

There are bound to be several in Jilly Cooper! smile

Maud O'Hara is springing to mind...

Possibly Helen Campbell-Black? (re-reading Riders at the moment and she's driving me mad with the whole Jake thing.)

Loopytiles Wed 28-Aug-13 20:05:03

Oberon in midsummer night's dream.


dreamingoflavender Wed 28-Aug-13 20:06:32

I'm not sure Cathy or Heathcliff fit the definition of narcissistic characters.

Heathcliff came from the streets of Liverpool in the late 1700s, at time when the 'triangular trade' meant slavery was rife in cities such as Liverpool. I have always felt that the character of Heathcliff was black, or at least, mixed race, hence the numerous references to him being 'dark' 'foreign' 'gypsy.'

Cathy loved Heathcliff but it would have "degraded" her to marry him because of his looks, and because of his background; narcissistic people cannot love. Heathcliff certainly loved Cathy, but he fixated on revenge on those around him rather than the love he had for Cathy.

I agree they both probably had some sort of personality disorder (histrionic for Cathy probably - Heathcliff I am not so sure, anti-social perhaps?) but they were not narcissistic.

BlazinStoke Wed 28-Aug-13 20:43:02

A crime novel by Sophie Hannah, Kind of Cruel, features a narcissistic villain. I read the book during a particularly difficult time with SIL and many of the character's traits chimed with SIL's - I'd read extracts to DH and he agreed. The book goes into a huge amount of detail on npd and has a reading list at the end.

justwondering72 Wed 28-Aug-13 20:48:42

Blanche Dubois, Cat on a hot tin Roof. Tennessee Williams.

dreamingoflavender Wed 28-Aug-13 22:51:32

Blanche Dubois is in Streetcar named Desire and I would say she's more obsessive/compulsive from what I remember of her.

If anyone has read The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Amanda Wing (the mother) is possibly a good example.

Bumpotato Sat 31-Aug-13 23:27:03

J R Ewing

FeijoaVodkaLovesHokeyPokey Sat 31-Aug-13 23:54:27

Regina and Mr Gold in Once Upon A Time (plus Regina's Mum, Hook and others)

CCTVmum Sun 01-Sep-13 04:58:52

91/2 weeks


Gaslighting ( I have not seen this old film but this is where it comes from)

The joker in Batman

these are more psychopathic with nassicism characteristics (goes hand in hand)

colleysmill Sun 01-Sep-13 08:51:15

Gaslight is a marvellous film - very very creepy!

What about the character Svengali in George du Mauriers novel Trilby? I always thought he might be a narc.

bruffin Sun 01-Sep-13 10:03:46

Seventh Veil may not necessarily be a narc but a very psychologically creepy film.

Lottapianos Sun 01-Sep-13 10:11:59

Janice and Livia Soprano for sure

I'm not sure about Don Draper. He cares very deeply for Peggy and for Joan. He does dreadful self-destructive things and hurts people very badly but I do think he feels shame for it deep down. He has moments when he is kind to his children. He's certainly very impulsive and seems hellbent on sabotaging his own happiness and security. He's a fantastic character and I identify with his deep-down, well-hidden sense of aching sadness and loneliness. I'm not sure he's a narcissist but happy to be proved wrong smile

SpecialAgentCuntSnake Sun 01-Sep-13 10:43:24

Bill from Big Love, absolutely.

I see-saw on Nicki though.

bruffin Sun 01-Sep-13 11:44:47

House in some ways

NadiaWadia Mon 02-Sep-13 00:31:22

Well some of these are probably correct but I think we have to be careful of labelling every not-so-nice person as a narcissist.

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