Tomorrow, the 8th of March, we celebrate International Women’s Day, not only to honour the women who fought for equal rights and to celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements, but also to highlight the importance of continuing the path to gender parity. Unfortunately, I haven’t read enough books about female rights to give book recommendations focusing on the topic. So, instead I decided to choose my favourite female characters.
The characters I’ve selected as my favourites are not necessarily women that fought for the equality of the sexes or that advocated for any kind of change. They are solely characters that stood out to me because of their characteristics or actions throughout the books they are part of.
In no special order, these are some of my favourite female characters:
Arya Stark – A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
Arya is only nine years old at the beginning of A Game of Thrones, the first book in this fantasy series. However, she already shows a really strong personality. She wants to learn how to fight with a sword, which is deemed inappropriate for a young lady. Throughout the series, she faces quite a few hard and testing situations, but manages to overcome them, learning new things in the process.
Cecilia Tallis – Atonement by Ian McEwan
Cecilia is the middle child of an upper-class English family in a novel whose plot starts in 1935. I really appreciated how she stood up for Robbie against her family when he is wrongly accused of an incident.
Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
How can someone not love Elizabeth? She is intelligent, resilient and playful, characteristics that make her stand out from her sisters. Her witty remarks are a delight. Although at the time of the events it was almost always the rule to marry for convenience, she wishes to marry for love.
Hermione Granger – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Another witty and extremely intelligent character, Hermione manages to use her knowledge to save the day in many occasions. Some find her “know-all” attitude in the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, annoying and I have to confess that I used to think the same. But she grows to be an extremely compassionate and brave character.
Madalena – A Morgadinha dos Canaviais by Júlio Dinis
Madalena, also known as “Morgadinha”, is one of the main characters in this Portuguese classic. Although, in my opinion, the novel in itself has many faults, I really liked Madalena as a character. She cares deeply about her loved ones, trying to help them to be happy, and is quite clever when coming up with plans. Furthermore, she is also capable to go against conventions.
Petronella Oortman – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
When I finished reading The Miniaturist, I felt like Petronella was quite dear to me. She arrives at a house full of strange people who hide many secrets, which are potentially quite dangerous. Her persistence to discover the miniaturist, who sends her replicas of people in her life, helps her to become a much more independent woman. She grows immensely throughout the novel, being able to take matters into her own hands. Moreover, the empathetic side she shows by the end of the book is particularly heartwarming.