Miss Havisham and Estella from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I hate picking these, it’s too hard to select just one because I love many for many reasons, and my favourite characters don’t necessarily have qualities I admire (I’m often repulsed by them), but they’ve been written so well, that their actions dominate the pages; without them, there would be no story.
And that’s how I ended up picking Miss Havisham and Estella; you can’t really like one without the other. Miss Havisham’s single-mindedness to ruining men using her protégé Estella, backfires ironically and obviously, when Estella is cold and distant even to her guardian.
Well-written characters light up the plot, even if they don’t appear often; without these two women, the story misses the acidity that it needs to make it less saccharine. Neither of them are paragons of purity and kindness, qualities that we normally deem necessary in women, and it’s refreshing to see that. I’m sick of reading about women who are as interesting as wallpapers.