Article by: Sumona Chetia, Executive Content Development
Days seem longer nights feel stretched. The mundane routine of doing everything within the four walls of your house doesn’t always excite us. But we can add some pop to this lockdown work-life scenario by engaging ourselves in recreational activities. Reading is one such activity. And it can be made more fun by reading books based on strong female leads.
Since ages, the portrayal of women in literature was restricted to gender-biased roles. In Greek mythologies, women were identified as sexual objects rather than individuals. Undoubtedly female Goddesses had all the power, but it was the common woman that lacked. In the later stages, misogyny, and superiority of men took over the pages of literature. Even fairy tales chose to depict women as the damsel in distress in awe of their Prince Charming. It was only during the late 18th century when writers began to create female characters that surpassed the societal description. By the 20th century, a new wave of revolution swept across the world of books, and there was no stopping by. Women writers, female leads, and strong women protagonists flooded the field of literature.
Amongst those infinite gems here are five picks that depicted women in their true empowered self-
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
Swoon over Mr. Darcy all you want but, it’s our witty female protagonist Elizabeth Bennet who steals the show. A classic novel, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, picked on the social norms of defining a woman based on her marital status, manners, and upbringing. Despite the plot of the book set in the era of a patriarchal society, Elizabeth emerged as a feminine power. In an instance, when Elizabeth encounters a question on her relationship with the high-class Mr. Darcy, she replied, “He is a gentleman, I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal”.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)
Another masterpiece classic, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, tells the tale of four diverse and well-defined personalities (sisters). Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are the four strong female leads of the book bound by their passion for writing, art, and music. At a time when women were oppressed to stay at home, Little Women gives us a glimpse of how wanting a life outside domestic life is normal and basic women’s right.
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)
Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay based on a series of lectures she delivered at two colleges of Cambridge University. The narration uses an ambitious fictional character who is on a mission to find quality work written by female authors. What follows is a significant discovery. There are plenty of books written about women by men, while there are hardly any books by women on men. Woolf points out that a room of one’s own is what a woman requires to write. A room being the space to grow, to learn, and to write. A room being the opportunity for education.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2000)
Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’ s memoir (in a graphic novel form) of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. An intelligent, high spirited, and outspoken young Marjane takes us through a journey of the dark side of society amidst a war. She questions the oppression of the regime, the silencing of her opinions, and the banishment of her ideologies.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
A series of dystopian novels by Suzanne Collins, which follows the story of Katniss Everdeen, who is forced to enter into the ruthless fight and death game created by the government, with the aim of controlling the society. Katniss is a strong, independent, and smart woman. She is a symbol of rebellion against atrocities and a breaker of stereotypes. She exhibits girl power in her actions, thoughts, and words.
As society is progressing, the representation of women in literature, be it prose or poetry is evolving too. Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet might now look as someone with many loopholes but undoubtedly those characters helped in shaping the creation of today’s feisty modern woman protagonists. The above list is only a small selection from the bigger lot. Please let us know in the comments section about more such books that you might have read.