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Hypocrite: Literature


  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Tywin Lannister threatens to hang the next whore he finds in the bed of his son Tyrion. Then Tyrion happens to get into his father's bedroom univited and unchecked, and guess whom he finds there? Shae, Tyrion's own concubine.
  • The Pharisees from The Bible. They adamantly enforce Old Testament law yet they broke a lot of rules so they can have Jesus arrested.
  • Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He considers chewing gum "really gross" and detestable, yet seemingly sees no wrong in making profit from selling it (in the book, he explicitly states his desire to get that flawed gum right so he can sell it). He also disdains fat children, yet sees no wrong in selling chocolate, and general candy, even though sweets are number one cause for child obesity. He also denies that Oompa-Loompas texts about the mishaps happening to children were prepared in advance, even though they clearly were.
  • In Coda, Anthem lampshades that he's this when he tracks—even more so after he becomes a Corp musician.
  • In the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz, some of the members of the Camberian Council express contempt for Morgan and Duncan because of their half-breed parentage (which of course they did not choose), despite the fact that there are other people who regard all Deryni (including the Council, if they were known) with contempt (and worse) and none of them chose to be be Deryni.
  • In The Diamond Age hypocrisy is examined by several characters, notably Finkle-McGraw and Napier.
    "We take a somewhat different view of hypocrisy," Finkle-McGraw continued. "In the late-twentieth-century Weltanschauung, a hypocrite was someone who espoused high moral views as part of a planned campaign of deception — he never held these beliefs sincerely and routinely violated them in privacy. Of course, most hypocrites are not like that. Most of the time itís a spirit-is-willing, flesh-is-weak sort of thing."
    "That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code," Major Napier said, working it through, "does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code."
  • Catherine Dollanganger in V. C. Andrews "Dollanganger" series (to be fair, not until the final book of the series), in spades. She carries on an affair with her brother Chris, yet blasts her son Bart and daughter-in-law Melodie (who is married to Bart's brother Jory) for their adulterous affair. In response, Bart (who frequently cavorts with other married women as well) sneeringly reminds her "what I do with Melodie is far less sinful that what you do with Chris". Similarly, youngest daughter Cindy is constantly reprimanded for her promiscuity by both her mother and her brother Bart (to the point of verbal and physical abuse), when she's neither related to nor cheating on/with any of the guys she's involved with.
  • Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry is a classic of the type. Although with a goodly amount of Snake Oil Salesman thrown in. It's hard to think of a Sinclair Lewis novel that wasn't populated almost to the point of exclusivity with these.
  • Elsabeth Soesten's friend and companion, Brother Hieronymus is shamelessly so. He's constantly Slut Shaming Elsabeth, despite frequently making lewd remarks about and hitting on her, all while frequenting brothels himself.
  • In the Everworld series, Senna tries to give David, Jalil, April, and Christopher to Hel. After the whole thing is said and done, they all give Senna crap for it, but she brushes it off with a really weak I Did What I Had to Do type excuse. Five books later, Senna's mother tries to give Senna to Merlin in order to make it so that Loki, Ka Anor, and the other gods can't use her as a Gateway and invade the real world. Senna completely loses her composure.
    • Later, David notes (in his narration) that while Senna believes that she can do anything to anyone, she also believes that anything done to her is unforgivable, and that this should not come as a shock to anyone.
    • That's because from Senna's viewpoint, It's All About Me, and everyone else is, at best, a tool or servant for her use.
  • Happens in The Great Gatsby with some Double Standard thrown in. Tom proudly shows off his mistress to Nick and has repeatedly cheated on his wife before but becomes incredibly pissed off when he finds out she and Gatsby are having an affair.
  • Halo Kilo Five Trilogy, the ONI characters call Dr. Halsey's methods of kidnapping children at a young age to turn them into SPARTAN II's as abhorrent. However ONI's leader Admiral Parangosky and Colonel Ackerson, do the same thing with their SPARTAN III's, by taking orphaned children from glassed planets. The difference is Halsey really cares about her Spartans and acts as a surrogate mother to them. While the later two basically consider their Spartans as expendable commandos. Parangosky mostly scapegoated Dr. Halsey as petty revenge.
