In books, there are characters you love, hate . . . and love to hate.
For instance, you hate Voldemort and Count Olaf. Because they're the bad guys. It's what you do: hate them. You don't really take any particular pleasure in hating them, but you do, because they're so evil and garlic-in-their-soul-y.
There's another type of bad guy: the type that you love to hate. You hate them almost worse than the "main" bad guy, but they are such genius characters that you can't help loving them a little tiny bit, too. The book just wouldn't be the same without them.
Esme Squalor is a good example of the love-to-hate character. She's horrid, cruel, and scary. She's also ridiculous, funny, and altogether interesting to read about. I love her "I'm the city's third most important financial adviser" schpeel and her "in" worries. Aqueous martinis or parsley soda, anyone? She's a hoot.
Professor Umbridge is an even better example. She's devious, full of malice, and so hateful that it's hard to keep from pounding your copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when she performs another cruel act towards Harry and Co. Yet at the same time she's a wonderful character, and you know that the fifth book wouldn't have been the same without her. I love Umbridge, while hating her with the deepest loathing.
So, who are some of your favorite love-to-hate characters?