She can wield a bow and arrow like nobody's business and is so devoted to her family that she would fight to the death to protect them. Her opponent has taken on vampires and werewolves, and there's nothing she wouldn't do for love. Of course, we're talking about The Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen and Twilight's Bella Swan. So which of these courageous characters is more fearless?
When we asked our Twitter followers whether Katniss or Bella was the stronger character and better role model, we were overwhelmed by the polarizing responses. Everyone seemed to have an opinion -- and a strong one, at that -- as to whether Katniss, the self-sacrificing expert hunter, or Bella, the ordinary girl who enters the world of the immortals, was more admirable. We chose two bloggers to defend their favorite protagonist in the ultimate faceoff.
See if one of these arguments can change your mind (hey, you might be surprised!) and share your own thoughts in the comments below!
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The Hunger Games series has and continues to enjoy incredible success around the world. Published in multiple languages, acclaimed by critics, and adored by almost every reader, the book (and movie) has been noted for many attributes that made its author, Suzanne Collins, one of TIME magazine's "Most Influential People" in 2010. The trilogy's gripping plotlines, addictive but gloomy world, and strong first-person narrative make it continue to cling to the top of bestseller lists. When it comes to themes, however, one quality continues to stand out: like other praised young adult novels, the protagonist, Katniss, is the epitome of what we teach younger generations to be like -- strong, independent, and loyal to what she knows is right.
In even the first few pages of The Hunger Games, Katniss shocks the world when she unprecedentedly chooses to volunteer for her younger sister in a competition where the odds are that she will lose and die. Her history and ability to proceed through the Games show her physical and mental power, making her a role model for all readers. A girl who dared to hunt by herself to keep her family from starving, who chose to sacrifice herself for her sister, and who is loyal first and foremost to her family is a protagonist that readers love. Much like Harry Potter, Katniss is modest because of her desire to keep those whom she loves safe. Her strength and her willingness to sacrifice for the people she loves are what make Katniss, well, Katniss. Her likeability is what makes us (and the Capitol) so addicted to watching the games unfold.
To appeal to the romantics (and also make sense in the "hi-I'm-a-young-adult-and-this-is-a-stage-of-life-for-me" kind of thing), Suzanne Collins made Katniss two main companions, both male, hot, loyal, and overall epic -- and both of them just happen to fall in love with her. However, unlike what makes Bella of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight the object of ridicule, Katniss does not spend most of her time trying to decide between both of them. Instead, as an epitome of female independence, Katniss goes on with life and the Gale or Peeta situation is just sorted out along the way (SPOILER ALERT: Life actually sorts out the situation for Katniss. Dandelion Peeta > Firey Gale). Katniss has her priorities straight and that is what makes her the admirable protagonist of a well-respected book.
Lastly and most importantly, Katniss chooses to do what is right in order to ensure the Capitol's Hunger Games end permanently. Though she occasionally slips up along the way and was reluctant to follow District 13's orders, her heart is in the right place. Eventually, she understands that a few lives must be sacrificed to save countless more children's lives and leads a rebellion against the Capitol that, with her strength, defies the odds and wins. With her family in mind, Katniss acts as a brave heroine that readers fall in love with.
Because of her strong-willed personality, Katniss is a strong and admirable character. Unlike Bella, Katniss is an ideal role model and her strength is a trait that everyone should aspire to have.
Is she the typical teenager in love with unrealistic vampire hottie, or a prime example of a strong modern-day woman? Whether you love her or love to hate her, everyone has their opinion on Twilight's Bella Swan. If you ask me, I'd say the latter. Looking past the romance of the Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle and the sparkly vampires, you can see that Bella has characteristics sorely lacking in too many teenagers and young women these days. She possesses the qualities of courage, hope and, acceptance that have defined women for centuries.
Bella isn't afraid because she knows that in her world, fear means death. She knows that if she shows fear in the face of someone trying to take her from her family or Edward, her enemy will smell weakness and attack. Take this sensibility and apply it to the life of a 'normal' teenager -- this can happen in sports when you sense fear in your opponent, or when a bully smells fear in people's insecurities.
It's easy to see Bella's courage if you think of all the things she has to be afraid of. Girls can have a lot of fear, rejection, heartbreak -- and the fear of not being good enough. Bella has these; she does have fear. But the difference is that she will stand up and fight for what will make her happy. That's something that makes women special -- we don't take crap, and Bella is a prime example of this.
This courage made me find hope in the character of Bella. She gives me hope that true love is still real in a generation filled with divorce and online dating. She takes it back to 18th-century romance where the girl falls hopelessly in love with a boy who would take a bullet for her. When did that scenario become a sign of weakness in women? Looking at Bella's experience in love, I think it required hope -- hope that she would be strong enough and also that Edward would catch her if she wasn't. If you ask me, falling in love with someone should be seen as a leap of faith rather than a sign of being dependent.
Acceptance is also an admirable thing about Bella Swan's character. The way she accepts the Cullen family and Jacob's wolf pack is a shining example to the world of being truly open-minded. Sure, it took a little getting used to, but Bella knew who these people truly were inside. The fact that they were immortal didn't change her feelings -- if anything, she became even more interested.
That is probably the most important aspect of Bella as a strong female character -- the way she is able to love the person, not the label. If more people could take this approach to each other's differences, there could be serious positive change in society.
A strong female can possess many different qualities depending on the circumstances. Bella showcases how a little bit of a hope and a lot of courage and acceptance can get a girl what she wants. Girls want to be accepted and feel empowered, and many want to find love. Maybe she does go a little weak in the knees, but Bella Swan is far from a weak female character.
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