We often assume that monsters are ugly, fat, and male. We also tend to think that a beautiful person is a good person. However, that isn’t true as many hide their monstrous nature behind their good looks. It is easy to picture Mrs. Trunchbull as a monster, but we find it difficult to reconcile with the fact that Amy Dunne might be monstrous. Books can help you distinguish between a monster and a person who is monstrous. In this list, you’ll find seven popular literary characters that are classic examples of ‘beautiful monsters’ and show you that being monstrous has nothing to do with how you look.

(Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister via Pinterest)


Cersei Lannister

A Song Of Ice And Fire

Described as a strikingly beautiful woman with golden hair, emerald green eyes, fair skin, and a slender, graceful figure, Cersei Lannister is willing to do anything to become powerful. She seduces her cousin and makes him poison and murder her own husband. She tortures a captive Sansa, rapes Teana Merryweather, has the High Septon murdered, and gets a prostitute beaten up merely because she suspects her to be Tyrion’s lover. Vengeful and manipulative, Cersei Lannister is a formidable, beautiful, and monstrous woman.

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(Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray via Virtual History)


Dorian Gray

The Picture Of Dorian Gray

Described as a “young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves” with “finely-curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair”, Dorian Gray may well be considered the epitome of beauty. However, Gray was also a narcissist who pursued every pleasure and sin and led an increasingly libertine life, fueled by his need for new experiences and desire to remain beautiful. Over the course of The Picture Of Dorian Gray, we see him becoming truly monstrous as he drives a woman to suicide, murders his friend and blackmails another. Gray is a classic example of a beautiful monster.

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(Christian Coulson as Tom Riddle via Pottermore)


Tom Riddle

Harry Potter

Described as black-haired, tall and very good-looking, Tom Riddle, a.k.a Lord Voldemort, was a monster to say the least. At the age of 10, he was already bullying his classmates and was willing to leave them to die in a remote cave. Dumbeldore suspected that Riddle committed his first murder around the age of 16. And earlier, he had released the dreaded Basilisk on the school population with the aim of riding Hogwarts of muggle-born witches and wizards. He was more than happy when Hagrid and his giant spider, Aragog, were made scapegoats for his crime. Eventually, Riddle lost his good looks and his appearance became distorted because he split his soul too many times to create Horcruxes. Voldemort was so dreaded that wizards would refuse to use his name, often referring to him as He Who Must Not Be Named.

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(Tilda Swinton as The White Witch via Bustle)


Jadis/ The White Witch

The Chronicles Of Narnia

Seven feet tall and with a face “white like snow or paper or icing sugar, except for her very red mouth”, Jadis or The White Witch, as she was popularly known, was a sorceress and the main villain in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. Arrogant and cruel, she thought that rules didn’t apply to her and used others as tools to accomplish what she needed. In fact, she even used the Deplorable Word to kill her sister, despite being aware of the fact that it would destroy the entire world. Later, she even shows pride in her actions and clearly, has no regrets. Powerful and unrepentant, The White Witch made for a formidable antagonist.

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(Jane Seymour as Cathy Ames via Pinterest)


Cathy Ames

East Of Eden

With her “delicate blooming skin, the golden hair, the wide-set, modest, and yet promising eyes, the little mouth full of sweetness”, East Of Eden’s Cathy Ames was described by Steinbeck as ”a total representative of Satan”. A manipulative woman, she often uses her sexuality to destroy men. She frames two boys for attempted rape and drives her Latin professor to suicide. She even robs her family safe and burns down her home, killing her parents in the process. At one point, she admits that she enjoys using people, “I could make them do whatever I wanted… when I was half-grown I made a man kill himself.” Cathy Ames is probably one of the most beautiful monsters in literature.

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(Glenn Close as Marquise de Merteuil via The Mary Sue )


Marquise de Merteuil

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

The beautiful Marquise de Merteuil is a wealthy widow who comes across as a virtuous woman, but is in reality, a cruel woman who uses sex as a weapon to humiliate others, simply for her own amusement. In Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Merteuil challenges her ex-lover, Vicomte de Valmont, to seduce an innocent girl and helps him destroy Madame de Tourvel, a respectable married woman. Merteuil takes great pleasure in toying with people and deception is a way of life for her. This beautiful monster hides her true nature under a virtuous mask, which makes her all the more chilling.

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(Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne via Cultjer)


Amy Dunne

Gone Girl

Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne is smart, beautiful, and comes across as the perfect daughter and wife. However, underneath this persona, lies a manipulative, villainous person who is obsessed with controlling others. She spends a year planning every single detail of how she will frame Nick (her husband) for her apparent murder- from setting aside a nest egg to convincing people that she is afraid of blood and even writing a journal that sets Nick up as dangerous. Perhaps, what is most concerning about this beautiful monster is her willingness to do pretty much anything to get her way, whether it is blackmail or even murdering the very person who helps her in her hour of need. 

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Do you also assume that beautiful people are not often monstrous? Did we miss out on any other ‘beautiful monster’? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

Devanshi Jain

Devanshi Jain

Devanshi has been reading ever since she can remember. What started off as an obsession with Enid Blyton, slowly morphed into a love for mystery and fantasy. Even her choice of career as a lawyer was heavily influenced by the works of Erle Stanley Gardner and John Grisham. After quitting law, and while backpacking around India, she read books on entrepreneurship, taught herself web design and delved into social media marketing. She doesn’t go anywhere without a book.

She is the founding editor of The Curious Reader. Read her articles here.