Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lessons From My Literary Heroines

I've always been a big reader. As a child, teenager and now as an adult you can most often find me with my nose in a book, curled up in a big chair with a cup of tea.

My books are my friends. I have favourites that I read every year, specific books for certain seasons, and get more value from my Indigo points card than anyone I know.

My love of books stems from an early age. My parents always read to us from the time we were small. Some of my favourite memories are sitting up before bed with my Dad while he read to me from the Narnia series. 

So it should come as no surprise that my books impact me in a way that some young women are often impacted by actresses or musicians. The girls and women who I modeled myself after were found more often between the pages of a book than on my TV screen.

There are definitely setbacks to this (i.e. that means my heroines are fictional, and therefore live outside of reality) but I argue that the women portrayed in books have a lot to teach us.

Today, I want to talk to you about three of my favourite literary heroines (and three of my favourite books), who I think you'll agree have a place among any real-life role models out there.

Rosalind Morton - "The Chrysalids"

Long before Katniss Everdeen launched onto the young-adult, post-apocalyptic literature scene, Rosalind Morton was a member of the Chrysalids.

The Chrysalids was a novel written in 1955, detailing the events of a small farming community following a nuclear holocaust. Going back to simple lives and living off the land, the town follows a fundamental fear-based Christian belief system that fears "deviations" from what they consider normal. 

Wheat that grows to high, horses that are too big, babies born with small deformities, all are disposed of. Yes. Even the babies.

The narrator, David, along with his cousin Rosalind and their group of friends have their own deviation: They're telepathic. Able to hide in plain sight for a little while they eventually are forced to go on the run. Here is where Rosalind shines.

Prepared, loving, proud, confident, aware that she may need to take her own life or the life of a friend rather than be captured, she's not afraid to do what she needs to to have a better life. She's described as having built up her toughness from a young age knowing that she would need to protect herself. She's the driving force and brains behind getting her friends to safety.

Plus, like Katniss, she's great with a bow.

Lisbeth Salandar - "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Lisbeth Salandar has had a hard life, coupled with social anxieties and being a victim of the system, she doesn't really trust people. Because of this she develops a take no prisoners attitude, where instead of waiting for karma to sort out the world, she settles the score herself.

While I wouldn't condone the vigilante justice, I think I literally cheered out loud to myself when she got her revenge... and if you don't know what I'm talking about then READ THIS BOOK.

In spite of her badass (kind of scary) ways, you see a lot of tenderness in her behaviour towards her original guardian, and in her connection with Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth is opens herself up rarely, but when she does it's in sensational ways.

Plus she's crazy smart, and I love when women are written as smart and captivating characters, which of course brings me to...

Hermione Granger - "The Harry Potter Series" 

I don't know if I'm allowed to even MAKE a literary heroines list without including Hermione Granger.

I know Harry Potter was the main character of these books... but lets face it, he wouldn't have made it very far without Hermione. Or likely even managed to get through first year...

J.K. Rowling has even said that by the end of the novels, it was as much about Hermione's journey as Harry's

From the devil's snare, to helping out with the triwizard tasks, to discovering the basilisk and being the only prepared person during their year hunting down horcruxes... Hermione kicked BUTT!

In the Prisoner of Azkaban, she was given the power TO CONTROL TIME... AT THIRTEEN! And then a year later went on to date the Wizarding World's most famous athlete!

Smart, kind, loving, faithful, plus she punched Draco Malfoy in the face (someone had to), was the driving force behind the DA, and held up under extreme torture from Bellatrix Lestrange.

She embraced and defended her muggle roots, never let adventures get in the way of her educational goals, and wore her heart on her sleeve.

Oh, and to protect her family she wiped their memories and hid them in Australia... knowing full well she may die fighting Voldemort, so her family wouldn't be harmed or miss her. 

That's pretty badass.

So what can we learn?

All of these women faced trials, and all have several things in common

1) They are unconventional
2) They are intelligent
3) They are fearless
4) They don't obsess about their looks, their image, or men (even if they do get the guy!)
5) They love deeply

What could be better than modeling yourself after women like that?

So I wanna know: Who are your role models and why? They can be real or fictional, I'm most interested in knowing what they've taught you! Let me know in the comments below.

PS: If you liked this post, check out these posts!