I have been interested in books since I was probably around five years old. I was awestruck by the magic a few words could create. The stories, the characters, the different world that i could practically live in while reading, captivated and enthralled me to no end. So, it was pretty obvious that I used to look up to the ‘heroines’ or the female characters pretty much for inspiration, rather than real life people of flesh and blood.
So below is a list of my favorite fictional characters, female, who have been my source of inspiration throughout and are kick-ass in the truest sense. 😉
10. Mulan, Disney.
Fa Mulan, a tomboy who couldn’t fit in as the ideal bride and as observed by the matchmaker “would never manage to get a husband“, refused to believe that this was all that life was about. She wanted more, and was totally dissatisfied with being the ideal Chinese wife. So when there was news of Huns attacking the empire and her old weak father had to go, she slipped off with his armor, to find herself in the journey and to do something with her life, rather than conform to traditions, with a lizard in tow, oops, no sorry….. “Hey! dragon. DRAGON! I don’t do that tongue thing” as Mushu, her guardian dragon-cum-angel would say and her prince Shang Li.
She is awesome, because she was no damsel in distress, instead she saves HER prince not once but twice and the entire kingdom!! A perfect mix of womanly grace and a kick-ass attitude, that is why indubitably she is in my list of the testy-feisty ten!
And as her lachrymose father says in the end, “The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter“, a mere 10 year old, I wished some day my parents would say the same about me.
9. Nancy drew, Nancy Drew files.
No one could solve a mystery as well as Nancy Drew. My childhood inspiration and all the clue hunts in the dirtiest and the darkest places around my home in the summer months and returning home covered in dirt from head to toe, smelling a rat and trying to find a mystery in every little thing and exasperating my mother to no end by pestering her for my ‘detective equipment’s’ , I hold her solely responsible.
Unfortunately, I never remotely got near to solving a big mystery except perhaps ‘who stole my new colorful scented eraser’ or ‘where did the other pair of sock go?’, nevertheless she was a big favorite and many-a summer vacations just the sheer excitement of ‘exploring’ and ‘hunting for a mystery’ would keep me blithely happy. She was fearless, smart, never-go-by-the-rules and I simply loved her devil-may-care attitude.
From all the bygone fond childhood memories, its Nancy Drew at number 9.
8. Eowyn, Lord of the Rings.
“Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!”
A cold voice answered: ‘Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.”
A sword rang as it was drawn. “Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.”
“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”
Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I!”
The above dialogue gives me the chills every time I read it, or even watch it. Its the exchange between Eowyn disguised as a soldier by the name of Dernhelm and the Nazgul or the evil black riders. She ultimately slews the Nazgul and proves to the world the warrior that she was. She fearlessly goes out into the war-field when she was expected to stay back and look after the women-folk and till the end tries to protect her father and overthrow the evil plaguing the land. Blue-eyed and golden-haired, a typical princess prototype, but a fearless warrior nevertheless.
The thing that she feared the most was, “A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.” Taking your life into your own hands and freedom was what she stood for. And for the mere “No living man am I”, when she throws away her muzzle and revealing her golden hair plunges her sword into the Nazgul, she is at my number eight.
7. Jo March, Little women.
The first thing I remember that I felt on reading ‘Little Women’ was that I wanted every bit to be like Josephine March or Jo as she was popularly known as. She was tomboyish, a bookworm, ingenuous, prone to rantings and making thousands of mistakes. But her innocence and honesty always won hearts. Quick tempered and sharp tongued, she always learned her lessons the hard away, but she forgave and forgot just as easily.
Her heart’s desire was to fight alongside her father in the war, and acting like a proper woman used to make her very cross. She wanted to do and be something amazing evident by her statement , “I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer” and “If I weren’t going to be a writer I’d go to New York and pursue the stage. Are you shocked?“, she taught me to dream big. A dreamer and a scribbler with stars in her eyes, I wanted to be just like her, every flawed iota of her. Spunky and opinionated, she had a say in everything, like when she tells her sister meg, “He’s dull as powder Meg, can’t you at least marry someone amusing?” and like most teenage girls she was confused most of the times, a quality we all recognized with at some point in our life.
“I’m ugly and awkward and I always say the wrong things. I fly around throwing away perfectly good marriage proposals. I love our home, but I’m just so fitful and I can’t stand being here! I’m sorry, I’m sorry Marmee. There’s just something really wrong with me. I want to change, but I – I can’t. And I just know I’ll never fit in anywhere.”
So “Christopher Columbus!”, she is at number seven!
6. Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird.
She is a mere eight year old, but feisty, brave and strong willed. She breezes through all the social prejudices and racial injustices around her with an innocence that can move any stoic man to tears. A sharp intelligent mind, brimming with curiosity and her observation of all the things happening around her with an artlessness that is lucid and clear, one cannot help but fall in love with her.
