Taking a break from “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer”, which features a headstrong female superheroine, lets now take a glimpse into the HBO show “Game of Thrones”, whose second season just premiered. Set in a medieval times, Game of Thrones is filled with political struggle and conflict of several family heads, usually males. While the male characters in many instances oppress females through rape, abuse, and burning, and are primarily focused on gaining power and authority over one another, women, nonetheless, assert their power behind the scenes in the deep rooted patriarchal society, using family as their primary means.
This blog post introduces us to the various female characters on the show. Let’s first look at Lady Catelyn Stark, the wife of Ned Stark, who is the Hand of the King, regarded to be one of the most powerful position. Her character embodies the archetypal mother. She is protective of her children and is revered and respected by those around her partially because of who she is married to. At the end of Season 1 episode 4, believing that Tyrion Lannister conspired with his family to kill her son, Bran, Catelyn Stark uses her high status as the Lady of Winterfell and wife of Ned Stark to summon men who respect her to capture Tyrion. Her determination to find out who is behind the misdeed, using her political status, shows her protective nature for her children.
Another strong female character is Queen Cersei Lannister. While her husband, Robert Baratheon, is more preoccupied with the vices as king such as drinking and promiscuity, Cersei is more focused on political power. She, like Lady Stark, is protective of her children and makes her son, Joffrey Lannister, becomes the next king. Breaking gender stereotypes, Cersei is manipulative and sly, having a covert incestuous relationship with her twin brother, Jaime Lannister. She only cares for the advancement of her family.
One of my favorite characters in the series is Arya Stark, she is the younger daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully. From the start, she deviates from traditional female roles in the domestic sphere. Her character is often juxtaposed with her older sister, Sansa Stark, who is concerned with marrying Joffrey Lannister and becoming the next queen. Instead of trying to please others, Arya strong minded and takes up swordsmanship. In one conversation with her father, she refuses to marry a powerful lord and have sons. She refuses to let the instilled gender roles define her.
Although I was at first skeptical and only watched a few episodes of Game of Thrones, I was hooked from the first episode. Besides these three characters, the series includes many more headstrong female characters, but these three stood out to me the most. The dynamic cast of female characters are bound by the patriarchal limitations; however, they do not let these limitations define their role in the political and social realm of the Kingdom of Westeros. Whether they are the "good guy" or the "bad guy, we see the female characters bend gender barriers through their steadfast determination and strong-mindedness.