Precious Ramotswe, Sister Fidelma, Margaret Hale, Mina Harker, Hermione Granger, Sally Lockheart…
Listed above are the fictional women I admire or identify with. So who is most like me?
The trouble here is that how we see ourselves, compared to what others see or how we would like others to see us can be completely different things.
In a nutshell what I mean is:
I wish I was cool like Precious and Fidelma (both detectives, go figure) or smart like Hermione and even though I identify more strongly with Margaret Hale, who knows? I might come across like the annoying Madame Bovary or the disturbed Carrie White. Although I certainly hope not!
In the end it is Elizabeth Gaskell’s creation Margaret Hale who wins, for character-wise she is the one heroine I see most of myself in. Having just finished North And South, I can easily recall scenes where I found myself chuckling knowingly because of something she was thinking or doing, all because it reminded me of myself.
Margaret also has an incredibly heavy conscience. For me, this was her most relatable trait. Even when she knows she has done nothing wrong but is falsely accused, her conscience eats away at her like a flesh-eating bug. She bears the burden of these accusations for the sake of family, proving her loyalty and selflessness. In fact, it hurt me to see how she always puts the feelings of others before her own. She’s always modifying her outward behavior just so others will not be burdened by the pain she feels.
I love her fiery temper. This is when you see her at her best. Her temper is not destructive but she gives as good as she gets, startling her opponent in the process. I found myself punching the air in triumph when she gave it to that old bat Mrs. Thornton.
There were other little idiosyncrasies I found in common with Margaret, like her preference for male company. At the Thorntons’ dinner party,
It was dull for Margaret after dinner. She was glad when the gentlemen came, not because she caught her father’s eye to brighten her sleepness up; but because she could listen to something larger and grander than the petty interests which the ladies had been talking about.
This reminds me of me as a teenager when, at any function, I would prefer sticking close to my Dad and the rest of the men who would discuss sport or other exciting topics with me as if I were a grown man. I hated being stuck with all the ladies, who did nothing but talk about their children or grandchildren. Eeurgh!!
So that’s Margaret Hale. And that’s me. 🙂
If some of the women I mentioned above seem foreign to you, I draw your attention to the following books:
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Set in rural Botswana, Precious Ramotswe is a woman ahead of her time. This has already been made into a TV series with the wonderful Jill Scott in the lead.
Whispers of the Dead by Peter Tremayne. If you love anything to do with Celtic Heritage you have to read the exploits of Fidelma of Cashel as she solves crimes in her capacity as a lawyer in 7th century Ireland.
Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman. YA Fiction. Pullman does well in recreating Victorian London and in creating an endearing character in Sally Lockheart.
Dracula by Bram Stoker. Mina Harker nee Murray is the only character in the book, apart from Van Helsing, who has any real balls. She makes her husband look like a peach trifle.
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. If you are ever up against big, bad Voldy, Hermione is one little witchy you would definitely want on your side!