7 Iconic Mothers in Literature

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, which has me reflecting on some of my favorite mothers from literature. From characters I wished were my mom to characters I hoped CPS had an eye on, here are some of the most iconic mothers in literature: 

1. Molly Weasley from the "Harry Potter" series

Mrs. Weasley yelling “not my daughter, you bitch” at Bellatrix Lestrange before taking her down is one of the most ICONIC moments in the entire "Harry Potter" franchise. She’s fiercely protective of her brood of children (and children’s friends - looking at you, Potter). This mighty matriarch also has some epic one-liners that bring humor into some of the darker scenes. Her devotion to her family and her ability to strike fear into the hearts of her kids and Death Eaters alike make her an Iconic Mother. 

2. Marmee March from “Little Women”

Marmee is the center of the March household, and a central figure of Louisa May Alcott’s well-loved book. She’s a little unconventional for her time period — encouraging her daughters to make independent choices, make their own money, and get an education. Marmee is also a shoulder for her daughters to cry on as a solid support system. She’s a nineteenth-century progressive Iconic Mother. 

3. Ma Ingalls from the “Little House” series

This one isn’t technically fiction, as the “Little House” series is based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life. However, Ma Ingalls is a central character in the series, and (arguably) in the American zeitgeist. Whether it’s keeping the Ingalls family together on their wagon journey west or helping run the farm, Ma Ingalls can do it all. She acts as the moral and spiritual guide of the family, guiding her four daughters through the ups and downs of pioneer life as an Iconic Mother. 

4. Lily and Snow Flower from “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” 

If you haven’t read “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See, I highly recommend it! Set in nineteenth-century China, the book tells the story of Lily and Snow Flower’s lives and friendship from Lily’s perspective. It’s a feminist re-examination of issues facing Chinese women at the time, including arranged marriages and footbinding. While the plot itself is moving and educational, Lily and Snow Flower’s journey through motherhood makes them Iconic Mothers in my book. 

5. Mrs. Wormwood from “Matilda” 

Mrs. Wormwood is not a good mother by any stretch of the imagination. However — she’s iconic AF. The hair, the makeup, the salsa dancing. Ugh. It’s everything. She’s the sort of character that you can’t help but be obsessed with, just because of how crazy they are. After all, how can you argue with “looks are more important than books"?

6. Marilla Cuthbert from “Anne of Green Gables”

Marilla, Anne’s adoptive mother, is the queen of holding down the fort. She runs the house and helps her brother Matthew manage their farm on Prince Edward Island, Canada. They adopt Anne with the intention of adopting a farmhand but end up falling in love with Anne and keep her. Marilla recognizes how much Anne has been through and is one of the first people to show Anne genuine love and care. Her willingness to open her heart and home make her an Iconic Mother. 

7. Queen Gertrude from “Hamlet”

Queen Gertrude is another questionable mother, but she’s iconic for her role in “Hamlet”. She’s a very intriguing character, and there are hundreds of years worth of scholarly debate over her. Does she want the best for Hamlet, and marries his uncle Claudius for true love, or does she marry Claudius knowing that Claudius murdered Hamlet’s father? Gertrude is murky, intriguing, regal, and an Iconic Mother. 

Those are my top seven! This list is by no means comprehensive, as there are dozens of iconic and influential characters who are mothers, but I’m only human. I hope your Mother’s Day is peaceful and you get to spend some time with the mom in your life!