This weekend I spoke on behalf of the Iris Compass Foundation, a non-profit organization that fosters independence and empowers women through educational opportunities. As part of my presentation, we explored empowered female characters in literature throughout the ages. The following ten eclectic characters continue to inspire us through their passion, courage, and temerity as they dance through life in spite of its challenges.
Pippi Longstocking - Pippi Longstocking Series by Astrid Lindgrin: A most self-possessed nine-year-old with super human strength and a menacing moral compass she reserves for adults and bullies.
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March - Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: The four sisters validate virtue over wealth as they offset life's burdens with love, humor, and dignity.
Katniss Everdeen - The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins: The classic underdog hero who becomes the voice and face of a rebellion movement, symbolizing hope and perseverance for all.
Hermione Granger - The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling - The master sorceress is known for her fierce intellect and cleverness as she fights good over evil, while saving her friends from peril time after time.
Lizbeth Salander - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson: A cultural icon/punk heroine dancing on the edge of conventional society as she takes revenge on those who have wronged her.
Celie - The Color Purple by Alice Walker - In Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize novel, Celie survives poverty, oppression, and abuse, only to find her voice through the written word in her letters to God.
Anne Frank - The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank - A real-life heroine who never lost hope even within the confines of an evil empire. In the end she lost her life but left us with her extraordinary story.
Bridget Jones - Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - While determined to improve herself, Bridget reminds us to never lose our sense of humor and embrace our imperfections.
Hester Pryne - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne - The enduring heroine epitomizes the good-woman-gone-bad as she survives harsh Puritan judgements with dignity and faith, while never losing her sense of self.
Janie Crawford - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - Challenging the morals of a small Florida town in the 1920's, Janie Crawford perseveres no matter what life throws at her, leading to a journey of self-actualization and happiness.
Jane Eyre - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - A Victorian feminist who survives extraordinary life struggles only to achieve a balance between societal duty and happiness, Jane Eyre is a paragon for the ages.