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
3,016 908
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
692 605
Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lady Macbeth Macbeth

3
1,933 602
Elizabeth Bennet is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice

4
273 373
Natasha Rostova is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
mofletero added Natasha Rostova War and Peace, War and Peace, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff

5
980 335
Éowyn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éowyn The Lord of the Rings

6
565 441
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anna Karenina Anna Karenina

7
1,187 384
Alice is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Alice Alice in Wonderland

8
1,061 438
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jane Eyre Jane Eyre

9
1,319 408
Scout Finch is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scout Finch To Kill a Mockingbird

10
1,167 596
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
1,599 417
Luna Lovegood is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Luna Lovegood Harry Potter series

12
1,480 611
Katniss Everdeen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games

13
1,064 429
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
767 397
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
1,094 265
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Matilda Matilda

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16
993 240
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Mary Poppins Mary Poppins series

17
1,132 144
Professor Minerva McGonagall is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
celiagold added 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
705 320
Galadriel is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Galadriel The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

19
872 366
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
477 225
Éponine is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éponine Les Misérables

21
439 353
Hester Prynne is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Hester Prynne The Scarlet Letter

22
383 261
Emma Woodhouse is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature

23
554 248
Pippi Longstocking is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking

24
416 150
Arwen is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
wendy-ya added 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

25
170 251
Becky Sharp is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Becky Sharp Vanity Fair

26
228 321
Emma Bovary is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Emma Bovary Madame Bovary

27
273 266
Tess Durbeyfield is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Tess Durbeyfield Tess of the d'Urbervilles

28
558 255
Laura Ingalls is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie

29
459 204
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
821 212
Anne Shirley is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anne Shirley Anne of Green Gables

31
363 81
Athena is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Athena Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld

32
334 109
Artemis is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Artemis Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

33
718 219
Nancy Drew is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Nancy Drew Nancy Drew series

34
786 184
Annabeth Chase is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
472 236
Eliza Doolittle is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Eliza Doolittle My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady

36
722 168
Lucy Pevensie is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
carlybobarly added Lucy Pevensie The Chronicles of Narnia

37
671 249
Dorothy Gale is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Dorothy Gale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

38
65 158
Sister Luke is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
terquin jeds added Sister Luke The Nun's Story

39
684 220
Ginny Weasley is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
celiagold added 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
511 280
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
337 142
Elinor Dashwood is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elinor Dashwood Sense and Sensibility

42
507 266
Holly Golightly is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany's

43
253 123
Freya is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Freya Das Rheingold, Der Ring des Nibelungen

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44
356 255
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
180 122
Brunhild is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Brunhild Die Nibelungen: Siegfried

46
513 117
Molly Weasley is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
335 124
Mary Lennox is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
carlybobarly added Mary Lennox The Secret Garden, The Secret Garden

48
500 196
Liesel Meminger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Liesel Meminger The Book Thief

49
243 95
Rapunzel is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
tetris added Rapunzel Rapunzel

50
262 273
Miss Havisham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Miss Havisham Great Expectations