Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The wenches of Westeros

So, for the last few days this image has been floating about the interwebs, adding to the list of kickass responses to the stupid "wtf man, why is there intelligent/interesting women in your show/books/film?". So, I thought I would write a post concerning the female characters in the Song of Ice and Fire series, and the tv series of Game of Thrones too. I know this isn't exactly on topic, but there are some influences from mythology and the Anglo-Saxon period (the seven kingdoms of Westeros can be compared to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of what is now England). Or at least that's my excucse, so deal with it.

Although the series has many boobs flying about (reeling in the viewers I guess? - and the rate of boobs per episode has greatly subsided in the last two seasons), it's plain to see that there are a lot of really strong female characters in GoT (we're just going to shorten it to that cause I'm lazy). Now, I am only on book four (A Feast for Crows), so, firstly, I'm a bit behind, and secondly, please don't spoil anything for me or I will find you and I will kill you. Which reminds me, SPOILER ALERT PROBABLY. 

Source: pandawhale.com

So, much like how myself and many people would imagine the Middle Ages to be, life for a woman isn't exactly the most liberating experience in the world, and it's much like that in George R.R. Martin's universe that he has created, whatever exactly it's called (what is it called?). But that doesn't stop the female characters from trying to break free from expected roles and fortified castles and the hands of The Hound, and becoming some of the most interesting and complex characters in the books and series.

One of my favourite characters in GoT (with strong competition from Tyrion Lannister) is Daenerys Targaryen, because she has developed from that unsure little girl/weeping newlywed with that queynte of a brother, into a no-shit-taking Queen, and she gets some of the coolest parts in the series (for example the "You speak Valyrian?!?!" scene). We've all found ourselves not being taken seriously, or presumed incapable of certain qualities, and it feels good to prove people wrong, but we can only wish that we could do it with the same dramatic effect (and fire) that Dany does. And although a lot of her rise to power relied on the men around her (much of this was taken away with Khal Drogo's death however), I feel that she is becoming more and more independent of them as the series progresses. I truly hope that she isn't killed off before the end!

This scene made me fist pump in my mind

A character that is utterly despicable, yet quite....admirable (this isn't exactly the word I'm trying to think of) is Cersei Lannister. She really is a horrible person (with added incest), but one can't help but be impressed by her willingness to do anything or kill anyone to stay on top, and I think there are definitely times when one can feel sympathetic towards her character too (when we learn more of her disappointing marriage to Robert for example). Her character is also important with regards to gender issues, as she speaks herself of how she didn't understand how when her and Jaime reached a certain age, despite being identical in all ways, she was taught to be a lady, while her brother was given a sword, and how when she would dress in her brither's clothes, people would treat her differently. Of course, she doesn't dispute the patriarchal belief that men should rule the world, merely resents the fact that she was born a woman. 

Another character who it wouldn't do to leave out is, of course, Brienne of Tarth. Unusually, she is given a traditionally male role in the story, first becoming Catelyn's protector of sorts, and later filling the traditional role of the male knight searching for the beautiful lost maiden - except for Brienne is a woman, and does not look to gain from her rescuing of Sansa (like marriage or gold). Perhaps there is some critique in there of knights rescuing maidens purely for the motive of "getting the girl". But then again, Brienne has a lot more honour than most of the other knights in the series. 

What is also refreshing is the fact that she is not made into some sexy warrior girl who chooses to fight half naked, which for many films, seems to be the only acceptable way for a female fighter to be, but is described as being quite ugly and masculine, and most of the time she is seen wearing armour. When we see her onscreen, her fight scenes come across as really credible - we're not sitting here thinking "yeah right, like a woman could fight off that many men at once". And in another way Brienne's character defies another typical female role, in that, despite being butch and masculine, she is not a lesbian, as many probably expect her to be.

Anyway, Brienne is a great character, and I'm looking forward to seeing how her story progresses. 

There are many more impressive ladies in GoT; Arya Stark (durrr), Sansa Stark (despite my hatred of her at the start, I have come to like her), Margery Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns, Asha Greyjoy (Yara in the tv series), Osha, Ygritte, Catelyn Stark, and so on. But this is enough for today. 

No comments:

Post a Comment