they click their heels, spread their wings, and fly.

In one of my previous posts,"once you label me, you negate me", I talked about how the media is still filled with a lot of negative sexism. For example, women are overtly sexualised in order to sell products, and models are often airbrushed to look perfect on the front cover of a magazine. However I mentioned that there are some incredibly strong female characters in fiction. Yet re-reading that post, I realised that I only talked about characters in television shows. There are some amazing, incredibly strong female characters in literature, and it is time to recognise them. I've put together a list of seven of the most powerful female characters in literature who continue to inspire me and several others with their phenomenal brilliance and strength of character.

Screenshot from Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing'. Left is Beatrice, right is Hero.
1. Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing
If you have been reading this blog for a while now, you will know that Much Ado About Nothing is my favourite play ever. We read it in Year 10 at school and most of us ended up loving the play. Recently, Joss Whedon released a new movie adaptation of it. If you haven't seen the film, I highly recommend it. Who doesn’t love a story full of love, trickery and thousands of clever insults? Much Ado has all of that and more – and that might just be why we love it so much. 

But part of the reason that the play appeals so greatly to the modern audience lies in the characters. Beatrice, the female lead is widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s strongest female characters. (she certainly is the sassiest). Much to the chagrin of her father, she refuses to marry, having not found the perfect man, and also because she does not want to eschew her freedom. When Claudio falsely accuses Hero at the wedding in Act 4 Scene 1, Beatrice explodes with anger and stands firmly by her cousins' side. After this event, she rebels against the mistreatment and unequal status of women in the society at that time. One of my favourite Beatrice lines is "oh that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the marketplace!"

Hermione in 'The Goblet of Fire' 
2. Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series.
If you have not read Harry Potter, you have not lived. Ever since I first read the books several years ago, I have always loved Hermione's character. Sure, she may have started out as an irritating, know-it-all, eleven-year-old (it''s leviosa, not leviosar), but Hermione's character quickly matured. She continues to amaze us with her ability to maintain a clear mind, even in the most tense of situations. Her intelligence is her greatest strength, and although she can be a bit of an overachiever at times (like when she got an 'Exceeds Expectations' in her Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. and was upset about it), she always manages to use her knowledge to save her friends. 

3. Lisbeth Salander, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Not only is this powerful female protagonist an incredible computer hacker with a photographic memory, she also survived an abusive childhood. She’s a resilient character, who does not rely on anyone for anything and does not want to rely on anyone.

Screenshot from 'The Help'
4. Skeeter Phelan, The Help.
Actually, almost every female character from The Help, with the exception of Miss Elizabeth and Miss Hilly Holbrook, is seriously strong. They should all be on this list. But Skeeter stands out to me, because of the risks she takes by writing The Help. She wants to make a difference and she doesn't care what other people are going to think of her. Plus, she's independent- she thinks for herself, and makes her own decisions. She even goes to college, even though her mother is sure that it will ruin her chances of getting a good husband. Because, obviously, a man wouldn't want to marry a woman who is smarter than him.

5. Kira Walker, the Partials trilogy.
Partials is a relatively new series- the first book came out last year, and the second book came out in March. If you haven't read it yet (and a lot of people haven't), then you should. The book is set 11 years after the Partial War, in which engineered organic beings identical to humans released a virus called RM that decimated almost the entire human race. A group of survivors have regrouped on Long Island, while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. However, the survivors cannot have children, as no child born is immune to RM, and they have yet to find a cure. 

Kira is a medical intern, and when her best friend Madison falls pregnant, she decides that she has to find a cure for RM, no matter what it takes so that Maddie's baby survives. This includes a series of very dangerous, illegal journeys to find a Partial to study. Her determination and loyalty to her friends is admirable, and she's not afraid to break the rules to do something that she knows is right. Throughout the course of the series, she uncovers some shocking secrets about herself and those around her. She will go great lengths to find out the truth. 

