Top 10 Inspirational Literary Heroines

I don’t know about you, but the recent Tournament of Heroes made me think of the heroes and heroines of literature that I find inspirational, and with Xena coming up the victor, I thought it would be nice to highlight ten heroines of literature who would definitely get my vote for being strong, intelligent and spunky women who have stood the test of time and inspired generations of booklovers.

1.      Elizabeth Bennet, from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—A man insults her and then asks her to marry him?  That’s right, honey.  Make him work for it.

2.      Jane Eyre, from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre—Deceive this woman and you’re on your own, at least until after your crazy wife burns down your house down and you go blind.

3.      Anne Shirley, from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables—Fueled by her imagination, she is never at a loss for words. Just don’t make fun of her hair while she’s holding anything that she could possibly smash over your head.

4.      Eleanor Dashwood, from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility—Making friends with the fiancé of the man you love is hard. Learning that he loves you instead—priceless.

5.      Hester Prynne, from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter—This passionate, self-reliant woman takes on the entire town of Boston with humble dignity and wins—eventually.

6.      Jo March, from Louisa Mae Alcott’s Little Women—Stubborn, independent and loyal, this little woman will do whatever it takes to help her family—except ask her aunt for money. Hey, we all have our limits.

7.      Evelina Anville, from Frances Burney’s Evelina—This country bumpkin, who is almost too kind for her own good, certainly knows how to set society on its ears. Foppish boys beware.

8.      Emma Woodhouse, from Jane Austen’s Emma—She’s got the friend and daughter part down pat, but as a matchmaker she needs a little work.

9.      Janie Crawford, from Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God—Facing down gossip and oppression, she is willing to give up everything for love—well almost everything.  Like I said before, we all have our limits.

10.  Moll Flanders, from Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders—Okay, so she’s not the greatest role model, but you can’t deny, the woman’s got spunk.

So who are your heroines of literature?

Julie is Production Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter at @auntjewey.

6 thoughts on “Top 10 Inspirational Literary Heroines

  1. Scarlett O'Hara. Any woman that can make a dress out of curtains, stare down a group of soldiers with a baby on her hip, and then turn around and get to work in the fields should get at least an honorable mention.

  2. I admire the classics, and Jane Austen is awesome, but my new favorite literary heroine is Mariam from Khaled Hosseini's A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. No one I have ever met through a book has caught my heart like Mariam. Her struggle to survive in a Taliban controlled world is gripping, and Hosseini shows us through her actions that a truly beautiful soul can still survive in an ugly world.

  3. I'd add two other Jane Austen characters: Anne Elliot (Persuasion) and the vastly under-appreciated Fanny Price (Mansfield Park).

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