Monday, September 10, 2012
Heroines Versus Female Protagonists
Let's first state the obvious. Of course, heroines are, in fact, female protagonists but not every female protagonist can be a heroine. Why? Because a heroine does something: she is on a quest, the mistress of her own destiny, must have a badass quality about her. A female protagonist? She just sits there,lets life happen to her and then responds accordingly (which can make a good story just not a good heroine).
In an informal poll done among my facebook friends, we debated some popular female characters in literature and tried to catagorize them. Here are our results, obviously not comprehensive. Comment below if you disagree or want to add some of your own.
Katniss from The Hunger Games: She sacrifices herself for her sister and her district. She fights the bad guys and doesn't let romantic feelings interfere with her duty.
Hermione from the Harry Potter series: She uses her intelligence and reason to figure things out. She takes action and never deserts her friends.
Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew Series: Nancy was the first female heroine in popular fiction to solve mysteries, catch the criminal and save her boyfriend all on her own.
Bella from the Twilight Series: While I really did enjoy most of the books, Bella did not show heroine qualities. She had no natural talents save being the new girl who happens to be attractive to vampires. She lets romantic feelings get in the way of common sense.
Tess from Tess of the D'Ubervilles: You have to feel sorry for a character like Tess. She has a lot of bad luck in her life. But where a heroine would use her brains and bravery to change things, Tess just continues to bumble along and make bad decisions.
Most fairy tales involving princesses: Keeping in mind they were written in a different time, these poor girls are victims of circumstance. Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? They are practically lying there dead for most of the story while the prince comes to the rescue. Thankfully, Disney's latest movie offerings have sought to change that by serving up proper heroines who can save the day themselves.