One of the earliest examples of an individualistic, determined and strong female lead in literature, Jane Eyre, is a personal favourite. Though she is faced with dire circumstances from childhood, she perseveres and grows into a resilient young woman. She manages to successfully retain her autonomy and displays considerable agency time and again as she is threatened by hostile individuals and circumstances. Jane Eyre is strongly aligned with her principles through which she challenges the prejudices faced by women and the underprivileged in Victorian society, and remains true to herself. Through the progression of the novel, the way in which she learns to resist her impulses and exercise self-control, is also particularly commendable.
Hermione Granger from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is one of the most popular female characters in English literature and serves as a role model to many young readers. Steadfast, intelligent and fiercely loyal, Hermione comes to the rescue of her two best friends several times throughout the series. Hermione’s courage and bravery know no bounds as she overcomes many obstacles in the course of the novels. Her bookish charm wins you over from the word go and she effectively breaks the stereotype that ‘nerdy’ isn’t ‘cool’ by unapologetically embracing her ‘nerdiness’. From an eleven-year-old bookworm, Hermione grows into a charming, loyal and pragmatic young woman.
Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most powerful and bold female characters. She exhibits cold-heartened ruthlessness and a burning ambition for power and status from the start of the play. As the plot develops, she cunningly manipulates her husband and convinces him to overcome his moral objections in committing murder. Ultimately Lady Macbeth resigns to fate unable to bear the overwhelming guilt of her devious actions. Written in the late 1500s, Lady Macbeth’s character made an important statement in a patriarchal society where women were repressed and reduced to their domestic duties.
Josephine March from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has become one of the most loved female characters by young readers. Jo March defies the traditional gender roles of women in the 19th century. She proudly upholds her feisty, tomboyish and outspoken self and is uninterested in marriage, unlike her other sisters. Jo is passionate about writing and literature in a society where young girls are encouraged to focus on their domestic skills and eventually pursues it as a career. Her character was cleverly developed by Alcott to equally highlight both positive and negative character traits, which suggests that she embraces the full range of her humanity; this is also what makes her so relatable for the audience.
Stubborn, witty and endearing, Elizabeth Bennett is the protagonist of Jane Austen’s 1813 classic Pride and Prejudice.She is well-read, rational and virtuous which allows her to rise above and beyond the challenges faced by women of her time. She is honest both to others and herself and she is willing to swallow her pride where she makes a mistake. Bennett is a poised and graceful individual who is neither afraid of the upper class nor overawed by the arrogant William Darcy. Unlike her sisters, she is not willing to marry for money and status and remains true to herself in her quest for true love. Her critical-mind, self-assurance and vivaciousness make her one of the most attractive and notable female characters in English literature.
About the Author:
Senjuti is a young, free-spirited and passionate woman. She loves to dream and turn them into reality. She is currently in Kolkata pursuing her musical passion by learning Indian classical music from her Guruji. She loves creative arts and all things ‘artsy’. She is also a very curious person often reading about topics ranging from Donald Trump’s latest political move, the implementation of GST in India to Kate Middleton’s latest outing. She is currently dreaming about sipping on a warm cup of Darjeeling tea on a sunny morning in the Himalayas, reading ‘Dreams from my Father’ by Barack Obama, while classical Indian music or Western classics like Elton John plays on a record player.