One of the things I love in any kind of fiction book is a strong female character, even better if she’s the protagonist. Stepping into the shoes of these kinds of women allows me to experience the sort of woman I strive to be, and we can learn a lot from the fierce females in literature, so I’ve made a list of my top three favourites.
(Disclaimer: This post may contain spoilers for Northern Lights, and Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children)
Here’s my top 3 Female protagonists
My all-time favourite book is Lewis Carroll’s (or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s for all you fellow research fanatics out there) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which is where my first strong female protagonist comes from. Of course, the main premise of the book is Alice’s weird and wacky journey through Wonderland to find a tardy, waistcoat clad, white rabbit, but her personality shines through in every difficult situation she faces in this world.
Alice is best known for her curiosity, which ultimately leads her away from reality and throws her into this world of nonsense where she constantly meets acentric and mad characters. Although many will cry “curiosity killed the cat”, in Alice’s case her curious and impulsive nature sends her to an entire world beyond imagination and becomes friends with some of the quirkiest characters. It shows us that impulsiveness can be a good thing sometimes and by exploring our curious minds we could get the best out of life.
One of the most inspiring lessons we can learn from Alice, comes straight from her conversation with the Mock Turtle, who asks her about her adventures so far. Alice has only been in Wonderland for less than a day so tells him:
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, I was a different person then,”
Change is good! Who knew? We have all probably changed a lot over the years, we’ve made mistakes, learned lessons, found and lost love, faced trauma or fears etc. and it has built us into the people we are today. Alice’s words tell us we don’t need to dwell on the past because without it, how can we expect to grow as individuals? For a 7-year-old, Alice is very wise.
She is also a girl with a heck of a backbone, something which I envy as I always shy away from any kind of conflict. But by the end of the book, Alice is brave enough to stand up for herself against a Queen with the power to take the girl’s head! Being silenced is something she will not accept; “I won’t!” she says, and proceeds to tell the Queen of Hearts exactly what she thinks of her. Granted at this point in the book Alice is standing a mile high, looming over the members of the courtroom, but the girl’s got guts!
Lyra is the main character in Philip Pullman’s book series His Dark Materials; she is a plucky, lovable, young girl who loves going on adventures with her daemon, Pantalaimon (Pan). Her taste for adventure is where her first lesson for us come from; much like Alice, Lyra shows us that doing new and exciting things shouldn’t have to be frightening. Throughout her escapades, Lyra gets the opportunity to meet new people like Iorek the armoured bear, John Faa the lord of the Gyptians, Serafina the witch, and Lee Scoresby the aeronaut balloonist. All of whom help her through the tougher times of her journey. If adventure equals quality friendships, then what’s the harm in going for it occasionally?
Lyra is the poster child for ‘never giving up’ as throughout the entirety of her adventures she refuses to leave her friends behind or promises to help people and doesn’t give in until she fulfils them. But, the first time she proves her persistence and determination is when she receives the althiometer. For a while, she has no idea how to read it or what any of its answers mean but after practising at every opportunity and never giving up on it, she finally manages to understand and utilise this very helpful piece of equipment. So, darlings, don’t give up on anything you care about, including yourself.
Other than her bravery and determination, Lyra’s greatest attribute is her empathy, her ability to fully understand the horrible pain other children are going through is admirable and is what ultimately drives her to do anything to save them. After discovering that daemons are being severed from their children, she becomes so emotional because she knows the physical agony of when Pan is too far from her side, let alone being completely separated from her. Lyra teaches compassion and shows us how being loved and loving others helps everyone around us feel happier and stronger.
One of the first book series I ever completed was the Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children trilogy and my favourite character throughout the books was Emma Bloom, a now 16-year-old girl with the ability to manipulate and create fire. Although she is technically the deuteragonist of the books, she is such a strong female character that I had to put her on this list.
Firstly, she is a badass woman! The first time she meets the protagonist, Jacob, she threatens him with a knife and demands that he show her his eyes (to make sure he’s not a wight). No man, no person for that matter, would ever even think about trying to mess with her. She’s the sort of woman all of us have the potential to be – strong and able to protect ourselves if needed.
I think her strength comes from her resilience developed due to the terrible trauma she experienced in her childhood; her parents disowned her because of her powers, believing her to be possessed by a demon; she was put into a permanently sedated state and used as a circus freak, and she lost the one man she truly loved (among other things). She came out of her struggles stronger than before and every tragedy that came afterwards, only made her skin thicker. Like Alice, she teaches us that past struggles can be a positive thing in the long run because it makes us the women we are today. Remember: what doesn’t kill you, makes you so much damn stronger!
Do you have a favourite strong female protagonist that has taught you something valuable? Let us know!