A dozen damsels we love.

Read time: about 13 minutes

One of the things a bibliophile is guilty of is falling in love with characters who have been brought to life by our favorite authors. While some are irrevocably in love with that ideal man/woman from their favorite books, some others seek inspiration from some memorable characters who give us useful insights on life and the like.

Celebrating the spirit of womanhood this entire month, here is our pick of our favorite dozen of women straight out of the books that we absolutely adore. While some are symbols of inspiration and bravery, some others though not extraordinary in the true sense of it still give us life-lessons and their journey and growth is extremely relatable in the most elemental way.

Jean Louise Finch (Scout)- To kill a Mockingbird / Go set a Watchman

Harper Lee has created a very impacting character in Jean Louise a.k.a Scout. Apart from being a courageous and curious one, she has an adventurous and humorous side too, which makes her even more appealing to the readers and a definite look-out.

Scout has portrayed, in numerous incidents, that she can definitely take care of herself but her otherwise romantic streak makes her all the more adorable. A compassionate one too, which we can see in her behavior towards her father, her small town and her people, Scout has always given me the hope that no matter what changes in one’s life, one should always stay connected to his roots and his self.

Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With the Wind

Life during a civil war calls for choices to be made. These choices define us. While Rhett Butler maybe infamous for the choices he made during the war, he is has decide to love a woman fiercely, and Scarlett doesn’t deserve anything less than the uproar of ‘Aphrodite’ himself. Scarlett is naive. She is spoilt and stupidly in love with a boy who will soon go off to war. Civil wars are not for the ones like her but she is meant to survive it, any which way. Married to three men in her life, she seems to cast a spell. Men seem to fall for her every time she walks past but she craves for only one- The one she can never have. She is strong when she needs to be and a flower when she craves. Scarlett O’Hara is one of her kind.

The author died before she realized she has given a book to be remembered for generations to come. Scarlett was a female lead that everyone anticipated for during that time and the author fulfilled the wish, and how!

Anne Shirley -Anne of Green Gables.

Anne was introduced to the world in 1908 as the lead of the novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. At the age of eleven, Anne was sent from the Hopetown orphanage to the neighbouring province. Unfortunately, she was sent there by mistake as her sponsors, the siblings duo she ends up living with wanted to adopt a boy to help them on their farm.

Thus begins the journey of this innocent girl who has zeal for life that will make you fall in love with her instantly. She is everything you and I are – quirky, naive, prone to mistakes, and holding on to dreams & working on them tirelessly while growing affectionate bonds with people around her which might be another reason why one can relate to her instantly.

From a naive orphan blending into the town to growing into a fine lady, and her journey all the way, Anne is a lead in Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside. All these books trace the life and journey of this girl which touches one’s heart in the most gentle ways as every phase that is documented in these books is very relatable in the most intimate way.

Margo Roth Spiegelman – Paper Towns

Quentin believes that everyone gets one miracle in their life. While he may not land in outer space or become a pop star, he has Margo Roth Spiegelman living next door, which is his miracle. Margo is an enigmatic character. Her life is filled with epic adventures. She has spent three weeks with a circus and could have been the girlfriend of a bassist of a popular band. Margo reads. She quotes Whitman. She wants to live her whole life like today is the last day. She is a great friend to have. She rains fire on her enemies and leaves her signature after every attack. She might as well be a ninja.

John green is known for his epic characters and this particular book has been no disappointment. Thank you Mr. Green for giving us Margo. We shall always cherish her!

Laila-The Thousand Splendid Suns

One of the protagonists in “The Thousand Splendid Suns”, Laila is another character that takes us through her journey and how sometimes accepting the situations we are in, and making the best of it seems to be the best option.

The absence of both of Laila’s older brothers, who have gone to war makes her a smart and sensible girl for her age and fills her with a sense of purpose.

Laila wishes to use her intelligence and education to for the betterment of the world around her. Falling in love with her best friend at the age of 15, she loses him too as he flees the country due to the war. Continuing to lose her loved ones to war, Laila’s parents are also a victim of a rocket attack which leaves her wounded after which she is nursed back to health by a childless couple.

Laila’s idealism and independence are challenged when she decides to marry Rasheed in order to give her unborn child by Tariq a father. The book takes us on a journey of the growth of this young girl and how the war and the situations she is thrown into, change her. It throws light on how motherhood changes Laila, and how she is willing to accept limitations she once would have mocked. While this character ranges between varied frequencies which are not necessarily progressive, it shows how in life often the situations we are in bring us down, change our course and make us question every action we take.

Sabina-The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Individuality. That is the perfect description of the character woven by Milan Kundera in his novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. Sabina is the one who sees beyond what a common man can see, who perceives notions which the average cannot. Her artistic nature gives her character an added depth that gets to your soul and at the same time leaves you abandoned with her queries about the betrayal hidden behind the concept of idealism.

Every decision she made, and every move she chose got her closer to her longing for betrayal, or let’s say, her longing to not cast away her thoughts to the oblivion existence of idealism. Her journey of and to this spiritual realm, is what got to me.

