Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Badass Ladies of Literature - International Women's Day 2016

Today is International Women's Day, an important day in which we remind certain corners of the world, the internet and sometimes society that women are equal to men and deserve to be treated as such. In light of this, I'd like to share with you my favourite Ladies of Literature and why they're the best female role models for both men and women. Spoilers, ho!

Lyra Silvertongue from His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman
First and foremost of the made-up ladies, we have the star of His Dark Materials, Lyra. She's passionate, arrogant, cunning, occasionally violent and very often a liar - but above all else, she is brilliant. She’s not a sweet, well-behaved little girl (despite Mrs Coulter’s efforts), and she's certainly got her faults, but she's the most loyal friend you could ever have, and between her shape-shifting daemon and her armoured-bear protector, she's the kind of person you want on your side in a fight.

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It's easy to dismiss Pride and Prejudice as merely a romance novel, because it's hard for us to comprehend the fairly dire situation Eliza Bennet and her sisters were in. Their only option in life was to make a good marriage: careers were not an option for women in the Regency era, and with their father's estate entailed away to the male line, they were very much at risk of poverty (relative to their current situation) on their father's death. So in short, Elizabeth has no money to her name, no career prospects, and sisters that are both her allies and enemies in her search for a husband - and yet she still holds out a courageous hope that she will marry love.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
No list on the best ladies of books about would be complete without Miss Granger. She;s known for being book-smart, logical and determined to get the best from her education, no matter how people try to shame her. But on top of that she's also fiercely loyal, extremely capable and - as shown in this Buzzfeed article – a #BossWitch who is clearly the actual hero of the Harry Potter series. No, seriously - read the books again and, excepting the incident with the troll, she basically bails the boys out every. damn. time.

Janie Crawford from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
What I love about Janie is that, throughout a novel which looks strongly at identity, Janie never forgets hers. Even though her life is defined by her marriages to three different men - the older Logan, the ambitious Joe and the romantic Tea Cake - she always retains a sense of self, even when downtrodden and treated as a trophy wife. Her teenage ideals that marriage should involve love never leave her, and although her life is rarely easy, she always holds true to her ambition for herself - to love, and be loved, without agenda.

Delysia LaFosse from Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
Next up, the anti-Lyra - Delysia is as (stereo-typically) feminine as you can get - flirty, flighty and beautiful. Throughout this rags-to-gladrags story she is unapologetic in both her sexuality and her ambitions, and won't be tied down by a man who is anything less than her equal, demanding their respect and putting her own career first. It's true that she does hope to settle down one day, but she'll have her fun in the meantime. In short, she's independent, career-minded and not willing to settle for anything but the best.

Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I have many issues with this novel - mostly surrounding Mr Rochester being a bit of a nob - but I have no issue with Jane. She spends an entire novel pretty much telling men to piss off - when her cousin and Mr Brocklehurst both try to stamp out her flame as a child, she fights back. When her rich, influential, besotted admirer tries to make her his mistress, she tells him where to get off. When her OTHER cousin tries to force her into a loveless marriage, she tells him where he can shove it.  Jane doesn’t compromise on her principles and refuses to be anything but true to herself.

She of infamous Greek Myth fame, Medea is another #BossWitch. She marries several different kings of Greece throughout her life, performs some miraculous spells, plays the politics game like a true pro - eat your heart out, Cersei Lannister - takes no shit from anyone and then flies off to heaven on a chariot pulled by flying serpents. WINNER.

There were a few other women I thought about adding to the list - Arya Stark, Minerva McGonagall and Flora 717 being just a few - but these have been my favourite badass ladies of literature. Any others you'd like to throw into the mix? 


  1. I completely agree with Jane Eyre, she is my favourite female character of all time. No matter how badly she is treated, or what situation she finds herself in, she always take the high road, stays true to her morals, sees the best in others and she is incredibly loyal to those that earn her love. A wonderful role model.
    Unfortunately this blog post has made me realise how few female characters have really impressed me in the last couple of years, I am definitely going to look for novels with stronger female protagonists this year.
    Nicki x

    1. I thought I'd replied to this already! Anyway, some recommendations of some really interesting female leads, if I may... Of course you may already have read these!
      The Widow by Fiona Barton
      The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
      Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
      Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
      The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
      Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

    2. Thanks Jasmine, I haven't read any of these actually but have Her Fearful Symmetry on my bookcase waiting to be read! Will move this to the top of my list and check out the rest =) x