*this post contains spoilers for season 7 of Game of Thrones.
For a show set in the middle ages, one would expect the women to behave like damsels in distress, but this is most definitely not the case with Game of Thrones. Criticisms of nudity and violent sex scenes are valid, but the show has come a long way from it’s first season. Here are how the women of Game of Thrones have changed over the years.
The very first episode of Game of Thrones offers a glimpse into the dynamic Stark sisters: the mischievous and tomboyish Arya, and the girly, bratty (and fairly annoying) Sansa Stark. The sisters quarreled pretty much non-stop throughout the first season, much like siblings do. They were separated by the end of Season 1, and only reunited in Season 7, as very different people.
Arya has always been rebellious, hence it is no surprise that she fought to rise among the ranks to become an assassin trained by the Faceless Men, under the watchful eye of Jaqen H’gar. All fans can attest to the satisfaction of watching Arya cross off the names in her ‘list’, especially her mass murdering the Freys after they betrayed and slaughtered her mother, older brother and her sister-in-law. A girl truly has come a long way.
Sansa’s character arc is so beautifully done- looking back, one would have ever thought Sansa would become the woman that she is today (okay, maybe the book readers would have). From the death of her father at the hands of her betrothed, to surviving not one, but two abusive relationships, to constantly being manipulated at the hands of Petyr Baelish, Sansa has had her fair share of issues. Despite it all, she has grown to become a resilient,clever and cunning woman.
Pitting them against each other would have worked in season one, but now the sisters are closer than ever. After all, “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives”.
Across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen started out being used as a pawn in her brother’s quest to claim the throne. She was forced into marriage with Khal Drogo by her brother for an army in return, but she broke free from her brother’s torment and slowly blossomed under the role of Khaleesi. She then went on a mission to get a ship and an army for her return to Westeros, all while freeing slaves and sacking multiple cities. I mean, she is Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons for a reason.
Cersei Lannister may not be winning best mother of the year awards anytime soon, but her power over the Seven Kingdoms is undeniable. In true Lannister fashion, Cersei is cold, manipulative and downright evil, but she is also decidedly smart and self-assured; she gets what she wants. Her love for her children was possibly her only redeeming quality (that and her cheekbones), but ever since the death of her children, she has no liabilities- other than being the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. One thing is for sure, Cersei will not be giving up her throne so easily.
Loyalty comes at a price for most characters on Game of Thrones, but that is not the case for Brienne of Tarth. She has gone on to defy all odds as a female warrior and member of the Kingsguard (though briefly). Her pledge of allegiance to Lady Catelyn led her on a dangerous mission across Westeros, yet her support for the Starks remained unwavering. Even after Lady Catelyn’s death, Brienne went on to pledge allegiance to her daughter, Sansa Stark, proving that Brienne truly is a woman of honor.
Age is not a factor when it comes to powerful women: Lady Olenna and Lyanna Mormont are both examples of this. Lyanna was a fan favorite of Season 7, and its not difficult to guess why. She may be young, but the Lady of Bear Island is smart, loyal and a strategic thinker- bearing all hallmarks of a good leader.
Olenna Tyrell, the matriarch of the Tyrells, took it upon herself to lead her family. She helped orchestrate the wedding between Joffrey and her granddaughter, Margaery, to help House Tyrell climb up the ranks. She was also the mastermind behind the plot to murder King Joffrey at the wedding in question – so we have her to thank for that. Rest in peace, Queen of Thorns – your sarcasm will be missed.
Over the seven seasons that the show has spanned so far, the women of Game of Thrones have had character arcs and transformations that have left lasting impacts on the show. As we progressed to the latest seasons, the show has experienced a shift, with women in multiple positions of power. The playing field is balanced, making it anyone’s game. Who will win the Game of Thrones?