With the new movie Mockingjay Part 1 coming to theaters, we cannot forget the other up-and-coming heroine who had a movie released recently. The Divergent series by Veronica Roth features a heroine named Beatrice Prior who lives in a world that many readers have related to the Hunger Games series. Instead of being born in and living in districts, however, society lives in factions. People are born into a faction, but when they become young adults they can change factions. Just like Katniss, Beatrice is another heroine who breaks norms within her story.
Beatrice admits at the beginning of the novel that she feels like she does not belong in the faction she lives in. She explains that she will be able to choose to live in another faction soon, but if she leaves her faction she also leaves behind her family forever. She has to decide whether to stay and try to fit in with her faction or follow who she truly is and change factions.
Spoiler alert, she changes factions and the new faction she lives in is the complete opposite of her old faction. Once she is in her new faction, she realizes that there will be many battles that she will have to face including the realization that she does not fit into one faction.
There have been many movie heroines over the past couple decades but Clary Fray, from The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, is a fairly new character. This heroine is not the most popular, but she holds her own amongst a smaller fan base.
Clary Fray is a young adult living alone with her mother in a small apartment. She has been living a fairly normal life for a character her age, until everything changes. The world she lived in is no longer the same and she begins to realize that the stories of fairies, vampires, werewolves, and demons are all very much real. In the novel there are also orders or groups who work to keep peace in this type of realm. Clary discovers that she is a shadowhunter. Throughout the series, readers can find ways to look up to Clary Fray as a heroine and to let imaginations expand into realms were the stories we were told as children are all very much true.
There are many characteristics that make Clary a heroine, but the biggest one is her unique talent as a shadowhunter, which gives her the ability to make new rules and magic. She is able to explore her unique abilities that help her to become independent from her peers. She handles her talent with grace and uses it to help save the organization of the shadowhunters and keep the peace in a world full of the supernatural.
There is one literary heroine who has been holding her own in terms of book and movie popularity. This character is Katniss Everdeen from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, which includes The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay.
Katniss Everdeen is a young adult who overcomes many different obstacles throughout the book series, and readers can sympathize with her as well as admire her many strengths and talents. Katniss comes from a poor district where the community barely has food let alone luxuries. She breaks the rules when she sneaks out of the district to hunt for food to put on the table and barter in town. Her hunting helps her develop her skills with a bow. She also is savvy when it comes to traps and hunting skills. She is a regular nature rogue. In the beginning of the series this female character is already displaying traits that show her strength as a female character. She does not depend on other people to survive, and she supports her family by using her skill sets. That is a very admirable quality that many young adults, particularly girls, can look up to.
After Katniss volunteers as the female tribute for her district, she is put into the worldwide event known as the “Hunger Games,” which is run by the Capitol. Through this event, we learn that she is compassionate as well as independent. While Katniss wants to survive, she takes no pleasure in hearing about or taking part in fallen tributes. She befriends one of the younger tributes from another district and works with her to survive. After her friend is killed, Katniss shows compassion not only for that tribute, but also for the tribute’s district. She also is able to save another tribute by the end of the Hunger Games. Through her actions within the games she is able to start a revolution among all the districts against the capitol. Readers can also see Katniss as a rebel, but a rebel with a good cause.
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.