10A01, Ili Kaiyisah Rahan, A Comparative Look at Women in Harry Potter and Twilight.

Rarely can we come up with female characters that are as memorable or on equal footing such as Superman or Batman. This may be due to the constant presence of female characters possessing stereotypical feminine traits and have been dependent on their male counterparts. One example is the infamous 'damsel in distress' such as Superman's Lois Lane and Spiderman's Mary-Jane, where they constantly need to be rescued by the man. These characters are hardly what you would consider to be 'independent'. However, there is a progression in the female characters who are now presented as strong-minded.

The Harry Potter novels and the Twilight saga feature females as lead characters; Hermione Granger being one of the heroic trio and Bella Swan. Hermione is portrayed as an intelligent, capable young woman who possesses a no-nonsense attitude and excels in areas that are considered 'male' territory. This is in contrast to Bella's character as her obsession over the leading male character, Edward makes her a contradiction to Hermione.

Hermione is one of the best portrayals of a strong female as she possesses the characteristics of strength and intelligence. Although in the very first book, Hermione's personality is that of a stereotypical female, with her studious nature and 'know-it-all' attitude, we see that with age Hermione's personality traits grow and she no longer embodies those undesirable traits. At times, Hermione overshadows the main character, Harry Potter with her cunning ability to recall complex spells and calm nature in the face of danger that has more than once, saved Harry's life. This shows that without Hermione, it would've been impossible for Harry to eliminate Voldemort. Throughout the novel, Rowling teaches valuable lessons in the form of subtle hints about the importance of the equality of men and women in the wizarding world. This suggests that Rowling is trying to communicate the fact that equality for women is something that happens naturally in the realm of her books and should also be applicable in the real world.

On the other hand, Bella is a complete contrast to Hermione. Bella's most profound trait is her lack of self-esteem which is seen through her own dialogue where she describes herself as 'very average' Furthermore, her idolization of Edward is most disturbing as her extreme passion for Edward is shown through her willingness to give up her relationships with her parents and friends in order to stay with Edward. The suggestion that women need to act and look a certain way to attract the attention of males is enforced through Bella's actions in the novels. Her entire personality(or lack thereof) does not exist unless Edward is present, she deliberately chooses to be sad and to suffer in a way which symbolizes the idea that women 'need' men to exist. She even makes herself physically ill and withdraws when Edward leaves her and this creates the underlying acceptance among young female readers that this type of behavior in normal when love is involved. Bella's character contradicts the ideals of a modern young women where they are encouraged to reach for their dreams and fight against male superiority.

In conclusion, the fact that we see more female heroines indicates a vast improvement in the acceptance of women in the realm of men. Characters like Bella exist because she is a comfort to young girls who have been gendered to believe these traditional roles equals to a happy and loving romance. Both Bella and Hermione exist because young female readers are able to find comfort in Bella and at the same time, accepting the progression of feminism with Hermione. Morally, strong characters like Hermione should become the idols to young females and the influence of young adult literature in young women today provides more opportunities in the future for dominant female characters to shape the progression of feminist movements.

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