Motherhood is perhaps one of the most powerful forces to be reckoned with – we all know not to get in between a mama bear and her cubs. Literature is filled with memorable moms who have captured our hearts and imagination with their inner strength, innate wisdom, and unwavering love. Much like our own moms.
It is a theme that has been portrayed throughout literature, exploring the depths of sacrifice, love, compassion, and resilience that mothers possess. We are very excited to celebrate some of literature’s most memorable mothers who have all made their mark on both paper and our hearts.
What are the basic themes of motherhood in literature?
The theme which always stands out is that of The Maternal Instinct, and we happen to think it is one of the most powerful themes in all of literature. The maternal instinct has been the driving force behind many of the great literary mothers; they are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect their children and will go to great lengths to keep them safe from harm, even if it means sacrificing themselves.
Another iconic mother figure in literature is The Tiger Mom. She is fiercely protective of her children and has very high expectations for their success. She pushes them to be their best and expects them to excel in everything they do. This is one mom who never accepts excuses or is happy with mediocrity!
And finally, we have The Single Mom. She does it all on her own - juggling work, parenting, and home life and yet somehow manages to do it all with grace and strength. Despite the challenges that come along with being a single parent, The Single Mom shows us that it is still possible to raise happy and successful children, no matter the obstacles.
Her determination and resilience make her one of the most inspiring mothers in literature. If that single mom with superpowers can fight crime and still get her children’s homework done, then we can definitely conjure something up with the leftovers!
What are the characteristics of iconic mothers in literature?
Mothers in literature always have rich backstories, and many of them have experienced great tragedy in their lives, which tends to shape their character and outlook – something we can all identify with.
They represent that ideal mother figure - strong, loving, and selfless. While their motivations and actions may differ, these mothers all fiercely love and protect their children. This maternal instinct is at the heart of what it means to be a mother, and it is this quality that makes these literary mothers so memorable and influential.
Who are literature’s most memorable mother figures?
When it comes to choosing our most memorable moms, we had a tough time, but as always, there are those standouts!
Caroline Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Caroline was a kind and loving wife and mother and always had a smile for her family, no matter what challenges she and her family faced. She was a strong woman who was not afraid to work hard and did whatever it took to provide for her family and make their lives as comfortable as possible.
Even during tough times, she never lost faith or gave up hope. She was an amazing role model for her daughters and taught them the importance of family, love, and determination. Caroline truly was the heart of the Ingalls family.
Margaret March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Who doesn’t love Marmee? As a mother, she was loving and supportive, but that came along with some high expectations for her daughters. While her friends may be looking for wealthy husbands for their daughters, all Marmee wants is for her daughters to be well-educated, independent, pure, and true to themselves.
While she had no problem being strict, she was always there to listen, ready to offer advice or comfort whenever it was needed. In many ways, she embodies the ideal mother figure - someone who is both loving and strong.
Ruth McBride from The Color of Water by James McBride
Ruth is a real-life superhero, and her story is truly inspiring. She was born into a Jewish family in Poland, but her parents moved to the United States when she was a child. When she was a teenager, Ruth fell in love with a black man and eventually married him, despite the pressures of society against interracial relationships at the time.
Together, they raised twelve children in poverty and faced discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis. But Ruth never lost her faith in humanity or her determination to create a better life for her family. She taught her children to value education and hard work, and her unwavering love and devotion to them is truly remarkable.
Kate Keller from The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
And now for another real superhero. Kate, the mother of Helen Keller, is a force of nature, and her love for her daughter is truly inspiring. When Helen was diagnosed as deaf and blind, Kate refused to give up on her. She hired a young teacher, Anne Sullivan, to work with Helen and became her greatest ally in the difficult task of teaching Helen how to communicate.
Kate was a fierce defender of her daughter's rights, and she refused to let anyone underestimate her daughter's intelligence or potential. Her love and devotion to Helen is a shining example of what it means to be a great mom.
Miss Honey from Matilda by Roald Dahl
And now for someone a little more lighthearted. She may not be a mother, but as a mother-figure, we love her to bits … When you’re a child genius surrounded by parents who don’t care, you need a new mother figure, and what better one than Miss Honey?
She is one of those women who has a soft and kind heart. She has had her own share of tragedy but is still able to help Matilda, and through her love, nurturing, and protective spirit, she helps Matilda develop her full potential. Which is what all mothers want for their children to be the best they can be.
On a final note …
It doesn’t matter which type of mother resonates with you; there is no denying that each one offers a different perspective and insight into motherhood and the power it holds to shape lives. These characters are more than just mothers; they are symbols of strength, determination, and unconditional love.