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by Bethany E. Larson
April 30, 2012 12:40 PM
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On 'Game of Thrones,' It's the Women Who Rule

But it’s not only ambitious, steely women that are featured. In Gilly (Hannah Murray), the pregnant wildling woman whom Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) meet North of the Wall at Craster’s Keep, the audience is introduced to a woman who is so sexually and emotionally abused by her father/husband that she wants to escape with the Night’s Watch brothers in an effort to protect her unborn child from suffering, at best, her same fate.

Even though Gilly is a pathetic, blubbering little thing, the fact that she is bold enough to speak up about her situation at all effectively communicates the type of person she is. Though it’s a typically maternal role, Gilly’s strength, like Catelyn Stark’s (Michelle Fairley), lies in wanting what is best for her child.

Though some of these women are still very new to the show, they have already put the men to shame in regard to their sheer determination and willingness to do anything to reach their goals. Though strategists like Littlefinger and Tyrion don't discount the cunning of the women around them, they still regard them as bargaining chips to be used to whichever ends they, as men, deem necessary. Elsewhere in Westeros, both Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) underestimated the females around them.

In Davos’s case, he was shocked by Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the murderous Priestess of Light advising Stannis, and her alternative methods of warfare, and quickly reassessed her strength and influence. But when Theon was awkwardly reintroduced to his family in the Iron lands, including his sister, Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) -- whom he sexually assaulted -- he was truly appalled to find that she had become a more valued family member and naval captain than he, despite the fact that he had been living away from home for ten years, and has continued to be made a fool of while in her presence.

While it’s true that there's no clear-cut protagonist in season two, that fact is part of the intrigue of "Game of Thrones." The audience isn't told by the writers who to root for, and can't rely on the usual signposts to guess which characters are good, bad or safe from the sword. Instead, they're left to choose who they hope will ultimately win the war of Westeros. Though it’s the men who lead the battles, sign the documents and make the so-called final decisions, it’s the women who are working within the confines of a restrictive system by using their influence -- whether with their bodies, their cunning, or the power granted them by birth -- to manipulate the action, while at the same time doing all they can to eradicate the misogynistic customs of their world. Who needs a hero? The heroines of this show are going just fine.

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2 Comments

  • Clifford | May 1, 2012 12:24 AMReply

    Hold on a second, spoiler alert! I have read the first four books so I know most of what is going to happen but you have definitely ruined it for anyone who is just watching the show.

  • Lisa | April 30, 2012 3:33 PMReply

    I appreciate how Martin will keep some of the female characters as we expect them to be (looking at you, Sansa) while others continue to surprise us. Initially, we meet Arya who is the quintessential tomboy and grow to cheer for her rejection of being a Proper Lady. But then with Margery we celebrate her intense drive to become The Queen.

    With so many women with so many different agendas all using the powers they have to get what they want, Westeros is in for a wild ride!