Analyzing Three Types of Strength in Women in Fiction: Physical Strength in Books

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately on what makes strong women, and noticed that many of them noted women who were physically above average. But then I thought about how many female characters I personally admire wouldn’t do so well in a fight. And then I wondered; what makes these characters, who probably wouldn’t be able to beat someone up, so likeable? Are they strong? I have nothing against physically strong women; in fact, I find them admirable and they help motivate me to become healthier and stronger. I came up with the idea that there are three types of strength: physical, emotional, and mental.

This week I’m covering notable female characters in books who are physically strong, how they differ from each other, and how well-liked they are. Why the last one? Simply because I want to see what type of strength the public likes the best, and figure out why. Yes, I want to look at the kinds of women people tend to gravitate towards. I will compare and contrast five female characters from books, and soon, movies, TV, and Webtoons. Also, there will be a subcategory of their second type of strength; they aren’t just physically strong, after all!


Honorable mention: Cecily Herondale, Clockwork Princess

1. Maximum Ride, Maximum Ride series:

Subcategory: mental strength

Max is a leader who never backs down from a fight. She can analyze battlefield situations and direct her flock well. She is stronger than most adults, and of course, she can fly. Max is a mixed review kind of character: several readers seem to like her sarcasm and fighting skills, but others find her rather irritating, and say she doesn’t do well with emotion. I find both sides to be true; she’s a brilliant fighter, and her sarcasm is fun, but sometimes it’s overdone to the point of being annoying, and I have to admit she’s rather blind to emotions, whether it be her own or the flock’s.
2. Evaline Stoker, Stoker and Holmes series:

Subcategory: emotional strength

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Evaline comes from one of the most underrated book series I’ve read. She is a vampire hunter, or Venator, in an alternate 1800s England. She must cope with Society and the low expectations it places on women. Yet she proves to be an exceptional hunter who learns from her mistakes. She is impulsive, and doesn’t always think before she acts. She’s loyal, and despite being very emotional, can put them aside during one of the hardest vampire slayings of her life. Evaline has mixed reviews, as well  : some commend her for her heart and bravery, but others find her impulsiveness bothersome. I personally like her a lot; she develops well, and learns from the mistakes she makes without thinking.

3. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games series:

Subcategory: mental strength

Easily the most well known name on this list, Katniss is flawed and well written. She is incredibly human. She is a brilliant archer, but that is not the only way she’s physically strong; no matter how injured she is, she always forces herself forward, and no bodily injury will break her. Of course, the best proof of her physical strength is that she won the Hunger Games. Katniss has many fans, but many haters. Many people applaud her for her talent and being a far cry from perfect, but others say she doesn’t have much of a personality and is rather selfish. I think Katniss has a personality; selfish and protective, loyal yet desperate. I also like the fact that Suzanne Collins tackled mental illness with her.

4. Tris Prior, Divergent series:

Subcategory: mental strength

I almost put Tris in the mental strength article I have planned in the future due to her strong convictions in her beliefs, but I decided on physical strength. I mean, she survived Dauntless initiation. That’s not for everyone. But Tris went from merely having the potential to survive Dauntless, to being capable and tough, as well as finding out that the factions have more in common than she thought. Some dislike her for her originally prejudiced views, especially against the factionless, while others like her for development. I think both reasons make her an interesting character; after all, while Abnegation wanted to help the factionless, her society as a whole was rather prejudiced against them. To me, her development is interesting, and makes the books stronger.

5. Reyna Avila Ramirez Arellano, Heroes of Olympus series:

Subcategory: mental strength


What! Some of you are probably thinking. What about Annabeth? Thalia? Relax. I’ll explain. First off, Reyna is a Roman, which is much more brutal than Greek. And then comes one of her most interesting abilities; the power to lend strength to others. First, you have to already have a huge amount of are strength available to do that. And second, it must be so draining to have that ability, yet it appears Reyna used it whenever the Romans went to battle. And there are a lot of Romans, and Reyna always joined the fight. At first, not many people liked Reyna; they found her stiff, and personally, I don’t think they liked the fact that she had liked Jason, and then later Percy. But as her character developed and changed, I don’t understand why some people never warmed up to her. Her main source of strength is physical, but she has shown to have strength in all thre areas, while still being very human.


13 thoughts on “Analyzing Three Types of Strength in Women in Fiction: Physical Strength in Books

  1. I really liked this post! Great idea! (You come up with a lot of good topics to write about.) I agree a lot with Tris’s mental strength, I’ve only read the first book, but I really enjoyed that she was able to withstand traumatizing events. And there’s Katniss. She can think outside of the box, and create the best plans during the first book. (Mockingjay… The feels. T-T). Then Evaline Stoker! I loved her wit, plus she’s very persistent and likes to do things on her own. Overall great list!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome post! I agree with a lot of points you mentioned here.
    I think Katniss was mentally very strong. I think she is one of the most realistic characters that I’ve ever come across in a book.

    I also agree with Tris, she was pretty strong mentally and grew physically stronger as the story progressed.

    And Reyna, of course, is it wrong that I like her more than Annabeth? She has both physical as well as mental strength and she’s endured so much! I really admire her character. I wish she had more role in Heroes of Olympus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. That’s why I disagree with her haters; yes, she could be annoying, but I found her to be very realistic. I could see a seventeen year old reacting the way she did. And Tris had fantastic development. And it’s all right, I like Reyna a bit more than Annabeth too. I just feel like someone who’s gone through what Reyna did, yet didn’t break and instead constantly puts aside her personal desires for the Romans is very admirable. And she is also one of the few characters I’ve read who has strength in all three areas yet never feels overpowered. I also wished she had a bigger role in the series too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, you’re totally right about Katniss. Every person has flaws and insecurities, and it was so nicely portrayed through her character. She was so strong to endure all those things that she did.
        Now, Reyna also endured so much right from the beginning when she was in Circei’s Island. I just sometimes find Annabeth to be a little bossy. I don’t know, it might just be me, but I do. I was wondering whether Reyna had more role in the new Apollo novels..

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      2. I know. I just feel like Katniss is a little overly hated. But I think the reason why is because she’s so human.
        Reyna went through living with her dad who had PTSD, guilt over feeling as though she killed him, Circe’s Island, separating from her sister…and yet she’s still mostly together. I actually didn’t like Annabeth in the original Percy Jackson series; she seemed weirdly hung up over Luke. Like, I’d be too hurt over feeling backstabbed to think about redeeming him. But I liked her in Heroes of Olympus. I hope Reyna has a bigger role in the new Apollo series, that’d be great!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I agree with everything you wrote here. I think I will always admire Katniss, though, no matter the hate.
        Yeah, me too. And then she was hung up on Percy. I personally ally shipped Rachel with Percy. I still think she would have made a better match. I always ship the wrong people, I know!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ditto. And the fact that Katniss always questioned what she did was interesting. I think people lose perspective; she was seventeen, had always had rocky mental health, and came from a pretty bad household.
        I can see the Percy and Rachel ship, but I always liked it as more friends. Aw. It’s okay! Shipping is shipping.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes, that’s the usual reaction a seventeen year old may give, when put in a situation as hers. If a person like me was ever in her situation I don’t think I would have been able to survive both mentally as well as physically. So I commend her strength.
        That’s the thing with me. I always end up shipping the wrong people, and my heart has been broken too many times. But it’s fine. I’m fine. xD

        Liked by 1 person

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