If you proudly call yourself a reader and reading is one of the pleasures of life that you hold dear, then we’re pretty sure you have a list of characters which has always stayed by your side. From blushing at their flirtations to feeling gloomy at their loss, we’ve done it all. This Women’s Day, we have picked up ten of our most loved female literary characters.
1. Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice):
The second of Mr. Bennet’s five daughters, Lizzie Bennet is her father’s favourite, as well as ours. Described in the book as “a beauty with expressive eyes”, what charmed us all was her ready wit and sharp tongue. Whether it was standing up for Mr. Wickham in her prejudice towards him, or swallowing her pride and apologising to Mr. Darcy when she came to know of the truth – Elizabeth Bennet was every bit our perfect heroine. Said to be based by Jane Austen on her own self, Ms. Bennet sums up her personality perfectly when she remarks about Mr. Darcy – “I would have excused his pride, had he not mortified mine.”
2. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter):
Would this list ever be complete without her? Not only is Ms. Granger the brightest witch of the century, she’s the reason Harry Potter is alive. Ever logical, Hermione is the bravest and most loyal friend one could ever ask for. Every time she made it her job to fight for the ones less fortunate (may it be house-elves, half giants or even teachers who were werewolves), we loved Hermione Granger a little more.
3. Katniss Everdeen ( The Hunger Games):
The female tribute from District 12 (when she volunteered to take her younger sister’s place), Katniss Everdeen is a deadly hunter with a soft heart which she invariably tries to hide. Forced to hunt and provide for her family after her father’s death, Katniss uses the skills she has gathered to her fullest advantage in the Hunger Games. Her rebellious streak that’s visible in her clear disregard for authority is eventually what keeps her alive, making her a favourite with the audience. Katniss is the perfect anti thesis of the damsel in distress.
4. Professor Minerva McGonagall ( Harry Potter):
While we do love Albus Dumbledore, we’re also pretty sure that the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy wouldn’t last a day without Professor Minerva McGonagall. She’s the perfect mixture of strictness and sass-unbending but ever helpful. We clapped and cheered every time she put Dolores Umbridge back into her place and stood like an unyielding shield for her students.
5. Lisbeth Salander ( The girl with the Dragon Tattoo):
A ward of the State, Lisbeth Salander is often considered dangerous, and to an extent deranged by those around her. Rather than fight the image, Lisbeth finds solace in the solitude it provides her with, complete with her numerous piercings and tattoos. Hiding in anonymity, she quietly siphons off millions of dollars with the same calmness with which she punishes her rapist. Shaped by a tremendously troubled childhood, first in her family and then at the mental institute, Salander could well be a villain but for the goodness of her heart- something we witness in her behaviour with her erstwhile guardian.
6. Sati (The Shiva Trilogy):
If you haven’t already read the Shiva Trilogy, we suggest you do it ASAP. The modern day interpretation of mythological India in nothing short of brilliance, reconciling science with the stories we know from our childhood. Enter Sati, daughter of King Daksha- warrior princess, calm and dignified. Along with Shiva, all of us fell in love with her quite demeanour and integrity.
7. Portia (The Merchant of Venice):
We’re all familiar with Shakespeare’s famous phrase, “All that glitters is not gold”, but do we remember the lady who was responsible for it? Born heiress to a rich father, the intelligent Portia devises a clever plan to choose her husband by making potential suitors pick between three different caskets. The moment we fall in love with her, however, is when she defends her betrothed Antonio from the crutches of the shrewd Shylock, all in the guise of a male barrister. We suggest you read the play simply for its leading lady.
8. Catelyn Stark (A song of Ice and fire):
Catelyn Stark, the strength of the Wolves of the North. We don’t blame Littlefinger for falling in love with her, for we did too. Catelyn is best described in the words of her house, House Tully. “Family, Duty and Honour”, and Catelyn is all of that, in the precise order. From capturing the queen’s brothers to waging a war to avenge her husband, Catelyn does whatever it takes to protect her family.
9. Laila ( A Thousand Splendid Sons):
When her mother slips into depression after the death of her brothers, Laila is forced to grow up and take charge of not just the household, but her own life. Compromising on her independence, she decides to marry sixty year old Rasheed, simply to give her unborn child the comfort of a house and the name of a father. We adore Laila’s spirit, managing to find happiness in the gloomiest of times. The book is a beautiful narrative of two women who choose to defy destiny and forge a bond seldom seen.
10. Miss Marple ( Agatha Christie):
Agatha Christie’s Deft Detective is neither young, nor a man. Staying in the village of St. Mary Mead, Jane Marple has gained a deep understanding of the human nature and all the perils it entails. Agatha Christie’s rendition of “an old crony loosely based on her grandmother or aunt” is delightfully sharp witted, with a tongue to match.
That’s all for this list. Here’s to strong women – may we know them, may we raise them, and may we be them. Happy Women’s Day!
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