Behind some great heroines aren’t always some dull men coming to save the day but precious feminines help. Some of them are largely forgotten though they do play a pivotal role in the story or in the main character’s lives in a positive way. Now it’s time for them to find their places in the spotlight, as, despite their clumsiness sometimes, they are more than sidekicks or supporting characters. They drive the plot in an unexpected situation and are what makes a story so compelling most of the time.
Some important things to keep in mind:
*There are some important spoilers in this article. Do not read unless you want to, and you’ve read some the referred books.
*I might add more underrated girls and women from literature here later. However, since the length of this article shouldn’t be similar to a book, I will *try*to keep it short. There are of course many supporting female characters that deserves the spotlight.
*This section only refers to characters in novels but it’s also a trope in movies, TV hows etc: one of my most beloved examples would be Gale with Sidney in the Scream saga, though not from the beginning of course, or even Tatum.
Nanny ( Wicked)
Note: only concerns, for now anyway, the first book.
When you’re thinking about Wicked, what comes to mind is Elphaba of course as well as Glinda and Nessarose. Some might think of Dorothy playing a small role, or the awful Madame Morrible. Some can rambler Melena, drunk and alone, or Sarima, unable to grant her forgiveness and uneducated with her six sisters. Or even Reckale… in fact there as son many complex, funny and awesome female characters in the novel… but the one I choose here is Nanny, as she fit the description of this article. Nanny has been a governess for the Thorpe family ( Wicked Witch of the West) for at least three generations. She was the caretaker for Melena, and eventually came to protect her daughters. From her first appearance, it’s hard to not fall in love with this old not-so-sweet, sassy lady.
Nanny tries to help repair Melena and Frex’s wedding, make sure that Elphaba integrate in society despite her differences, and even try that Melena’s second child get a normal life. It’s worth noticing she doesn’t hesitate to use blackmail and illegal methods for that matter. She’s informed of the destiny of the two sisters, and bribes truth to lies and family secrets. Even some of her actions help Elphaba. She stands up a bit to Madame Morrible when she dismissed Nanny, saves Liir at Kiamo Ko, and inadvertently put Dorothy in the wolf’s mouth. She does kick ass, but she gets eventually kicked herself down the stairs… but fear not, this isn’t the end of our sassy Nanny!
Verona ( Fairest of All)
Note:Since it’s a series and many side characters fit the role such as Gothel’s sisters or Mrs Tiddlebottom, I choose to pick two female characters. And they are not other than Verona from Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen and Miss Pricket from Evil Thing: A Tale of that De Vil Woman
Verona Is introduced as the Queen’s lady maid and her dear friend that she thinks of as a sister rather than a member of the royal staff. Verona is a character to who the reader can relate, along with Grimhilde of course. Indeed, she expresses our disbelief at the view of the odd sister’s or her uneasiness at Grimhilde’s slow fall into madness. The young lady stands up for Snow White several times and set some of the events in the book, unwillingly unlike the odd sisters. She announces the death of the king to the queen/ the odd sisters teasing Snow/make Grimhilde aware that she abandoned Snow= guides the queen as a lighthouse through the darkness of her life.
Verona turns out to be the first woman the queen come to love since her deceased mother and the first to hate when the Slave in the Mirror reveals she’s now the fairest in the land. We find ourselves hoping for the Evil Queen to make the right decision, which would be to destroy the mirror and spare her friendship with Verona instead of killing her…which she does the first time, sending her away on a diplomatic mission.
Her role is really highlighted when she leaves as the Queen as no one else to help her, rejecting Snow and becoming obsessed with the book spells and the magic mirror. She lost the help of the woman who is like a fairy godmother to her, to find herself tangled in a web of darkness and instead of support, the other women of the story offer her a downfall. However, Verona does come back…but not for long though. This time, though the queen tries to get rid of the mirror, she cannot resist its magic. When the Slave announce that Verona back making her once again the fairest in the kingdom, Grimhilde decides to take some drastic measures; Thank god she doesn’t get her killed or locked up in the dungeons ( was I the only one that thought she would turn out to be the skeletal in the dungeon that the Queen kicks when she’s on her way to the cottage ?). She instead, banished her and Verona is never seen again, after standing up for Snow and informing once again the queen about her drastic change.
Verona‘s last mention remains important and shouldn’t be put aside: the Queen remembers their time together before her death, showing that a part of her still cared for her friend despite the beauty thing. She’s actually one of the reasons why the Wicked Queen choose the path of redemption, climbing the cliff.