Jenny – Love Story

Jenny is a commoner. She is smart, witty and passionate. She loves music and despises men who don’t. Jenny is everything Oliver with a roman number behind him, shouldn’t fall for. But he does and then begins an epic love saga. Jenny is easily the most loved female character in a love story. She provides the backbone for the entire story and teaches us what love means- never having to say that your are sorry.

Jenny makes the book a classic and Eric Segal immortalized her.

Katniss Everdeen - Hunger Games Series

Katniss Everdeen here has a great responsibility on her shoulders. She is the sole breadwinner in her family and a life support for her little sister. As a heroine Katniss is very different from other characters that we read about. She is a regular teenager in a dystopian world where she is trying to live by. And one picking changes her life altogether. She is commanded by the fierce instinct to protect her sister. She is brave, she can shoot a bird in the eye and she can fight for survival.

Katniss Everdeen is one of the strongest women in literature. She evolves during the course of the story which makes her all the more interesting. The world of literature owes to Suzanne Collins.

Nancy Drew- Nancy Drew Mystery Stories

She’s the daughter of famous mystery case attorney and it looks like flair for crime runs in the family. This daring 16 year old has from the very beginning posed a fine challenge to gender stereotypes as she has to criminals that she goes after.

A University of Iowa conference devoted to Nancy Drew declared that she was a true role model for young girls, citing her ‘physical courage’ as one particularly positive.She is not just brave, confident and daring but also polite, caring, sensitive and kind. In addition, she is a thoughtful daughter.

Be it tackling situations usually reserved for her male literary counterparts, or showing her sharp intuitive skills as a crime solver, Nancy Drew is one of those female crime solvers who has inspired the likes of me to fall in love with mysteries and thrillers. She is a fine mix of characters and traits, and she is portrayed as a girl skilled with auto mechanics as well as cooking, horseback riding, dancing, sewing and athletics. She is a lead character in the Nancy Drew Series by Edward Stratemeyer, and remains an inspiration for little girls getting hooked to stories dedicated to her field of interest.

Dominique Francon-The Fountainhead

When Ayn Rand introduces and character to her novel, they depict the path the entire novel progresses through. Dominique, is a dark and mysterious character. Her idea of living, of shielding herself from being hurt or disappointed and her fear of losing things or people that make her happy is what intrigued me while reading the novel.

Although the novel has set a certain frame for the protagonist, Howard Roark (a definite favorite character again), Dominique’s journey to self-discovery eventually leads the reader to the another exceptional concept behind this novel. From surrounding herself with bitter people and memories so as to keep herself from being hurt if she loses the people she actually loves, Dominique’s ways definitely stand out in this novel, which has managed to grow around so many other characters.

Hermione Jean Granger - Harry Potter series.

Hermione is a fictional character in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

She is one of the most famous and loved character in this fantasy fiction. A person with in-born magical abilities born to normal humans, she is chosen for her abilities to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hermione does show us that being smart is not only cool but desirable.

She is everything that we seek in a friend, like when Harry is overwhelmed by the pressure surrounding him, it is Hermione that never gives up nor does she let her friends give up.It is Hermione that is the constant source of ‘we can do this - we can survive’.

Another significant feature is that Hermione is flawed, she is ruthless, casts reckless spells with no remorse etc but these are the qualities that make her likable and relatable as nobody real has ever been a perfect person. It is not only unrealistic, but unfair, to create the idealistically perfect character and hence it is characters like Hermione that make us realize that every one is flawed, every one makes mistakes and how one must gracefully accept their moments of shortcomings. All in all, she is one of those magical characters who casts a spell on us with not only how extra ordinary she is, but how truly ordinary she can be which nonetheless does not stop her from being the ideal girl who is our hero (err…heroine).

Arjumand Banu a.k.a Mumtaz Mahal- Taj

Arjumand is the love interest of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, and among many novels, Taj by Timeri Murari is a winner for me. The sheer intensity of this love story set in the royal Mughal household amidst politics, rebellion and greed for power is very gripping.

She is no warrior but a woman to reckon with nevertheless. It always intrigued me to understand how intense could love be, if it manifested itself into a building that is the greatest symbol of love, and it is Arjumand, later known as Mumtaz Mahal who answers my questions.

This pretty lass revolted for love, her faith in love for her Prince even when he is married off is commendable. The determination and dedication with which she loves unites her with her King. The book takes us on the journey of this innocent girl who falls in love with the Prince, waits for him to wed her against the very will of the king , and continues to love him intensely through her lifetime.

She may have never waged a war in the battlefield, but she always accompanied her King to most of his wars, as unpleasant as the conditions would be due to war and also due to her constantly bearing children.

Her journey, all for the sake of love often makes me ponder on the significance of it. Is love truly so consuming that one could go all the way for it? and Arjumand here answers for me, that yes love is all consuming and everything that is done for love, and with love is never an ordeal. Often when one says that behind every successful man is a woman and Arjumand’s life proves this.

P.S.: The pictures used are either artist impressions or actors immortalizing the characters and are used for representation purpose only!

Gazala Amreen

Logophile, bibliophile, writer, designer, high on wanderlust and all things pretty.

Bangalore, KA merakipost.com