10 Inspirational Women in Literature

Manhattan, New York
United States

For centuries, women have either been portrayed as a damsel in distress or the quirky sidekick, who was either the best friend to the protagonist or the girlfriend. Well, I say no more. It’s time for women to read books that empower women, not just underestimate them. We all have that one female character that we read about them, they give us strength or inspire us to be something more. They also possess characteristics that we wish we had, as well encouraging us to want to read more. This is a list of 10 of those inspirational women from fiction whom every girl should read about, take notes, aspire to be, and why.

(P.S These women are not the only influential women in literature and were chosen through a survey.)

1. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games Trilogy

Quote: “I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun.”

How can one ever make an influential female list without the famous Katniss Everdeen, the Mockingjay herself? The “girl on fire”  is the face of an entire revolution and literally kills two birds with one arrow when she saw another potential dictator, President Coin, trying to become omnipotent. Not only did she free an entire country from a dictator, President Snow, but no matter what, she refuses to leave things alone when it comes to the safety of other people, especially her loved ones. She would gladly go to the ends of the earth to protect them. This includes volunteering as a tribute and risking her life every day to illegally hunt for them.

2. Phryne Fisher, Phryne Fisher Detective Novels

Quote: “My sins are too many and varied to repent. And frankly, I intend to continue sinning.”

Miss Phryne Fisher is none other than an extraordinary Australian lady detective who’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. Despite living in Melbourne in the 1920s, she refuses to conform to society’s expectations of women. Not only does she have a golden gun in her purse, but she also has a knife hidden in her garter and judo skills that she’s always ready to use on criminals. Despite what the police tell her, Miss Fisher refuses to leave it to the men to have all the fun and solve the many different murders that practically occur weekly. Fisher also isn’t afraid to admit that she doesn’t really want to have children or get married, she accepts same-sex relationships, and is a complete user and supporter of Planned Parenthood, which back then was illegal. She does whatever makes her happy despite how it gives her a sour reputation. This makes her an ideal mentor and a radical.

3. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter Series

Quote: “I’m hoping to do some good in the world!”

Despite the wizarding world underestimating her for being a Muggleborn, Hermione Granger refuses to let their hate bring her down. If it wasn’t for her sharp wit, courage and quick reflexes Harry and Ron would never have made it through the first book. One could look at the whole Harry Potter series as one big cycle of Hermione saving her friends and then letting Harry take most of the credit. She also breaks the “nerd” stereotype after she gets a hot date to the ball and punches Draco in the face for getting on her nerves. If that doesn’t scream role model, I don’t know what does.

4. Aelin Galathynius/ Celaena Sardothien, Throne of Glass Series

Quote: “My name is Celaena Sardothien. But it makes no difference if my name's Celaena or Lillian or Bitch, because I'd still beat you, no matter what you call me.”

As for badass females not afraid to look danger in the eye, Aelin Galathynius (A.K.A Celaena Sardothien) is number one. Not only is she the best assassin in all of Adarlan, but she is also a powerful fae that has men falling left and right with her blades and over her looks. Passionate about protecting those she loves, Aelin is willing to sacrifice everything she believes in to save them, which displays true bravery. She also happens to have a sharp tongue and is not afraid to call out any injustice she sees. This is is ironic since she was an assassin.

5. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice

Quote: “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me.”

Let’s be honest, when reading Pride & Prejudice, we were all cheering Elizabeth Bennet on when she told everyone to shove it on multiple occasions. We also admire her when she speaks her mind, decides to go against her family and society’s expectations, and personally takes control of her own life. She was truly ahead of her time, especially when she rejects not one but two very rich suitors because they are both just downright sexist. This novel may be an old classic defined as a romance, but Elizabeth Bennet makes it more about the liberation of her as a woman in a constricting society. She doesn’t let anyone degrade her due to her class, whether or not they are a hot guy or a powerful lady. Therefore, Elizabeth Bennet will forever be the feminist icon for questioning social norms and gender equality.

6. Lisbeth Salander, Millennium Series

Quote: “There’s always someone willing to believe malicious rumours.”

As an anti-hero, Lisbeth Salander is often misunderstood. She comes from the most horrific background, but instead of letting her pain consume her, she chooses to do good. Abandoned and abused, she uses her hacking and investigative skills to bring justice to those who have been wronged or have wronged her. She is also everything that is considered abnormal for a regular woman on the street. With her piercings, goth look, antisocial attitude and bisexuality Lisbeth’s character is considered a “freak” by most. But in reality, she is everything a woman should be: not afraid to express themselves, not obligated to please others, and open to any sexual orientation. These topics, which she represents, makes Lisbeth an ideal feminist figure.

7. Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones Series

Quote: "When my dragons are grown, we will take back what was stolen from me and destroy those who wronged me! We will lay waste to armies and burn cities to the ground!"

"Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons," is precisely what every man fears women could become. Daenerys is strict, powerful and determined to get what she wants no matter who is in her way, even if that person is her own brother or an entire royal family. She may seem frail and polite, but don’t let her looks fool you. She is incredibly intelligent and confident, which helps her rule thousands of violent Dothraki, Unsullied, three fully grown dragons, and former slaves. Not to mention, she can just be downright vengeful when she wants.

8. Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew Mystery Series

Quote: “If a guy’s hunch results in a dead-end, don’t flaunt your better judgement and intuition in front of him. Smirk secretly to yourself.”

Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, successful series on female detectives are rare which makes Nancy Drew an inspiration to young girls everywhere. Not only does she solve mysteries with grace, but she teaches women that it’s okay to be fearless and independent, especially during a time when men were still getting used to women voting. In a way, you could claim that Nancy Drew was one of America’s first feminists in literature and kick-started a new era of sleuthing. That is why this female Sherlock Holmes will always be remembered throughout every generation.

9. Annabeth Chase, Percy Jackson & the Olympians Series

Quote: “I am never, ever, going to make things easy for you, Seaweed Brain. Get used to it.”

When it comes to Annabeth Chase, the daughter of the goddess of wisdom, there is no problem she can’t solve. Just like Hermione, Annabeth has to use her vast intellect and combat skills to save her friends on countless occasions. Also, when it came to quests, she is always the first one to volunteer despite her very young age. In multiple situations, she has to face real monsters and doesn’t even flinch once. Just like the Greek hero Achilles, Annabeth has only one weakness, although her weakness is spiders, not her ankles. But other than that, she is a force to be reckoned with. It’s not a mystery as to why the gods love her and many monsters in Tartarus fear and loathe her.  

10. Ms. Celie, The Color Purple

Quote: “Everything you've done to me, already been done to you.” And last, but certainly not least, we have Ms. Celie from The Color Purple to remind us that no matter what happens, we can overcome anything. Even though she has been abused by her stepfather and husband, Celie manages to find her own voice which transforms her into a stronger, more passionate and independent woman that starts her own business. She turns the chore that use to represent her chains, sewing, into a key that brings her freedom. Even after so many years of being a victim, Celie finally gains the courage to tell her no good husband off. She no longer lets his harsh words break her self-esteem. This is why she is a role model for women everywhere.