SparkNotes Blog

7 of the Most Brilliant Insults in All of Literature

I’ve lived 20-odd years on this earth, and I have yet to deliver a clever but vicious insult to someone who fully deserves it. I’ve never uttered the words “I could agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong,” nor have I had the opportunity to drop just a really well-timed “YOUR MOM” into the conversation. (This is, as we all know, the most dismissive invective one human being can say to another.)

I don’t care who you are or where you’ve been—nothing beats the pure, primal urge to roast someone within an inch of their life, preferably in front of a crowd of cheering onlookers. The problem is that most of us aren’t quite that articulate, so it’s probably best to leave this sort of thing to the professionals—which is to say fictional characters. Here are 7 literary insults so brutal you’ll have to take a moment to yourself and whisper, “Damn.”