Some of the best characters in literature are female. 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.
1 4,206 1,351
2 2,729 878
3 1,056 985 Lady Macbeth Macbeth Lady Macbeth is a fictional character from Macbeth.
4 1,475 549 Éowyn The Lord of the Rings Éowyn is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, who appears in his most famous work, The Lord of the Rings. She is a noblewoman of Rohan who is described as a
5 467 642 mofletero added Natasha Rostova War and Peace Countess Natalya "Natasha" Ilyinichna Rostova is a central fictional character in Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace.
6 1,566 620 Jane Eyre Jane Eyre Jane Eyre is the heroine of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name.
7 2,168 924
8 1,736 590 Alice Alice in Wonderland Alicia is a fictional character from the 1976 film Alicia en el país de las maravillas.
9 1,792 576 Scout Finch To Kill a Mockingbird Scout Finch is a fictional character from To Kill a Mockingbird.
10 1,749 788
11 773 688 Anna Karenina Anna Karenina Anna is a fictional character from the book Anna Karenina.
12 1,467 576 Jo March Little Women, Little Women, Little Women Jo March is a fictional character from the 1933 film Little Women.
13 1,855 262 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 Minerva McGonagall is a fictional character from Harry Potter literary series.
14 2,337 609 Luna Lovegood Harry Potter series Luna Lovegood is a fictional character from the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling.
15 1,075 614
16 1,329 563
17 1,580 387 Matilda Matilda Matilda Wormwood is a fictional character from the 1996 comedy fantasy film Matilda.
18 1,391 369
19 642 517
20 972 465
21 699 373
22 1,132 322
23 712 180
24 1,007 316 Nancy Drew Nancy Drew series Nancy Drew is a fictional character from the 2011 film My Sucky Teen Romance.
25 541 413
26 964 363
27 691 281 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 Arwen Undómiel is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. She appears in his novel, The Lord of the Rings, usually published in three volumes. Arwen is one of the ...more
28 771 404 Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking Pippi Långstrump is a fictional character from Pippi Longstocking.
29 769 374 Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder is a fictional character from the 1984 film Bless All the Dear Children.
30 304 469 Emma Bovary Madame Bovary Madame Bovary is a fictional character from the book Madame Bovary and the 2004 film Fatal Romance.
31 373 394 Tess Durbeyfield Tess of the d'Urbervilles Tess Durbeyfield is a fictional character from Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
32 611 317 Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice is a fictional character from the book Much Ado About Nothing, appearing in several related movies and plays.
33 595 198
34 227 377
35 1,090 264
36 633 346 Eliza Doolittle My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady Eliza Doolittle is a fictional character.
37 1,095 381 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 Ginny Weasley is a fictional character from Harry Potter literary series.
38 1,137 293 Annabeth Chase Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson & the Olympians
39 687 391 Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany's Holly Golightly is a fictional character from the book Breakfast at Tiffany's, appearing in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's.
40 708 388
41 909 201 Molly Weasley Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I Molly Weasley (nￃﾩe Prewett) is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written by J. K. Rowling. She is a witch housewife, married to Arthur Weasley and mother of Bill, Charlie, ...more
42 307 162 ComediaHarmonia added Ophelia Hamlet, Hamlet, Hamlet
Hamlet Ophelia is a fictional character from the 1964 film Hamlet at Elsinore.
HamletOphelia is a fictional character from the 1964 film Hamlet at Elsinore.