female characters The Best Female Characters in Literature

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List Rules 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). Make sure to also check out the brave women from real life such as the badass female pirate Chang Shih and these American women of war who deserve more recognition

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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Hermione Granger is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Hermione Granger Harry Potter series

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Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lady Macbeth Macbeth

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Elizabeth Bennet is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice

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Éowyn is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éowyn The Lord of the Rings

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Natasha Rostova is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Natasha Rostova War and Peace, War and Peace Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

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Alice is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Alice Alice in Wonderland

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Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anna Karenina Anna Karenina

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Scout Finch is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scout Finch To Kill a Mockingbird

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Luna Lovegood is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Luna Lovegood Harry Potter series

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Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jane Eyre Jane Eyre

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Jo March is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jo March Little Women, Little Women Little Women

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Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Arya Stark A Song of Ice and Fire

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Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scarlett O'Hara Gone with the Wind

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Katniss Everdeen is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games

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Matilda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Matilda Matilda

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Professor Minerva McGonagall is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Professor Minerva McGonagall Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Galadriel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Galadriel The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

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Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Mary Poppins Mary Poppins series

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Hester Prynne is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Hester Prynne The Scarlet Letter

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Éponine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éponine Les Misérables

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Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Daenerys Targaryen A Song of Ice and Fire - Game of Thrones  

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Emma Woodhouse is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature

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Becky Sharp is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Becky Sharp Vanity Fair

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Pippi Longstocking is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking

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Emma Bovary is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Emma Bovary Madame Bovary

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Tess Durbeyfield is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Tess Durbeyfield Tess of the d'Urbervilles

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Laura Ingalls is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie

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Beatrice is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing

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Anne Shirley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anne Shirley Anne of Green Gables

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Arwen is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Arwen The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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Nancy Drew is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Nancy Drew Nancy Drew series

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Eliza Doolittle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Eliza Doolittle My Fair Lady, Pygmalion My Fair Lady

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Sister Luke is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Sister Luke The Nun's Story

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Athena is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Athena Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld

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Annabeth Chase is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Annabeth Chase Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Percy Jackson & the Olympians

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Dorothy Gale is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Dorothy Gale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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Lucy Pevensie is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lucy Pevensie The Chronicles of Narnia

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Lisbeth Salander is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lisbeth Salander The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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Brunhild is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Brunhild Die Nibelungen: Siegfried

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Artemis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Artemis Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

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Freya is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Freya Das Rheingold, Der Ring des Nibelungen

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Ginny Weasley is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Ginny Weasley Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Holly Golightly is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany's

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Elinor Dashwood is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elinor Dashwood Sense and Sensibility

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Mary Lennox is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Mary Lennox The Secret Garden, The Secret Garden

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Liesel Meminger is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Liesel Meminger The Book Thief

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Sif is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Sif The Super Hero Squad Show, Thor: The Dark World Thor: Tales of Asgard

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Ygritte is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Ygritte A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)

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Lorelei is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lorelei

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Miss Havisham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Miss Havisham Great Expectations