A still from 'The Hunger Games'
6. Katniss Everdeen, the Hunger Games.
 Katniss is a pretty strong character overall. After her father's death, she becomes the sole caretaker of her family, hunting in the forest at the back of District 12, and trading food on the black market. She is brave enough to volunteer to take her sister's place in the Hunger Games- something that must have frightened her to no end, considering that she knew that she would either have to kill others or die. Plus, her ability to shoot an arrow doesn’t hurt.

7. Cassandra, Agamemnon

Although Cassandra has a very small role in the play as a whole, she is very important. She is the first to recall the past crimes committed in the house of Atreus. Furthermore, she is the one who sets the scene for the end of Agamemnon, as well as the next play in the Orestia, Libation Bearers. She does this by foreseeing her own death, and Agamemnon’s death, as well as the vengeance that Agamemnon’s son, Orestes will take against Clytmnestra.

Cassandra has the ability to see the future, but has been cursed by Apollo so that no one will believe her. She foresaw the fall of Troy and the death of those around her, but was unable to do anything about it because people believed that she was crazy. Her gift caused her endless anger and frustration. When she was brought to Argos by Agamemnon, she saw her own death. Although shaken and scared, she understood that she could not escape it, and summoned all of her strength to face death bravely.

So there you have it. If there's a character that you really admire who hasn't been mentioned here, please add her on in the comments! As Stana Katic said: "I don't believe in weak women. I think women in general are pretty powerful."


don't steal my words, use them as a source of inspiration

Hello again all of you beautiful people! I am back! Thanks to being on holiday in the UK and USA for the past six weeks, I haven't had any time to write. Now that I'm finally home (and I've gotten over the jetlag), I'll be able to update this blog more regularly. I've got tons of posts planned, including some that  veer away from socially relevant issues and hit lighter topics such as my holiday and the new doctor (Peter Capaldi, you guys!). Today however, I will be discussing an issue that is considered very important in today's day and age of easy internet sharing. Plagiarism.

The newly renovated Statue of Liberty, which I got to see on my trip to New York City. Source: my camera
We all know the concept of plagiarism, but none of us ever think that it might happen to us. We write, draw, take photographs etc. and put them up on the internet so that we can share them with people from all over the world. Why? Because it's awesome to get feedback from people you don't know.  I know that I never, ever thought that someone would have the nerve to steal something that I created and re-post it, claiming that it was theirs. But it happened.

Back in February, I wrote a novella for my MYP Personal Project. It was a young-adult book about cyber bullying and identity theft, and I wanted it to be easily available for teenagers to access to spread awareness about the potential dangers of the internet. After all, every great thing has risks, right? So I posted it on Fictionpress (click the link to go to the story), which is a pretty great site where you can post your writing online and get feedback from the people in the community who read it. In July, I received word from some of the lovely people who had read my story that it had been plagiarised by a person called Jessica Beckwith and posted onto Amazon for sale! She had also stolen the work of several other FictionPress authors, claiming that she had written the stories. Ironically, the name of my story is 'Stolen'. I'm beginning to think I probably should have named it something else.

What happened to me is only a single incident of plagiarism. After all, it's very easy to simply copy and paste things off the internet and save it to your own computer. There are several other thieves out there who go around copying work and claiming that it is their own. This is incredibly, incredibly wrong, as they are taking all the credit for another person's hard work- work that they contributed nothing towards. And yet it happens all the time.

source: let-me-ftw.tumblr.com
So how do we protect ourselves from plagiarism on the internet? Well, it certainly is hard. I think that you've just got to make sure that you can prove that the work is yours. For example, my novella was published four months before it was put up on Amazon by someone else. Copyrighting your work doesn't hurt either, as you will then get a legal leg to stand on. After all, you can never be too careful.

I tried to look for a quote to leave you with, but I couldn't find an appropriate one. So I shall end this post by restating the title. "Don't steal my words. Use them as a source of inspiration."