Hester Prynne. Jane Eyre. Ramona Quimby. Good choices. But I don’t agree with all the choices. I disagree with Scarlet O’Hara, who was an insufferable whiner, and Holly Golightly, who while fun in the movie-form was actually a pawn who saw herself with few choices in a sexist world (although kudos to Capote for tackling the tricky realm of abortion in that time). (Others on the list? Athena, Emma Woodhouse, Dagny Taggart, Becky Sharp, Antonia Shimerda.)
But I feel the list is also lacking. Athena is great. But is she really a literary feminist? She is mentioned in many texts, but does not stand on her own in her own story as Ramona and Jane do.
Here are five fantastic women who were left off the list:
- Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables: A classic girl-hero! Her “precocious” ways were often a test to conformity and societal rules meant to be broken. All with a winning spirit and a dreamer’s heart.
- Elphaba Thropp, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West: Defiant of the status quo and of sexism in society as well as cruelty to animals. Her green skin may have physically set her apart, but it was her firey soul that truly made her unique.
- Sofia, The Color Purple: Unlike the “shrew” in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Sofia’s will cannot be broken no matter how hard her husband tries to beat her. Her backbone is something of an inspiration to the story’s protaganist to free herself, too.
- Eowyn, The Lord of the Rings: Frustrated that she could not gain honor by fighting in battle like the men, she surreptitiously dressed as a man and killed the Witch-king Angmar in battle. A villian supposedly unkillable “by man,” to which she reveals herself a woman and slays him. ‘Nuf said.
- Taylor Greer, The Bean Trees: She might not start out as a woman who can stand on her own two feet, but we see the evolution to one through this book.
Who else? Leave your contenders in the comments!