We know the classics. The Jane Eyres and Daisy Buchanans and Lizzie Bennets of the literary world are old friends, read and reread until we can recite their lines and dissect their motives. We either love, hate, or love/hate them. But what about modern literary women? With all of the incredible literature out there today, it’s hard to get to know all the fabulous female protagonists. Here’s a short list to start you off, and yes, you’ll probably recognize a couple of names:
1. Kambili- Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
From Nigeria, young Kambili knows abuse, hatred, dual-consciousness, inner turmoil. She triumphs through it all though, (as our favorite protagonists do) and emerges on the other side as a strong woman with an unbreakable sense of self and a determination to move forward in a positive manner. Kambili’s internal storm is relatable and real. We can cheer for her, cry for her, and feel like we crossed the threshold with her. Throughout the novel, Kambili morphs into the girl we hope every daughter will be- strong, independent, resilient.
2. Hermione Granger- Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
Okay yes, she’s quite well known, but let’s just take a moment to talk about just how important she is to the modern female canon. Granger exudes unwavering independence and determination from the start. She knows she’s different, and she knows that she’ll have to fight to make a name for herself. She thrives off of her incredible intellect all while pushing the men (boys) in her life to be better. Her diligence and strong sense of self bring her to incredible heights. She’s a young-girl-turned-woman that more young women should aspire to emulate.
3. Janie Crawford- Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
Not unlike her creator, Janie Crawford challenges the conventions of her time. She strives for true happiness and possesses a strength that enables her to walk through the most painful of situations. Crawford endures heartache and learns the essence of self-discovery. She finds the true peace of mind that stems from self-love— something more young girls can learn from. Not only is she a strong woman, but a strong black woman, which is unfortunately lacking in the literary world (but getting better!).
4. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins
Also well known thanks to Hollywood, Katniss Everdeen has become one of the modern symbols of feminism and strength for women everywhere. Before she graced the movie screen, Everdeen triumphed through the pages of the trilogy, bringing along every female reader lucky enough to know her. She shoots a bow with uncanny precision and can strategize with the best of them. She excels in what would typically be considered a man’s world. She’s strong, smart, and (relatively) independent. She has a strong powerful of family and understands the importance of loyalty.
This is just a very short list of the strong female characters that writers have brought to us. What other modern women in literature can you add?
Photo credit flickr user Matthew Allard