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  • Writer's pictureKaren Divya Shekar

Life Lessons from Literary Heroines

Here are 3 literary heroines from whom I picked up some life lessons! Check out!


1. Undine Spragg


Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country introduces readers to a woman, I dare say, of whom I am afraid. Undine Spragg’s covetousness and love for position, money, and fame results in her using people, especially men.


Her exploits are pure horror. From being furious and getting pregnant at the end of her honeymoon to acquiring the treasures of her second husband’s home, she is the kind of person to make nasty power moves. Yet, there is no transformation in her life. Instead, Wharton lets her live without as much as a comeuppance. Why?


Life lesson: Thou shalt not covet, only because it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. Not because the Universe visits it on your head.


2. Anna Karenina


The day I brought Tolstoy’s tome home, I didn’t know that I was going to be in for a ride. Right up to this day, I am unable to understand what attracted a sensible woman like Anna to a man like Vronsky. Kindness? There was none. Physical attraction? Really, Anna?


The worst part is that Anna started out in the novel talking about forgiveness, not condemning adultery. I can’t work my mind around this novel for numerous reasons. I don’t understand why women like Anna, Emma Bovary, Madame Olenska cheat because there was no true love there!


Life lesson: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Because there isn’t true love there.


3. The Nun


When I read this harrowing account from Denis Diderot, I was both horrified and happy to be so. There is no heroine as poised, firm, gentle yet determined as the Nun. She’s put in a nunnery against her will. Yet, she manages to maintain her mental health and personal composure.


But the strange part is that the Nun honours her mother and step-father, despite having been wronged by them. I’d like for our present generation to show the same mercy towards their parents by whom we feel wronged.


Life lesson: Thou shalt honour thy mother and father. And forgive them if they have wronged you.

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