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Eight Literary Characters We Love To Hate

Eight Literary Characters We Love To Hate

Watching a film, binge watching a tv series, reading a book. We love a great plot line, but it’s the characters we invest in that keep us interested, who keep us wanting more.

Every story has characters that we favour and love; the ones we root for throughout. We want them to succeed, we want them to win. Then there are the characters we hate, characters with so few redeeming qualities that despising them is actually pretty fun. They are cruel and unashamedly so…

These are the characters we love to hate:

1. Dolores Umbridge

Book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Professor Umbridge is a lot of things: callous, narrow minded, and cruel to name just a few. She shares of lot of her awful traits with Lord Voldemort, but it’s her manipulative streak and sickly sweet persona that makes her so unbearable.  

2. Joffrey Baratheon

Book: Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire Series

We’ve seen him in the television programme, and his cruelty was relentless in that, but book Joffrey is even worse. He literally has no redeeming qualities - you can’t help but loathe the guy!  

3. Amy Dunne

Book: Gone Girl

Her partner wasn’t much better with his egotistical ways, but at least there was a little glimmer of conscience there. Amy is grossly manipulative, and alarmingly clever with it. You hate her, but you’re equally intrigued by her.

4. Mrs Havisham

Book: Great Expectations

An interesting one, we dislike her because she is mean, deceitful and unrelenting in her treatment towards Pip. For a good while, we do love to hate her. But in the end, we end up pitying her the fact that she felt that this sort of behaviour was the only way to get on in life.   

5. Miss Trunchbull

Book: Matilda

She is textbook mean. Dahl threw every unlikeable trait he could at her, with great results. Readers love to hate her and they don’t feel the slightest bit bad about it!

6. Dorian Gray

Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Fascinating but not a nice person at all. Vain and vicious, with an incredible lack of empathy. All of his focus lays on what he looks like.

7. Nellie Olsen

Book: Little House on the Prairie

She’s only a girl, but we dislike her because she reminds us of the school bully that we’re all familiar with. It’s a bizarre feeling, we can’t stand her but at the same time we laugh at her and pity the fact that she fails to grow out of her sabotaging, scheming ways.

9. Tom Buchanan

Book: The Great Gatsby

Misogynistic, narrow minded, arrogant, ignorant - in a book filled to the brim with self-indulgent characters, he’s probably the worst of them!


There we have it. Some of literature’s most brilliant but nasty characters. Who would you add to the list?
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Patricia McPherson - February 28, 2023

Iago (Shakespeare’s Othello) is the most evil character in all of literature. He is a master manipulator, has no conscience or sense of the other person, his jealously rules and propels him to destroy others’ lives, plus he is a murderer, and he tricks Othello into murdering his wife Desdemona, which is the ultimate tragedy of Othello, that he let his fake friend Iago cause him to ruin his good life and kill the woman he loves and who loves him.
There are Iago’s all around us, and Othello teaches a lesson about trust and gullibility.

Cynthia Thornewell - October 27, 2022

I would add the younger sister in “Atonement” by Ian McEwan to this list. I could not develop any sense of empathy towards her character, nor could I relate to how she remained so massively stoic at best (?cowardly) in the face of the lifelong agony she perpetuated. Despite understanding the gendered, developmental and psychological dynamics involved and the impact on her behaviour, in my view, she never redeemed herself.

Anne - October 27, 2022

Character: Julius King
Book: A Fairly Honorable Defeat by Iris Murdoch

The name “Julius” has been forever ruined for me by this evil, loathsome character, and I read this book more than 20 years ago.

Donna Hammar - October 27, 2022

A guy we truly love to hate. Totally evil and without empathy was “Javert,” the police inspector who relentlessly pursues our hero, Jean Valjean, in Les Miserables. A fantastic book, long before the movie version(s).

James Moody - October 27, 2022

Jason Compton in The Sound and the Fury is the character I hate most.

Geoff Williams - October 27, 2022

Major Strasser in Casablanca.

By today’s films standards he is a bit lame, but in the context of the film and the time, he was a very bad baddy.

Janet Thabit - October 27, 2022

Of course, this list must include The Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!

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