(Apologies for not posting this yesterday, but I was sick and in no mood to form coherent thoughts)
This week’s Tuesday prompt is one of my favourites – heroines. I’ve talked about the importance of strong characters. How they’re the backbone of any good story. Strong female characters are seriously lacking in many genres, but they get to shine more frequently in literature. Not always, but often. So, when I was putting this post together, I was trying to think about what makes a female character stand out. What makes her memorable to me? What makes someone a heroine? Is it the character who saves the day? Not necessarily. For me, a heroine is a character whose conviction drives them to follow their gut, regardless of if that instinct is wrong. Someone who really lives in their situation – even if their situation sucks.
I love the lit ladies, but there are other media where there are also stand outs. I’ve picked mostly book girls, but a couple have crossover appeal and others are from television. Here are the ladies who are heroines in my books.
Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables Series) – Oh, Anne. She has owned a piece of my heart since she broke that chalkboard over Gilbert’s head. A boy made fun of her and instead of shying away as a girl is expected to do, she took matters into her own hands. Not condoning her violence, but the feeling behind it. So upset that someone would make fun of her. And her unrelenting desire to find a bosom buddy. For young Anne, friendship trumped romance and that’s not something we see much in books anymore.
Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter Series – books and films) – The obvious heroine in Harry Potter is Hermione. She’s strong and smart and at the front of the action, but Luna is my choice. She is the most self-assured character. Nothing makes her waver in her belief of her family, her friends, and everything published in the Quibbler. Her certainty is the pivot point for several major moments in the series.
Elphaba Thropp (Wicked – books) – I love a good villain. And Oz series Wicked Witch is a pretty fun one, but in the Wicked series, Elphaba is a heroine. Especially during her school years. She protects what is important to her. She becomes a political activist. Speaks out against animal cruelty. She’s outspoken. And eventually leaves because it is the only thing that works for her.
Astrid Ellison (Gone Series – books) – A super smart, self-driven fourteen year old who’s forced to become an adult before her time. She’s a bit stuffy, but she knows she’s smart and she doesn’t let anyone stifle that. She goes through the series trying to make people listen to her, even when she knows it’s an uphill battle. She’s got conviction.
Sloane Price (This is Not A Test – book) – Sloane benefits from bring from a book I just read and she is a controversial pick for a heroine. She spends most of the book trying find a way to kill herself. She wants nothing more than to die, but it needs to be done in a way that will avenge her sister’s betrayal. But she knows she’s in a terrible situation. She knows that her life is not like other people’s and she never lets other people influence her decisions. Her choices are her own, even if she doesn’t always do what she originally thought she would.
Lizbeth Salander (Millennium Trilogy – books and films) – An anti-social heroine. Nothing deters her. Nothing distracts her. Not even the law. The girl’s come through some pretty terrible moments to get to where she is. Do I think girls should emulate her behaviour? Not all of it, but some of it. The girl doesn’t let anything or anyone get in her way. But eventually she figures out, she can’t go it alone. She adapts without giving up herself.
Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia Series – books and films) – As a kid, these books were an important part of my life. And Lucy inspired me to follow my childhood imagination. To explore and believe. Lucy never wavered. She was willing to risk everything help others. She believes the most. Believes so much, she’s able to make other people see her way. She’s a great inspiration for young girls.
Prim Everdeen – (Hunger Games Trilogy – books and films) Again, not necessarily the obvious pick. Katniss is not my favourite character – book Katniss anyway. I find her much more appealing when portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence (who’s also amazing). But Prim is the better heroine. She sees beyond her years and knows it will take tremendous sacrifice to survive. She takes her sister’s sacrifice and turns it into her own way to save the world. She learns medicine. She goes where she’s needed. She puts herself in the line of fire to save other people – even if she doesn’t know them.
Donna Noble (Doctor Who series 4) – Donna takes shit from no one. She doesn’t let the doctor walk all over her. She doesn’t just blindly follow him. When he leaves her behind, she doesn’t just wait for him, she starts investigating on her own. They find each other again on a job. Donna is the bomb – even if she is a little shrieky from time to time.
Amy Pond (Doctor Who series 5-7) – So far, I haven’t included any women with strong romantic storylines. Amy changes that. Yes, she is enthralled with the doctor at the beginning of her storyline, but in the end, she is willing to do whatever is needed to save her husband, her daughter, and her friend. Amy’s entire life has been about a make believe friend, and once she realizes that she was right, she’s able to embrace her sense of adventure and eventually give that up for her life.
I feel like I have to do a special shout out to a non-fictional heroine – Amy Poehler. I wish I had been coherent enough to post this yesterday – the P&R series finale day. I recently started watching Parks & Rec at the insistence of some friends. Leslie Knope is a rad female character. One of the best actually. Hardworking, committed, exuberant, so, so loving. But real life Amy Poehler is amazing. The smart girls initiative is wonderful. It not only promotes education and strength among women, but also equality, personal perseverance, and encouragement. Feminism is not a dirty word and I desperately hope these girls and boys who grow up with role models like this never think it is. Through strong role models, we can raise a generation who don’t have to think about feminism, because it’s just a natural part of life.
Who are your heroines?