The Best Female Characters in Literature

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List Criteria: Favorite women and girls in books, plays, poetry, etc. - No comics

List of the best female characters in literature. From the evil to the undeniably perfect, these are the greatest female characters from literature of all genres. This list includes the best female characters of all ages, from the youthful Matilda (“Matilda”) to the ever-so-adult Evelyn Couch (“Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe”).

 Why do female literary characters stay with readers long after they’ve finished reading the novels these characters are featured in? Often, it’s due to the intimacy with which readers have come to know a character. Jane Eyre (and all of her desires and feelings), for example, becomes so real to readers that they feel as if they’ve met and understood this amazing female character.

 Other times, readers love female characters in literature because of the audacity of their actions. Scarlett O’Hara (“Gone with the Wind”) was exceedingly bold for a woman of her time, while Madame Defarge (“A Tale of Two Cities”) is an exemplar of tireless villainy. Some of the most popular female literary characters manage to embody both wholesome and defiant, becoming reflections of the complex nature of women.

 For the wide range of personality traits we find in these great female characters (and the audacious actions they’ve performed), these women have earned their titles as the best female characters in literature. They may be young or old, charming or black-hearted, but they are all memorable. Whether you love them or love to hate them, all the famous fictional heroines are here in this list of the best female characters in literary history. 
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  • 43 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
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  1. 1
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    Harry Potter series

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  2. 2
    + 1,168
    - 292


    Pride and Prejudice

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  3. 3
    + 108
    - 86

    the people's #1 & added by mofletero
    War and Peace, War and Peace, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff ...

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  4. 4
    + 653
    - 289


    A Song of Ice and Fire

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  5. 5
    + 576
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    Jane Eyre

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  6. 6
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    - 216

    often listed
    Macbeth

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  7. 7
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    - 241

    ranked low on reranks
    To Kill a Mockingbird

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  8. 8
    + 333
    - 204

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Anna Karenina

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  9. 9
    + 683
    - 234


    Little Women, Little Women, Little Women

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  10. 10
    + 817
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    The Hunger Games

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  11. 11
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    - 212


    Harry Potter series

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  12. 12
    + 276
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    The Scarlet Letter

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  13. 13
    + 144
    - 154

    often listed
    Madame Bovary

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  14. 14
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    Les Misérables

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  15. 15
    + 219
    - 119


    Emma

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  16. 16
    + 660
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    ranked low on reranks
    Alice in Wonderland

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  17. 17
    + 408
    - 172


    The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

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  18. 18
    + 157
    - 141

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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  19. 19
    + 457
    - 133


    The Lord of the Rings

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  20. 20
    + 375
    - 42

    ranked low on reranks & added by celiagold
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood ...

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  21. 21
    + 26
    - 45

    often listed & added by terquin jeds
    The Nun's Story

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  22. 22
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    Gone with the Wind

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  23. 23
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    A Song of Ice and Fire Game of Thrones  

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  24. 24
    + 100
    - 113

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Vanity Fair

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  25. 25
    + 553
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    ranked low on reranks
    Mary Poppins series

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  26. 26
    + 503
    - 131

    ranked low on reranks
    Anne of Green Gables

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  27. 27
    + 618
    - 158

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    Matilda

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  28. 28
    + 276
    - 113


    Much Ado About Nothing

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  29. 29
    + 312
    - 130


    My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady

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  30. 30
    + 335
    - 74

    added by carlybobarly
    The Chronicles of Narnia

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  31. 31
    + 421
    - 123


    Nancy Drew series

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  32. 32
    + 317
    - 163


    Breakfast at Tiffany's

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  33. 33
    + 390
    - 139


    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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  34. 34
    + 317
    - 120


    Pippi Longstocking

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  35. 35
    + 319
    - 162


    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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  36. 36
    + 299
    - 121


    The Book Thief

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  37. 37
    + 331
    - 139


    Little House on the Prairie

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  38. 38
    + 215
    - 72

    added by celiagold
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I, Harry Potter and the ...

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  39. 39
    + 168
    - 135

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)

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  40. 40
    + 193
    - 90


    Charlotte's Web

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  41. 41
    + 170
    - 70


    Sense and Sensibility

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  42. 42
    + 209
    - 136


    Silence of the Lambs

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  43. 43
    + 281
    - 78

    ranked low on reranks
    Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The ...

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  44. 44
    + 228
    - 93


    Charlotte's Web

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  45. 45
    + 205
    - 112


    Beezus and Ramona

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  46. 46
    + 163
    - 58

    added by carlybobarly
    The Secret Garden, The Secret Garden

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  47. 47
    + 175
    - 172


    Great Expectations

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  48. 48
    + 113
    - 29


    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of ...

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  49. 49
    + 174
    - 186

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Bridget Jones's Diary

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  50. 50
    + 163
    - 101


    The Color Purple, The Color Purple

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168 +

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