Analyzing Women’s Strength in Fiction: Mental Strength in Books

First, what is mental strength? It’s not just intelligence; it’s how you use your smarts. It can be perseverance in achieving goals, to sticking to what you know is right. It can be the opposite too; being able to change your beliefs when they are proven wrong. It can be being flexible as well. Mental strength is one of the most difficult kinds of strength to find, and it is very valuable. 

Honorable mention: Charlotte Fairchild, The Infernal Devices 

1. Matilda Wormwood, Matilda

Subcategory: physical

Matilda is a bookworm and a genius, despite her family being neither of those things. She is often bullied by her parents for these things, and yet she grows above that and is able to remain doing what she loves. Matilda is clearly a prodigy, yet she uses her mind for good, including teaching her parents ‘lessons’ (ways to have her parents be kinder to her) and saving her school from the headmistress. First, growing up in that sort of household could cause anyone to have some serious problems. Yet Matilda is able to keep her mind and wit intact, and she knows how to use her smarts; she doesn’t squander them pointlessly. And in the book, it even says that if you talked to her, you wouldn’t know she was a prodigy. That says a lot; she doesn’t throw her smarts around; instead, she uses them wisely. 

2. Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series

Subcategory: physical

How could I do this list and not include Hermione? She’s amazing! Some people question why she was placed in Gryffindor rather than Ravenclaw due to her smarts, but I think the answer is fairly clear; she values friendship and bravery over smarts, and her stances don’t change, even while being challenged frequently. She stays by Harry and Ron’s side through thick and thin, and saves their lives on multiple occasions. She is another example of how to use your smarts; she uses wisdom and logic to reason her way through situations, rather than relying purely on magic. Hermione is one of the most celebrated heroines in literature, and for a good reason; she’s well rounded, an inspiring heroine who is open minded, yet cautious, and who celebrates using the mind and valuing friendship.

3. Charlotte Holmes, Charlotte Holmes trilogy

Subcategory: emotional

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In this series, Charlotte is a descendant of Sherlock Holmes himself, so I hardly have to explain why she’s on my list. She’s an obvious genius right off the bat, rattling off her deductions and analysis easily. She can come up with ingenious solutions to tricky problems (like being framed) and although she claims to loathe psychology, she seems to be able to understand human nature and uses that to craft convincing disguises and to get into the minds of her adversaries, even if she doesn’t know who they are. However, she is a far cry from a robot; unlike most Holmes characters, she has clear, obvious emotions, and those sometime get in the way of her work, more notably in The Last of August. However, her mind comes through each time, and she always comes up with the best solutions to most problems.

4. Abigail Rook, Jackaby

Subcategory: emotional

Abigail may not appear to be anything special, but in the paranormal world of Jackaby, he explains it best: “Someone who sees the ordinary is extraordinary indeed.” Jackaby may be able to see beings no one else can, but Abigail notices the smallest, most mundane details and how they apply to cases. People can usually notice pens or paper, but Abigail is able to see those things and understand their greater importance. She’s also a fast thinker, and because of her observations, can put together  solutions. And as she will grow more open minded to the supernatural in future books, her powers of observation may come in greater handy in the future. 

5. Mina Holmes, Stoker and Holmes series

Subcategory: emotional

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Yet another relative of Holmes makes the list! In this alternate history, Mina is the great detective’s niece. She may be inexperienced when it comes to socializing, but she can deduce and figure out important facts with a mere glance. And in a society that overlooks women’s achievements, she even manages to get Scotland Yard to notice her and ask for her help. Even though Mina is incredibly logical, she becomes open minded to the existence of vampires, and even uses her knowledge of their existence to her advantage several time. She’s a fast thinker, and she also has clear emotions; she becomes close to characters, such as Evaline, Dylan, Grayling, and Irene. And her battle of wits with her enemy, the Ankh, show off an incredibly sharp mind and innovative deductions.


3 thoughts on “Analyzing Women’s Strength in Fiction: Mental Strength in Books

  1. Very interesting choices here 🙂
    Unfortunately, I can only speak for Hermione and Matilda as I haven’t read the other books yet but you just made me want to pick them up right now!
    They honestly look so good and it’s hard to find awesome heroines nowadays…
    This series of yours is wonderful and a great way to find new, amazing stories and characters. So thank you for them ❤
    Keep up the wonderful job, Kate!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! And that’s okay; the other series are rather under the radar, but they are so good! And each heroine is so different from the other, while some may be peeved with a few (which I can understand) they all felt human and realistic to me. And as most of the series aren’t complete yet, that means plenty of room for development. And thanks! I’m so glad to hear you say that.


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