Top 8 Fictional Women
Don't we just love the men in our literature? Whether they're proud like Mr. Darcy, intelligent like Sherlock Holmes, or destined for greatness like Harry Potter, there are some male characters in literature, theater, and cinema that stay in our memory years after their stories are told.
That's why I'm not writing about them. Not today, readers. Instead, I'd like to recognize the women of literature. These are the ladies that are just as compelling as the male characters, if not more so. These are the ladies that make our kind want to jump up and scream, “You go, girl!” And today, I'm counting down eight fictional ladies that I salute for their greatness.
8: Lucy Pevensie from CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia
They call her Lucy the Valiant in the series, and I fully believe that she earned the title. In both The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, she remains faithful to her beliefs and sticks to her guns, even when all three of her siblings accuse her of lying or going mad. She's thirsty for adventure, and she'll go into battle when her friends need her. Lucy is the first out of all four Pevensie children to befriend the creatures of Narnia, and were it not for her, they never would've found Narnia to begin with. The reason she can see Aslan the Great Lion, even when the others can't, is because she's the most faithful of all of them.
7: Belle from Beauty and the Beast
I'm not an avid fan of fairy tales, but if I had to pick one to call a favorite, then it would definitely be Beauty and the Beast. I think that the strongest point of the original story and Disney's adaptation is Belle, the main character. Belle is the most popular Disney princess, and for good reason. She puts her loved ones above herself, as shown when she takes her father's place as prisoner in the Beast's castle. She takes joy out of the little things in life—roses in the original fairy tale and books in Disney's version. She does her own thing and doesn't really care about what other people think. Additionally, Belle wants more from life than what girls are usually expected to want, something beyond comprehension.
6: Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
Well, you can't have a list of likeable fictional ladies without bringing Jane Austen into the picture. Jane Austen is known for creating memorable heroines in her novels, and playful Lizzy is no exception. Her razor sharp wit and intelligence could slice through a bushel of apples. She's also one of the few women in the story who said, “You know, I'd rather marry because I want me to, not because someone else wants me to.” That was pretty rare at the time for women to say that and get away with it. At the same time, she's also flawed in the sense that she has to overcome personal prejudices in order to see the good in people like Mr. Darcy (hence half of the title).
5: Katniss Everdeen from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games
The feedback I get about this character is fascinating. People either love or hate Katniss, the Girl on Fire. She's intelligent, loyal, strong, and independent... well, sometimes. Most of the hate centers around the love triangle between her, Peeta, and Gale, as well as the fact that she doesn't really know what she wants. My sister-in-law despises Katniss with a passion because she claims that Katniss is manipulative. Additionally, Katniss seems to allow people to do what they want to her rather then decide how she wants to be treated.
I see where these people are coming from, but I don't think that the first two faults are really Katniss' doing. Let's face it, the love triangle is an overused plot point that makes it easy for romance novelists to tell a story - so let's not blame the characters for that. I think her being manipulative and passive are just two traits that she used to survive the Games. She's a survivor first; that's how she trained herself to be. She has to stay alive in order to feed her family, who depend on Katniss' hunting abilities for food. She knows it, and she'll do anything she has to in order to keep her sister alive and thriving. At the end of the day, Katniss' loyalty to the people she cares about is her best quality, which is why I can easily keep her on the list.
4: Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked
I couldn't decide which of these two to put in the list, as I love them both so much for various reasons. I'm mostly going with the musical because I haven't read the book. Elphaba—who we know as the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard of Oz—might actually surprise you by the fact that she's far from a lean, mean, green machine... although she's still green. She's actually very protective of the people and ideas that she cares about, and the reason she wants the ruby slippers so much is because they're all that's left of her sister, the Wicked Witch of the East (known in the story as Nessarose).
Then there's Glinda, the Witch of the North. Due to her snobby, arrogant attitude in the beginning of the musical, I should hate her. But in actuality, I thought she was hilarious. Her naïve lines, her attempts at magic without knowing what she's doing, and her song “Popular” all cracked me up. On a more serious note, she also strikes me as the kind of character who wants to be of use, but doesn't always know how.
