books · Women

My Fair Lady

A meme on some of the choicest female characters from the literary world. This was originally for The Banyan Trees March issue but I couldn’t make the deadline last week. So here it is, and it’s not exactly complete. I couldn’t find time to think of more.(This was extra. The regular column in The Banyan Trees is present like always).

1. Karla Saaranen (Shantaram)

What’s it about mysterious women? Karla Saaranen was the ultimate mystery woman. We believe we know a lot about her character , physical or otherwise – beautiful, witty, clever – but we are left with very little. Her disarming charm and unexplained aggression towards the end of the story make you fall in love with her even more. The power of Karla Saaranen lies in the fact that no matter what she does or reveals, your love for her never diminishes.

2. Dagny Taggart (Atlas Shrugged)

Dagny Taggart stood for everything that was original, real and practical. Atlas Shrugged itself was a more pragmatic version of The Fountainhead and therefore Dagny Taggart had to be the more pragmatic version of Dominique Francon. Dagny was a woman of steel, utterly uncompromising on her values and beliefs and could yet make you fight for her heart.

3. Lata Mehra (A Suitable Boy)

Lata Mehra not only represents a bygone era, but also the once quintessential Indian woman possibly lost since then. She is bold enough and rebellious but expressing her love for another man and opposing her mother’s sentimental ways is as far as she can go. She is mildly fickle minded and her ultimate decision might gnaw you for sometime but soon you’d realize that it was the only logical one. And that required as much courage as crossing the skies for your love.[sic]!

4. Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter)

In the world of fantasy, seldom has anyone created a character that is not only intriguing but at the same time an important one in the larger scheme of things. And evil women? J.K. Rowling had the courage to do it. Bellatrix is synonymous with evil, misery and all things violent. Not only is it absolutely impossible to like Bellatrix but it won’t be a shocker if someone flinches at the mere mention of the name. A name feared the world over, real and magic, second only to the Dark Lord himself. She can be a favorite for her character arc, but never liked.

5. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird)

The more interesting character is of course Atticus Finch but Scout is as exciting, if not more, as he is. The choice of Scout as the narrator has a lot to do with it. We see everything through Scout’s eyes. We feel what she is going though and we think the way she thinks. This was a story begging to be told at that time and this was the best way it could have said. We were all children, we were all willing to learn and therefore Scout turns out to be the voice of our epiphanies when the story is over. Precocious here is a wrong word because along with Scout we grow up as the story progresses.


22 thoughts on “My Fair Lady

  1. you peter sellout, forgot draupadi!

    it’s bcoz of ppl like you, Rupa Ganguly is relegated to acing in b-grade bangla movies!

    Adi: Dei poda, books pathi pesina, Rupa Ganguly it seems!


  2. Where’s the ultra-cool libertine Draupadi? I would also include:
    -Alice (of the Wonderland fame)
    -Shug Avery (‘The Color Purple’)
    -Emma Wodehouse (she’s oh-so-snobby and we love her for this, we do!)
    -Lizzie Bennet (for speaking her mind against everyone who deserved it)
    -Jane Eyre
    -Anne Shirley
    -The White Witch (not as much of a baddie as Bellatrix but gave me night terrors)

    But the one who wins hands down is:
    Aunt Agatha (of the “aunt calling to aunt like mastodons bellowing across the primeval swamp” fame).

    Adi: Ok Ms. Know-It-All :P


  3. I like the “Meghna, Aditi…”better. Very nice research done! (why am I not surprised? :D)
    And who’s the Swathi girl there? Brilliant stuff :P

    Adi: Lol, not you, right? :P


  4. Good you gave a disclaimer- its incomplete and I am very happy you didn’t forget Dagny!

    & of course Scout tells the story coz its autobiographical- Scout is Harper Lee to an extent just like a Kira in ‘We the Living’ is Ayn Rand’s teenage self.

    Adi: :)


  5. I agree with some of them! Draupadi! ;) Mahabaratha completely underated her!

    Karla.. who could ever forget her..;)
    ” You can never tell what people have inside them, until you start taking it away”

    I like Dorothy from wizard of Oz too.. No one talks about her. But yet she was the one with the ruby slippers , no?

    Adi: Karla is unforgettable, yes!


  6. Stumbled across your blog while bloghopping!

    Wow I would never have thought of Bellatrix but you are right. She is strong alright, and everyone hates her!

    And Scout is a darling. Love her spunk.


  7. Scout is my all time fave :)

    Lizzie Bennett reminds me of someone :P and yes, Ms. Marple is up there somewhere.

    I loved George of the Famous Five. She escaped Enid Blyton’s prejudices!

    Adi: Scout is cult :)


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