The female characters I love the most in fiction are a mix of the very fiesty, the very cunning or smart, and the very brave. I grew up devouring books whenever I could, and in books I found dozens of amazing female characters that felt not only like role models but like friends. I grew up admiring them and wanting to emulate them, and obviously, this all had a lot to do with how they acted and, most important, what they said. Here are some of my favorite characters in fiction ever and the quotes that made me fall in love with them. (In no particular order!)
I LOVE Scarlett O’Hara despite all of her immense faults because in the face of adversity, Scarlett does anything but give up. She is constantly fighting to keep her family together, keep her house, and stay alive.
“I’ll think of it tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Lizzy Bennet may be my favorite character ever, and it’s because she’s just so damn smart. She’s also a lot like me in that she has a lot of pride. Hence the title…;) But what I love most about Elizabeth is her discernment and her ability to swallow her pride and admit her faults.
“I could easily forgive his pride if he had not mortified mine.”
Do I have to pick among Jane Austen’s dozens of amazing characters? A close second is Emma, because she appeals to the girly, Cher-Horowitz side of me! Emma is unapologetic in who she is, and even if she’s not super witty or smart, she has a good heart.
“Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls, but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else.”
A lifelong Potterhead, I always admired Ginny even more than Hermione. She was more like who I wanted to be: sassy, brave, full of personality, and full of talent, while Hermione was more who I was: nerdy and a goody-two-shoes. Ginny taught me that bravery has a lot to do with accepting who you are.
“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
Lily Bart, from Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth, reminds me a lot of an older, less frivolous Emma Woodhouse. She’s the star of the New York society elite, but she’s inherently unhappy with her life and inherently trapped in it. She’s an ultimate tragic figure, and deeply flawed.
“Don’t you ever mind not being rich enough to buy all the books you want?”
The main character of my favorite book, The Crimson Petal and the White, is a 19-year-old prostitute in Victorian England who uses her wits and her body to propel herself out of poverty and into respectable life. She’s possible the smartest, most sympathetic character I’ve ever read, and a constant inspiration.
“One long difficult word is the same as a whole sentence full of short easy ones, Sophie. It saves time and paper. If books were written in such a way that every person, no matter how young, could understand everything in them, they would be enormously long books.”
Becky Sharp is arguably the worst person on this list, but that doesn’t mean I love her any less! She’s become a synonym for cunning, ruthless women, but it’s also such a blast reading about her that I found myself always cheering her on despite the terrible things she does. What can I say? She makes me laugh!
“Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.”
Who is your favorite literary character? Let me know in the comments!