Grrrrrl power! From Flavorwire.
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.”
The powerful female protagonist of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series is also one of the strongest women on this list. A world-class computer hacker with a photographic memory, she’s also the survivor of an abusive childhood, which makes her a fiercely anti-social heroine with a violent streak.
THE WIFE OF BATH
Chaucer didn’t mean to make the Wife of Bath as big a character in The Canterbury Tales as he did. Early drafts show that her role was meant to be much smaller, but Chaucer became enamored of his female creation, and eventually her prologue ended up twice as long as her tale. The Wife of Bath is lewd and lascivious — but behind all the dirty jokes, she’s making an argument for female dominance and a woman’s right to control her body.
A remarkably independent woman, Janie Crawford’s strength is in her ability to keep on going, no matter what her life throws at her, and to uphold her dignity throughout Their Eyes Were Watching God. She challenges the conventions of who should love whom and what leads to a happy life, her experience leading her on a journey towards an acute self-realization.
Though Tolkien’s novels aren’t exactly known for their female protagonists, who could be more powerful than the woman who killed the Witch-king of Angmar in The Lord of the Rings trilogy? A shieldmaiden who is itching to defend her countrymen from the first minute we see her, Éowyn disguises herself as a man to follow her friends into battle.
In the Harry Potter books, Hermione starts as an insufferable know-it-all, blossoms into a whip-smart beauty who doesn’t suffer fools (except Ron), and ends up as the glue that holds the whole operation together. Hermione’s steadfastness and sheer intelligence save her two best friends time and time again, and she’s the only one of the three never to wholly break down in a crisis.
See the rest here. Who else should be on the list?