Over the years, a few fictional female characters have inspired generations of women to be their own hero. Read on to discover who they are and what they can teach your daughter.
By Ashwin Lobo
Books transport us to another world, but in subtle ways they also shape our view of this world. Therefore, the books we buy for our daughters can play a part in determining the people they become. If we buy them books which reinforce gender stereotypes, they are more likely to believe these stereotypes when they grow up.
In many classic fairy tales, boys are portrayed as adventurous whereas girls are often shown as cautious. In a typical story, the girl is usually the damsel in distress and the boy is the valiant hero who sets out to save her, against all odds. And while this is okay for some stories, it isn’t for all.
Fortunately, in the past, as well as today, a few authors have rebelled against this norm and have portrayed strong female characters in their books.
Popular fictional heroes your daughter can draw inspiration from:
Be brave like Hermione: Smart and sassy, Hermione was one of the heroes of the Harry Potter series. Excelling at academics, she sets a fine example for our daughters. What’s more, Hermione never gave into peer pressure, turning a deaf ear to people who called her a nerd or know-it-all. She was unafraid to be herself and didn’t see the point in giving up her love for learning in order to simply fit in. Hermione also stood up to bullies and never hesitated to help her friends when they were in trouble.
Be determined like Elizabeth: Protagonist of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet has inspired generations of young girls for the last 205 years. She is not afraid to state her opinions and always stays true to what she believes in. She is always ready to defy society’s expectations. This is evident from the fact that she is utterly unimpressed when a man earning 10,000 pounds a year asks her to marry him. At the same time, she is willing to recognise and learn from her mistakes. Elizabeth also stands up for her family, even though she realises they are flawed. She never hesitates to help them out when they need her.
Be selfless like Katniss: Star of The Hunger Games series, Katniss Everdeen is the heroine many young girls look up to today. When her younger sister Prim was only 12 years old she was selected to compete in the hunger games – a deadly contest in which twelve youngsters compete for survival in an outdoor arena. Always putting her family first, Katniss decided to volunteer to go in Prim’s place in order to save the life of her sister. Although she was extremely young herself and feared competing in the hunger games, Katniss always faced her fears and overcame them. She also shows our daughters the importance of putting justice over law by defying the government in order to save the lives of many people.
Be adventurous like Nancy: A creation of the much-loved American publisher Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy Drew has been around since 1930. Depicting the adventures of a teenage sleuth, the Nancy Drew series was created to be the female counterpart to the Hardy Boys. Her undeniable curiosity makes her the perfect detective. This, coupled with her determination, means she never leaves a case unsolved. Nancy Drew also exemplifies the importance of testing one’s boundaries and moving beyond one’s comfort zone to further self-growth. Many people, especially her enemies, don’t take her seriously because she is a young woman. But Nancy does not let this get to her. She focuses on thinking objectively and playing to her strengths. Eventually, things always work out for her.
Be resilient like Jane: First published in 1847, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is more than 160 years old. However, the lessons it offers are simply timeless. Although young Jane was an orphan and had a miserable childhood, the resilience she displays is simply extraordinary. She has no family, no money and no friends but with hard work and determination she focuses on her studies, manages to find a job and lives her life with dignity. And despite all the suffering she endures, Jane is ever optimistic and always hopes for the best. Our daughters can learn from her positive attitude toward life so that they are capable of dealing with difficult situations with ease.
It is important that our daughters read books that depict strong female characters, as they can become role models our daughters look up to. So, the next time you take your little girl to a book store, make the right decision.
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