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Female Atticus

(27 Posts)
noddingoff Sat 18-Jul-15 15:44:41

So the new book has come out and Atticus Finch turns out to be flawed. I've never read or seen To Kill A Mockingbird but I know outline of the story and much has been writtten about what an icon the "original" Atticus is - the principled hero, basically Rudyard Kipling's "If..." personified. There other male characters like this too - Rob Roy and Andy Dufresne for example.
Which got me wondering - what is the closest female equivalent to the "orginal" Atticus - a principled, brave heroine who would be considered a role model?
"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it/ And - which is more - you'll be a Woman, my daughter!" doesn't rhyme or scan, but even if it did I don't think Kipling would have written that. Which books or films do you think contain female characters which come closest to achieving that ideal?

noddingoff Sat 18-Jul-15 21:56:34

Oh, I forgot that it was more polite to come up with some suggestions of your own first, so I thought that Charlize Theron's character in North Country would be my nomination. OK she was acting primarily in the interests of herself and her family, but she could have given up and got a job flipping burgers rather than helping make life better for all the women.

countryandchickens Sat 18-Jul-15 22:01:05

Ooh good thread!

How about the Victorian children's books? Anne (of green gables); Katy; Sara Crewe?

museumum Sat 18-Jul-15 22:11:07

She's real not fictional but Eleanor Roosevelt is often quoted with the same fervour as Atticus Finch.

whitershadeofpale Sat 18-Jul-15 22:17:17

Perhaps Jane Eyre 'I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.' I think she's widely considered to be pricipled, intelligent and independent.

I know she married at the end, but I my does so once they are equal.

LassUnparalleled Sun 19-Jul-15 02:37:31

I always think Jane Eyre would have been a dreadful bore if one had met her.

Chris Guthrie in Lewis Grassic Gibbons' "A Scots Quair " trilogy (Sunset Song, Cloud Howe and Grey Granite). Grassic Gibbon wrote female characters well. The short stories in "Clay, Smeddum and Green Den" are worth a read too.

She's not an ideal role model but I've always had a soft spot for Becky Sharpe.

Dickens wasn't terribly good at women although I'm fond of Lizzy Hexham.

IsItStupid Sun 19-Jul-15 13:20:33

I for one am determined not to read Go Set a Watchman. I loved To Kill A Mockingbird though.

Anyway, in the spirit of this thread:

Children's books:

Hermione Granger- Harry Potter
Luna Lovegood- Harry Potter
Sara Crewe - A Little Princess
Mary Poppins (?) - Mary Poppins
Lucy Pevensie - Chronicles of Narnia
Matilda (or maybe Miss Honey- she was very principled although perhaps not very strong) - Matilda
Maybe Mary from The Secret Garden, though not at the start of the book!
Charlotte (although she is a spider) -Charlotte's Web

General Books:

Miss Marple
Elizabeth Bennet (her story does revolve around marriage though) - Pride and Prejudice

And I like Granny Weatherwax from Discworld

IsItStupid Sun 19-Jul-15 13:21:28

Oh, and from Harry Potter again, Professor McGonagall!

ChunkyPickle Sun 19-Jul-15 13:35:42

Oh, yes, Granny Weatherwax, and actually there's also Susan, and the golem lady - Sir Terry did like a principled hero (most of the leads had strong moral codes I think, male or female).

I read mainly scifi - and I'm trying to think of any characters with unwavering principles - I think they're very hard characters to write with any depth.

LassUnparalleled Sun 19-Jul-15 13:54:18

Chunky have you read any of Adam Baker's zombie books? He has a good range of female characters in all 4 and generally it is the female characters who don't compromise principles or cracking.

LassUnparalleled Sun 19-Jul-15 13:59:50

Can I also mention husband and I were talking about Watchman and both concluded we won't read it. We then got on to Gone With the Wind. 30 years ago I'd have said Scarlet O'Hara fitted the bill (book and film version ) but now there is so much that is problematic about that book and the film.

I suppose in films the outstanding character one doesn't even need time to think about is Ellen Ripley.

