My Top 5 of Literature’s Favourite Feminists 

There’s no better way to be inspired, get educated and feel impassioned than by reading a good book.

 Here are just a few female heroines Simone de Beauvoir would so be proud of.

  • Elizabeth Bennet
  • “There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”

    One of the most strong-willed, powerful heroines of Austen’s novel and a feminist icon of the literary world in her nonconformity to patriarchal norms of Regency England, and her challenge to gender inequality. Brava, Lizzie! 

    2. Aurora Leigh

    “You misconceive the question like a man, who sees a woman as the complement of his sex merely. You forget too much that every creature, female as the male, stands single in responsible act and thought as also in birth and death.”

    I loved Aurora from the minute I read Browning’s work. Her overt resistance to the traditional gender roles of the Victorian era and rejection of conformity, striving to define her own identity, marks her as a remarkable feminist figure to me. 

    3. Medea 

    “We bid the highest price in dowries just to buy some man to be dictator of our bodies … How that compounds the wrong!”

    Medea is one of the greatest, most reknowned feminist icons of all of English Literature; her rebellious nature and act of infanticide disregarded outmoded ideals of the ‘ideal woman’ figure. An active agent in her world, Medea cannot be defeated and this marks her as one of my favourite literary heroines. 

    4. Scarlett O’Hara 

    “Marriage, fun? Fiddle-dee-dee. Fun for men you mean”

    If you have never read Gone with the Wind, don’t even say anything right now … just back very slowly away from this post and head to your nearest library ASAP. Okay so I agree with critics that, in parts, Scarlett is quite naive and shallow, but aren’t these flaws ones we as readers can identify with? Scarlett is also independent, headstrong and resilient and strongly undermines the image of the ideal woman at the time – this, one cannot deny. 

    5. Matilda 

    “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.”

    Just to throw in an old classic, Roald Dahl’s Matilda has to fit into this list, surely? With most fairy tales and ‘children’s’ books placing boys as the hero’s of the narrative, Dahl proved that girls can fulfil this role just as well. Matilda, as a clever, strong-willed and independent young girl, was everything I aspired when I grew up, and more! 

    Who is your favourite literary heroine? 

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