[. . .]Why are the mischief makers and the unscrupulous rogues of fiction so interesting? Is it because they are so much more fun than the morally upright but bland heroes? Ever wondered why girls fancy Heathcliff? Why Falstaff may be fat but is also cool? Do writers also find their villains more alluring? Are you also one of those who marveled that Milton's Lucifer in Paradise Lost has the best lines ("It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.") in the epic?
I'm sure I like them, but I'm not sure why. Is it because we readers love a bit of entertaining naughtiness? Is it because villains are often more full-bodied and complex than their upstanding counterparts? I suppose it might be a bit of both - and I also wonder whether it's perhaps easier to sympathise with the characters who share, if not our specific flaws, then at least our lack of perfection ... Oliver's perpetual goodness, for example, just doesn't seem real to me. On the other hand, I can far more readily perceive how poverty could turn me into a pickpocketing Artful Dodger. [. . .]
Why do bad characters make such good reads?