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
3,322 1,001
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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773 713
Lady Macbeth is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Lady Macbeth Macbeth Lady Macbeth is a fictional character from Macbeth.

3
2,123 682
Elizabeth Bennet is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
318 442
Natasha Rostova is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
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.

5
1,124 379
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
615 501
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
1,178 478
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
1,327 426
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
1,424 446
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
1,342 634
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
1,655 688
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
1,145 467
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
1,779 461
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
834 458
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
1,225 298
Matilda is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Matilda Matilda Matilda Wormwood is a fictional character from the 1996 comedy fantasy film Matilda.

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529 259
Éponine is listed (or ranked) 16 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

17
1,083 271
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

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1,300 166
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
782 353
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
1,003 417
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
 
Daenerys Targaryen is a fictional character of the book Game of Thrones.

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485 389
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
414 297
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
445 107
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
877 238
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

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485 177
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

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602 284
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.

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599 283
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.

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250 355
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.

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184 281
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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294 294
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.

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491 234
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.

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399 127
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

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770 240
Nancy Drew is listed (or ranked) 33 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.

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866 205
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

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810 187
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

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502 259
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
738 271
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

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775 241
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.

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71 182
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.

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558 297
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

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399 280
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.

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597 129
Molly Weasley is listed (or ranked) 42 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

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360 161
Elinor Dashwood is listed (or ranked) 43 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

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281 145
Freya is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
Polar Bear added Freya Das Rheingold, Der Ring des Nibelungen

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542 291
Holly Golightly is listed (or ranked) 45 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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372 142
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.

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191 143
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.

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539 212
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.

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186 80
Ophelia is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
ComediaHarmonia added Ophelia Hamlet, Hamlet, Hamlet

Hamlet

Ophelia is a fictional character from the 1964 film Hamlet at Elsinore.

50
268 115
Rapunzel is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Characters in Literature
tetris added Rapunzel Rapunzel Rapunzel is a fantasy character from a fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm.