It’s the end of an era. A television show that created history has come to a conclusion. This gem of a series is on such a level of magnificence that it is now used as a benchmark for the evaluation of the quality of other shows – none other than the HBO TV show Game Of Thrones. It had a glorious story and legendary characters, each distinct and relatable. Some characters were heinous, some on the arc of redemption, some struggling to find their place in the world and some characters that followed their dreams no matter what challenges they faced.
Onto the topic of determined characters that chased their dreams regardless of the obstacles they faced (patriarchy, arbitrary and unnecessary laws or society’s perceptions). Nevertheless, these characters persevered, suffered, grieved, fought back and in the end – were able to become what they desired.
Although there are many strong women in the show like Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister, there are two women in particular, who, despite the challenging norms and societal pressure, achieved such a status that they are regarded as two of the bravest characters in the show. This article is about their journey from the start – till the time they literally cut down whatever stood in their way and achieved greatness.
Arya of House Stark
Arya Stark is the textbook example of a woman breaking the predefined notions of society regarding the actions and behaviour of women. Since the very beginning, Arya wanted to be a warrior rather than a lady. From the very first scene that she was introduced, it was seen that she has remarkable skill in the art of archery, rather than the prescribed activity of sewing. This shows that she was much better suited to being a fighter than a noble lady. Yet the norms of the land dictated that she was to be married to a high lord and be ‘his’ lady. Arya disregarded these norms and notions and set her sights on being a warrior.
A story narrated by her about her childhood showcased her desire to achieve her dreams and the predicaments she faced in doing so. The story was about the first time she ever held a bow and fired an arrow. She took a bow left behind after training, along with a single arrow, and took shots at the target. She failed several times. She picked up and used the same arrow to shoot until she hit the target. At long last, she heard her father’s claps. She then knew that her actions were not wrong, but the rules were wrong. Arya took this lesson at heart and continuously persevered in order to harness and enhance her skills.
She studied under the tutelage of various skilled warriors that aided her in mastering her fighting skills. At first, there was Syrio Forel, that taught her water dancing. Then there was The Hound, that taught her to channel her rage and finally, there were the faceless men that refined her skills to such an extent that she became a force to be reckoned with.
Back in those times where a girl wasn’t allowed to even hold a weapon because it wasn’t a woman’s job to fight, Arya became one of the most fierce assassins on the show – capable of donning disguises, fighting with lightning speed and accuracy and even fighting without sight. An evaluation of her skills yields an obvious result – very few exist who can challenge her in combat, as witnessed in her fight with Brienne.
Throughout the series, she trains and learns various skills that only increased her proficiency in combat, and in the end, she did achieve her dream and became a fearless fighter who saved the entire world from destruction. In the end, she kills the Night King – thus saving the world from an impending apocalypse.
Hence her character serves as an inspiration and a role model for multiple girls and women out there who are unable to chase their goals due to fear, pressure, laws, patriarchal norms or otherwise.
Ser Brienne of Tarth
Brienne is also a textbook example of a woman destroying the shackles of patriarchy, arbitrary laws and the norms of society. Like Arya, she never had the intention of becoming a noble lady. Rather, she always wanted to become a knight. Due to her stature and looks, she was often mocked and ridiculed, but Brienne never lost faith in her abilities and strived to become a great warrior.
In the scene where she was introduced, she was seen beating a trained knight, Ser Loras Tyrell, in combat. She won effortlessly and was hence named as a kingsguard for Renly Baratheon. Throughout the course of the series, Brienne only improved as a character. As the series progressed, she evolved and proved time and time again what a skilful warrior she was.
There are multiple instances in the series wherein she bested prodigies and fought multiple opponents at the same time. She fought Jamie Lannister and prevailed. She even fought a grizzly bear at an arena and she would’ve won had she been provided with a real sword instead of a wooden one. Though she was underequipped and fighting a wild bear, she stood her ground and fought with all that she had.
Her biggest achievement in the series is besting The Hound. In one-on-one combat, she managed to defeat The Hound – who was considered as one of the strongest knights in the seven kingdoms. She also protected Sansa Stark from Ramsay’s men, thus saving the life of one of the most important characters in the series.
She ignored the airtight, moralist gaze of society and persevered to become a Commander of the king’s army under Bran’s rule. From the very start, she displayed limitless skill and potential and in the end – was able to prove herself to be one of the strongest fighters of Westeros and became a Commanding Lady Officer, thus achieving her dream and becoming a source of inspiration for many women.
These two female characters prevailed even though the odds were stacked against them and became forces to be reckoned with. In the end, these two are the only two female leads that possess unimaginable combat abilities and are among the greatest warriors of Westeros. They took charge of their lives, worked hard and survived till the end by saying “not today” to the God of Death. Arya and Brienne then went on to become instrumental for the survival of the world.
Also Read: JRR vs GRR: A Feminist Review of Fantasy Fiction
Images used for representational purpose only.