8 Not-so-Great Female Literary Characters

As a follow up to the “8 Inspiring Female Heroines” article, let’s take a look at some of the most disappointing and annoying female characters in literature—women who are not only not inspiring, but can actually be a bad influence on readers.

8 & 7. Lydia and Kitty Bennet, of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

Sisters to a wide range of different kind of women, ranging from bookworm to brooding, Lydia and Kitty are self-involved, gossipy and shallow, and take the cake as being two of the most infuriating characters in the history of literature.

6. Catherine Earnshaw, of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë:

Cathy is the daughter of Mr. Earnshaw, a farmer, and Mrs. Earnshaw.  She falls in love with Heathcliffe, a boy her father adopted from Liverpool, but marries Edgar Linton out of her obsession with social ambition.  When Heathcliffe marries another woman, she goes nuts.  She locks herself up and stops eating; all the while being married to a perfectly nice guy.

5. Holly Golightly, of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote:

As a country girl turned New York society girl, Holly did manage to get herself out of a bad situation.  However, her American Geisha lifestyle means she holds no real job, resorting to socializing with wealthy men in order to survive—something, I’m sure, many of us would love as a part-time job while in school (anyone rich men out there want to pay next year’s tuition?)  However, Holly’s real reason for her chosen lifestyle is to find a rich man that will treat her like a princess, leaving behind the man who is possibly the only man to have ever genuinely loved her.

4. Juliet Capulet, of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare:

Star-crossed lover? More like idiot teenager!  At the young age of 13, Juliet falls hopelessly in love with Romeo, son of the Montague family which has been feuding with Juliet’s own family for years.  Not only is she terribly annoying, but she throws her life away quite literally when she kills herself in response to Romeo’s own death.   Sure, she found someone who could quite possibly have been her soul mate, but is he really worth killing yourself over at that age?  Remember, life will go on and you will find someone much nicer than that horny little teenage boy your parents hate.

3. Professor Umbridge, of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling:

I have yet to find one reader that doesn’t despise this woman.  Not only is her character absolutely unbearable and atrocious, but Professor Umbridge might be one of the most terrifying characters in the Harry Potter series other than Lord Voldemort himself.  She is condescending and purely evil in her manners—even Stephen King once described her as the greatest villain since Hannibal Lecter.

2. Isabella Swan, of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer:

She curled up into the fetal position in the middle of a wet forest and went catatonic for months after her boyfriend broke up with her.  Need I really say more?

1. Daisy Buchanan, of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

Daisy is one of the most insufferable characters in literature.  Her entire being symbolizes selfishness and greed, not to mention her own stupidity is what makes many of us readers cringe throughout the novel.  And, not only was her daughter rarely mentioned in the novel, she even told Nick and Jordan about her ambitions for her daughter. “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”, and with that said, Daisy must be one of the worst role models we could ever wish upon ourselves and our children.


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