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

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. 

list ordered by

1
3,187 1,014
Elizabeth Bennet is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

2
4,874 1,649
Hermione Granger is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

3
1,277 1,159
Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Macbeth
Lady Macbeth is a fictional character from Macbeth.

4
1,831 732
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre is the heroine of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name.

5
1,741 677
Éowyn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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
563 759
Natasha Rostova is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
mofletero added War and Peace
Countess Natalya "Natasha" Ilyinichna Rostova is a central fictional character in Leo Tolstoy's novel War and Peace.

7
2,029 672
Scout Finch is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
To Kill a Mockingbird
Scout Finch is a fictional character from To Kill a Mockingbird.

8
2,547 1,099
Katniss Everdeen is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

9
1,995 695
Alice is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Alice in Wonderland
Alicia is a fictional character from the 1976 film Alicia en el país de las maravillas.

10
891 780
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anna Karenina
Anna is a fictional character from the book Anna Karenina.

11
2,322 324
Professor Minerva McGonagall is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
celiagold added 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.

12
1,684 645
Jo March is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Little Women, Little Women, Little Women
Jo March is a fictional character from the 1933 film Little Women.

13
1,993 898
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

14
1,248 718
Scarlett O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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
2,734 703
Luna Lovegood is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Harry Potter series
Luna Lovegood is a fictional character from the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling.

16
1,568 664
Daenerys Targaryen is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
A Song of Ice and Fire
Game of Thrones
 
Daenerys Targaryen is a fictional character of the book Game of Thrones.

17
1,854 452
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Matilda
Matilda Wormwood is a fictional character from the 1996 comedy fantasy film Matilda.

18
1,118 544
Galadriel is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

19
1,638 434
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

20
721 612
Hester Prynne is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

21
811 445
Éponine is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

22
906 224
Athena is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added 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

23
1,309 418
Anne Shirley is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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

24
1,139 381
Nancy Drew is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Nancy Drew series
Nancy Drew is a fictional character from the 2011 film My Sucky Teen Romance.

25
631 484
Emma Woodhouse is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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