Let’s be real – I consume a lot of culture, whether it’s from movies, TV, or books. Most recently I have been reading the latest installment from George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons. Not only is it totally awesome, but there is no shortage of strong female characters. That, combined with the latest PR campaign I’m working on in the office (a charitable event focusing on sisterhood, supporting fellow women, and general lady postive-ness), led to my latest series of blogs: Fictional Ladies I Admire.

This is a series because, when I started my list, it was just way, way too big. So I’ll be breaking it down into three groups: Literature Ladies, TV Ladies, and Movie Ladies. I might even cap off the series with a list of actual, real life ladies.But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

As a general disclaimer, this list is in no particular order and yes, I realize many of the photos are from the movie or TV adaptations of the books. Also, there are spoilers for various books ahead – you’ve been warned!

Khaleesi via HBO

Daenerys Targaryen being bad ass in last week’s episode. Image via HBO

Daenerys Targaryen – Hoo boy, Daenerys has had it rough. As a baby her entire family (save her nasty older brother, Viserys) is killed, so she and the nasty brother are exiled to a strange land, where she grows up being manipulated by Viserys, who sells her into marriage so he can amass an army and retake his family’s crown. But then it’s okay because her warlord husband ends up being a good guy and she even gets pregnant! And she evens decides to retake the family’s crown for herself and be Queen. But then her husband dies, she loses the baby, and is very sad. But then she hatches dragons! And decides to amass her own army and get her shit together in order to sit on the Iron Throne. In doing all this, she outsmarts warlocks, slave masters, and other bad dudes and frees slaves and saves down-on-their-luck people. She has a big heart and an inner strength and DRAGONS.

Stick 'em with the pointy end. Image via HBO.

Stick ’em with the pointy end. Image via HBO.

Arya Stark – Arya has also had it pretty roughShe’s ragged on by her older sister and septa for not being lady-like enough, she has to send away her direwolf Nymeria, she’s sent off to King’s Landing and hates it there, then her dad dies in front of her. And then she’s carted off into the woods and her protector also dies in front of her. Sheesh! With a little luck, stubbornness, and moxie, Arya makes it through (so far, I haven’t finished A Dance With Dragonsand is stronger and wiser because of it. Plus, she saves some dudes who she thinks are just criminals (because she has such a good heart) and one ends up totally killing some dudes for her (because despite having such a good heart, the girl deserves to exact some revenge).

Jo March via Columbia Pictures.

Jo March via Columbia Pictures.

Jo March – Ms. March is based on author Louisa May Alcott, so you know from the start she’s going to be pretty awesome. Jo is the family’s tomboy and is even referred to as “my son Jo” a few times by her father. My admiration to her might stem from our shared love of literature – she writes poems, short stories, and plays that she and her sisters act out. She even goes on to be a writer. She is also super sweet, cutting off her long, beloved hair and selling it so her sister can purchase a train ticket. What I like most, though, is that she chooses a partner that respects her and is her equal, which in her (fictional) time, was somewhat unheard of. Plus, she got cozy with Laurie, and he’s a total fox.

We can't do things in dresses like we can in pants, it's true. Image via Universal Pictures.

We can’t do things in dresses like we can in pants, it’s true. Image via Universal Pictures.

Scout Finch – Scout is another bookworm. She’s sassy, very intelligent, and stands up for what she believes in. Plus she is able to stop an angry mob. What’s not to like?

The very picture of a poised and cool ice queen. Image via Miramax.

The very picture of a poised and cool ice queen. Image via Miramax.

Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones has man problems, and at the beginning of the book she lets those problems and her loneliness gobble her up, so much so that she does things she normally wouldn’t to attract a very bad (but very good-looking) man. Throughout the book, though, she comes to find the confidence to be herself and do what she loves and she ends up attracting a very good (and also very good-looking) man. Happy ending!

Girl with long black hair. Image via Wikipedia.

Girl with long black hair. Image via Wikipedia.

Karana/Won-A-Pei-Lei – Despite some serious bad luck (inspired by true events, no less) Karana makes it on her own without every complaining or feeling bad for herself. She lives alone for almost 20 years creating shelter, hunting and foraging for her own food, and generally just making sure she lives. Talk about fortitude.

I always picture Sylvia's face when I read "The Bell Jar."

I always picture Sylvia’s face when I read “The Bell Jar.”

Esther Greenwood – She might not be at the top of many young ladies’ lists of role models, but I find Esther’s strength in The Bell Jar quite remarkable. She goes through a very emotional journey of serious depression, even trying to kill herself, and manages to come out on the other side stronger, more stable, and with a newfound sense of freedom.

Knows her highly sex farm fellas. Image via IMDB.

Knows her highly sexed farm fellas. Image via IMDB.

Flora Poste – Flora’s a bit of a toss-up… On the one hand, she ends up on the farm because she doesn’t feel like getting a job. And then she mettles in other peoples’ lives. On the other hand, she helps out her extremely weird, backwater extended family with a dash of city-girl smarts and ends up softening herself in the end, too. So I guess instead of calling her a busybody, I prefer the term problem solver.

Wise lady. Image via Jonathan D Allen.

Wise lady. Image via Jonathan D Allen.

Galadriel – Galadriel is described as having beautiful long, silver hair – much like Daenerys’. It’s so enchanting that it inspired Fëanor to create three beautiful jewels called the Silmarilli, or “radiance of pure light.” She is compassionate to a fault, and goes against her husband to help out Gimli. She’s also super-powerful and can determine your moral character just by looking at you.

Courage for our friends! Image via Shadowcore Illustration.

Courage for our friends! Image via Shadowcore Illustration.

Eowyn – Eowyn is described as being a stone-cold fox as well as possessing a warm, caring heart. Despite it making her lonely, she dutifully takes care of her sick uncle. She’s also a shieldmaiden, which in and of itself is amazingly bad ass, and she ends up being the one to kill the witch king Angmar. While Angmar is bitching about how no living man can kill him, my girl Eowyn utters, “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman.” BAM! THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT, LADIES!

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