In honour of International Women’s Day today, I have decided to compile a list of my top 10 kick-ass heroines, from old and new literature.
1) Elizabeth Bennet
No best heroines list is complete without Miss Lizzie Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Capable, headstrong, fierce, passionate and intelligent, Lizzie fights against society’s views that all women are there to look pretty and be good wives & mothers.
Hermione Granger from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter was the first heroine I ever read who wasn’t there to act as a love interest to the lead male. She is fiercely intelligent (let’s face it, Harry and Ron wouldn’t have gotten anything done without her), she fights class prejudice, sets up an organisation to help House-Elves and is even forced to erase her parents’ memory so they won’t be attacked by Death Eaters and values friendship and loyalty above all else.
3) Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is passionate and introduces the notion that not all women need to be saved by their male counterparts and is a stoic character. She didn’t have the best start in life but she doesn’t let that stop her, she is fiercely independent and shows that she isn’t owned by anyone.
4) Matilda Wormwood
As the title character in Roald Dahl’s story about a young girl with a thirst for reading and telekinesis, Matilda Wormwood had an extraordinary mind and sense of morality. She taught me that you can overcome adversity by reading and is the best child heroine I have ever read.
5) Jo March
As the second eldest March sister in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women Jo March is rebellious, smart and a breath of fresh air from the prim and proper Meg, Beth and Amy who are all traditional stereotypes. She has a dream of becoming a writer and doesn’t care for marriage or children (even rejecting a proposal from her best friend). She cares not for etiquette but success and isn’t afraid to let her colours show.
6) Alaska Young
Despite her troubles, Alaska Young in John Green’s Looking for Alaska truly embraces her flaws. She isn’t afraid to flaunt her sexuality, to break the rules, to show her scars and be herself. Yes, she suffers but she maintains composure throughout and is a truly compelling character.
7) Anne Frank
Although she isn’t fictional, Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl was written during the time when she was hiding with her family to evade the Nazis in a small annexe. Her heartbreaking account of her life, hopes and dreams and how her diary was the only way to express her thoughts and feelings is thought provoking and eye opening and was the first person to truly inspire me.
Verity in Code Name Verity is a captured British spy in a Nazi war camp and reminisces about her past friendship with a fighter pilot and is a total badass. She is realistic (i.e. she has flaws and isn’t afraid to show them) distinctive, driven and vivid. She proves that small victories are just as good as big ones.
9) Cather Avery
Cather Avery in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl is a socially awkward introvert who is struggling to let go of her twin Wren while simultaneously responsible for a hugely successful fanfiction account. While she might not be strong in the ordinary sense, she does eventually stand up for herself, helps her friend Levi gain courage, is honest with herself about her twin and family and learns to spread her own wings.
10) Tris Prior
As the final candidate on this lost Tris Prior from Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy is one of my favourite characters. She doesn’t fit into one box in her dystopian society but embraces her decision to join the Dauntless faction (for brave people). She can’t be controlled by the evil leaders, takes down her enemy, fights against her brother and helps kick-start a rebellion. Despite the obvious comparison to The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen, Tris to me is the stronger character. She isn’t involved in a love triangle and although I love Katniss, Tris isn’t afraid to tell her boyfriend no and their relationship is built on trust and they grow together, rather than fall in love because they’re forced to. She has the strength to say no.
What are your thoughts? Are there any characters you would have liked to see? Comment below.