X is for Xena: The Warrior Princess

Or...the alternate title to this post really is:

Does your female protagonist have to be Xena-like to be considered a STRONG character? 

From Wikimedia Commons

Let's take a look at kick-ass girl characters, shall we?

Obvious pick #1: Katniss from The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins). She may not be a warrior princess but she can hold her own with a bow and arrow. Not bad for someone who has to fight to the death in the arena, right?

Movie poster

Pick #2: Katsa from Graceling (Kristin Cashore). This girl is Graced with killing, and was hired by her uncle to work as a thug for him. She has some mad fighting skills.  
Image from Amazon.com

But then there are other protagonists who may not wield a weapon, and yet are considered strong in the sense that they have resilient spirits. The ones who rise above their failures, their weaknesses, their circumstances...

I like those characters. I feel like I relate more to them than I do with Xena because frankly, if I was thrown in an arena and given a weapon, I wouldn't have the heart to strike anyone with it. But I would have the heart to stand up for injustice, to hold on to my beliefs, and to protect those who need my protection. Yes, I'm a mama bear. :D 

What about you? What constitutes a strong character in your opinion? Do you have favorite characters?


Pk Hrezo said...

oo nice post! I tend to gravitate to the tough girl characters but not cuz they can use a weapon, but cuz they can conquer their fears and not whine about it. Take Scarlet Ohara for instance... tough as nails but she couldn't fight in an arena or with a weapon, yet she could take care of business.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I'm a big fan of Hermione from HP - smart and strong and can hold her own with the guys. :)

Daisy Carter said...

I think Melinda from SPEAK is one of the strongest characters (eventually) ever. She doesn't wield a sword, but she learns to stand up for herself. That's amazing in my book!

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I am not a Xena, or a bow and arrow girl, but I can get the job done. I think being shityourpants scared, and coming out with scars is more noteworthy than leveling an entire village :)

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

Yes!!!!! She was amazing

M.J. Fifield said...

No, I don't think a female character has to be a warrior princess in order to be considered strong.

Melinda from SPEAK is a fanastic example of this. I'm so glad Daisy mentioned her.

Judy said...

Plus, I just don't think I could wear a metal bra.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Yes, Katniss was amazing. In the course of the story, I really fell in love with her.

Lauren S. said...

I agree with Pk Hrezo above, Scarlett O'Hara is one of the strongest female characters I know of, yet she would probably lose in hand-to-hand combat (although she did shoot a Yankee soldier's face off...).

I think there's much more to being strong than being physically strong. One of my other favorite strong women characters is Pepper Potts from the Iron Man movie. She doesn't melt like other women do in front of Tony Stark. She scolds him and keeps him in line, isn't afraid to stand up to him, and isn't afraid to do what she has to in order to take down the bad guys.

Clarissa Draper said...

I like it when they make women character's strong and yet sexy. I love Castle because the main female lead is both of those.

Bethie said...

Don't sell a Southern girl short. Scarlett wouldn't need hand to hand because she'd always be able to pull out a gun, but she'd be able to hold her own.
Tough is also knowing when to keep strength under control. That would be Scarlett's counterpart Melanie.

The Golden Eagle said...

I loved Katsa from Graceling; Fire from the book of the same name by Kristin Cashore is another one of my favorite protagonists. She was one of the more resilient ones, without needing to carry a weapon all the time (she is, instead, an excellent violinist).

The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

Lynda R Young said...

I think a strong character is someone who does something brave despite their fears (they don't have to be good at it, they just have to try).

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the characters you've chosen! Vi in Elana Johnson's Possession fits the bill too :)

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