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In fictionland, there are many ways to underline a man's Badassery or his masculinity. But how can you display a woman's femininity in a less vulgar way than dressing like a whore and making a sandwich for a guy? Simple, have her play the harp.

Just as playing the electric guitar is often used as a sign of absolute masculinity, the harp's crystalline and delicate tones, as well as its graceful shape, will emphasize the femininity of the woman playing it. Not to mention that it gives the harpist a definite air of dignity and nobility. As such, harp-playing women in fiction are almost always important to the plot.

Playing the lyre is a lesser version of this and also counts for much more Gender Flips. In the very, very rare occurrences where a man is shown playing the harp, he will be at least a particularly effeminate Bishonen.

This is also Truth in Television, since harpists are mostly female.

Also note who else typically plays the harp: Angels, elves, and people who died and went to heaven.

Compare Feminine Women Can Cook, for a much less refined way to show femininity.

Examples of Harp of Femininity include:

Anime & Manga

  • Pictureed above: Lady Pandora in Saint Seiya, who loves playing the harp in her free time. There are even figurines that portray her like this, and many Pandora cosplayers pose with harps as well.
    • Subverted with Benethosh Mime and the two Orpheus (Lyre from the manga and newer OVA's, Kotoza from one of the non-canon movies), girly-looking but still male Musical Assassins who use small harps and lyres as weapons of choice. In fact, we meet Mime in the Asgard Saga when Shun finds him peacefully playing his lyre in the snow... and then he quickly uses its chords as Razor Floss to attack.
  • Mimay in Captain Harlock
  • Shin in Saint Beast went to the extent of crafting his own harp to play.
  • In Hidamari Sketch, Yuno saw Hiro planting herbs and asked what she was doing. When Hiro explained, Yuno misheard her as saying "harp" and envisioned a harp-playing Hiro. Now, Hiro is already the motherly one of the group, so the feminine qualities are already there, just enhanced in Yuno's imagination.
  • Yuria in the Fist of the North Star anime, who has come into possession of a harp and nothing else while in Shin's captivity and is playing it in nearly every scene where she makes an appearance. The harp sound plays any time Kenshiro thinks about her.
  • In Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics, both Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty/Princess Briar Rose are very pretty and feminine girls who play lyres.


  • The most notable aversion is Harpo Marx. Hell, he's even named after it!
  • The evil matriarch of the girls' boarding school in A Little Princess is shown playing a harp at moments when she's not actively working to make Sarah's life miserable. Her musical ability is arguably the only likeable trait the character has.

Live Action TV

  • In Green Wing the girly and perfect Angela plays the harp to Grade 7, while her more tomboyish housemate Caroline struggles to get a sound out of her flute.


  • Aversion: Flewddur Fflam in the Prydain Chronicles was a consummate Badass, a king, and a wandering bard. He played a magic harp, which could be more accurately said to play itself, but harping is not regarded as particularly feminine in Prydain.
  • What about Homer? Didn't Rudyard Kipling talk about "When Homer smote his bloomin lyre(not his most inspired passage)?
  • King David: Traditionally his favorite instrument was the harp making this another inversion.
    • Also Apollo. In fact, in ancient times the harp was if anything a masculine instrument and Homer, David, and Apollo aren't really aversions because the trope wasn't there yet to be averted.
  • Featured in The Mists of Avalon, which Morgaine (as the viewpoint character) combines with Elegant Classical Musician to assure herself that she could have any man who heard her play the harp.
  • Lyra Belacqua's first name in His Dark Materials is, according to this trope, the single most feminine thing about her.

Tabletop Games

  • The Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG has Spirit of the Harp, a delicate woman playing the harp.

Video Games

Web Original

  • totally subverted by this Youtube vid, possibly the heavenliest rendition of the Star Wars Cantina music ever... played by a teen boy

Western Animation


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