Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)
I certainly know who would not be my favorite - any of Dickens' perfect little heroines like Nell or Ada from Bleak House. As great a writer as he is, I find them paradigms rather than characters, they are just too insufferably good. Hmmmm, thinking on the keys here... As I mentioned in Eva's meme a few weeks back when she asked which three characters I wanted to hang out with, that I would invite Paulina from Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale to the planetarium and for tapas afterwards. Paulina is the woman you want in a pinch - she cares, she is bright, resourceful, and does not give up. I'm sure she registers people to vote, helps the hungry of Darfur and can whip up a mean spaghetti and meatballs for her friends. If your significant other went off the deep end like Leontes did, wouldn't you be lucky to have Paulina around? In a patriarchy she still rules the situation changing a very bad situation into a good one for all - she exacts revenge, teaches a lesson, and saves a life. Since I'm not restricted to just one, I'll also say Virginia Woolf's Orlando - although she's only a woman for part of the book. She is irrepressible and lives for 400 years, I bet she would never run out of good stories to tell! Orlando makes me smile. And for good measure I'll add E. M. Forster's Margaret Schlegel, from Howards End, although I'm not totally sure if that isn't just because Emma Thompson played her in the film adaptation. I think I remember loving her in the book as well when I last re-read it. She is lives passionately, loves deeply, values things that have real value, and doesn't care a damn about nonsense. Wonderful character.