If Your Favorite Female Characters of Classic Literature Were Millennials
These leading ladies of classic literature have been the stars of stories that have compelled our hearts and minds for long throughout history. Although ridiculed in their time for not meeting societal standards, these cultural icons are celebrated for their resilience and individuality by readers everywhere. However, it might just be time for a revamp. Given the drastic changes and progression in Western society, it’s easy to see how these captivating women from over fifty years ago would have a different story should it take place now.
Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennett is the heroine of Pride and Prejudice, who captured our hearts through her outspoken wit, and refusal to confine to the value her society puts on a woman’s wealth and status, which could only be gained through her connections to a man (or, in other words, marriage). Elizabeth Bennett wanted a marriage that was a manifestation not of wealth but of love, she wanted happiness over status, and chose to follow her own desires over sexist social constructs.
Today, we’d likely see this Bennett sister running a successful lifestyle blog. A compelling site full of pastel colours confined to a vintage aesthetic. Her site is brimming with the best tips on getting by on a budget, relationship advice, and miscellaneous book reviews of novels she finds in old book shops that remind her of her father’s library. But, her most popular posts are the motivational ones. She pinpoints the subtleties of misogynist microagressions while also passionately ranting- in the most eloquent way, of course- about gender roles, the rigidity of social constructs, and the systemic effects of the patriarchy. She is not afraid to publish her thoughts. When the negative comments under her posts consume her mind sometimes, she tends to act on impulse and is ready with her Twitter fingers to start a chain of indirect Tweets. But, she always ends up deleting them and clearing her mind instead with a long walk and a FaceTime conversation with Jane. She educates her readers on these social issues, drawing them in with her ardor, and reminds them of the strength of women, with a common tip at the end advising girls to be unafraid of selfishness- their needs and wants are important too.
Jo March, Little Women
Jo March is outspoken, bold, and a literary-lover, whose legacy lies in her character being the embodiment of intentional defiance against a patriarchal society. She is in constant battle with the stringent rules her society creates for young ladies in an effort to wholly embrace every aspect of herself- however eccentric she may be. Marriage, for example, does not hold a place in her heart the way that writing does, as she passes her time writing plays for her sisters and herself to act out.
Jo March is the name you see splattered across bestseller lists all over the country, making its way to international. The BookTubers love her, and it is not uncommon to see her sitting across talk show hosts as they douse her in questions about her work. Her young adult novels are notorious for their strong female leads, casually defying societal norms and showcasing the dimensions of a complex female character who conquers her hardships and kicks butt as she stumbles and glides through adventures. Of course, she never forgets diversity as her stories are packed with a plethora of different types of women. She often bases their traits around her sisters, as their quirks pose as an excellent guide to character creation. Her characters are written so realistically, they are a common form of inspiration to young women all over North America.
Ms. March enjoys a bit of social media, as well. She is an adamant fan of GoodReads, and often posts reviews of other works- albeit a bit of a harsh rater, she keeps the wording of the review humorous and lighthearted and scattered with geeky memes (although they can come off as sarcastic at times.) She tries not to be too consumed by the media as she prefers her content to be in the form of printed pages, and is working at privatizing her life more in spite of the many interviews she gives. In accordance with this, Jo March has a YouTube channel by the name of the Pickwick Papers, but it is never active save for when she goes on an occasional video-liking rampage. She is a big fan of the BookTube community, and is sometimes found on the channels of a few BookTubers, discussing her work. She also loves jamming out to the Hamilton soundtrack as often as possible, because the writer in her cannot help but be absolutely enthralled by its lyrical genius, and it brings her back to the days of composing plays for her sisters.
Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables
The charm of Anne Shirley has always been in her eccentricity, her unconventionality, and the vulnerability within her insecurities. Her character has, throughout time and generations, remained a point of resonance to its readers as her struggles of being a little too loud, or red-haired, or unusual, feel all too familiar to an audience who also has most likely had to deal with the merciless standards of the real world. It is also easy to simply feel captivated by this charismatic young girl just trying to understand how to belong.
Always looking to gain education and knowledge and having a wild competitive spirit make the diligent school experience the perfect pathway for her. Anne Shirley, from her earlier days at public school, shows an affinity for competition and seems to have a natural flair for learning as she is often the top student in class. Her classroom competitions with Gilbert Blythe in her younger years sparked a passion for knowledge within her that would last a lifetime. Throughout high school, she silently dreams of big brick buildings full of books and knowledge yearning to be obtained; university has its name written all over her mind (she conveniently ignores the tuition, though). And when she finally makes it, with her hair freshly dyed an ever brighter shade of flaming red and a suitcase packed with trendy clothes and a brooch Marilla snuck in, she can’t seem to get enough. She studies literature and history. During the summer, she dabbles in physics, as there is nothing more romantic to her than the marriage of math and science, the ultimate rejoicing of two revolutionary fields of knowledge.
Anne is very active in the school clubs, as well. Her favourites are debate and poetry club. She sets free her sophisticated vocabulary as they carry the meanings behind her passionate raves. Here, Anne feels freer than ever to be loud and showcase her fiery personality. She retreats to her childhood insecurities often, however, but finds her outlet in poetry. But her insecurities are not the only thing she writes about. Anne is a romantic at heart, and she loves filling up pages with broken lines about sunsets, love, and freckles. She shares her poems on Instagram and at poetry club meetings. She’s also a complete self-care junkie, so in the spaces of her bookshelf that aren’t filled with textbooks and poems, you’ll find many self-care books and jars of wacky face masks.
Scout Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird
This story has inspired and excited generations, a book that has not been forgotten in its progressive endeavours. Scout Finch is our protagonist, a young girl who maneuvers 1930s Alabama and its blatant racism. Through watching her wise lawyer father handle a case in which race plays a large role, we know this is something Scout feels interest in; her sincerity and urge to learn is a significant part of her that render her such a lovable character.
Scout today is a hard-working college student. Inspired by her father, she studies law and political science. She is passionate about activism, having seen the harsh realities of narrow mindedness and racism first hand, growing up in a small conservative town. She writes for social justice magazines and her social media feed is flooded with #BlackLivesMatter and anti-American imperialist posts, and a constant urging of the media for more diverse representation. She loves surrounding herself with people from all walks of life. To her, there is so much to learn to further her understanding of people’s struggles and understand her own privileges. Although difficult being away from her childhood home, Scout has taken her fiery knowledge and inquisitive curiosity which was once nurtured by her family, to the real world, where she plans on using it for good. Online, Scout Finch has a large following for being so outspoken with her views, and she carries this with her to the real world. She is often found at protests and rallies, fighting for justice. Her activism is her passion.
These female characters have inspired readers for generations with their characteristic embodiment of defiance. With the world as it is today, these women would have strong supportive platforms to practice being themselves and nurture their dreams and desires. Their strength and boldness, no matter the era, will always be with them.