Book Meme: Mel’s Day Sixteen

Book Meme Challenge:

Favorite Female Character

This is more difficult; as I am not choosing based on romantic attraction, I tend to be more demanding of my own fair sex.

And the literary equivalents become quite complicated. As the notions of what constitutes femininity changes with the ages, it is difficult to find a woman who I can admire, relate to, and wish were my friend in whatever-female-projection is with the times.

In literature, Victorian women can be admirable, but my post modern spirit wants a bit more kick. Adventure women tend to be more independent that it is possible for any human being to be. Modern women lack a certain je ne sais quoi. And post-modern women flung into historical settings just stick out like a sore thumb.

Also, there is the fact that because I have an inside view of the issues and trials of being a woman, I hold up a rather high standard for womanhood. (You think Darcy had a high standard? Mine is based on John Paul II’s New Feminism. Which is awesome and wonderful and wholesome, and hard.)

So what literary heroine can hold her own against dragons, social status, dire circumstances, and threatening figures, while at same time maintaining the grace, poise, gentility, love, and strength inherent to real femininity?

Lucy Pevensie

From The Chronicles of Narnia

It was most strenuous to make a decision; for a while I was tempted to employ a trifecta of Anne Elliot, Sophie Hatter, and Harriet Vane. But suddenly, in another late night dream-musing type thing, a quote from Lucy came to me.

The quote went something like this;

Edmund: Girls never can carry a map in their heads.

Lucy: That’s because we already have something in our heads!

And – oh darlings! – I suddenly remembered why I love this girl.

(Let us not discuss Movie Lucy versus Book Lucy. The differences are rather minute, but the change in medium does elicit a different view of the character.)

Lucy begins as a child, but we the readers get to see her grow up, struggle in balance her inward faith with her outward ways of living, fight to continue trusting, battle with encroaching heresies armies, and become a woman beautiful inside-and-out.

Despite being an explicit (and practically-speaking imitable) example of holiness, Lucy is not a goody-two-shoes: she can be snarky and sassy just as much as the next girl. See above quote for proof. (Elsie Dinsmore, take note!)

Lucy knows her faults and works to correct them. She loves wholly and acts upon that. She is not merely the princess that girls dream of being, but she a queen; one who comes under her own power and self-government to such an extent that she can be responsible for the freedom of others.

Also, she plies a mean bow and arrow. And is resolute in danger when defending those that she loves.

She is the one who gives Aravis her first glimpse of Real Femininity. And that tomboy Tarkheena is shocked to find it to be strong and beautiful, especially when it is contrasted with the plush and floppy type exhibited by Lady Lasaraleen.

Lucy is not perfect. She does not quite have Anne’s composure, Sohpie’s control, or Harriet’s intellect.

But she does have a dedication, an openness to learning and growing, and willingness to adventure.

She is smart, without necessarily being brilliant, sweet without being saccharine, thoughtful without being overbearing, gentle without being weak, and strong with being pompous.

She is the Valiant.

She is a Queen.

She is a Lioness.

She is a Women With Whom To Be Reckoned.

7 thoughts on “Book Meme: Mel’s Day Sixteen

  1. Wow. That. Was. Poetry. I love it.

    I’ve been trying to think of favorite female characters, and I always come up short. Harriet is absolutely wonderful, but not a very good model of morality, perhaps. Anne Eliot always irritated me (sorry) for being so terribly, terribly sensible. I think Elinor Dashwood comes pretty close to the mark, for not only is she sensible and practical and responsible and mature and all that, but she also does have very strong emotions and personal flaws, but she is able to control them, control herself. And this control I find admirable, and sadly lacking in today’s woman. I used to think Marguerite Blakeney (from “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” though I’m sure you know that:) ) was my fav, until I realized that she’s just too perfect; she is everything a man could want in a wife (even the whole issue of her condemning the Marquis and his family could only have some sort of bad-girl attraction for Percy) and everything a woman of her day aspired to be. But it is true; she lacks a depth of character, a passive sort of strength – perhaps it is a sort of humility? – perhaps a humility tempered with a certain sort of pride. C’est quelque chose de “je ne sais quoi,” n’est pas? Not sure what. But I think everyone recognizes it when they see it.

    • It was a hard choice. I think many female characters end up becoming propaganda for certain views of femininity.

      Your critique of Anne is fair, but that is part of what I love about her. And the fact the only area in which she acts and reacts instinctively is where Wentworth is concerned.

      Elinor? I could never get very fond of anyone in S&S, partly because every fiber of my being despises Marianne. And as for Marguerite . . . I do enjoy her, but do you really think that she is perfect? Her flight into France was – frankly – stupid, and caused more trouble than it was worth. And she should have been able to foresee that; English Lady traveling through enemy ground? A message would have been much better. Her pride was never so much an issue for me as was the complete lack of strategic thought.

      Confession: I do not speak French. But I have heard the expression ‘je ne sais quoi’ and assumed that I understood it. It is the “whatever it is,” that undefinable air of charm and allure and mystery that most women have naturally. Am I correct? Or do I need to fix that part? 😉

  2. What an excellent choice! Why did I not think of Lucy earlier? I’ve been wracking my memory in vain to find my favorite female character. For a moment I might have had a reasonable selection, but now, fair warning, I may end up following your lead.

    The downside is that it has been just long enough since I’ve read Narnia that the details of her maturing are lost to me, and I have only the broad idea of her character, which is somewhat influenced by the movies (including the BBC ones). What I like most, though, is how thoroughly she is a model of a godly female, while still being human and relatable.

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  4. You made me cry. In a good way, though. It has been too long since I read the Narnia series.

    “She is smart, without necessarily being brilliant, sweet without being saccharine, thoughtful without being overbearing, gentle without being weak, and strong with being pompous.”

    Spot on.

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