Representation Of Feminism Through The Female Characters In Game Of Thrones

In an era where gender roles dominated society, when it was impossible for women to rise up and take on the roles men held: social injustice was at its peak. Patriarchal values allowed women to be treated as second class citizens. The value of young girls was placed solely on their ability to reproduce. They were sold and forced into marriage, objectified, dehumanized, humiliated and exploited. When they tried to revolt against the oppressive systems they were met with violence and mockery. Another aspect of those ages that played a major role in how women’s sexuality was controlled, was the extreme value that was put upon women’s virtue. They risked death and humiliation if their virtue was even rumored to be compromised. Thus, it took centuries for women to start demanding their rights and finally earning them. 

In the show Game of Thrones, you can see all those gender stereotypes come into life. Throughout the series, you can watch the women grow in power, and demand to take on roles men usually held. The historical conventions of the time in which the show happens make it that sexism is very much prominent in the series. Thus, my goal in this writing is to analyze some of the major female characters and the societal norms, of the time, they stood up against. 

The first character I want to write about is Cersei Lannister. She might not be the most popular female character since she killed some fan favorites, and is a very egoistical character, but she is not a two dimensional as most fantasy characters can be. Cersei’s past formed her, she carried hatred in her. And a lot of it was because of her husband, the King of Westeros, Robert Baratheon. One of the main things she says in the first season to Ned Stark is “The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered Lyanna” (Martin 486). While Cersei always dreamed of a marriage of love she got nothing from Robert but objectification and rejection because he was still in love with his old lover that had been killed. Cersei was also very politically driven; she was driven by power and sought to rule Westeros through her husband, then her sons that took power, and she finally took power herself. But there is one secret that defined Cersei and affected a lot of the storyline: she was in an incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime Lannister. It is through that relationship that her three kids, Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella, came to the world. Cersei was aware that that relationship was considered to be blasphemous but she justifies it as “keeping the bloodline pure”. She was a military strategist and feared nothing. She was brought down time after time by those that critiqued her influence on the monarchy. She was then accused of sorcery and imprisoned. She broke out of her shackles like a Phoenix and rose from the ashes and became the supreme leader of the lands. 

The second character I want to talk about is by far my favorite one, Daenerys Targaryen. In the first season, she is sold, at only thirteen years old, by her own brother to a horse lord in exchange for the lord’s army’s help. She was raped every night for weeks, the horse lord wanted her pregnant, and fast. But what makes her bravery obvious from the beginning is that she never showed her pain and misery to others; “He always took her from behind, Dothraki fashion, for which Dany was grateful; that way her lord husband could not see the tears that were on her face, and she could use her pillow to muffle her cries of pain” (Martin 228). But while Viscerys, her brother, never showed an ounce of respect for his little sister; the horse lord started falling in love with her. And soon enough she was his “Sun and Moon”. She grew more and more independent. Multiple events happened and her brother was killed by her husband and the later passed away soon after that. But she never wavered. Danny broke away from her chains and became a new woman. In the series, Danny seems more like a warrior than a queen. The reason behind it is because, unlike Cersei, she wasn’t given power nor a palace to live in. She was sold, and diminished by her brother. She had to assert her power and presence in the barbaric culture she was sold into. She taught herself to speak to men and to make them respect her; not for being the widow of her lord, but for her own power. After realizing her power and the power her ancestry held in Westeros, Daenerys sets out with her newfound army of barbaric men on a mission to take the throne. But her goal is less significant than all the things she did on the way there. She freed thousands of slaves, stood up for the poor, took women who were abused and mistreated under her wing, and was an advocate for equal rights. She hated slavery and patriarchy with a passion because of her past. She was the epitome of feminism in the book and not a single man dared to bring her down after she established that she would never be mistreated by another man.

The final woman in Game of Thrones that I’d like to give credit to is Arya Stark. If there is one adjective to describe Arya it is “anomalous”. She played with the boys and enjoyed doing things that weren’t considered to be “feminine”. She insisted to learn how to sword fight, and since she was high born her wishes were granted; “Arya had loved nothing better than to sit at her father’s table and listen to them talk. She had loved listening to the men on the benches too; to free-riders tough as leather”. So in a storyline where gender roles seem to be extremely important, this young woman deconstructs them. She doesn’t really attach herself to a single-gender at times either. Later on in the series, she even pretends to be a boy to avoid pedophiles and sexism. So even though she stays loyal to her feminine sentimental side at times, Arya defies social gender restraints and later on becomes the hero of Westeros. 

The strong female characters in Game of Thrones are probably the main reason I fell in love with the show. They are incredibly complex and each of the female characters has a backstory to her that explains so much of her character, goals, and desires. The intelligence behind every character is fascinating, and I love rewatching the show and observing new traits about the characters every time. Game of Thrones is one of the greatest works of our century and has impacted me and my feminism in ways I would never have thought a show could. 

16 December 2021
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