Home Social Justice Opinion: Women wield incredible power in “Game of Thrones”

Opinion: Women wield incredible power in “Game of Thrones”

10 min read

As season five of “Game of Thrones” rapidly approaches, fans gear up for the latest political maneuvering in what is represented as a sci-fi middle ages full of war, dragons and more. The show (and books originally written by George R.R. Martin) has attracted a diverse and wide-ranging audience. There doesn’t seem to be a formula for appreciating game of Thrones, nor does there seem to be any type of person that would necessarily dislike it.

Looking at the show and not the books themselves (haven’t read them), the far reaching consequences of those within the seven kingdoms of Westeros (the continent that the kingdoms sit upon) have made the show absolutely addicting to just about anyone. The character development of the likes of Daenerys Targaryen, Brienne of Tarth, to Arya and Sansa Stark has viewers repeatedly coming back for more.

But again, it is the political maneuvering from the women that has made the show addicting. Most interestingly, what grabs attention is how gender stereotypes of women on the show are broken down. Some women display leadership while not sacrificing any of their feminine traits. Others debunk the idea of femininity as a whole. The TV show itself does a fantastic job of representing women across a spectrum of mannerisms while showing many ways in which they can display political or even autonomous power.

From the very beginning, viewers are introduced to the women in the show in a way that makes them not exactly as powerful as the men but still important cogs in the kingdoms. As chaos slowly overtakes the kingdoms, in some sense or another the women in the show slowly emerge as powerful figures themselves.

Cersei Lannister, the widow of King Robert Baratheon, soon inserts her son (product of an incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime Lannister) into the role of the King of The Seven Thrones and yields immediately more power than when her husband was alive. The power struggle between her and Tyrion in season two is captivating television. Her manipulation comes as she fills a very matriarchal role. She wishes to do more but doesn’t have some of the necessary skills and wisdom she needs to rule with more power because her father never envisioned her acting politically.

Daenerys Targaryen, who starts out with less power than her brother Viserys, soon becomes as powerful as anyone within the series through a set of political moves that starts with being married off to the Khal Drogo. As the series moves along, she gains respect with the Dothraki people she lives among. She is known for those none-too-familiar with the series as the “blonde chick with the dragons,” but she has become the self-anointed “Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.” She is ruthless and soon makes waves all the way back in Westeros with tales of her conquest and rule. She does so by making claims of moral and ethical superiority as she rules.

The show portrays women using men as proxies for their own political ambitions and power hunger, and this is no more apparent than when it comes to characters like The Red Woman (Melisandre, who advises Stannis Baratheon), Margaery Tyrell and her grandmother Olenna Tyrell. Margaery has already shown herself to be a sweet but cunning figure who undoubtedly will gain political power, and by my own estimation, usurp the Lannisters at King’s Landing. Her grandmother is just as cunning. Then, when it comes to The Red Woman, she has actual mystical or witch-like powers (demonstrated when she gives birth to some type of ridiculous smoke demon) and she continues to hold Stannis Baratheon within her grasp and hanging on her every whim, all the while making him believe that he is yielding all the power.

Then there’s Brienne of Tarth, one of the more interesting characters within the series. She pledges her allegiance to multiple people of power, from Renly Baratheon, to Catelyn Stark, and has a pseudo-sexual/respectful relationship with Jaime Lannister (who is her prisoner) that conflicts with her dynamic of only caring about the task at hand. Couple all this with the fact that she kills one of the more powerful warriors, “The Hound,” in the seven kingdoms and you have a complete badass.

Viewers meet characters like Ygritte, who shows power with a weapon, “bow and arrow,” and seems to be a very free person who is as good with a bow and arrow as any other character in the series is with their skill or trade.

Elsewhere, characters including Shae, Lysa Arryn, Osha, Catelyn Stark, Yara Greyjoy, Talisa Stark, all yield some type of power over men throughout the series.

For me, the chess game that women in “Game of Thrones” play to yield power either around the Iron Throne or in their own respectives lives, is the most exciting aspect of GOT. It’s why through season five, which starts on April 12, I have been transfixed. The women of George R.R. Martin’s universe, translated to TV are reason enough to watch if you haven’t yet, but if you have, I look forward to sharing the experience with you again on Sunday night.

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