5 of the Most Undervalued Women in Literature

This post goes out to all those phenomenal overlooked female characters in literature. It’s not that they’re weak characters, in fact quite the opposite! However, due to either lack of book time or perhaps in comparison to a more prominent female character, these women are sometimes not given the attention they deserve. While I’m sure there are a multitude of other characters that I have also had the indecency to overlook in this post, these five in particular stand out to me as decidedly different and independent. If you would like to let me know of another heroine that I have missed, please feel free to message me!

5.Luna Lovegood (J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter)

(Luna Lovegood, played by Evanna Lynch, in the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie adaptation)

This wonderful strong female character often becomes outshined next to the talented and clever Hermione Granger, but let’s be serious, this girl deserves much love too! Raised by her extremely eccentric father, social decorum is not exactly her forte. Yet she’s never afraid to be her completely odd and endearing self. She is a source of humor in the series, and often adorns herself in outlandish garments complete with butterbeer cork necklaces and radish earrings.

Amidst Luna’s wonderful quirky words like “nargles,” “crumple-horned snorkacks,” and “wrackspurt,” there are moments that Luna gives beautifully clear words of wisdom which couldn’t come from any other character. Often alone and out-casted, she’ll occasionally say things such as “I enjoyed the meetings, too. It was like having friends” which reveals her true isolation. However, “down-casted” or “depressed” would never describe Luna Lovegood, and we see from the numerous pictures of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville in her room that she is the most devoted of friends.

4.Éowyn (J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings)

(Eowyn, played by Miranda Otto, in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy)

Tolkien isn’t usually known for his strong female characters. If you’ve never noticed all of the nine in the fellowship are male, and the majority of the societies in the Lord of the Rings are patriarchies. However, there are a few females sprinkled throughout Tolkien’s masterpiece. The two most prominent women in the series, Arwen and Galadriel, are elves and, as such, have been blessed with essentially eternal life and powers beyond that of mortal man (Galadriel even wields one of the three rings forged for the elven kings).

And then there’s Éowyn, a mortal woman whose duty it is to serve her people and her father. This inexperienced noblewoman does not hide behind walls and men. Against her father’s wishes, she disguises herself as a man so she may serve as a soldier in the war against Mordor (a kind of Joan of Arc character). Not only does she charge in unfamiliar territory full force, but she does so confidently. She attacks the Witch-king in order to protect her father and slays the Nazgûl declaring:

“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”

Wow.

3.Barbara Gordon (DC Comics)

(Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, in DC Comics Birds of Prey series)

I know, I know. Some people don’t like to call comics “literature,” but I want to give some attention to this marvelous superchick. To those of you who don’t read comics, Barbara Gordon is Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, superheroine Batgirl, techno savvy Oracle, and one strong woman. Batman (Bruce Wayne) has a number of protégées: Dick Grayson (Robin #1/Nightwing), Jason Todd (Robin #2/ Red Hood), Tim Drake (Robin #3/Red Robin), Damian Wayne (Robin #4), and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/ Oracle). Notice a trend? Yeah they’re all male except Barbara, and yet she holds her own in this male dominated group.

Determined to enact justice in the city of Gotham, this redheaded heroine deceives her father so that she may continue her midnight vigilante excursions. After becoming paralyzed by Joker, does she return to her normal life? Nope. She becomes Oracle and runs communications for Batman and, sometimes, for the entire Justice League. Often giving these elite superheroes minute by minute intel, Barbara directs battle strategy from afar. Oh and did I mention she does all of this with absolutely no superpowers? She’s that insanely awesome.

2.Andrea (Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead)

(Andrea from Robert Kirkman and Image's The Walking Dead comic series)

If you’ve only seen the Walking Dead show on AMC then this may come as a shock to you. The Andrea of the show does not equal the Andrea of the comic series. In the comics, her character is sort of like if Carol and Daryl had a baby together and then that baby was given a sniper rifle. Pretty cool, right?

Other than Rick and Carl, Andrea is the longest standing character in the Walking Dead series. (Yes, she survived the governor, and the prison, and about 50 more trials that happen several months down the line.) Along with Michonne, Andrea is Rick’s right hand gal. Often taking a leadership role when is necessary, Andrea is confident and deadly accurate with a sniper rifle.

Perhaps my favorite part of Andrea’s story was her sincere love for Dale. In the midst of the zombie apocalypse, she was able to find love. Although Dale was many years her senior, she saw past his elderly exterior and loved him unconditionally. Yet her soft heart does not hinder her from destroying some zombies with her sniper.

1.Sansa Stark (George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire)

(Sansa Stark, played by Sophie Turner, in HBO's Game of Thrones tv series)

George R.R. Martin is basically the king of writing strong female characters, but realistically, the strength of any female character completely pales next to Daenerys Targaryen. I could write for hours and never completely explain the amazingness that is Daenerys Targaryen, and it seems the majority of the internet agrees with me. But that’s not the point of this post.

Now, there are still about five other women that I could dedicate this spot to, but I want to give it to Sansa Stark. When I was first introduced to Sansa Stark, I hated her. I wanted to take reality and straight up sucker punch her in the jugular with it. Her complete inability to recognize the harshness of reality made her the most unlikely heroine. Yet, we watch as she becomes disillusioned and is trapped, tortured, and dehumanized by her abusive, complete scum of the earth fiancé, Joffery.

Sansa Stark must handle her abuse in such a way that none of the other females must, she must pretend to enjoy it. In the midst of tragedy and hardship, she cannot take up a sword and slay her persecutors as the others might. Rather she must endure with grace and decorum, a kind of torture none of the other characters experience. She proves that there are different ways to be strong, and it is not necessary to give up your femininity in order to be tough.

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