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Chit Chat & All That > Dominant or Memorable Women of Fiction

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new)

Bob | 4779 comments Mod
This morning a thought about who stands out in my mind as being the most memorable fictional female character. I picked up a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote a few names as fast as they would pop into my head. I did not time this but I think it was about 30-45 seconds. Here is the list as I wrote them down.
Dagny Taggart-Atlas Shrugged
Scarlet- Gone with the Wind
Jane Eyre-Jane Eyre
Hester-The Scarlet Letter
Ruth-Ruth
Lily Bart-The House of Mirth

I have to do some thinking about why these women were the first characters I thought of, some are easy, strong willed intelligent, others not so much. Ruth puzzles me. I guess it was her self-sacrificing nature.

After I wrote the first names I kept thinking, I guess this is the runner up list.
Katniss Everdeen-The Hunger Games
Charlotte-Charlotte's Web
Nora-A Doll's House
Anna Pigeon-The Anna Pigeon Series by Nevada Barr
Selena Cross-Peyton Place

I know, why Charlotte. All I could think of is who cares about the pig, it was the spider that could write.

Anyway I thought it might be interesting and fun for those interested to take 30-60 seconds and write down the first several female names that come to you.


message 2: by Linda (new)

Linda | 1 comments Emma Harte - A Woman of Substance


message 3: by Pink (last edited May 27, 2017 12:55PM) (new)

Pink | 6556 comments What a great idea Bob!

Right, off the top of my head these are the fictional women that first spring to mind -

Jane Eyre - Jane Eyre
Emma Bovary - Madame Bovary
Helen Graham - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Evelina - Evelina
Mrs de Winter - Rebecca
Dorothea - Middlemarch

Here's my runner up list -
Bathsheba - Far from the Madding Crowd
Griet - Girl with a Pearl Earring
Mick Kelly - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Celie - The Color Purple
Anne Elliot - Persuasion
Janie Crawford - Their Eyes Were Watching God
Medea - Medea

I notice most of these are also female authored, which is probably not a coincidence. I'm surprised to have put a Hardy character on my list, but although I didn't like Bathsheba, she does stick in my mind!


message 4: by Darren (new)

Darren (dazburns) | 1826 comments as I said on this earlier thread: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Mattie Ross from True Grit

also, Merricat Blackwood from We Have Always Lived In The Castle


message 5: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sasstel) | 426 comments Younger fictional females work too, right?

I'd go with Scarlet from Gone with the Wind, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lady Macbeth from Macbeth.

Emma and Pollyanna both make my list, but they were memorable because they irritated me so much. :)

And probably because I read them during my formative years, Laura from Little House on the Prairie and Jo and the March sisters from Little Women come to mind.


message 6: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 3581 comments I second Scarlet, Jane, Celie (my favorite), Dorothea, Anne, Janie, Mick, Scout (of course!) AND Merricat (she was one of the first ones I thought of!)

And add
Lyndall The Story of an African Farm
Mildred Pierce
Sethe Beloved
and Countess Olenska The Age of Innocence

Thanks, Bob. A fun topic!


message 7: by Rachel (new)

Rachel A. (abyssallibrarian) | 6 comments Does it need to be a main character? Otherwise I would suggest Hermione Granger. Also I'd say Violet Baudelaire from A Series Of Unfortunate Events Pack (Books 5-8) is quite a strong female character, especially with her talent for inventing.


message 8: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1008 comments Dagny and Scarlett, for sure, and Rebecca even though she never actually appears lol. Jo March, another good one.

I'd add Amber St. Clare from forever amber and Lessa from Anne McCaffrey"s Pern books e.g. dragonflight. And Elizabeth Bennett from pride and prejudice.


message 9: by Pink (new)

Pink | 6556 comments Kathleen, oh I forgot Sethe, but she's a great character. I'm haven't read the other three books you mention, so should probably bump them up my tbr list.


message 10: by Nente (new)

Nente | 774 comments 1. Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld springs to mind first, and really Pratchett writes amazing female characters, they're all strong inside.
Then I thought of half-mythical ladies, like
2. The Snow Queen (though Gerda, there, is also a great character)
and
3. the Lady of Copper Mountain from Pavel Bazhov's adaptation of traditional folk legends of the Ural mountains (Malachite Casket: Tales from the Urals)
4. Miss Havisham from Great Expectations
5. Pippi Longstocking, for some reason. She's a plucky little one and has been a favourite from childhood.

The runners-up I thought of later include
Olga Ilyinskaya from Oblomov
Lady Murasaki from The Tale of Genji
Esther Summerson from Bleak House
Diana Villiers from the Aubrey-Maturin series


message 11: by Nente (new)

Nente | 774 comments Now I can read the thread, and oh! Scout, how could I have omitted her!


message 12: by Simone (new)

Simone Martel | 45 comments If a female spider counts (Charlotte -- and I think she should!), why not a mouse? I loved Miss Bianca and vaguely remember her rescuing a little girl from a salt mine.

