5 feminist literary characters that smash the patriarchy

Get inspired by these strong women!

17 March, 2024
5 feminist literary characters that smash the patriarchy

Gone are the days of damsels in distress pining for Prince Charming. Now, we're all about fierce female characters who rescue themselves. Literature has long been a battleground for social change, and the fight for gender equality is no exception. For years, authors have created characters that challenged the status quo and questioned the structures of patriarchy. And some of them really left a mark. Here are our some of our favourite empowering reads, where women rewrite the rules and inspire you to believe in your own 'happily ever after'.

Jo March in Little Women

A tomboy and an aspiring writer, Jo refuses to conform to the expectations of womanhood in her time. She prioritises her writing career and independence over marriage and societal expectations. Moreover, her loyalty to her sisters is legendary. They fight like all sisters do—hair pulling may or may not have been involved—but they have each other's backs through thick and thin. Because girl power starts at home, right?

Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter series

Hermione is basically Wonder Woman with a wand! She uses her intelligence to solve problems, beat the villains, and become the ultimate problem-solver for Harry and Ron. Hermione also started the S.P.E.W—Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (yup, she wasn't just about studying spells). She saw injustice in the way house-elves were treated – forced to work for wizards and witches with little to no rights. S.P.E.W. was her attempt to fight for those who couldn't fight for themselves. Talk about a boss move! 

Celie in The Color Purple

Celie isn’t your typical heroine; she has seen some rough times. More than half of her life was spent being bossed around by men—her abusive father, her cruel first husband, and even her (slightly less awful) second husband. Slowly but eventually, she started to find her voice and learnt to say "no" and stand up for herself (as she should). 

Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre 

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will," says Jane in Jane Eyre. Jane invented the narrative of ‘independent women’. Throughout the story, Jane makes choices that defy societal expectations. She refuses to be a submissive governess, walks away from a loveless marriage proposal, and prioritises her own well-being and happiness. She's a role model for anyone who's ever felt like they don't fit in or who dares to dream of a life beyond what society expects.

Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The girl with the dragon tattoo? More like the girl who’s a feminist icon. Lisbeth has been abused and abandoned by her parents, the government, and society. She's been labelled a freak. She was institutionalised, accused of murder, raped, and declared incompetent to look after herself. By all accounts, she should be a broken woman. But that’s not how it is for her—Lisbeth is a survivor and a fighter. She plays by her own rules and likes whoever she likes—be it boys or girls. 

Also Read: 7 books to read when you're feeling lost or hopeless

Also Read: 10 books we're looking forward to in 2024