Top ten lessons from fictional bad girls

For your education and benefit, here’s a list of lessons from fictional women who mean trouble. Serious trouble.

10.Mary Crawford from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park

Be pretty and witty too…. and most of all know how to position yourself with a harp.


“Miss Crawford’s attractions did not lessen. The harp arrived, and rather added to her beauty, wit, and good-humour; for she played with the greatest obligingness, with an expression and taste which were peculiarly becoming, and there was something clever to be said at the close of every air.”

9.Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

Make the boys feel special.


“She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. (…)”

8.Estella from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations

Men will still fall you, even if they are explicitly told that they really, really shouldn’t…


“I meant Estella. That girl’s hard and haughty and capricious to the last degree, and has been brought up by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex.”

7.Rosamond Vincy from George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Always get what you want…


“She is grace itself; she is perfectly lovely and accomplished. That is what a woman ought to be: she ought to produce the effect of exquisite music.” (…)  Rosamond Vincy seemed to have the true melodic charm; and when a man has seen the woman whom he would have chosen if he had intended to marry speedily, his remaining a bachelor will usually depend on her resolution rather than on his.

6. Acrasia from Spenser’s Faerie Queene

Dress to impress.

Acrasia by John Melhuish Strudwick

“Upon a bed of Roses she was layd,

As faint through heat, or dight to pleasant sin,

And was arayd, or rather disarayd,

All in a vele of silke and siluer thin,

That hid no whit her alblaster skin,

But rather shewd more white’

(II. Xii 77)

5.Keats’s  La Belle Dame Sans Merci

Never underestimate the importance of the subtle glance.

La_Belle_Dam_Sans_Merci-Frank Dicksee

”I met a Lady in the meads

Full beautiful, a fairy’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light

And her eyes were wild”

(v. 13- 16)

4. Lady Brett Ashley from Ernest Hemingway’s Fiesta The Sun Also Rises

There’s no shame in admitting that you like to add up boys ….Brett-ashley=pixabay

“Dancing, I looked over Brett’s shoulder and saw Cohn, standing at the bar, still watching her.

“You’ve made a new one there,” I said to her.

“Don’t talk about it. Poor chap. I never knew it till just now.”

“Oh, well,” I said. “I suppose you do like to add them up.”

“Don’t talk like a fool.”

“You do.”

“Oh, well. What if I do?”

3.Nimue from Sir Thomas Malory’s  Le Morte d’Arthur

 Basic self- defence skills are vital.

Beguiling of Merlin

“SO after these quests of Sir Gawaine, Sir Tor, and King Pellinore, it fell so that Merlin fell in a dotage on the damosel that King Pellinore brought to court, and she was one of the damosels of the lake, that hight Nimue.(…) And always Merlin lay about the lady to have her maidenhood, and she was ever passing weary of him, and fain would have been delivered of him, for she was afeard of him because he was a devil’s son, and she could not beskift him by no mean. And so on a time it happed that Merlin showed to her in a rock whereas was a great wonder, and wrought by enchantment, that went under a great stone. So by her subtle working she made Merlin to go under that stone to let her wit of the marvels there; but she wrought so there for him that he came never out for all the craft he could do. And so she departed and left Merlin.”

2.Circe, from The Odyssey

 Men can sometimes behave like pigs.


“Presently they reached the gates of the goddess’s house, and as they stood there they could hear Circe within, singing most beautifully as she worked at her loom, making a web so fine, so soft, and of such dazzling colours as no one but a goddess could weave. (…) They called her and she came down, unfastened the door, and bade them enter. They, thinking no evil, followed her, all except Eurylochus, who suspected mischief and stayed outside. When she had got them into her house, she set them upon benches and seats and mixed them a mess with cheese, honey, meal, and Pramnian but she drugged it with wicked poisons to make them forget their homes, and when they had drunk she turned them into pigs by a stroke of her wand, and shut them up in her pigsties.”

1.Becky Sharp from William Makepeace Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair”

Acknowledge what you are.

Becky Sharp

“Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural,” answered Miss Rebecca. “I’m no angel.” And, to say the truth, she certainly was not.

Image credits- for educational purposes only:
9. Carey Mulligan in Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby
8. Jean Simmons as Estella in David Lean’s Great Expectations
7. Trevyn McDowell as Rosamond Vincy in BBC’s adaptation of Middlemarch
6. Acrasia by John Melhuish Strudwick (1888)
5. La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Frank Dicksee (1901)
3. The Beguiling of Merlin by Sir Edward Burne Jones (1872-1877)
2. Circe, Athenian red-figure pelike circa 5th B.C.,
1. Reese Witherspoon as Becky Sharp in Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair

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