Book Chat: What Makes An Ideal Heroine? Your opinions NEEDED!

Happy Monday, fellow book lovers! Hope you all had a lovely weekend and got some good reading done! And for those of you that were literally booked and now find that Goodreads is yelling at you for being behind on your reading challenge, just know that it’s the start of a brand new week and there’s still plenty of time to catch up. 


Over the weekend, I joined Litsy (come find me by searching “NerdNarration” so we can be friends), a currently phone-only app that merges Goodreads content, with Bookstagram photos, and double the amount of Twitter characters. So basically a hodgepodge of all the social media outlets I love to utilize while connecting to fellow bookworms.

Anyways, after uploading my current reads and a few mini reviews to the app, I went to my Pinterest board to find a quote to share with my new community. I came upon a pin (see below) that I happily posted years ago without a moment’s pause that now has me second guessing my initial reaction. This pin brings me to today’s chat:

What do we, as readers, look for in our heroines? 

Before I dive into my thoughts, let me reveal the pin that created this whole line of thinking: So like I said, I was much younger when I originally posted this problematic pin.

When I first posted this my thoughts were along the lines of: 1) It’s Pro-Hermione 2) It’s Pro-HP, and 3) It’s a sign of my maturity that I now (really, then because this was years ago) no longer supported the love-crazed motives of Bella, a character from a series I fawned over in high school.

Now, thanks to the book community, which has caused me to reflex deeper on the material I encounter daily, I do see some of the flaws in this pin. I don’t like that they’re making light of depression, anxiety, or suicide just to take a dig or to prove a point. I don’t like that they’re comparing one woman’s pain with another and assuming it’s the same.

That being said..

Part of me still fully supports this pin. Whether it’s the #GirlBoss in me, or really opening my eyes to the underlying messages delivered via today’s media, I want to champion the ideal that:

REAL HEROINES DON’T HAVE BLANK PAGES. 

And if you’ve read New Moon, you know what I’m talking about. I like the idea that a girl/woman wouldn’t completely shut down or become a bitter version of themselves (I’m looking at you Cursed Child) because the male lead in her life walked out. I think providing stories where a woman has her OWN narrative and isn’t saved/guided/controlled/insert verb of choice by a male is good for young women AND men to read to help us understand how to navigate the world we’re living in. But wherever you fall on the pin issue, it leaves me with questions:

Does dependency make a character less of a heroine?

Do our ideal heroines need to be emotionally shut-off in order to garner our praise?

Do they have to have a goal beyond a love interest/happy family to warrant our attention?

Do they need to have achieved an “unimaginable” feat or standard in order to be admired?

Do they need to defy authorities and partake in superhuman, life-threatening scenarios to earn the title?

What is it that we’re looking for?


This really left me thinking for a good chunk of my Sunday, and I hope its landed amongst you as well. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on what makes a good heroine. Who are some of your favorites? Why do you believe they fit the mold? I sincerely look forward to your thoughts! 

And, as always, Happy Reading!

 

21 thoughts on “Book Chat: What Makes An Ideal Heroine? Your opinions NEEDED!

  1. Coffee Shop Book Review says:

    This is a very interesting topic since I never did like Bella, lol. I do think that a strong character (male of female) needs to have emotions. I don’t want robots. But that emotion can be tempered by doing something positive when things are bad. That meme you posted was spot on. Hermione and Ginny were both strong. I don’t want a main character to give up. Great post. See you on Listy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nerd Narration says:

      First of all, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I know this topic might seem off to a few people, but it really got me thinking. Like is Hermione a heroine because she was poised and focused in the face of danger? Is Bella NOT because she shut down until she was actually needed? Is one better than the other? I’m not sure I’ll get any definite answers, I really just wanted to know if I was alone in thinking about this! Thanks again and see ya on Litsy!

      Like

  2. Crystal says:

    I agree with you. I love when a women in the story saves her self. Not a man or someone else in general. It’s okay for someone to help along to way but in the end it’s their choice. It’s will power and independence. One of my favorite books is A Court of Mist and Fury. Not only because of the romance but because Feyre is made whole again. Not by being coddled but by being part of an army and fighting to learn how to be herself again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nerd Narration says:

      I’m a HUGE ACOMAF fan, so I totally get what you’re saying. I appreciate that she was allowed to make her own discoveries along the way. But again, does that mean that a character that needs saving isn’t a heroine? Or is the book just more enjoyable if the female is presented as strong and confident? What’s your take on that?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Crystal says:

        Good point. I think if the character needs saving and overcomes then they are a hero in their own way. Most books do have a female that is strong and confident. It does seems to make it more enjoyable. Every great heroine has had to to overcome in something to make them stronger. Maybe?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Nerd Narration says:

      So super human or regular gal doesn’t matter. What matters is if she has an obstacle and overcomes it on her own? Is that where we’ve landed? If so, I think that’s fair to say. Again it’s hard to find an ending place to this discussion because if there’s no ideal definition does that mean there’s no hierarchy for desirable traits either? Are all heroines equal since the qualifications are subjective?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Crystal says:

        I liked the picture you posted. All three have different traits that made them heroic. No matter if they are a super human or a regular gal. They can be a hero in their own way. You have made some great points in this discussion. I like this quote “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ilsa @ A Whisper Of Ink says:

    I don’t think there should be an ideal heroine. I believe that most girls can be heroines if they WANT to be and they are just by existing, going through daily struggles. Of course if they’re rude, someone how kills innocent people or does really bad things they’re not a heroine but I hate the idea that a heroine has to be SUPER STRONG (physical) and Muscular or like emotionless and not like looking pretty. Nothing WRONG with those things but I want more variety in heroines like girls who like make-up and wear dresses or maybe don’t have a Love Interest. I hate that there is one stuck idea on a “heroine” that she has to be unfeeling, sharp writted and cool and pretty. I mean?? No.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nerd Narration says:

      Hey Ilsa, thanks for your comment. I agree that there shouldn’t be a set ideal and that variety is definitely what I’m seeking across my reads. The point of this post was more to see if others had thought about this or felt like it was okay to knock one heroine down for not possessing the same traits as another. Per your own comment you mentioned that they should be a heroine if they want to be…what are they considered if they don’t want to be? A side character? I know tone sometimes doesn’t come across online so I’m not trying to be combative, I’m intrigued by your responses to these questions based off your initial response.