Unfortunately some of my favorite female authors didn't write particularly strong female characters. Iris Murdoch, for instance, and Elizabeth Bowen.


message 13: by Brina (new)

Brina I like all the suggestions listed and am adding Kitty and Anna from Anna Karenina. Also from classic kids books:
In addition to Jo March,
Dorothy-- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Alice- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Mary Poppins- Mary Poppins
Laura- Little House books
Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie-- All of a Kind Family series


message 14: by Angie (new)

Angie | 522 comments For me...

Bathseba Everdene - Far from the Madding Crowd
Eowyn - The Lord of the Rings
Katniss Everdeen - The Lord of the Rings

There are others, certainly. Those are the first three that came to mind.


message 15: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2386 comments Scarlet O'Hara from Gone with the Wind
Moll in Moll Flanders
Rebecca, who isn't actually in Rebecca


Hm. Looking at my list, I guess I associate ruthlessness with strength. At least, when I'm coming up with lists off the top of my head.


message 16: by Brina (new)

Brina Melanti, then you can add Lady MacBeth to that list, easily. Although, I thought Portia was an independent woman and not ruthless but sharp thinking and business savvy.


message 17: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments Jane Eyre
Helen Graham from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Dodo and Mary Garth from Middlemarch
Anne Marilla and Rilla from Anne of Green Gables
Hermione,Molly,Lily and Ginny also Ms Mcgonagall from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Anne Eliot from Persuasion
Margaret Hale from North and South
Fantine and Eponine from Les Misérables

Also,
Penelope from The Odyssey
And Claras grandmother from Heidi


message 18: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2386 comments True!

The original folktale version of Portia was pretty ruthless, though - seducing, tricking and robbing all passing sailors.


message 19: by Loretta (new)

Loretta | 2668 comments Brina wrote: "I like all the suggestions listed and am adding Kitty and Anna from Anna Karenina. Also from classic kids books:
In addition to Jo March,
Dorothy-- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Alice- Alice's Adventu..."


I love all of those Brina! 😊


message 20: by Darren (new)

Darren (dazburns) | 1826 comments if we're doing childrens stories, I nominate Matilda!


message 21: by Katy, New School Classics (new)

Katy (kathy_h) | 9189 comments Mod
I have loved Pippi Longstocking from Pippi Longstocking since I was a child in elementary school.


message 22: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1008 comments for children's books, i,d have to nominate Harriet M. Welsh from harriet the spy


message 23: by Portia (new)

Portia | 7 comments Anne from Anne of Green Gables
Antigone from Antigone
Emma from Emma
Scheherazade from The Arabian Nights


message 24: by Loretta (new)

Loretta | 2668 comments I've been reading some children's classics lately that I never read while growing up. Some I've really enjoyed while others I think I would have enjoyed much more had I read them as a kid! 😊


message 25: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments It's hard not to include every woman thus far listed. But here is my top twelve fictional women that came to mind. I wrote them down and then listed them according to the impact I think they have made on me and on literature:
1) Sophie - Styron's "Sophie's Choice"
2) Lolita-
3) Madame Bovary
4) Dagny Taggart - Atlas Shrugged
5) Lisbeth Salander - Steig Larrson's "The Girl" trilogy.
6) Scarlett - Gone With the Wind
7) Jane Marple - Is there another heroine in all of literature that has appeared in more books?
8) Ursula Brangwen - D.H. Lawrence's "The Rainbow" and "Women In Love" and, I think, she makes a third appearance in "Aaron's Rod" but I need to revisit that book. (It is, though, the third in the series.)
9) Lucy Honeychurch - Forster's "Room with a View"
10) Katniss Everdeen - Hunger Games (this series completely depends on the emotional development of Katniss, I think.)
11) Tess - Hardy's "Tess of the D'ubervilles"
12) Elinor and Marianne Dashwood - "Sense and Sensibility"


message 26: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Bob wrote: "This morning a thought about who stands out in my mind as being the most memorable fictional female character. I picked up a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote a few names as fast as they would pop..."
Bob, yep, Dagny does first come to mind for me, but I just finished watching the three films making up "Atlas Shrugged". (For shame to the screenwriters who used Fox News for commentary during the films.)


message 27: by Nente (new)

Nente | 774 comments Oooh yes Greg, I did too write Miss Marple on my slip, then forgot to type her in! She embodies so many things: female detective, kindly spinster, wise old woman...


message 28: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1008 comments Lucy Honeychurch, great choice :)


message 29: by Greg (last edited May 29, 2017 03:06PM) (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Nente wrote: "Oooh yes Greg, I did too write Miss Marple on my slip, then forgot to type her in! She embodies so many things: female detective, kindly spinster, wise old woman..."

