Compared to other genres of literature, modern-day fantasy is often disregarded as Eurocentric and homogeneous. In this article, I argue such critiques fail to take stock of the influential and progressive role women have played within modern-day fantasy since its creation by J.R.R. Tolkien. This article primarily focuses on modern-day fantasy works from three decades that coincide with a wave of feminism, beginning with Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in the 1950s and continuing with J.K. Rowling’s early nineties and aughts Harry Potter series as well as Leigh Bardugo’s mid-2010’s duology, Six of Crows. This article discusses the direct correlation between each wave of feminism and the author’s work and examines the active female role, in which the heroine makes her own decisions, relies on herself and overcomes the restrictions placed on her by a male dominated society. Theorist Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” in which she recognizes the distinction between the portrayal of the active male and passive female in the media, is the basis for my argument. It is expanded upon, however, through the analysis of the character arcs of heroines such as Tolkien’s Éowyn, Rowling’s Hermione Granger and Bardugo’s Inej Gafa. By completing internal and external journeys as well as redefining the stereotypical part of the princess, the heroines in these stories prove to be vital to the plot of their respective works, while simultaneously deconstructing the damsel in distress role previously used to formulate female characters.
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Turello, Elizabeth. "Modern-Day Fantasy: The Progressive Role of the Active Female." Sacred Heart University Scholar, vol. 4, no.1, 2021, https://digitalcommons.sacredheart.edu/shuscholar/vol4/iss1/3