1. 1.
    Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing)
    Beatrice is, hands down, my favorite heroine in all of Shakespeare. She is clever and hilarious and she uses her wits to keep the considerable male egos surrounding her cut down to an appropriate size. She loves a challenge and doesn't back down from anyone. Even though she falls in love with Benedick, she doesn't lose her head or her principles for him. Pretty much, I want to be her when I grow up.
  2. 2.
    Portia (The Merchant of Venice)
    Portia is beautiful, intelligent, rich, and very sharp - sharp enough to defend and win a case in court despite not having any legal training. She proves she can take care of herself despite society's constraints, and she saves her lover's best friend from certain death. Her one mistake is probably loving Bassanio (who is a low key jerk) but that certainly makes her character relatable.
  3. 3.
    Olivia (Twelfth Night)
    Olivia is completely self sufficient, and she isn't about to be let her head be turned by insincere compliments. I love how completely sure she is of herself and what she wants! She knows her own heart, and when she does fall in love, she goes for it 100% and without fear.
  4. 4.
    Hermia (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
    Hermia fights against the man.. Well, against all the men, really. She refuses to marry where her dad wants her to, and so he takes her to see the Duke, where she refuses again (even though the penalty for BOTH refusals is death). She fights for her love even when it seems not worth fighting for - basically, she's scrappy! It's about Hermia that some of Shakespeare's most famous words about a woman are written: "And though she be but little, she is fierce."
  5. 5.
    Viola (Twelfth Night)
    Viola is tenacious. When she believes that her brother has died in the shipwreck, leaving her without protection in a dangerous land, she reinvents herself as a man and determines to make her way on her own. I'm still not totally sure why she falls in love with the Duke (he's the least interesting character in the play?) but even though she loves him, she loyally woos another woman on his behalf. Viola is just a good person. I'm glad she gets a happy ending.
  6. 6.
    Cordelia (King Lear)
    Cordelia is the only decent sister of the three in this play - she loves her father even though he is totally crazy and disinherits her. She marries a man who respects her (and who happens to be the King of France) and then leads his armies on a rescue mission to save her dad. She doesn't succeed, but she literally dies trying.
  7. 7.
    Cleopatra (Antony and Cleopatra)
    Cleopatra makes the list for her bravery and her cleverness. She is masterful at manipulating the situation (and the men) that surround her, and she is so determined not to let Caesar win that she kills herself. (FYI, not a problem solving technique I endorse.) She makes me a little crazy because she spends so much of the play obsessing over Antony, but it can't be denied that she's powerful and complex.. and I think she would be a very interesting character to play!
  8. 8.
    Rosalind (As You Like It)
    Rosalind is incredibly self-sufficient. When she get kicked out of her uncle's court, she runs off to the forest and dresses up as a boy. She embraces the freedom that comes with being perceived as a man and stays that way while she wins the love of Orlando. I think my favorite thing about her, though, is that she's matter of fact when it comes to love. She doesn't think that love will solve her problems - she's a realist and it's great. (Apparently I am the least romantic person in the world.)