February 29 is “Bachelor’s Day,” a silly, somewhat sexist tradition that grants women permission to propose to their significant others once every four years. Any ladies who are considering popping the question — on this day or any other, because exercising agency in a relationship should not be limited to 24 hours during leap years — might consider looking to literary heroines for inspiration. The Guardian’s Moira Redmond has compiled a list of female characters who proposed marriage to their significant others, among them Catherine Arrowpoint of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda and Jane Eyre, who tells the reticent Mr. Rochester that she intends to become his partner: “I had indeed made my proposal from the idea that he wished and would ask me to be his wife.” Iconic characters have made bold romantic moves even when they do not propose, as Redmond points out. Shakespearean women like Juliet, Viola of Twelfth Night, and Rosalind of As You Like It all make their desires clear to the men who become their husbands. The Wife of Bath in Canterbury Tales picks out her fifth husband during her fourth husband’s funeral. These women know what they want, and go after it — “Bachelor’s Day” be damned.
Read the full story at The Guardian.