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Ten Empowering Lessons We Can Learn From Women In Literature

14/11/2016 11:06

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Image Credit: Levy Bittencourt

It was Singles' Day on 11th November - a reason for many Chinese people to celebrate their individual status. Here are ten very worthwhile lessons we can learn from my favourite heroines in literature:

1) Have pride in yourself

"There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me."

Elizabeth Bennett - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

One of the most well-loved women in English literature, Elizabeth is quick-witted and honest, allowing her to rise above the often spiteful society she is surrounded by. Her determination to marry only for love collides with her equally fierce loyalty to her family.

2) Be discerning

'Excuse me, I don't like people just because they are handsome.'

Hermione Granger - Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling

Hogwarts' student Hermione is a clever and level-headed girl who soon proves to Harry Potter that she can always be relied on. She is very compassionate; valuing friends and ignoring bullies.

3) Don't settle for less than you deserve

"Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband. But since a woman can't show off in that way by herself, I shan't marry - at least yet."

Bathsheba Everdene - Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Bathsheba is the enchanting female protagonist of this story, written nearly 150 years ago, and is truly independent both in spirit and financially. She shuns the idea of marriage if it isn't for love and is determined to decide her own destiny.

4) Love yourself

"I'm not against love at all, I love love! I just think that having a partner is not a prerequisite to living happily ever after.'"

Chloe Usher in Happily by me!

Chloe has had enough of being asked why she is 'still single' and told she will never know what love is until she has had children. In a light-heartedly subversive move, she challenges the notion of settling down and marries herself, demonstrating how you must first love yourself before looking for it elsewhere.

5) Follow your dreams

"And you will be quite on your own when you do all this. There is no academy where you can learn to be yourself; there is no line manager slowly urging you toward the correct answer. You are midwife to yourself, and will give birth to yourself, over and over, in dark rooms, alone."

Johanna Morrigan - How To Build A Girl by Caitlin Moran

Hilarious teenager Johanna from Wolverhampton is struggling with puberty, poverty and trying to develop an identity that fits. Although hyper-aware of her own failings, she fiercely guards her own individuality and successfully pursues her dreams of being a rock 'n' roll music journalist.

6) Listen to your instincts

"Keep in mind that I'm crazy, won't you?"

Lisbeth Salander - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

LIsbeth is a fearless and skilled hacker, with a disdain for conformity and an unorthodox appearance. Her brusque language and withdrawn personality often means she is misjudged by others but they are soon proved wrong as her intelligence and foresight finally bring her the freedom she craves.

7) Find satisfaction in what you have

"I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give."

Jane Eyre - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Narrator of this novel, Jane, is an honest and plain young girl who is subjected to oppression and hardship but repeatedly succeeds in asserting herself and maintaining principles of justice and dignity. She values intellectual and emotional fulfillment and strongly advocates social equality.

8) Embrace your originality

"Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable..."

Matilda Wormwood - Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda is a young girl with a genius intellect and a passion for reading. Her parents don't recognise her abilities and often ignore her. She discovers she has psychokinetic powers and uses them play practical jokes to her advantage.

9) Fight the good fight

"No one will forget me. Not my look, not my name. Katniss. The girl who was on fire."

Katniss Everdeen - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss is a hunter and survivor who is forced to take part in a televised fight to the death. She soon becomes a symbol of rebellion against the oppressive Capitol.

10) Hold on to your optimism

"Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!"

Anne Frank - The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank

13 year-old Anne Frank kept a diary while she was hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Despite her circumstances, her inspiring words and mature opinions reveal an incredible spirit; her bravery is humbling to witness.

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