  • Max Beerbohm's The Happy Hypocrite And why is he happy? Because he became the mask. Literally.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters are prejudiced against wizards with less than pure wizarding blood and non human magical creatures in general despite he himself having a muggle parent. While he's counting on the anti-Muggle feelings of his followers, he genuinely despises Muggles and anything he considers Mud-blood — and he apparently has a one drop rule for everyone except himself and personal Death Eaters like Snape. While they also recruited Giants and Werewolves, they probably rationalized them as second and third tier "citizens" in Voldemort's new England.
      • It was suggested a few times that he was exploiting the prejudices of his own followers more than enforcing his own, and that he really didn't care about anything but his own power anymore. Voldemort's own half-blood status was one of the reasons he started going after power. He considered his father to be lowly and weak and cowardly for turning away his mother and was determined to ignore his own history and go with wanting power.
    • And then we have Umbridge. Although fans have a lot of reasons to hate her with relish, her hypocrisy is certainly one of the main ones. In her introductory book, she is seen as an agent of the Ministry, sycophantic to its causes and forcing tyrannical laws onto the school in order to get her own way, yet at the same time, she gleefully (although secretly) engages in activities that are highly illegal and certainly unforgivable, even by the Ministry. Worse, she punishes Harry most severely for asserting that Voldemort is at large, insisting that he "not tell lies", while aping the official Ministry line on Voldemort, which is patently and obviously false. In the final book, she persecutes Muggle-borns for "stealing magic" which she should certainly know is a nonsensical charge, while claiming that the locket she took as a bribe is an old family heirloom supporting her own bloodline. The injustice and cruelty of this enrages Harry so much that he attacks her immediately without resorting to a more subtle plan.
    • Sirius, too, despite his axiom that the measure of a man is how he treats his inferiors, he behaves detestably towards Kreacher (since Kreacher reminds him of the house and the family he hated while growing up). Indeed, this is one of his least admirable qualities. It also bites him in the arse. Hard. But as Dumbledore clarifies, Sirius was kind to House Elves in general but Kreacher was special as a reminder of his home and the bad childhood that he hoped to escape.
      • Also, his belief that "the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters" goes out the window during the argument with Snape. Though the latter is himself not blameless in that regard. Word of God admits that this is a serious flaw for Sirius, but she also admits that it's difficult to be morally consistent in life.
    • Lupin in the third book tells Harry that he's appalled that Harry never brought the Marauder's Map to a teacher's attention given how useful it would be to catch Sirius or how useful it'd be to Sirius if he found it. Yet Lupin never bothers telling Dumbledore (or anyone except Harry, Ron, and Hermione) that Sirius is an animagus and knows about the tunnel from the Shrieking Shack onto Hogwarts grounds.
    • Despite constantly complaining about the bullying he received as a child from the Marauders, Snape does nothing to stop Malfoy and the Slytherins from bullying Harry and company and even bullies them himself.
  • The House of Night: Zoey is juggling three or four boys, yet she insults Aphrodite for being "slutty".
  • Knight Templar Claude Frollo of The Hunchback of Notre Dame believes that Sex Is Evil and that his chastity makes him better than everyone else and that gypsies are sinful pagan scum. Then he falls in lust with Esmeralda, a gypsy dancer.
  • In Death series: Principal Mosebly is revealed to be this in Innocent In Death. She claims to stand for the school and it's best interests. However, it turns out that she was not only aware that one teacher Reed Williams had been having sex with the parents of schoolchildren and engaging in sexual harassment, but she had sex with him in the pool and in her own office! She only took steps to have him resign when she found out that he had rape drugs in his possession and that he was the prime suspect of murdering a teacher in the school. Peabody refers to her as a Hypocrite at one point.
  • Mr. Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre has the girls at Jane's boarding school, over which he is superintendent, fed meals lacking in nutritional value and given sleeping quarters that are less than fit for any humans, with the aim of teaching humility...yet his own children are comfortably clothed, housed and fed.
