Growing up, many children look up to princesses, adventurers, and superheroes as role models. Young girls in particular may have a favorite princess that they admire and wish to be for many years. I am still guilty of this, as I still have a secret wish to be Ariel.
Looking at books and novels that I read when I was younger made me realize that many of the main characters that were considered heroic were male, but this has been drastically changing as time has progressed. Think about all the popular novel series today that have heroic female leads. These help girls look up to more than just princesses.
The first book series I read that had a heroic female character was the Harry Potter series. This is probably the most obvious for many of us, because it was the book series we grew up reading and watching on the big screen. Yes, I am talking about Hermione Granger–the young, intelligent, and average-looking girl who stole our hearts. In the earlier books she seemed like the know-it-all and teacher’s pet, but her quick thinking and intelligence saved Harry’s life on multiple occasions.
There are many different aspects of Hermione that make her relatable and more of a real life heroine compared to superheroes and princesses. Hermione is described physically as “bushy haired” and very average looking. She is not described as glamorous or beautiful in any way, really. She also does not feel the need to change the way she looks throughout the series. She is confident and perfectly fine with whom she is. There is also this idea that she is not as good as many of the other wizards and witches because she is “muggle-born,” so her success within the novels is based on her intelligence and persistence. She was stubborn and willing to take a stand on multiple occasions in an array of situations. This only helps girls relate to her more, as well as look up to her because she breaks the stigma that is placed on her. She does not let her peers get to her when they throw her “status” at her.
One of my favorite aspects of Hermione’s character is the relationship she has with Harry Potter. There is no sexual tension between them and he does not look down on her; instead he very much looks up to her. This is something that interests me because many heroines look up to male heroes, but in this situation it seems reversed. He seeks her out many times throughout the series for her intelligence and friendship. It shows that she is an individual that does not need Harry Potter, “the boy who lived,” in order to shine. I could very easily go into specific scenes within the series that help to prove all these characteristics that make her heroic, but you could also pick up the series and explore her for yourself. It may be worth it, because this series helped provide a turning point for popular novels and movies with female heroines as the main character.
I would also like to note that Hermione Granger is the main heroine in the series but not the only one. Other female characters to be explored are Lily Potter, Professor McGonagall, Ginny Weasley, Mrs. Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang, Nymphadora Tonks, and more.
Join me next time to discuss The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen.
— Jessica Jordan, Fiction Editor