LassUnparalleled Sun 19-Jul-15 14:00:54

"who don't compromise principles or crack under pressure"

noddingoff Sun 19-Jul-15 15:49:31

I really liked Ree in "Winter's Bone" too - she was just providing for her family rather than acting for the greater good but was a very strong character.

noddingoff Sun 19-Jul-15 15:56:28

And Beth at the end of "Once Were Warriors"- though it took a lot for her character to get there.

TeiTetua Sun 19-Jul-15 16:34:57

In Dickens, everyone's favourite lady should be Aunt Betsey from 'David Copperfield'!

August Boatwright in 'The Secret Life of Bees' is simply wonderful.

Has anyone read 'The Odd Women'? Mary Barfoot in that book was a very sympathetic person, but maybe not quite Atticus Finch.

My recollection of 'Once Were Warriors' involves too much misery to feel positive about any of the characters.

Long ago I saw Maggie Smith play Millamant on the stage (with my parents, who were bored half to death). Now there's a role that fits the performer.

Becky Sharp hasn't got an e at the end. Whereas Aunt Betsey has an extra one.

tumbletumble Sun 19-Jul-15 16:42:16

My nomination is Dorothy Wellwood in The Children's Book by AS Byatt. Intelligent, determined, principled.

LassUnparalleled Sun 19-Jul-15 16:51:23

Oh dear I made a typo. Thank you for pointing that out. I suppose there might be posters who were utterly confused and didn't realise I was referring to Vanity Fair.

Miss Trotwood is great. Dickens best female character. I'm also fond of "the Marchioness" from The Old Curiosity Shop. They are only supporting roles but the love affair between the Marchioness and Dick Swiveller is the least cloying of Dickens' romances.

Once Were Warriors was far too depressing to take anything postive out of it.

This film has a terrific female lead. A girl walks home alone at Night. She's a vampire- in a niqab. And she likes cat

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night review – exhilarating vampire girl power to clipboard

SenecaFalls Sun 19-Jul-15 17:03:58

Not a fictional character, but Harper Lee used to refer to her older sister Alice as "Atticus in a skirt." I assume she meant Atticus from TKAM. Come to think of it, the fact that she often made this reference and that this sister was, in many ways, a beloved mother figure for Nelle Harper suggests to me that she never intended to make public the Atticus from Go Set a Watchman, after Atticus from TKAM became such an admired figure.

Lurkedforever1 Mon 20-Jul-15 11:46:44

Quite a few of terry pratchetts female roles.
Scarlet o'hara is hardly principled, but she does at least have the courage to follow her own principles above her society's expectations.
Jane eyre I found weakminded and pathetic. However Catherine earnshaw despite questionable principles demonstrates quite well how giving up on her own principles and following expectations led her to misery.
The battered wife in martina Coles two women (can't remember her name) stands out too, and a few others.

TeiTetua Mon 20-Jul-15 14:14:37

I thought of another one--Aliena in Ken Follet's 'Pillars of the Earth'. But I didn't like that book at all, because it felt too much as if he'd simply taken modern people and put them down in the 12th century (what next, have them chatting on their mobiles?) Then again, I'm not sure how you could write a book set centuries ago and have it feel authentic, but I read some of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael stories and didn't have problems with them.

Lurkedforever1 Mon 20-Jul-15 14:26:40

Katniss from the hunger games

BreakingDad77 Mon 20-Jul-15 17:22:29

These are the films
Would Erin Brockovich count

I only have loose recollection of seeing the film Fried Green Tomatoes (at the whistlestop cafe)?

Two mules for sister sarah

I think there is a Joan of arc film, often though many films as we all know have women playing second fiddle.

drinkscabinet Tue 21-Jul-15 00:35:54

Marian Halcombe in 'The Woman in White' is rather fab. Although the joy of Wilkie Collins is the moral complexity of his female characters, he does some brilliant female villians.

DD1 is currently enjoying The Amulet series of graphic novels by Kazu Kibuishi, Emily in that is very principled.

BitOfFun Tue 21-Jul-15 00:39:22

In real life, I'd have to say Shami Chakrabati. I saw her speak recently and her quiet authority and wry humour blew me away. Her book is brilliant.

BitOfFun Tue 21-Jul-15 00:42:16

Shami Chakrabarti's book, 'On Liberty'

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