My Top Ten Fictional Heroines

This list was actually even harder to compile than my favorite fictional heroes.  And I feel even more compelled to say: This list is as accurate as I can make it to this specific moment in time; it may easily change tomorrow. ;)  The ranking was harder this time, too.  It changed a lot and I'm still not sure.  Some of them are real close.

Also, yes: There are two different Cinderellas on this list.  There was only going to be one, but then I remembered Danielle and poor Leslie Knope got bumped off the roster. *shrugs*  What are you gonna do.

(I still love you, Leslie.)

#10. Jane Eyre
{ Jane Eyre }

Sorry, but Jane Eyre Isn't the Romance You Want It to Be | JSTOR Daily

"Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be.  If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?  They have a worth ⎼ so I have always believed . . . Preconceived opinions, foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot." (ch. 27)

Need I say more?

Jane is awesome. 

#9. Ella
{ Cinderella (2015) }

We Finally Found Out How Cinderella Got Her Name | Oh My Disney

What I appreciate about this character is the care Disney took to explore, through her, the power of gentleness.  As I have mentioned before, this topic is something that I've been thinking about a good bit over the past couple years.  Stories that include characters whose softness is their strength speak to some of my most deeply-held convictions.  

Ella is relentlessly kind but undeniably strong at the same time.  She's great. 

#8. Arwen Undomiel
{ The Lord of the Rings }

arwen fellowship of the ring | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Photo

I love what Arwen represents: the remote, crystalline, pure beauty and mystery of the elves, as descendants of the first creatures to inhabit Middle-earth.  (The elves are somehow the descendants of the beings Illuvatar sent to create/populate Middle-earth, right?)  I appreciate Arwen's loyalty and courage and circumspection, but I think she means most to me because of, once again, how symbolic she is. 

#7. Danielle de Barbarac
{ Ever After }

How To Get 5 'Ever After' Hairstyles To Ensure You Have A Fairytale Summer Like Drew Barrymore

Ahh, (a) heroine of my childhood . . . Danielle is the epitome of a strong female role model.  She's competent without being cocky, selfless without being spineless, gutsy without being rash, assertive without being obnoxious, and kind without being naïve.  Fabulous character, fabulous movie. 

#6. Susan Pevensie
{ The Chronicles of Narnia }

Susan's become a favorite over the past few years, in part because I've realized how relatable she is for me and for many others, and in part because I've been exposed to the flak she gets so often and I am Not About That Nonsense.  

Susan is a flawed character.  Nobody seems to dispute that.  But Susan is also a good character, and a good person; and people do seem to dispute that.  I love that Susan possesses traits that are rarely represented in fiction: chronic doubt that she herself hates, responsibility, rationality, gentleness, and maternal instincts for her own siblings. 

And I will DEFEND HER TILL I DIE.  Come at me. 

#5. Maerad of Pellinor
{ The Books of Pellinor }


Maerad is an archetypal "chosen one" protagonist.  She's a scared but resilient adolescent, recently escaped from slavery, who is doing her best to determine her place in a confusing and compromised world.  (Literally; she literally has to figure out her role on the world stage.)

I love that the author of this series wrote Maerad as a mix of typical teenage immaturity and profound, beyond-her-years wisdom.  At times she's childishly defensive or jealous, at others she's courageous, strong-minded, or intuitive.  I love her growth over the course of the series as she comes into her own and comes to grips with her own powers. ♥

#4. Emma Swan
{ Once Upon a Time }

82+ Emma Swan Wallpapers on WallpaperPlay

Emma's character arc makes me Emotional™.  (I mean, pretty much everyone's character arcs on Once Upon a Time make me emotional, but . . . )  She's gone through so much and comes out stronger.  Yet, her triumph over trauma feels authentic, not cookie-cutter.  She's not constantly harping on the pain she's suffered, but certain habits of behavior and certain thought patterns do influence her relationships with her family (biological and otherwise).  I appreciate that.  Emma's abandonment issues and defense mechanisms don't magically disintegrate once she breaks that first curse and is reunited with her parents.  That's not how that works, because that's not how that would work in real life.  She has actual scars from which to heal, and she does so while still living life.  

Aside from her arc, I love Emma's kind-of tough, kind-of soft persona, her surprising readiness to befriend people and how good she is with them, her occasional playfulness . . . I love a lot about her, okay?

#3. Molly Gibson
{ Wives and Daughters }

The Dashwood Sisters: My Molly Gibson Dress~ Historical Costuming Inspiration Festival, Post 3

Molly is kind of what I aspire to be: quiet and thoughtful but unflinchingly honest.  She doesn't have a problem owning her opinions, and she's not afraid to show some tough love to the people around her.  She keeps people's confidences and strives to help everyone she can.  But she has fire in her all the same. 

Basically goals. 

#2. Rebecca of York
{ Ivanhoe }

Romeo & Juliet (1968) | Character inspiration #writing #nanowrimo #brunette #face #ideas

I love Rebecca's boldness.  I love the way she manipulates the socioeconomic system to help others regardless of the restrictions placed on her.  I love her devotion to her faith and how she takes pride in it despite the persecution she faces.  I love her readiness to engage (gracefully) with anyone on philosophical, religious, or cultural issues.  I love her in general. 

