Game of Thrones: There’s Power in BeautyMay 17, 2014
“No one has ever asked an actor; ‘You’re playing a strong minded man…’ We assume that men are strong minded, or have opinions. But a strong minded woman is a different animal.” – Meryl Streep
If there’s one thing that stands out in Game of Thrones, it’s the amount of multi-layered female characters that populate the show and continue to the create dynamics and tension unrivaled by anything else on television. There is an incredible range and undeniable strength to the female characters present in the show; a lot of the events in the timeline are directly created by those characters and some of the greatest scenes have been driven by those same powerful women. Make no mistake, they are fighting to survive and make an impact on the feudal society they live in and they use what they have at their disposal as weapons.
George R.R. Martin has been praised repeatedly for creating and writing strong, believable female characters and when asked how he did it he simply replied, “I tried to write them as people.” This is a list of the five women that are the power behind the Game of Thrones.
Hell hath no fury like Cersei Lannister. To not start this list with her would be disrespectful to the show and book series in general; she intimidates men and puts fear into other women. Without Cersei and her meddling and scheming, there really wouldn’t be much of the drama that has played out. She’s committed incest with her brother and had three children with him, conspired on the downfall of the Starks, and who can forget that she’s the mother of the monster, Joffrey. She has shown no remorse for any of the irreparable damage she has done to Westeros and the war that she could have averted by counselling her son to not behead Ned Stark in front of the whole of King’s Landing. She is ice cold in her decision making and will stop at nothing to see the rise of her family and to maintain her control over the capital which of course keeps her in constant conflict with numerous characters. She commands attention on screen and may be one of the biggest villains television has ever seen.
Brienne of Tarth
Of all the women on Game of Thrones, Brienne is by far the strongest physically, being the kind of knight that can take on the Knight of Flowers and be named to Renly Baratheon’s Kingsguard, to being able to take the Lord Commander of the official Kingsguard in Jaime Lannister himself. Jaime,k prior to losing his hand, had been considered the best swordsman in all of Westeros, so for Brienne to be able to defeat both Loras Tyrell and Jaime in fair fights is something to be said about her acumen for combat skills. But to just label this amazing character as just a brawn built soldier wouldn’t be fair at all; Brienne is a deep character who is able to portray an array of emotion. She showed her loyalty and respect for Catelyn Stark by escorting Jaime back to King’s Landing with the intent to return her two children trapped behind enemy lines. She is a force to be reckoned with and even though she was degraded by Locke and his men at Harrenhal, she certainly showed them she is no minor threat by taking on a bear in a fight. She has faced all her trials head on and keeps growing into one of the most powerful women in Westeros and she now possesses a valyrian steel sword to boot.
She may be small but she is definitely mighty. Arya has seen a great deal for such a young person; she witnessed her father being beheaded by Ilyn Payne at the order of Joffrey at King’s Landing, and survived on the road through several attacks by the Gold Cloaks and Gregor Cleganes men, while at the same time saw her friends murdered brutally. She was essentially a slave at Harrenhal, forced to be the cup bearer for Tywin Lannister himself. When she was freed, she encountered the Brotherhood Without Banners before ending up on the run with The Hound.
She has gone through several mentors in her life, each one teaching her new lessons. This all begins with Syrio Forel, showing her how to use a sword but at the same time be graceful; J’haqen H’ghar teaching her about the Faceless Men from Braavos, and having to make hard choices as she was given three names that she could have assassinated for saving J’haqen from the fire. She is currently learning from The Hound and what it takes to survive and how brutal life can be. Arya is literally the strongest willed child on television, interjecting herself into a massive fight in the tavern with The Hound, Polliver and some of Gregor Clegane’s trained soldiers. She is maturing with every step she takes along the road and with every encounter she has, Arya Stark continues to show the potential she has to be a master assassin and has been part of some of the finest scenes of the show in its run.
Dany is another example of incredibly strong women on this show, and she is one who has literally travelled the farthest and at the same time grown the most as a woman. She began the show nervous and scared of what might become of her as she’s used in a trade with the Dothraki to gain her brother Viserys an army. But, Dany being a Targaryen, her inner dragon came out and she really embraced her role as khaleesi and learned how to bend her husband Khal Drogo to her will and get the respect of the Dothraki who generally have been led by men. She is one who has continued to succeed against all odds by surviving the Red Waste, making it past the House of the Undying, and gaining a massive army of Unsullied without the necessary funds to buy them from the Wise Masters. She has also proven to be a generous and gracious leader as well, leading not through fear and brutality, but through strength, trust and loyalty. Her generals respect her decisions regardless and will follow her through Hell to accomplish the mission.
She is a tenacious, but inspiring leader, showing her leadership qualities to the masses such as when she threw down the masters whip and asked, not commanded, the slaves to fight for her as free men, illustrating how that kind of mutual respect and appreciation will build the strongest relationships and in her case, one seriously strong army. One of the greatest strengths Dany has is that she believes in herself and her cause so strongly. This is evident in her belief that they could cross the Red Waste and she their venture into the the House of the Undying to get her dragons back, and she believes in her cause to hold Meereen and learn to become a Queen before she can return to Westeros. So while the Lannisters have a precarious hold on the Iron Throne and Stannis’ army is in shambles, Dany and her Unsullied who are unified to her cause, are the most powerful force there is.
The Red Woman has proven to be another catalyst for many events that have occurred in the Game of Thrones universe. She is the power behind Stannis and his quest to sit on the Iron Throne; you can see over the course of four seasons that Stannis, who looked quite vibrant in Season two, now looks drained of life with deep circles around his eyes. Melisandre, however, continues to look more and more powerful with her night fires raging as Stannis burns some of his most loyal Lords all because they do not pray to the God of Light. Melisandre continues to preach that the night is dark and full of terrors and she should know; she did birth a terror that took the life of Renly Baratheon back in season two.
Her true goals have not been revealed though, which leaves her full of mystery. Davos is extremely wary of her, but she very easily claimed control of Stannis and through him, his army of men who flocked to his cause. Stannis will rarely go against a decision that Melisandre has made. She has power to see visions in the flames and she is a learned shadow binder, where the user can bind a shadow to do their bidding, such as when she birthed the shadow that killed Renly. Melisandre used the power of manipulation the bend Stannis by promising him glory beyond his dreams and holding the Iron Throne. She also tells him that he is mythical hero Azor Ahai reborn and that he and he alone is to protect the world from the Great Other who threatens to bring eternal night. Stannis believes what she is saying and so do the rest of the remaining army and citizens of Dragonstone and they flock to her new religion.
One of the big factors to her strength is that she is a ‘big picture’ kind of character; she is able to overlook political battles of men and notice that there are greater dangers building. She is on a mission of faith to protect the realm and those she feels are there to save it. Her faith provides her with the tools to support Stannis in his quest with a strong army, a great lord to claim the throne, and the Lord of Light at her back. Melisandre is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the Game of Thrones.
Who is your favourite female character on Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comments below!