An urban dictionary user defines “spunky” as somebody who has attitude and a presence.
Spunky women aren’t your conventional heroines. They’re fiercely independent, individualistic and aren’t afraid to question established norms and fight for what they believe in. But their heightened sense of individualism and quirkiness might not be welcomed by the patriarchal brotherhood and they are consequently often alienated or misunderstood. From storybooks to graphic novels, here’s a list of seven spunky women characters from fiction.
1. Death from The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman:
Neil Gaiman’s ten volume core series of The Sandman graphic novels is an epic modern saga that masterfully combines myth, urban decadence, elements of horror and gender issues into several interconnected narratives, featuring Morpheus, the enigmatic King Of Dreams and his dysfunctional family of the Endless. And although Morpheus is the protagonist, it is his elder sister, Death who steals all the limelight. Instead of the traditional skeleton with the scythe image, Gaiman reinvents the archetypal figure as a sassy teenager with a fondness for punk/goth attire and extremely empathetic, thereby portraying her as someone who has been usually misunderstood and abhorred by society, but is ultimately an understanding and loveable person.
2. Lyra Silvertongue from His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman:
Long before The Hunger Games and The Divergent series hit the stands, fans of fantasy had Lyra to celebrate as a favourite heroine from a fantasy novel. Wild, adventurous and ready to lie her way out of any situation, Lyra is first introduced as a mischief maker, blessed with the magical power of reading the Golden Compass. But as the story progresses, both the reader and Lyra discover new facets of her maturing personality, as situations test her bravery, morals and ingenuity. In a sense, Lyra with her magical powers, sense of mischief and her golden heart represents the heroine almost every girl would love to idolize and emulate.
3. Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:
A semi autobiographical roman a clef novel from one of the best Confessional Poets, The Bell Jar can be read as a companion to The Catcher In The Rye from a feminine perspective. Protagonist Esther is immensely talented, with a flair for words and a keen observer of human nature and the world around her. Winning a writing contest lands her a prestigious internship at a fashion magazine but New York with its glitz and glamour doesn’t go down too well and returning home only heightens her sense of disillusionment and dissatisfaction even as she questions gender roles and identities that patriarchy has imposed upon her with incisive wit and tongue-in-cheek humour. Indeed, a poignant feminist work, in the light of the author’s tragic suicide.
4. Luna Lovegood from The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling:
Often referred to as “Loony Lovegood” by her classmates, Luna is immediately singled out for her distinct dottiness, with her Butterbeer cork earrings, belief in seemingly non-existent magical creatures and her penchant for The Quibbler magazine, edited by her father that publishes weird and fantastical rumours as real news. Yet Luna, despite her quirkiness comes of as a delightful human being, cool in the face of a crisis, fearlessly brave in battle and an empathetic listener to her friends and always ready to stand up for what she believes is right. And you know what’s the coolest thing about her? She isn’t afraid of being uncool. At all.
5. Rosalind from As You Like It by Shakespeare:
Easily one of Shakespeare’s best heroines, Rosalind is a far cry from the traditional submissive Elizabethan woman who meekly accepts whatever fate has in store for her. Rosalind has a fiercely independent streak, dresses convincingly as a man to escape into the idyllic Forest of Arden and lives life on her own terms. Even in matters of love, she takes things into her own hand and woos Orlando in disguise, thereby reversing the usual rules of courtship. Her charisma and vitality of spirit shine through her personality and render her as a powerful female icon in classic literature.
6. Eowyn from The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien:
If the epic Lord Of The Rings had only one fault it was Tolkien’s lack of assigning his women characters with active roles. But Eowyn is almost an exception. Initially, a quiet maiden who unflinchingly performs her palace duties without a murmur of dissent, she unleashes her latent powers of combat and reveals herself to be a fearless woman in battlefield. In a conversation with Aragorn, she confesses it is a cage and not death that she fears the most and she turns out to be the only one to slay the seemingly invincible Witch King Of Angmar. Eowyn’s actions can be thus interpreted as a call for women to break out from their domestic spheres and face the real world out there.
7. Margo Roth Spielgelman from Paper Towns by John Green:
Much of Paper Towns deals with the protagonist Q’s obsessive love for Margo, a teenage full of ingenuity and wanderlust. Although one of the most popular kids in school and extremely attractive, Margo isn’t the arrogant prom queen-cum-social butterfly type. And neither is she of the forgive and forget kind. After her boyfriend cheats on her she hatches an ingenious plan of revenge, breaks into an amusement park in the middle of the night, is able to persuade strangers with her charm and goes off backpacking into the urban wilderness. And yet there’s a soft and imaginative side to her personality too, with her love for retro folk rock music, a fondness for dark and quiet spaces and her vivid daydreams which she executes to fruition. The best part is, Margo knows exactly what she wants, and even if her wishes are unconventional, she’s ready to do what it takes to live the life of her dreams. pLus sHe has A penchant foR random CapitalizatioN.
Thus, all the women have an innate sense of independence, powerful self-knowledge and the courage to stand up for what they believe in: traits that are valuable in any successful individual looking to lead a creative and fulfilled life.