The Guardian has asked male readers to send pictures of them reading books featuring female characters that they admire to counteract claims that boys don’t like reading about girls. I beg to differ, personally. Off the top of my head I can think of at least five spectacular admirable female characters in fiction. I have written character features of at least three of them (though one of them is not from a book or film and is a deeply flawed character with a horrific past to make up for). So who are they? Those I have already written about I have linked to the character study for more detail.
1. Lyra Belacqua – 12 year old protagonist of His Dark Materials. Stubborn, brave, feisty, won’t take shit from anybody
2. Katniss Everdeen – 16 year old protagonist of The Hunger Games. Brave and upfront, it is her inner thoughts that draw us in – her weaknesses and her strength so neither tries to be a man nor prove she’s better than men. She just is who she is.
3. Luna Lovegood – Everyone likes Hermione and though she is great, it was Luna that captured my attention even though she didn’t appear until book five. Luna appeals to my inner lifelong nerd, the part of me that has always found quirky people highly endearing. Secretly, and when I was that age, I always wanted a friend like Luna. Oh, and I wanted Harry to get together with Luna in the end
4. Brigid Tenenbaum – Secondary protagonist though an NPC in the first two Bioshock games. One of the world’s greatest biologists, as a Jew she survived Auschwitz by virtue of her genius. She is largely responsible for what happened in Rapture and she has a lot of making up to do… and knows it
5. Lizzie Bennett – We know the Unusually Emancipated Woman is a bit of a stereotype for period fiction but Austen was writing at the time her books were set. Lizzie then was the first UEW. She gives the strong-willed and sharp-tongued Mister Darcy a good run for his money. He doesn’t want a wet blanket for a wife and she knows it and proves it
Honourable mentions: Lucy Pevensie (Narnia), Ofelia (Pan’s Labyrinth), Liesel Memminger (The Book Thief) (hmmm, too many young girls in this list!), Aeryn Sun (Farscape), Helena Justina (Lindsey Davis’ Falco)
Okay so gents, which female character do you most admire? And ladies, if you primarily read books by women and about women, which male characters do you particularly admire?
5 thoughts on “Which Female Characters Most Appeal to Me?”
It’s true that there is a paucity of strong female characters compared to male but I don’t believe boys don’t like reading about girls. For my money, Arya Stark is probably the best character in A Song of Ice and Fire (closely followed by Tyrion Lannister) and that’s probably the biggest selling series at the moment. Tough, no nonsense and relentless, Arya has it all. Of course, if you prefer less physical and more cerebral, there’s Cersei or Daenerys.
Me neither and I don’t know where it has come from – the publishers? Feminists? Who has made that claim and what is the purpose of making the claim? Because I cannot see that it has come from the reading population – male or female. People who really enjoy reading are not going to turn their nose up at a book purely because of the gender of the protagonist… or the author.
The only reason I won’t read a Jodi Picoult and other chic lit is because I don’t see interpersonal relationships as a plotline in itself. The strained relationship between a mother and daughter just does not appeal in the same way that a book about a football mad group of male friends will not generally appeal to women.
Thanks for that one! I’ve not yet read the first book – it’s on my kindle and has been sat there for two years now :-(
And ladies, if you primarily read books by women and about women, which male characters do you particularly admire?
I’d be interested to find what proportion of women this actually applies to – I suspect very few. It’s not easy to read primarily books by/about women, even when you’re making a concerted effort to do so. I grew up reading a lot of kids/YA books by women or about girls, and yet I suspect the majority of the protagonists I read about were still male. It’s all too easy for me to list a dozen inspiring male protagonists/characters off the top of my head (Will from The Subtle Knife; Tom from Mortal Engines; Shevek in The Dispossessed; Harry Potter; Ged from The Wizard of Earthsea; Fandorin from The Winter Queen; Todd from The Knife of Never Letting Go; Standish from Maggot Moon; Torak from Wolf Brother; Brian from Hatchet; Sam Vimes from Discworld; August from Wonder). In fairness, I could pick a lot of good female characters from (some) of those books too, but it took me no longer to think those up than to type them, whereas I bet it would take longer to think of a dozen female characters – and as you know I consciously read a lot of women’s books/YA books.
Sorry, just stream-of-consciousnessing here :D Incidentally if you haven’t read any of those books and you’re interested in YA (which most of them are, huh) – hugely recommend.
I agree and guess I should have been clearer on what I meant. I was more aiming that comment at the sort of women who only read chic lit – those who never venture outside of Marian Keyes and Jodi Picoult and that particular area of women’s literature
I read Earthsea some time ago and thought it was ok. I have read some Discworld and I know who Vimes is, he’s pretty cool :) Is there a person on the planet who doesn’t know who Harry Potter is?
As for the rest, I’m sure I will get around to checking them out at some point.
Yeah I’m reading Earthsea at the moment, which is fine, not exactly what I’d expected and not super wow, but it’s enjoyable enough! Maggot Moon I highly recommend – one of the most interesting books I’ve read for a while