[Editor’s note: In celebration of the holidays, we’re spending the next two Tuesdays by counting down the top 12 Flavorwire features of 2012. This post, at #12, was originally published March 3rd.] Since March is Women’s History Month, we’ve been thinking a lot about the women who have had positive and lasting impacts on our lives — and perhaps not surprisingly for a bunch of literary geeks like us, we’ve realized that many of them are fictional. For all the hullabaloo about the dearth of strong female characters in modern culture, thankfully there are some wonderfully powerful, kick-ass maidens that have inspired us with their strength, self-discovery, and incredible brilliance over the years. Click through to see our list of ten of the most powerful female characters in literature, and then be sure to pipe up with your own suggestions — we’ve chosen the ten who resonate most deeply with us here, but since there are many more than ten strong ladies in literature (thank goodness), we want to know which ones blow you away on a daily basis.
Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre
One of the earliest representations of an individualistic, passionate and complex female character, Jane Eyre knocks our socks off. Though she suffers greatly, she always relies on herself to get back on her feet — no wilting damsel in distress here. As China Miéville wrote, “Charlotte Brontë’s heroine towers over those around her, morally, intellectually and aesthetically; she’s completely admirable and compelling. Never camp, despite her Gothic surrounds, she takes a scalpel to the skin of the every day.”