Choice, choices. I feel like I set myself up with this post. ‘Oh, It will be a nice, easy post,’ I thought. Pah, I didn’t factor in the part where I only pick five heroines.
However, I whittled it down, and picked five heroines; five heroines who probably end up on everyone’s list somewhere.
Jane Eyre (Protagonist in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
A complex, resilient, intelligent character, Jane Eyre has resolve and a strong sense of self. Jane Eyre sought social and financial independence in a time when women were highly dependant on men. This enabled her to look for greater meaning in her life, and what she wanted to accomplish, other than who would be her best suitor.
Not forgetting to mention, she has one of the best monologues in literature to date.
Excerpt: “Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!” ~ Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Elizabeth Bennet (Protagonist in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Elizabeth is not only independent, strong-willed, and intelligent, she is playful, witty, and fierce. She is perfectly loveable, and perfectly flawed.
Her want to marry for love as opposed to wealth was ahead of her time, and when Mr Darcy proclaims his desire to marry her against his better judgement, she rightly serves him a taste of his own medicine.
Excerpt: “You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.” ~Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen.
Jo March (Protagonist in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
Outspoken, blunt, rebellious, but we still love her. Why? – because just like any real human, Jo is flawed, but her intelligence, passion, open honesty, and courage to be independent despite the constraints faced by 19th century women, make her a heroine in my eyes.
Excerpt: “I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle—something heroic, or wonderful—that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all, some day. I think I shall write books, and get rich and famous; that would suit me, so that is my favorite dream.” ~ Jo March, Louisa May Alcott
Hermione Granger (Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling)
Hermione is the only contemporary literary heroine to make it into my top five. She is as sharp as a tack, outspoken, confident in her intelligence, and respected for it. Hermione has a vulnerable side in regards to her looks, and this only makes her more loveable. A fantastic role model for modern day children. A female appreciated for her brains and loyalty.
Excerpt: “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery and – oh Harry – be careful!” ~ Hermione Granger, J.K Rowling
Elinor Dashwood (Protagonist in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)
Elinor Dashwood is patient, level-headed, and composed, but although she doesn’t show it, she is a highly sensitive, full hearted woman. Elinor is used as a trusted counsellor, and a calming influence on her sister Marianne. Describing her attributes could come across as boring, but she is far from it. Yes, she has a knack for resignation, but this is just a front to the bubbling emotions she hides under the surface.
Excerpt: “Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what other people say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge.” ~ Elinor Dashwood, Jane Austen
Writing this post has made me want to revisit the books mentioned. I know a good book by my ability to read it over and over again. The heroines of these books prove that the characters are well written, and developed in a real, true fashion.
Who are your favourite literary heroines?
Keep an eye out for my future post: My Top Five Fictional Heroes.