Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Progressive Heroines: Jane Eyre to Hermione Granger College

Males still make up an uncomfortably large majority of published authors; perhaps this, along with many other factors, contributes to the dearth of strong female characters in literature. But regardless of causation, the truth is still evident: heroines have been woefully underrepresented over centuries of literary development. There are, however, some female characters who serve as positive representations of women and their potential, both new and old: notably Jane Eyre, from the novel of the same name by Charlotte Brontë, and Hermione Granger, from the modern classic Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Both heroines typify not merely females perceived as heroes within their own gender roles, but females perceived as heroes by anyone’s standards. Despite their obvious similarities and their successful attainment of the same goal, though, the disparity between the two characters and the worlds they come from shows just how far females have progressed in literature today.

In much of classic literature, the main female characters some might consider “heroes” are not truly heroes at all. They are instead merely women who do exactly what women are supposed to do: fall in love, have children, keep house, and obey their husbands. Some of...

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