Pope Joan Pope Joan question

Smart, Strong Women
Sherry Sherry Mar 01, 2012 11:20AM
In "Pope Joan," Joan is smarter than everyone around her, determined to find a way to fulfill her highest potential, and strong enough to pursue that destiny against all odds.

My question is, did the author need to write her this way in order for us to enjoy the book?

Literature about men is filled with angst-ridden heroes who don't seem to be able to get their acts together. Why are female protagonists always so darned capable and clever (not to mention beautiful)?

Do we as readers need for them to be that way? Do writers simply enjoy portraying these types of characters?

Or is that the nature of a protagonist -- since we as readers are in her head, she simply seems smarter and better than everyone around her?

After reading the book I had to see the film. That was such à disappointment! I just could not believe the story any more. The role of Joan was so girlish , she made a very poor monk , priest and pope. I could hardly believe I even managed to read the book to the end.

Mia (last edited Mar 01, 2012 03:30PM ) Mar 01, 2012 03:24PM   0 votes
Great discussion question, Sherry!

I feel some authors overcompensate when they attempt to write their perception of what constitutes a "strong" female protagonist. A female character doesn't have to be perfect in order to be strong and capable. They don't have to always be perfectly moral, perfectly clever, or have the perfect response to every single situation that arises. Female characters with flaws can still be strong characters. I feel it's more realistic this way, and more enjoyable to read.

Scarlett O'Harra from Gone With the Wind was a strong, intelligent woman, but she was far from perfect. Other books with flawed, but strong female characters: Pride and Prejudice, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and The Kitchen God's Wife. All of these female protagonists were entertaining to read without being caricatures or cliches.

I bookmarked a blog post that discussed this issue of female protagonists in films: http://www.overthinkingit.com/2008/08...

Though not book related, I thought the author made some excellent points when it comes to writing strong female characters in the screenplay medium.

The only time I'll read a little miss perfect character is in a picture book or an easy reader level book. And that's only because I have two princess loving kids, and they don't care about character depth yet. Only tiaras :)

Sherry You make some great points, Mia. Even with imperfections, however, we seem to want our heroines feisty, smart, and strong. And yet it's not uncommon t ...more
Mar 02, 2012 11:54AM · flag

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