Her fight to figure out her place and purpose in the society and her constant battles with her teacher and aunt are endearing. Her teacher wants her “to undo her learning” and her aunt wants her to “stop wearing overalls and behave as a lady” but she feels she can fight and punch every boy who crosses her and she realizes that she doesn’t have much more to learn “except possibly algebra“.
“One time Atticus said you never really knew a man until you stood in his shoes and walked around in them.” With this belief in her heart, little Scout Finch sets out to conquer the world. Despite the social prejudices all around her, she manages to hold on to her innocence and does not become jaded and shows startling maturity for someone her age.
5. Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre.
A radical character at that time, Jane Eyre had her own principles and always abided by them, whatever the circumstances. She had a dignity and a free mind that is evident when she refuses to marry Mr. Rochester, the man she loved knowing he already had a wife. She was free spirited and never bowed down to conformity, not when her aunt accused her of theft when she was a little girl and she guilelessly replies about not going to hell as “must keep in good health and not die” and not even when she had to leave the love of her life, “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you”.
“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.” A feminist in her opinions and a thorough romantic at heart.
A kind, soft heart with a strong mind, the perfect heroine for my number five.
4. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice.
Quirky, sharp-tongued and a quick wit, that is Elizabeth Bennet for you. Jane Austen describes her as, “she had a lively, playful disposition, which delighted in anything ridiculous”. An intelligent women with an acute acumen to judge everything around her, she takes every person by their persona and not just their face value, “There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense”.
She breezes through all the social disparities and spiteful women around her equipped with just good humor and her dignity and virtue. Equally liable to flaws, the things that brought her down were her sharp-tongue and her vanity in her so called ability to judge people, which she does so in case of Mr. Darcy, “I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”
In the end despite her erroneous ways she realizes her mistake and with an open heart admits to it “Vanity, not love, has been my folly”, a trait that makes her even more endearing.
So despite all her flaws of a biting sense of humor and her vanity, she is my number four because she stays true to her heart, believes in equality despite all the social prejudices around her and is brave enough to admit her foibles. A truly remarkable character, in short.
3. Portia, Merchant of Venice.
Not just an immense beauty, Portia was also clever and determined. Charming and an adroit mind were her main virtues. She has a mind of her own, but abides by the rules too, a delicious combination of freedom yet conformity. She goes by her father’s will and puts the casket task to her suitors, yet manages to marry her love Bassanio, flouts all social convention and goes to the courtroom to defend Antonio dressed in male garbs, but fights the case according to law and wins it without putting a toe out of line. And the court battle of hers with Shylock is legendary, where she states, “Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh; But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed One drop of Christian blood….”
Fiercely independent and righteous plus she manages to get her love ;). So Portia is my number three!
“The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
2. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter.
Labelled by many to be an insufferable know-it-all, Hermione Granger is my favorite character number two! A bookworm through and through yet with a heart of a lion (as she is in Gryffindor) and an intellect as sharp as a needle (the hat had seriously considered putting her in Ravenclaw), she has a kick-ass personality. Saving her two best friend’s skin was something she was adept at whether it was writing a seven foot long essay on twelve-uses-of-acromantula-venom or saving them when faced with a Devil’s snare, she could do it all with her little beaded handbag on which she had put an ‘extension charm’ and could practically lug around a library in it!
“Are you sure that’s a real spell? Well, it’s not very good is it? I’ve tried a few simple spells myself and they’ve all worked for me. Nobody in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, it’s the best school of witchcraft there is I’ve heard – I’ve learned all the course books by heart of course. I just hope it will be enough – I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?” You can only shake your head and say. “Do me a favor. Stop talking, will you?”
Her greatest fear is getting a nine out of ten in a homework and she considers to be expelled as worse than being dead, that’s mixed up priorities for sure! Exasperating Ron as always like he once exclaims “That’s what Hermione does. When in doubt, go to the library” or by correcting him, “It’s Wing-gar-dium Levi-o-sa, and make the ‘gar’ nice and long.” , she ends up marrying him!
For being a friend and a great companion throughout my school life, Hermione is my number two!
1. Scarlett O’Hara , Gone With the Wind.
Scarlett O’Hara, vain, self-centered, childishly prone to tantrums and stubborn, she was all of it, but she had a mind of her own and was fiercely independent, her sheer courage and stubbornness saw here through the toughest years of her life; of surviving the civil war and the death of her parents. She single handedly restored her fortunes and never cared for what others said, “fiddle dee dee”, her choicest words when she would think of doing something that would raise eyebrows.
“As God as my witness, as God as my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when its all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God as my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” Whatever she pledged or set her mind upon, the thing was as good as hers. For that dogged determination despite all the grayed patches in her character, Scarlett O’Hara will always remain my favorite. And whenever she is in pain all that she can think of is “I won’t think of it now. I’ll think of it later when I can stand it.”
“Tara! Home. I’ll go home. And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day!”, Admirable words that show her sheer determination and a strong resolute mind.
So this was my list of feisty females, that I have aspired to be or looked up to since my childhood till date.
Who are your favorite ten? 🙂