Hi Nente, yes to all of those things. One doesn't get wise to all the ways of humans, one doesn't grow to accept and or believe that anyone might do anything, anywhere, anytime until one has been around a while. It makes perfect sense that an older person has seen it all, cause that's true! And besides, Jane Marple IS Dame Agatha Christie, the world's best selling novelist! Just like Hercule Poirot is Christie with a mustache.


message 30: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Michele wrote: "Lucy Honeychurch, great choice :)"
Hi Michele, thanks. But I must qualify: I'm not sure if my choice is based purely on the character in the novel, or on Helena Bonham Carter's breathtaking, exquisite, perfect portrayal of Lucy in the film, or of James Ivory's stupendously beautiful film itself, or of Maggie Smith's, or Denholm Elliot's, or Judi Dench's, or Simon Callow's, or Julian Sands' or Rupert Graves' awesome performances. Not to mention Daniel Day Lewis' magnificently out-of-character (for him, considering his future rolls) sublime performance in which he just disappears into Ivory's world. I love how Forster's beautiful, smart Lucy ultimately wins (well, with Julian Sands' help) in the battle of class vs. class (just like Forster's character, Maurice, which is what makes "Maurice" such a magnificent read: Maurice and Lucy are the same characters in the very same world and it just so happens that both have their worlds rocked by men of a lesser class.)


message 31: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Bob wrote: "This morning a thought about who stands out in my mind as being the most memorable fictional female character. I picked up a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote a few names as fast as they would pop..."
Bob, about Katniss: Collins is a fantastic character/dramatic writer. In her trilogy, Collins is at her best when her characters are, well, "sitting around talking" rather than trying to kill each other. But it was the "trying to kill each other" theme that brought our attention to this trilogy in the first place.


message 32: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Loretta wrote: "I've been reading some children's classics lately that I never read while growing up. Some I've really enjoyed while others I think I would have enjoyed much more had I read them as a kid! 😊"
Loretta, me too! This year I read the first three Oz books for the first time.


message 33: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Portia wrote: "Anne from Anne of Green Gables
Antigone from Antigone
Emma from Emma
Scheherazade from The Arabian Nights"


Portia, yes, Anne of Green Gables! And I MUST read "Arabian Nights."


message 34: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments siriusedward wrote: "Jane Eyre
Helen Graham from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Dodo and Mary Garth from Middlemarch
Anne Marilla and Rilla from Anne of Green Gables
Hermione,Molly,L..."


Fascinating choices!


message 35: by Greg (new)

Greg (gregreadsalot) | 73 comments Bob wrote: "This morning a thought about who stands out in my mind as being the most memorable fictional female character. I picked up a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote a few names as fast as they would pop..."
Hi Bob, about Jane Eyre. Umm, I had a problem with how the story ends. I didn't like Rochester at all. BUT, I recently read a Bronte bio, and Charlotte's father, Patrick, at one point, was going blind, as was Charlotte subsequently but apparently she was imagining the problem. My point is that now, after reading the bio, I have a better understanding of Charlotte's real world and why she would have Jane take care of a blind Rochester. (And did you know that Patrick, who died at age 78, survived all six of his children?)


message 36: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments Greg wrote: "siriusedward wrote: "Jane Eyre
Helen Graham from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Dodo and Mary Garth from Middlemarch
Anne Marilla and Rilla from [book:Anne of Green Gables|8..."


Thanks :)


message 37: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments Greg wrote: "Bob wrote: "This morning a thought about who stands out in my mind as being the most memorable fictional female character. I picked up a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote a few names as fast as th..."

Oh.Thats sad.


message 38: by Michele (new)

Michele | 1008 comments Sirius, why sad?


message 39: by Nell (new)

Nell Beaudry (lightfoxing) I would add Princess Cimorene from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle for more modern children's classics.

Cathy from Wuthering Heights, and Miss Havisham, the iconic spinster!


message 40: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments Michele wrote: "Sirius, why sad?"

Outliving all his children...


message 41: by Aprilleigh (new)

Aprilleigh (aprilleighlauer) | 537 comments Rachel wrote: "Does it need to be a main character? Otherwise I would suggest Hermione Granger. Also I'd say Violet Baudelaire from A Series Of Unfortunate Events Pack (Books 5-8) is quite a strong ..."

Hermione was a memorable character for me as well, probably because I saw so much of myself in her.


message 42: by Darren (new)

Darren (dazburns) | 1826 comments in the year since my last contribution
Top 3 Strong/Memorable Women:
Laura Willowes from Lolly Willowes or the Loving Huntsman
Angelica Deverell from Angel
Miss Roach from The Slaves Of Solitude


message 43: by Mark (last edited Jun 08, 2018 08:25PM) (new)

Mark André An interesting question. My candidates:

Hedda Gabler in Hedda Gabler
Marion (Molly) Bloom in Ulysses
Nastasya Filipovna in The Idiot
Agrafena (Grushenka) Alexandrovna Svetlov in The Brothers Karamazov
Sabbath Lily Hawks in Wise Blood
Dulcinea del Toboso in Don Quixote


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