Some of the greatest characters in literature are women and girls, but which ones are the very best? From the evil to the undeniably perfect, the always strong to those who those who never give up, these are the greatest female characters from literature of all genres. This list includes the best female characters of all ages, like the youthful girls Matilda (Matilda) and Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) to the ever-so-adult Evelyn Couch (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe). We're even ranking immortal female characters, like Galadriel from Lord of the Rings and the goddess Athena you read about in Greek mythology.
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. So many people relate to fiery, independent Jo March that her marriage at the end of Little Women feels like a betrayal - something the 2019 film adaptation addresses head-on.
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.
- 1Alea was an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, prominent in Arcadian mythology, under which... more on Wikipedia1,896578
- 2Elizabeth Darcy is the protagonist in the 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She... more on Wikipedia5,0111,814
- 3Mary Poppins is a fictional character and the protagonist of P. L. Travers' Mary Poppins books... more on Wikipedia2,832823
- 4Matilda Wormwood is a fictional character from the 1996 comedy fantasy film Matilda.3,206944
- 5Jo March is a fictional character from the 1868 novel Little Women.T he principal character,... more on Wikipedia3,1031,018
- 6Alicia is a fictional character from the 1976 film Alicia en el país de las maravillas.3,3701,419
- 7Scout Finch is a fictional character from To Kill a Mockingbird.3,2381,118
- 8Minerva McGonagall is a fictional character from Harry Potter literary series.4,279714
- 9Éowyn is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, who appears in his most... more on Wikipedia3,0501,241
- 10Jane Eyre is the heroine of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name.2,8141,097
- 11Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman... more on Wikipedia1,463518
- 12Hermione Jean Granger is a fictional character in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. She... more on Wikipedia7,2303,035
- 13Anne Shirley is a fictional character introduced in the 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables by... more on Wikipedia2,272685
- 14Luna Lovegood is a fictional character from the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling.4,3211,171
- 15Dorothy Gale is a fictional character and protagonist of many of the Oz novels by the American... more on Wikipedia1,888805
- 16Galadriel is a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, appearing in his Middle-earth legendarium.... more on Wikipedia1,817853
- 17Katniss Everdeen is a fictional character and the protagonist of The Hunger Games trilogy by... more on Wikipedia4,1381,792
- 19Molly Weasley (nￃﾩe Prewett) is a fictional character in the Harry Potter book series written...2,114585
- 20Arwen Undómiel is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. She appears in his... more on Wikipedia1,467677
- 212,5241,175Game of Thrones
- 22Arya Stark is a fictional character created by American author George R. R. Martin. She is a... more on Wikipedia3,1031,228
- 23Scarlett O'Hara is the central character in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind... more on Wikipedia1,9361,227
- 25Nancy Drew is a fictional character from the 2011 film My Sucky Teen Romance.1,749622