“Who is hands-down the best literary hero, in your opinion? Likewise, who is the best heroine?”
My two choices for literary hero are Atticus Finch and Gandalf. The first is the lawyer from the beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird. He is a man of quiet strength. Not only is Atticus willing to stand up for those without a voice, he is also a wonderful father and the best shot in town! He defends Tom Robbins when no one else will take his case. He accepts bartered farm goods when his neighbors can’t pay for his services. He teaches his children that being kind to others is a way of life. You maintain that kindness even in the face of adversity. From a poor school boy to an elderly opium addict, he supports the people around him with unconditional respect and generosity. He is the ultimate hero.
Gandalf, the wizard from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, is hero in a more traditional sense. He is mysterious and powerful. He always appears when he is most needed. He is wise and kind, but he is also incredibly brave and willing to sacrifice himself for others.
The first of the two that tie for the spot of literary heroine is Hermione Granger. That girl is so strong and clever; Ron and Harry never would have made it to the seventh book without her! She helped them through the obstacles protecting the Sorcerer’s Stone in the first book, discovered the secret of the basilisk in the second book. In the third book she gets a time turner and what does she use it for through out the book… LEARNING! The fourth book, she continuously works to help Harry figure out his clues for the Tri-Wizard tournament, the fifth has her fighting Death Eaters along-side of her friends and encouraging Harry to start Dumbledore’s Army. In the seventh book she packs all of their belongings into a tiny clutch that she carries with them to the wedding. She’s always prepared! She is willing to leave her parents and give up her safety to travel with Harry and Ron in the wilderness and try to find horcruxes. She is brave and brilliant. She never dumbs herself down to fit in and her constant encouragement keeps Ron and Harry on track.
Now for a more traditional Classics choice, Marmee March is a minor character in Little Women, but her influence is seen throughout the book in the decisions her daughters make. She raises the four girls by herself for years while her husband is fighting in the Civil War. His bad financial decisions left them poor, but Marmee makes due and teaches her girls that wealth is not nearly as important as kindness. Even when they have barely anything Marmee still gives her time to those who are less fortunate than themselves. Marmee also encourages her daughters to follow their own dreams. When Meg wants to marry, Marmee only tells her to wait a few years so that they have time to mature first. She lets Jo travel to New York by herself to live in a boarding house and pursue her writing career. Marmee knows that Jo struggles with her temper and to help her cope with that she explains her own fiery temperament to Jo so she could understand she wasn’t alone.