  • There's a very subtle example in The Lord of the Rings (which is explained outright in Unfinished Tales). Saruman openly berates Gandalf for his use of tobacco, but in private, in an attempt to imitate Gandalf, becomes addicted to pipeweed himself. Note that in the movie, Saruman says, "Your love of the halflings' leaf has clearly slowed your mind" but Merry and Pippin find several large barrels of tobacco in Saruman's home later on.
  • Henry Crawford of Mansfield Park claims to be a Ladykiller in Love with the heroine, yet has no problem running off with her cousin after proposing to her and considering them engaged; fancies himself a Prince Charming who wants to make Fanny Price happy, yet deliberately averts I Want My Beloved to Be Happy because, truthfully, It's All About Me. In context, even he has no idea how contradictory his statements and actions are.
  • In G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, Syme discusses poetry with some examples from health and sickness.
    "Really," said Gregory superciliously, "the examples you choose—"
    "I beg your pardon," said Syme grimly, "I forgot we had abolished all conventions."
    • Later, when Gregory has brought Syme to an anarchist stronghold, and Syme has revealed that he is a policeman (both under The Promise to not reveal the information), Syme makes a fire-breathing anarchist speech. Gregory calls him a hypocrite. Syme says he is only doing his duty.
  • Julien Sorel in The Red and the Black idolizes Napoleon and dreams of being a war hero. But he figures he can earn both social status and a good income by becoming a priest, so he pursues that unsuitable vocation, fully aware of his hypocrisy.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Well, now! Prosecutor Jack Emery tries to have the Vigilantes arrested...at least until the book The Jury. There he was, practically spewing about how lawbreakers should be punished, and yet he never seems to notice that he broke a thousand laws himself in trying to arrest the Vigilantes. Indeed, several authority figures pretty much turn into this in helping the Vigilantes, and said authority figures eventually resign from their posts. Double Standards rear their ugly heads more than once, by showing that men mistreating women is a terrible thing and that women mistreating men is a great thing. The books Deja Vu and Home Free show the consequences of this.
  • Elizabeth Wakefield in Sweet Valley High. Frequently criticized or looked down on Jessica for being snobby and stuck-up, yet never realized that she was doing the exact same thing. Insisted and practically demanded that HER friends be given a second chance and insisted that people could change for the better, yet always refused to give JESSICA's friends the same consideration.
  • Angel Clare oh so much in Tess of the d'Urbervilles. He poses himself as an intellectual man, which he is, and accepting of other classes. But it takes about a year of suffering in Brazil for him to realize that perhaps abandoning his bride Tess, just because she was not a virgin (by rape nonetheless!) was a cruel, cruel act.
  • The Trumpet of the Swan: Louis' father once tells his son that one can pick up more information by listening than by talking. Good advice, except that Louis' father himself never shuts up. One must wonder if he is a distant relative of a certain infamous owl from a certain famous video game.
    "Do not let an unnatural sadness settle over you, Louis," said the cob. "Swans must be cheerful, not sad; graceful, not awkward; brave, not cowardly. Remember that the world is full of youngsters who have some sort of handicap that they must overcome. You apparently have a speech defect. I am sure you will overcome it, in time. There may even be some slight advantage, at your age, in not being able to say anything. It compels you to be a good listener. The world is full of talkers, but it is rare to find anyone who listens. And I assure you that you can pick up more information when you are listening than when you are talking."
    "My father does quite a lot of talking himself," thought Louis.
  • Warrior Cats has some hypocritical cats:
    • Tigerstar despises kittypets (house cats) and thinks of them as inferior to Clan cats...yet he is mates with one who later becomes pregnant with his kits.
    • Hollyleaf believes murder is wrong...yet she murdered Ashfur in cold blood...and after that, she got over it. She also scolded Lionblaze for being friends with a cat from WindClan (Heathertail), yet Jayfeather reminds her that she's friends with Willowshine from RiverClan.
  • Survivors has Alpha hating Doberman Pinchers (Fierce Dogs) for what they did to him as a pup and abuses Storm for being one. But in The Endless Lake, he ends up betraying his own pack for the dogs he claimed to hate.

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