For some time now I've wanted to write a post about female protagonists in books and movies that have been very important to me. Now is the time!
What is it About the Ladies?
Do I connect to male protagonists? Absolutely. I understand Biblo's longing for both home and adventure. I sympathize with Jack Kelly and his dreams of a better life. I applaud John Watson as he uphold his friend, even if his friend sometimes forget to show his gratitude. These are all wonderful characters. They are all special to me.
However, there's something about said treasured protagonist being a girl. Something inside me wakes up.
Maybe I could be like that.
Maybe I could talk like that.
Maybe I could be as brave and as beautiful as she is.
Wouldn't that be wonderful?
It is a magical thing, to see long hair flying as our hero runs to the rescue. To see lips red with lipstick conducting negotiations to secure the future of an entire race. To see high heels striding down the street, just in time to save a life.
This connects with me. This touches me. This chills me to the bone.
So, without further ado, here are a few of the fictional ladies that have shaped and inspired me throughout my life.
Belle (Beauty and the Beast)Oh, Belle.
Smart and sweet and brave and kind, all while rocking the color yellow (not as easy as it seems).
Belle has always been one of my favorite Disney characters, ever since I was just a child. She was good and strong and she looked like me. She had the courage in her heart not only to face the Beast, but to love him. That takes strength. She was unafraid to be herself, even if people thought she was strange for it. This inspired me. I still hope to one day be as kind as the princess I admired so much.
Matilda was a girl I admired even when I was only five years old. Every time I went over to my grandmother's house, that was the movie I wanted to watch. I could very nearly quote it word-for-word.
Matilda was important to me because she was like me.
She was a smart little girl who felt rather alone in the world, which encouraged me.
I began to dream that I might be like her. Smart like her. Brave like her. Good like her.
Matilda was the first character I ever truly connected with. Even at a young age, I recognized the feeling of meeting a character who would understand me.
I knew Matilda would.
Lucy Pevensie (Chronicles of Narnia)
Again, she made me believe that I could be more.
She helped me see what it meant to be entirely in love with Jesus. She showed me what it meant to follow Him, even when everyone else doubted. She showed me bravery and kindness.
She made me want to be like her.
I started looking in every closet and every cabinet for Narnia. I wanted to find that land. I wanted to become a queen and have adventures in the wood with the fauns and the dryads.
As I grew, I understood and appreciated Lucy more and more.
As many issues as I have with the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie, I did appreciate the scene where she only wanted to be Susan.
I remember being shocked. I only ever wanted to be Lucy, and here all she cares to be is Susan? In the end, it's Lucy who sees the end and new beginning of Narnia. It's Lucy who is called 'The Valiant'. It's Lucy who stays true.
So much of my life I spend away, wishing I were someone else. Wishing I were my sister, or my friends, or even fictional characters. Lucy helped me realize that it's not all about me being someone else. It's about me being the most beautiful version of myself that I can be.
Princess Leia Organa Skywalker (Star Wars)
Leia astounded me.
From the moment she stepped on screen, I was enraptured.
She was beautiful and she didn't take any junk from anyone. She commanded attention and respect from all, and she got it. Still, somehow, she was gentle.
She had a plan, and she led fearlessly. People took her seriously.
No one took her as a fool; she never gave them the option.
There for several years, Princess Leia was my hero. She was everything I wanted to be. Her leadership inspired my own, and her genuine care for her friends showed me that in order to lead, one does not have to be insensitive. People are not simply moving parts; the best leadership comes when one leads by example and genuinely cares for the people one leads.
Donna Noble (Doctor Who)
Yes, she was a little too loud and rather grating. Yes, she was overbearing and over-dramatic and I loved every moment of it. She was a different sort of companion, and she was amazing.
She didn't take any junk from the Doctor. She wasn't in love with him. She was strong and independent, and her bravado hid a hurting, unheard heart. She was brave, but she was also afraid.
She was different, and she was beautiful.
She taught me that I can be a hero of my own sort. I don't have to be a size-zero blonde with a penchant for wandering off on my own. I don't have to be soft spoken, or quiet and mysterious. I am important and valued just the way I am, and I am a marvel all my own. She showed me that different is good, and that there is always room to grow and learn.
Christine Daae (Phantom of the Opera)
This is a bit of a newer one. A few months ago, I watched the 25th Anniversary performance of the musical Phantom of the Opera.
The moment the camera panned over to Christine (Sierra Boggess in this production), my heart skipped a beat. She was beautiful. Not only that, but there was just something about her that I could not describe.
As I watched the show, I only grew to love her and respect her more.
Her hesitancy. Her excitement towards Raoul. Her friendship with Meg. Her kindness to the Phantom. Her bravery, even when she was terrified. Her childlike goodness.
Christine Daae is all I aim to be.
Is she fearless? No.
Is she flawless? No, thank God.
She is human, and she is afraid. Her heart hurts for all she has lost.
But somehow, in the end, she chooses kindness. She shows the Phantom light in his dark world. All that she has gone through, it has only made her good. It has only taught her that love is the only way. Her courage inspires me. Even with all the dark she has seen, she retains her innocence. In the end, her goodness saves her love. I hope one day to be like Miss Christine Daae.
So, there we have it! A short list of some of the fabulous fictional women that have helped me become who I am today. I look forward to meeting more of them as I go on, but these I will always treasure for the things their stories have taught me. They have showed me that it's okay to be afraid, so long as I stand up anyway.
What are some of your favorite fictional ladies?