books 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
3,243 978
Hermione Granger is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Hermione Granger Harry Potter series - Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She initially appears in the first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as a new student on her ...more

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2
2,076 664
Elizabeth Bennet is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice - Elizabeth Darcy is the protagonist in the 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She is often referred to as Eliza or Lizzy by her friends and family. Elizabeth is the second child in a ...more

3
746 685
Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lady Macbeth Macbeth - Lady Macbeth is a fictional character from Macbeth.

4
299 427
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 - Countess Natalya "Natasha" Ilyinichna Rostova is a central fictional character in Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace.

5
1,098 362
Éowyn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

6
594 483
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anna Karenina Anna Karenina - Anna is a fictional character from the book Anna Karenina.

7
1,146 468
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jane Eyre Jane Eyre - Jane Eyre is the heroine of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name.

8
1,286 416
Alice is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Alice Alice in Wonderland - Alicia is a fictional character from the 1976 film Alicia en el país de las maravillas.

9
1,391 435
Scout Finch is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scout Finch To Kill a Mockingbird - Scout Finch is a fictional character from To Kill a Mockingbird.

10
1,308 619
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Arya Stark A Song of Ice and Fire - Arya Stark is a fictional character created by American author George R. R. Martin. She is a prominent point of view character in Martin's award-winning A Song of Ice and Fire series, and also a ...more

11
1,609 670
Katniss Everdeen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games - Katniss Everdeen is a fictional character and the protagonist of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Her name comes from an edible plant called katniss. Academy Award-winning actress ...more

12
1,122 453
Jo March is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jo March Little Women, Little Women, Little Women - Jo March is a fictional character from the 1933 film Little Women.

13
1,737 444
Luna Lovegood is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Luna Lovegood Harry Potter series - Luna Lovegood is a fictional character from the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling.

14
822 437
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scarlett O'Hara Gone with the Wind - Scarlett O'Hara is the central character in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind and in the later film of the same name. She also is the main character in the 1970 musical Scarlett ...more

15
516 248
Éponine is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éponine Les Misérables - Éponine Thénardier, also referred to as the "Jondrette girl", is a fictional character in the 1862 novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. The character is introduced ...more

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16
1,188 291
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Matilda Matilda - Matilda Wormwood is a fictional character from the 1996 comedy fantasy film Matilda.

17
1,061 264
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Mary Poppins Mary Poppins series - Mary Poppins is a fictional character and the protagonist of P. L. Travers' Mary Poppins books and all of its adaptations. A magical English nanny, she blows in on the East Wind and arrives at ...more

18
1,262 155
Professor Minerva McGonagall is listed (or ranked) 18 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 - Minerva McGonagall is a fictional character from Harry Potter literary series.

19
770 340
Galadriel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Galadriel The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings - Galadriel is a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, appearing in his Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales. She was a royal Elf ...more

20
976 399
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Daenerys Targaryen A Song of Ice and Fire - Game of Thrones  

21
476 380
Hester Prynne is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Hester Prynne The Scarlet Letter - Hester Prynne is the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter. She is portrayed as a woman condemned by her Puritan neighbors. The character has been called "among the ...more

22
406 287
Emma Woodhouse is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Emma Woodhouse Emma - Emma Woodhouse, the protagonist of the story, is a beautiful, high-spirited, intellectual, and 'slightly' spoiled woman of 21. Her mother died when she was very young, and she has been mistress ...more

23
422 94
Athena is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Athena Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld - Alea was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, prominent in Arcadian mythology, under which she was worshiped at Alea, Mantineia and Tegea. Alea was initially an independent goddess, but was ...more

24
864 230
Anne Shirley is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anne Shirley Anne of Green Gables - Anne Shirley is a fictional character introduced in the 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Montgomery wrote in her journal that the idea for Anne's story came from ...more

25
474 164
Arwen is listed (or ranked) 25 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 - 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

26
590 273
Pippi Longstocking is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking - Pippi Långstrump is a fictional character from Pippi Longstocking.

27
589 273
Laura Ingalls is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder is a fictional character from the 1984 film Bless All the Dear Children.

28
245 343
Emma Bovary is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Emma Bovary Madame Bovary - Madame Bovary is a fictional character from the book Madame Bovary and the 2004 film Fatal Romance.

29
181 271
Becky Sharp is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Becky Sharp Vanity Fair - Becky Sharp is the anti-heroine of William Makepeace Thackeray's satirical novel Vanity Fair. A cynical social climber who uses her charms to fascinate and seduce upper-class men, Sharp is ...more

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30
290 286
Tess Durbeyfield is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Tess Durbeyfield Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Tess Durbeyfield is a fictional character from Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

31
480 224
Beatrice is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing - Beatrice is a fictional character from the book Much Ado About Nothing, appearing in several related movies and plays.

32
382 118
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 - Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally ...more

33
842 198
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
748 235
Nancy Drew is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Nancy Drew Nancy Drew series - Nancy Drew is a fictional character from the 2011 film My Sucky Teen Romance.

35
790 178
Lucy Pevensie is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
carlybobarly added Lucy Pevensie The Chronicles of Narnia - Lucy Pevensie is a fictional character in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series. She is the youngest of the four Pevensie children, and the first to find the Wardrobe entrance to Narnia ...more

36
493 252
Eliza Doolittle is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Eliza Doolittle My Fair Lady, Pygmalion, My Fair Lady - Eliza Doolittle is a fictional character.

37
720 263
Dorothy Gale is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Dorothy Gale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Dorothy Gale is a fictional character and protagonist of many of the Oz novels by the American author L. Frank Baum. Her best friend is Oz's ruler Princess Ozma. Dorothy first appears in Baum's ...more

38
754 233
Ginny Weasley is listed (or ranked) 38 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 - Ginny Weasley is a fictional character from Harry Potter literary series.

39
69 172
Sister Luke is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
terquin jeds added Sister Luke The Nun's Story - Gabrielle van der Mal, also known as Sister Luke is a fictional character from the 1959 film The Nun's Story.

40
543 292
Lisbeth Salander is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lisbeth Salander The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Lisbeth Salander is a fictional character created by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. She is the main character of Larsson's award-winning Millennium series, along with Mikael ...more

41
391 269
Ygritte is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Ygritte A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) - Ygritte is a fictional character from the TV series Game of Thrones.

42
355 154
Elinor Dashwood is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elinor Dashwood Sense and Sensibility - Elinor Dashwood is a fictional character and the main protagonist of Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility. In this novel, Austen analyzes the conflict between the opposing temperaments of ...more

43
534 281
Holly Golightly is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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.

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44
574 123
Molly Weasley is listed (or ranked) 44 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 - 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

45
271 137
Freya is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Freya Das Rheingold, Der Ring des Nibelungen

46
362 135
Mary Lennox is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
carlybobarly added Mary Lennox The Secret Garden, The Secret Garden - Mary Lennox is a fictional character from The Secret Garden.

47
188 133
Brunhild is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Brunhild Die Nibelungen: Siegfried - Brunhild is a fictional character from the 1924 film Die Nibelungen: Siegfried.

48
532 205
Liesel Meminger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Liesel Meminger The Book Thief - Liesel Meminger is a fictional character from The Book Thief.

49
178 74
Ophelia is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
ComediaHarmonia added Ophelia Hamlet, Hamlet, Hamlet - Hamlet

50
209 130
Sif is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Sif The Super Hero Squad Show, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Tales of Asgard - Sif is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics, in particular those featuring Thor. Based on the Norse goddess Sif, she was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ...more