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. 

list ordered by

1
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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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2
+ - 664 574
Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lady Macbeth Macbeth

3
+ - 1,861 587
Elizabeth Bennet is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice

4
+ - 255 358
Natasha Rostova is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
+ - 943 321
Éowyn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éowyn The Lord of the Rings

6
+ - 545 421
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anna Karenina Anna Karenina

7
+ - 1,144 369
Alice is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Alice Alice in Wonderland

8
+ - 1,023 424
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jane Eyre Jane Eyre

9
+ - 1,280 397
Scout Finch is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scout Finch To Kill a Mockingbird

10
+ - 1,106 579
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Arya Stark A Song of Ice and Fire

11
+ - 1,534 403
Luna Lovegood is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Luna Lovegood Harry Potter series

12
+ - 1,425 589
Katniss Everdeen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games

13
+ - 1,028 415
Jo March is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jo March Little Women, Little Women, Little Women

14
+ - 750 377
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scarlett O'Hara Gone with the Wind

15
+ - 1,056 257
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Matilda Matilda

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16
+ - 961 230
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Mary Poppins Mary Poppins series

17
+ - 1,075 135
Professor Minerva McGonagall is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
+ - 688 307
Galadriel is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Galadriel The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

19
+ - 822 352
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Daenerys Targaryen A Song of Ice and Fire - Game of Thrones  

20
+ - 456 218
Éponine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éponine Les Misérables

21
+ - 428 340
Hester Prynne is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Hester Prynne The Scarlet Letter

22
+ - 372 249
Emma Woodhouse is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature

23
+ - 534 238
Pippi Longstocking is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking

24
+ - 164 241
Becky Sharp is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Becky Sharp Vanity Fair

25
+ - 220 308
Emma Bovary is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Emma Bovary Madame Bovary

26
+ - 386 141
Arwen is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
+ - 267 254
Tess Durbeyfield is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Tess Durbeyfield Tess of the d'Urbervilles

28
+ - 540 245
Laura Ingalls is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie

29
+ - 445 198
Beatrice is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing

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30
+ - 794 207
Anne Shirley is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anne Shirley Anne of Green Gables

31
+ - 332 78
Athena is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Athena Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld

32
+ - 698 211
Nancy Drew is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Nancy Drew Nancy Drew series

33
+ - 752 179
Annabeth Chase is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
+ - 458 229
Eliza Doolittle is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Eliza Doolittle My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady

35
+ - 307 105
Artemis is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Artemis Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

36
+ - 693 163
Lucy Pevensie is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lucy Pevensie The Chronicles of Narnia

37
+ - 653 237
Dorothy Gale is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Dorothy Gale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

38
+ - 61 149
Sister Luke is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Sister Luke The Nun's Story

39
+ - 644 214
Ginny Weasley is listed (or ranked) 39 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

40
+ - 497 270
Lisbeth Salander is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lisbeth Salander The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

41
+ - 325 135
Elinor Dashwood is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elinor Dashwood Sense and Sensibility

42
+ - 491 258
Holly Golightly is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany's

43
+ - 242 116
Freya is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Freya Das Rheingold, Der Ring des Nibelungen

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44
+ - 342 248
Ygritte is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Ygritte A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones)

45
+ - 175 116
Brunhild is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Brunhild Die Nibelungen: Siegfried

46
+ - 324 118
Mary Lennox is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Mary Lennox The Secret Garden, The Secret Garden

47
+ - 483 114
Molly Weasley is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Molly Weasley Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I

48
+ - 485 190
Liesel Meminger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Liesel Meminger The Book Thief

49
+ - 229 88
Rapunzel is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Rapunzel Rapunzel

50
+ - 256 263
Miss Havisham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Miss Havisham Great Expectations