      Like

      • Ilsa @ A Whisper Of Ink says:

        well ahhh this is a great discussion. if they don’t want to be condiered a heroine then okay?? I don’t think it’s completely okay for knocking donw otther heroines because they dont posess the same qualities as other but then i also think it is fine because you might not like some traits and thats fine???

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nerd Narration says:

        Ha! I like all the question marks! It makes me feel less alone in this wormhole of thoughts. Like I was saying to Crystal this discussion is hard to have because there’s no definitive ending point. Based off what you’ve said, if there’s no ideal definition than there’s no hierarchy, which means that all heroines should be seen as equals since it’s all subjective. Right? But, if that’s true, why do we so easily agree with the meme above. Why would I call Hermione a heroine but be hesitant to give that same title to Bella? Lol does that make sense or make this conversation more infuriating? 😉

        Like

    • Nerd Narration says:

      I agree. I find myself captivated by characters that tell the reader how it is and show rather than tell how they evolved into the person they are by the end of the book/series. Who would you say is your favorite heroine?

      Liked by 1 person

      • wakinguponthewrongsideof50 says:

        Ok….I actually like Scarlett ohara. I know people hate her, but she really didn’t care what people thought about her, and she did what she needed to survive. There’s also a Susan Isaacs book from the 80s called Compromising positions. I don’t remember the heroine, but her pluck resonance and humor always struck a chord with me. And Elizabeth Bennett….but I know that seems easy

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nerd Narration says:

        Nice! Scarlett’s a great representation of your point of valuing a straightforward, unapologetic female. So if that’s what you’re looking for would you say meek, insecure female leads aren’t heroines in your eyes? No right or wrong just wondering. And if they are, do you value reading their stories less?

        Like

  4. PerfectlyTolerable says:

    Such a great post! You make some great points!

    I am guilty of pinning that same pin (or another similar one, there were multiple versions) and I am also guilty of fawning over Twilight. I think a lot of the negativity towards twilight spun out of control because it was “cool” to hate twilight.

    I couldn’t agree more, I also don’t like that they’re making light of depression, anxiety, or suicide just to take a dig or to prove a point. The problem I think is that her story revolved too much about being in love. So to prove their point the trollers of the internet unthinkingly made fun of very serious things. But like you said. There shouldn’t be blank pages. Those pages should have been filled up with how she overcame her depression. That way it would teach girls that its okay to have depression and to collapse in on yourself, but at the same time teaches them they are strong enough to pull themselves out and recover.

    I used “trollers of the internet” because people can and will find fault with every single female character. (male characters too, but there doesn’t seem to be as much hate in that category) I saw an article the other day that was a list of literary females that you shouldn’t behave like. And to my immense surprise Hermoine was on that list! It was pretty much saying don’t be a know it all (it was a stupid list) But my point is, someone will always find something wrong with your heroine.

    I think the ideal heroine changes from reader to reader. My ideal heroine would be someone I could relate too who has similar character flaws and the strength to overcome whatever obstacles come her way. I want someone inspiring to me. So my ideal heroine is probably different than yours. But as long as she is a positive roll model I think that is a start in the right direction!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nerd Narration says:

      Ha! Glad I wasn’t alone in my fawning over Forks! And, yes, I remember when the tides changed for Twilight and suddenly everyone was turning their noses down to it. I think like you said, a heroine has somewhat become synonymous with a role model, and if that’s the case Hermione arguably would be a better paradigm than a Bella.

      To your last point, that’s what I find so hard about this conversation. Heroes and Heroines since the age of time came from fantasy stories where someone was doing extraordinary feats which is NOT relatable to our everyday lives. So does that mean ones found in romances or contemporaries which are relatable and can — at times — be inspiring are lesser?

      Like

  5. emmareadstoomuch says:

    this is such an amazing discussion question! i guess for me, i want heroines to be like people i’d want to be friends with in real life. therefore my ideal heroine is funny, for example. but also i’ve been disappointed in real life by friends who have become consumed by romantic relationships, or have been unable to stand on their own without one. so i guess i also value independence and balance in heroines, too.

    but i think we have crazy expectations for female characters over male ones! it often seems that all a male character has to do is make prolonged eye contact with a female protagonist in order to reach book boyfriend status. but for the women, so much as one statement perceived as whiney can ruin them for people. this seems like a reflection of society to me, too.

    i’m definitely going to be thinking about this question for a while!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nerd Narration says:

      Hey, Emma! Thanks so much for your input and points! I agree about women being held to a different standard in the world of literature…and in general. I actually originally had this post written for both heroes and heroines, but felt, like you said some of our best examples of literary heroines can be eviscerated by critics for one line/scene and I don’t think the same can be said — in as many cases — as their male counterparts.

      I’m not sure if you’ve been reading my responses to other comments, but that’s the new focus I’ve been finding: Heroines (historically) are females with superhuman qualities overcoming obstacles that aren’t relatable to our everyday lives, which is why we look up to them and find them inspiring. But does that mean we no longer have heroines because our lives aren’t as fanciful? Are witty, snarky ladies in romances less of a heroine than a Katniss facing danger in the Games and leading a relationship?

      Look forward to your thoughts!

      Like

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