Most inspiring female characters in literature
Celebrating International Women’s Day by recognising fiction's pioneers, radicals and role models
This week we're celebrating International Women’s Day by recognising inspiring female role models across the arts world. Here we look at women in literature – who stands out and why they deserve recognition as we approach IWD 2015...
Katniss Everdeen: the Hunger Games series
Katniss is a born survivor. Providing for her family following her father’s death she selflessly enters the Hunger Games in place of her sister Prim. In the game she is deadly but never cruel, using quick thinking and practical skills to out do her opponents. Katniss is the first person, male or female, to outsmart the Hunger Games, an action that sets off an uprising against the Capital.
Pippi Longstocking: Pippi Longstocking
There’s a lot more to Pippi than those gravity-defying ginger plaits. At just nine years old she lives independently, cares for her assorted pets and doesn’t take any nonsense from condescending adults. She’s also ‘the strongest girl in the world’ but never uses hers strength for destruction (we’re looking at you, Hulk).
Hermione Granger: the Harry Potter series
Without Hermione JK Rowling’s series would have stopped short in the first book with Harry and Ron smothered by Devil’s Snare. She joins the boys on all their escapades, usually performing the majority of the magic and still remains top of the class, campaigns for better treatment for House Elves and founds Dumbeldore’s Army.
Karana: Island of the Blue Dolphins
An inspiring story of survival Karana is based on the true story of Juana Maria, a young girl stranded for years on an island off the California coast. Totally alone following her brother’s violent death, she learns to make her clothes, builds spears and canoes, forages for food and tames the animals.
Princess Elizabeth: The Paper Bag Princess
In this reversal of a traditional fairytale, a dragon kidnaps the Prince, burning the Princess’ clothes in the process. Wearing a paper bag as opposed to the usual glittering gown, Princess Elizabeth outwits the dragon and rescues Prince Ronald. When he ungratefully critisies her appearance, she calls him out and dances into the sunset.
Princess Smartypants: Princess Smartypants
Another princess who broke the mould is Princess Smartypants. She doesn’t want to be a Mrs. To put off her persistent suitors she sets a series of difficult tasks, out doing them in motorbike rides, roller disco marathons and feeding her pet monsters. After turning the last into a toad she settles down to enjoy her solo happily ever after.
Matilda Wormwood: Matilda
The child genius who loves to read, Matilda’s creative spirit refuses to be quashed by either her uncaring parents or her cruel headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. Instead she uses her special gift of telekinesis to outwit the adults and serve them up their just desserts.
Pollyanna Whittier: Pollyanna
Pollyanna is the eternal optimist, refusing to be downcast or self-pitying in the face of adversity. Despite being an orphan sent to live with her stern Aunt Polly in dejected Beldingsville, Pollyanna uses her special ‘glad game’ to find one thing in every situation to be glad about. Her unique life philosophy catches on and the lives of the villagers are improved immeasurably.
Scout Finch: To Kill A Mockingbird
The narrator of To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout rejects the conventions of Southern white womanhood, not wanting to be confined by long dresses, expected to stay indoors or modify her language. The daughter of moral hero Atticus she has a strong moral grounding, stopping a mob trying to lynch Tom Robinson by distracting the leader with an invite for his son to dinner.