Miss Pricket ( Evil Thing)
Miss Pricket is Cruella’s governess since her early childhood and therefore has been working for the De Vil family for a long time. Her first mention by Cruella tells us about her inner kindness and love for the devilish maniac. She teaches her subjects that are exclusive to boys such as Geography as she knows Cruella’s dream is to travel once, she’ll be able to do so. Miss Pricket actually acts very warmly and maternal towards Cruella and though the latter does like her, she certainly doesn’t feel the same bond about her. Like all the main supporting characters, Miss Pricket is conscious of Cruella’s lack of self-awareness regarding her mother’s awful behavior towards her. It’s revealed throughout the novel that she’s actually the one forcing Lady De Vil to spend time with her daughter and doesn’t think high of her employer though she sometimes tries to dismiss it. Miss Pricket always supports Cruella and spends most of her days with her, whether it’s during study time, in the morning room with her mother, downstairs to thanks the cook, Mrs. Baddely, for a special treat to diner and bedtime. Miss Pricket also love and appreciate Anita, Cruella’s best friend and much like Lord De Vil, encourage the girls to spend more time together: For example, the whole summer before Cruella and Anita goes to school, Miss Pricket encourage her charge to invite her friend at home to play and spend time with, despite knowing that Lady de Vil hates the poor girl. She appears to be rather lonely despite her friendly attitude, though it’s mentioned she has an ill aunt. However, it seems she’s really appreciated by the staff of the De Vil household. She accompanies the girls at the school and pays them a surprise visit during Cruella’s s seventeenth birthday when Lady De Vil who was supposed to take Cruella out for diner, cancels. That way, our devil woman is allowed to have a great birthday with her best friend and her governess, and we can notice an interesting contrast between delicious meals thoughtfully prepared by Mrs. Baddeley and expensive, rather impersonal gifts of her mother. During Christmastime, at the end of the semester, Cruella and Anita go back to the Devil’s house with Miss Pricket by train and the latter doesn’t hesitate to compliment Cruella for her protective behavior. She’s, much like Verona in Fairest of all, Athena in Poor Unfortunate Soul and Mrs. Tiddebltom in Mother Knows Best, a fairy-godmother, without any magic, but that encourages Cruella’s good instincts. That’s also the reason why she insists on Cruell inviting Anita to play or stay overnight during the summer and the winter break: Anita also brings out the goodness in Cruella. However, things take a much serious turn when after several mean remarks of Cruella’ concerning Miss Pricket’s role and their link, the former fires her when her governess finally tells her to charge how she feels about Lady De Vil and her true nature. Cruella refuse to believe her and sends her away, even treating her like a servant than the inn(between she is.( a term that, according to Cruella refers to people like Anita and Miss Pricket who aren’t part of high-society or domesticity either.) Miss Pricket, muck like Verona in Fairest of All, does come back after Anita wrote to her, and forgives Cruella, that deep down did miss her, especially when she learns how she’s always look out after her and that most of her happy moments during her childhood was because of her so that Cruella wouldn’t’ be sad when her mother cancels plans or forbids people and things Cruella loves in the family house. Cruella evens asks her to become her lady’s maid and later bring her to her travels around the world. Miss Pricket integrates Cruella and Jack’s household after their marriage and become the housekeeper. After surviving the fire, she’s the one that explain Jack’s death to Cruella. She is forced to stay hidden downstairs and though Cruella does consider keeping her by her side as she’s pretty much one of the only persons left considered to be her family. Unfortunately, things don’t go that way and Cruella ends up alone, while Miss Pricket is dismissed by Lady de Vil after the former sold the house to travel the world. Despite all the trials that Cruella put her through and the harm she caused to Anita, Miss Pricket still accepts to take care of her once she’s locked up in Hell Hall by her mother after the car crash. That way, Cruella won’t be alone in this prison and will have someone to love her in a maternal way, the way her neglectful mother never did. Miss Pricket is very forgetful of people and always tries to find the goodness in everyone. She is actually what makes the end of Evil Thing bitter-sweet and reassure readers about to close the book, that the end of Cruella’s life won’t be completely miserable.
Lila Crane ( Psycho)
Everyone knows about Mother and Mary (Marion in the 1960 movie) the two main female characters. But even though Lila only comes to the picture in the second part, we follow her point of view whether it’s in the book or in the movie. Not saying she’s the main character, as this honor would be awarded to Norman, but she certainly displays some qualities that Marion lacks and managed to reveal to the world the truth behind the Bates Family. Though she dies abruptly in the sequel, whether it’s the book or the second movie ( in which she clearly became bitter and resentful), she still managed to gain some sympathy in the original and shouldn’t be put aside because, well she’s kind of a Final Girl that people tend to forget about.
Fiona ( A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Right? I guess some people don’t even remember her. Yet she was important to the main trio in unforeseeable ways. She was the sister of one of Olaf’s most loyal minions, Klau’s love story, and combined skills that Violet lacked ( I still love you, Violet). She made the 11th book in the series interesting because of her inner dilemma and her ability to rise even under the most depressive circumstances; the number of pages dedicated to her can be count on one hand but she definitely is someone that, unlike Judge Abbott for example ( then again, sorry) really managed to help our favorite siblings.
Cora ( The Handmaid’s Tale)
Yeah I know. Most of the women in this book are either powerhouse or full of shit. Cora is a Martha and much kinder than Rita. She doesn’t approve of the way babies are conceived but is determined to protect June’s/Offred’s despite her being born of rape, in order to help her to survive in this world. She also helps June several times though it’s hinted that Cora could easily have a happy ending if she would stay out of it. She doesn’t care; She might not be able to do that much but she’s constantly supporting Offred. Her role was kind of mixed with Rita in the TV show.
Honourable mentions: Lily ( the Devil Wears Prada), Caitlyn’s moms ( The Perfectionnists); Teophilia Flowers ( Vampire Diaries), Kirsten Cullen ( Pretty Little Liars), Minerva McGonagall ( Harry Potter)