So it’s Valentine ’s Day tomorrow. That time of year where single girls are reminded that they don’t have someone special to spend the day with.
However, despair not! If you are a single bookworm, feel-good help is on the way! The below list features three kick-ass females from the fictional world who prove that you don’t need a significant other to be absolutely awesome!
1. Mulan, Ballad of Mulan
While most people probably know her from the Disney movie, this kick-ass heroine is actually from a Chinese poem called “Ballad of Mulan” which dates back to the 6th century. In the original tale, she takes her ageing father’s place in the army and kicks some serious ass for 12 years before returning home to her family.
In some of the later versions of the poem, Mulan is said to have a fiancé or a crush on a man who eventually discovers she’s a woman – there’s even a version where she ends up committing suicide to avoid becoming a concubine! However, in the original poem, Mulan managed to keep her gender a secret throughout her 12 years in the army – a pretty impressive feat!
This fictional, single lady was so skilled with a sword, awesome at material arts, comfortable using a bow and took bullshit from no one that people are still talking about her more than 1400 years later!
2. Miss Marple, various novels and short stories
Okay, so she’s old. However, this unassuming lady has a mind that can untangle even the most complex murder mysteries, and she does it all (more or less) on her own!
She lives an exciting life filled with trips to interesting (but also deadly) places where she gets to meet some intriguing people (though quite a lot of them end up dead). You don’t hear her whine about the fact that she is single, and the lack of a life partner has not slowed her down or stopped her from living a full and satisfying life. In fact, she sees more adventure than many couples I know!
3. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
Okay, so she’s the main character in one of literature’s greatest love stories, and (spoiler alert!) she ends up with the love of her life (aka the exceedingly proud Mr Darcy). BUT before faith (aka Lady Catherine de Bourgh) sends them running into each other’s arms, Lizzy proves herself to be a very stubborn woman. She flat out refuses to marry Mr Wrong (aka the insufferable Mr Collins) even though her refusal may mean that her family could end up homeless when her father dies.
She also refuses to marry another man (whose considerable wealth would save her from poverty and destitution) because she doesn’t like his personality.
Elizabeth’s courage to follow her heart, despite potentially dire consequences, shows that if you go for gold, and never settle for someone whom you could never love (sorry, Mr Collins), you might just end up with Mr (or Mrs) Right. However, until you come across your own Mr (or Mrs) Darcy, why not follow Lizzy’s example: read books, spend time with your crazy family and enjoy life – love stuff sometimes happen when you least expect it.
Feeling better? If yes, then don’t read on!
The truth is that compiling this little list has not been easy. I would love to say that it’s because I didn’t know how to narrow down the overwhelming number of awesome single ladies in literature, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Sadly, books with an interesting, unattached woman as the main character, who doesn’t develop a love interest throughout the book(s), is pretty rare.
As with the Pride & Prejudice example above, many women start out single (or have just come out of a relationship) – only to end up with a husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/casual partner. I don’t mind love stories (in fact, Pride & Prejudice is one of my favourite books), but in a world where more single women embrace being single (and where they are starting to outnumber married women!), it would be nice to have more books that aren’t about finding your one true love. Love is important, no doubt about it, but so are many other things in life.
And isn’t it also important that we show young boys and girls, who are looking for books to inspire and guide them, that life is about so much more than finding your soul mate? To teach them that whilst some people find their true selves when they are in relationships, there should also be room in this world for people who find themselves on their own?
I’m being a bit provocative on purpose here because I think it’s an important topic which is often overlooked. However, I am aware that a lot of books with a female protagonist includes more topics than just the love story! I’m just asking for some more books with lots of important topics – without a love story. Books where the female protagonist doesn’t need someone “to make her whole”.
Agree with the above? Disagree? I would love to hear your take on single women in literature, and if you have an awesome role model when it comes to being single, do share her in the comments below!