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
3,098 926
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
1,983 619
Elizabeth Bennet is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elizabeth Bennet Pride and Prejudice

3
705 632
Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lady Macbeth Macbeth

4
284 388
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
1,000 347
Éowyn is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éowyn The Lord of the Rings

6
576 453
Anna Karenina is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anna Karenina Anna Karenina

7
1,216 394
Alice is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Alice Alice in Wonderland

8
1,092 447
Jane Eyre is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jane Eyre Jane Eyre

9
1,341 417
Scout Finch is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Scout Finch To Kill a Mockingbird

10
1,523 625
Katniss Everdeen is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Katniss Everdeen The Hunger Games

11
1,084 439
Jo March is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Jo March Little Women, Little Women, Little Women

12
1,195 608
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Arya Stark A Song of Ice and Fire

13
1,644 424
Luna Lovegood is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Luna Lovegood Harry Potter series

14
786 413
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
1,131 274
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Matilda Matilda

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16
492 236
Éponine is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Éponine Les Misérables

17
1,018 249
Mary Poppins is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Mary Poppins Mary Poppins series

18
1,181 147
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

19
724 328
Galadriel is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Galadriel The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings

20
898 383
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
451 368
Hester Prynne is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Hester Prynne The Scarlet Letter

22
392 270
Emma Woodhouse is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature

23
839 218
Anne Shirley is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Anne Shirley Anne of Green Gables

24
378 87
Athena is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Athena Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld

25
430 158
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

26
570 262
Laura Ingalls is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie

27
561 259
Pippi Longstocking is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Pippi Longstocking Pippi Longstocking

28
237 328
Emma Bovary is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Emma Bovary Madame Bovary

29
174 259
Becky Sharp is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Becky Sharp Vanity Fair

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30
279 272
Tess Durbeyfield is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Tess Durbeyfield Tess of the d'Urbervilles

31
462 212
Beatrice is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Beatrice Much Ado About Nothing

32
352 112
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
729 226
Nancy Drew is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Nancy Drew Nancy Drew series

34
808 188
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
744 173
Lucy Pevensie is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
carlybobarly added Lucy Pevensie The Chronicles of Narnia

36
476 242
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

37
690 253
Dorothy Gale is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Dorothy Gale The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

38
709 227
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

39
66 164
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

40
518 286
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
343 147
Elinor Dashwood is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Elinor Dashwood Sense and Sensibility

42
519 272
Holly Golightly is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Holly Golightly Breakfast at Tiffany's

43
260 129
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
365 263
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
536 119
Molly Weasley is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
182 125
Brunhild is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Brunhild Die Nibelungen: Siegfried

47
345 129
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
511 199
Liesel Meminger is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Liesel Meminger The Book Thief

49
169 66
Ophelia is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
ComediaHarmonia added Ophelia Hamlet, Hamlet, Hamlet - Hamlet

50
250 100
Rapunzel is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
tetris added Rapunzel Rapunzel