Female Protagonists by Female Authors - by Faiza Zameer

Exploring a strand of 19th-century British literature that defied the norms

Since childhood, I was encouraged to develop the habit of reading. I read all sorts of books from fantasies, short stories, poetry to suspense and thrillers. I would spend hours and hours reading one book after another.

When reading a book chapter after chapter I would become so engrossed in reading that I would feel the same intensity of emotions as the characters if they cried, got hurt, or were upset, tears would roll down my eyes. If the characters were victorious I would cheer for them and celebrate their victories.

Slowly and slowly I would imagine the scenes set by the writers in my mind. The lines of reality and imagination would blur and I would see myself walking in school corridors, see roaming faraway moors, or would find myself entering dirty back alleys along with the characters. The stories that we read make a large part of our lives and they reflect our hopes, dreams, and fears. Reading helps us to develop opinions and ideas about other individuals and groups.

When we read about people who resemble us, behave like us, and have similar experiences we can identify with them and this also serves as a source of inspiration. But if the case is the opposite we feel that it undermines our importance and trivializes our identity.

I have come across literature mostly older literature that shows females to be tepid, subservient to men, weak, helpless, and sentimental.

In that era majority of the authors were male but there were female authors like Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickson, and Louisa May Alcott who wrote novels that did not follow the conventions set for women of those times and their work showed an inclination towards feminism.