#1. Marian Knighton
{ Robin Hood (BBC)}

Lucy Griffiths as Maid Marian BBC's Robin Hood (not fond of the hat but a cool riding outfit nonetheless)

Actually, I already wrote a whole post about why I love Marian.  In brief?  I love how self-reliant, conscientious, brave, and kind she is.  Marian is a girl on a mission, and she doesn't waver in it.  She's truly trying to do the best she can in the very unique and precarious situation in which she finds herself.  And, personally, I think she does a dang fine job.  She's not perfect, but she's definitely admirable.  

Who are your favorite fictional heroines?


  1. I just finished reading Jane Eyre for the first time, and now Jane is definitely high on my list for favorite heroines!

    1. Jane's really amazing. Glad you like her, too!

  2. Danielle is a queen! I think 'Ever After' might be my favourite film. And I need to read 'Wives and Daughters' because I really love 'North and South'. Love Jane Eyre too :)

    1. Ever After is SUCH a good movie. I recently re-watched it for the first time in a while, and . . . man. It's just a really good show. ;) Wives & Daughters is great!

  3. Yep, Jane is awesome.

    I still think Ella should not have accepted/acknowledged the name Cinderella at the end but I do like that she sticks it to the prince for shooting poor animals for fun.

    Molly Gibson is wonderful. I still don't know how she could love her stepsister even through all the trouble she had put Molly through but I think that's her best trait - that she can love and judge with a clear head.

    There's too many heroines to list but one that I would definitely list at the very top is princess Cimorene from the 'Enchanting Forest Chronicles' (especially book 1 - 'Dealing with dragons') - she's strong and modern and smart and very cleared about what she can and cannot do. Also, she's the only princess I read that went off and work for a dragon and she is very good with her job - you don't hear that often.

    Have a lovely day.

    1. That's fair. I know! "Just because it's done doesn't mean it's what should be done!" You go, girl.

      I LOVE Molly. (And I love Cynthia, too -- I'll actually be publishing a defense of her tomorrow. It was neat to work through my thoughts on that aspect of the story.)

      Whoa, she worked FOR a dragon?? That's quite cool; never heard something quite like that before.

  4. Great list! All magnificent ladies!

  5. Okay so the only one I'm really acquainted with here is Susan Pevensie; but I wholeheartedly agree with you that SUSAN IS AWESOME, FOREVER AND EVER, AMEN.

    *heart eyes for Susan*

    I always adored that her nickname is "the Gentle," because you're right, that's not a quality you always see so prominently in fictional characters. I love that not all C.S. Lewis' Narnian heroines are gentle (variety!!), but some of them are and that's very important.

    1. ALL THE HEARTS FOR NARNIA. <3 <3 <3

      Okay, I love that you mention how the Narnian ladies are such a diverse group. Because they really are! It's like, Susan and Jill are somewhat similar, as are Lucy and Aravis, but all four of them are so DIFFERENT, too. (And then Polly's somewhere in the middle being a queen.) Anyway. Love them all. :)

  6. I love Ella and Danielle and Susan and Molly Gibson! <3 They are such amazing characters to look up to.


  7. This is an excellent list! I approve. Of these, I especially appreciate Marian, Molly, Susan, Arwen, & Ella. (Also Jane Eyre. Basically all of them, really.) <3

    A few of my own favorite heroines are Anne Elliot, Elinor Dashwood, Anne Shirley, Emily Webster (Emily of Deep Valley), Molly Gibson, Margaret Hale, Kit Tyler (The Witch of Blackbird Pond), Sara Crewe (A Little Princess), and recently Evalina Cassano from Within These Lines. (You should read it! I never got around to writing a review, but I agree with everything Katie said in hers, although I think I *enjoyed* the story slightly more.)

    1. Thanks!

      Oh, I like a lot of those that you mentioned, too! And you're right, I should try Within These Lines. I enjoyed The Lost Girl of Astor Street, so.

  8. Oh, and Amy Dorrit!!! Dear me, how did I forget her?!

  9. That Jane Eyre quote may possibly be the best (or at least one of the best) passages from the book. SO. GOOD.

    And of course, I'm in agreement about pretty much every other heroine on this list. I haven't really gotten to know Maerad thoroughly of course, so she's the only "exception", but I do think there's potential for me liking her character quite a lot. :)

    Grand post, m'dear!!

    1. Agreed, madame. Agreed.

      Yay! Ooh, yes, I certainly hope so. :D


  10. Hmph. I'm on Season 4 of Once Upon A Time and I really *want* to like Emma but I just... don't?? I don't know what it is. Also interesting to me that you love Arwen! I've always sort of... struggled with her as well. But viewing her as an ideal might change my perspective a bit. Food for thought! Which version of Jane Eyre is your favorite/is that photo from? I've only seen the 2006 version so far, and not entirely sure I appreciate their take on Jane...

    1. Interesting. Different strokes for different folks, eh? ;)

      Huh, also interesting. What specifically do you struggle with as regards Arwen? For me, I vacillated over whether to include her on this list, because she doesn't have the depth (or, at least, development) of many of the characters that I consider favorites. But in the end, I decided to include her because she was kind of a "formative influence" for me back in my early teen years, as I was coming into my own with blogging and my love of story and all that. So, I get it. I don't think she's a SHOCKINGLY AMAZING heroine or anything like that, but she is special to me. :) <3 As you said, food for thought!

      The Jane Eyre pictured is Mia Wasikowska from the 2011 film version. I actually did a post about which JE version is my favorite:

      Basically, I've realized that I don't really have a favorite (I don't think) between the 2006 or the 2011. There's a lot that I love about the 2006, and it's obviously more developed since it's a miniseries. But there's something about the very specific way the makers adapted the story for the 2011 that really Speaks To Me.


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