You don't always get to see people wantingto be strong, but not being able to figure out how to meet that expectation. For example, when Elphaba's favorite teacher is arrested due to the growing regime against animals, Glinda (at that time named Galinda) drops the first 'a' since the teacher had constantly called her 'Glinda.' By the end of the musical, she hopes that she can earn the title 'Glinda the Good.' So in that sense, Glinda is really fascinating to me.
3: Ella from Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted
I love Anne Hathaway, but let's ignore that terrible movie and focus on the character in the book. In the beginning of her story, Ella is given a 'gift' of obedience that forces her to do everything she's told to do. But instead of making her happy to obey, it makes her rebellious and strong-willed. On top of that, she likes making people—Prince Charmont in particular—laugh with her witty remarks and her ability to imitate others. Instead of becoming docile after her time in finishing school, she turns the tables and comes up with more antics for making readers (and Charmont) laugh. Ella is also kindhearted when she wants to be, being the only person in finishing school to befriend Arieda, a poor innkeeper's daughter from a neighboring country.
2: Beatrice from William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespeare play, due in large part to the lady of beauty, wit, and loyalty, Beatrice. She's very intelligent, poised, and honest, and she enjoys mocking the opposite sex—though her teasing is more playful than malicious. I love that she's determined to live her life the way she sees fit. My favorite line from Beatrice is “I'd rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.” Additionally, she's very loyal and protective of her cousin Hero, defending her reputation as a virgin even when no one else would believe that she was innocent. I think my favorite scene with Beatrice (aside from the scenes where she and Benedick trade insults) is at the beginning of the masquerade ball, when she claims that she'll spend her time in the afterlife with the bachelors before telling Hero to live her own life and marry whoever she loves, not just whoever her father loves.
1: Every recurring female character from JK Rowling's Harry Potter
In an interview found on the Blueray release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 2, JK Rowling herself said that she wanted to create strong, fictional women that show what females around the world are capable of. Honestly, considering the lineup of women in this series, I wouldn't doubt it. First you have Molly Weasley, the mother hen of the series who perhaps had one of the best quotes ever right before (spoiler alert!) killing Bellatrix Lestrange, the most dangerous of Voldemort's followers: “Not my daughter, you bitch!” Holy snot rocket, I love that line.
Speaking of Molly's daughter, Ginny Weasley is also a great female character in the series. She's strong, confident, loyal, smart, independent, and sometimes funny. Personally, my favorite HP female is Luna Lovegood, the eccentric, intelligent, perceptive friend who didn't care about what other people thought and stayed true to who she was and what she believed.
I feel like I should also talk about Fleur Delacour, the first person to marry into the Weasley family. Much like Glinda, she starts out snobby, arrogant, and even blunt. But again, she wants to be strong; she just doesn't always know how, but she does get better as the series progresses. I also like that she's determined to love her husband even when she doesn't know how bad his werewolf injuries will be. He could turn into a true werewolf for all she knows, and yet she's still willing to stay by his side and take care of him.
But perhaps the most popular HP female character is Hermione Granger, the book lover and one of Harry's best friends. A lot of female HP readers that I've talked to about Hermione see her as a role model, and for good reason. Not only is she an exaggeration of the author herself, but she's also a young woman of conviction, knowledge, and bravery. When Voldemort rose to power and made it dangerous to be a Muggle-born, Hermione could've easily gone into hiding with her parents. Instead, she chose to go alongside Harry and help him on his journey to bring Voldemort to justice. Her thirst for learning made her a vital ally—Ron and Harry wouldn't have lasted long without her, as they both admitted at one point in the series.
What really hits me about Hermione is the fact that she stands for ideas that everyone else would ridicule. While residents of the wizard world would shrug about the ill treatment of goblins, house elves, and Muggle-borns, Hermione stands for them all, at one point even saying “Mudblood and proud of it!”
Overall, it seems like Rowling had a different character that any kind of woman, at any age, could relate to and identify with (or just adore in general). That is why I put them all at the top of this list: Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, Luna, Fleur, and Hermione.