For my research project, I chose the television series, Game of Thrones, on HBO. As a huge fan of both the books and the show, Game of Thrones seemed like a perfect fit to talk about empire, specifically women in empire. Game of Thrones is a fantasy TV show based on the fantasy novels called A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. David Benioff, who is actually an alumni from UCI, and D.B. Weiss received permission from George R.R. Martin to adapt his novels in a television program, which struggled to find a network until HBO eventually green lighted the series. The show’s rich history, complex characters, and engrossing story lines have made the show into a pop culture hit. The show revolves around a time, similar to that of the Middle Ages, in a fantasy world where different families, or Houses, are competing for the Iron Throne that rules over the country of Westeros. Through this competition, there are deaths, back-stabbing, manipulation, arranged marriages, and secret plotting, along with dragons, magic, and ice zombies. The show tries to convey that in everyone’s power quest to be the top dog or ruler of the country, they are ignoring the fact that a species of creatures are out to wipe out the world, the White Walkers aka ice zombies. In my research paper, I will specially be analyzing the women in the series and how they are defiant from the female stereotypes of the medieval period in this other world. The characters I will specifically be talking about are: Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Arya and Sansa Stark, Ygritte, Melisandre, and Brienne of Tarth.
Daenerys is a favorite character among many fans who was forced to live in exile all of her life due to her mad father’s reign as King, but discovers who she is be when she receives dragon eggs and becomes the “Mother of Dragons” who is determined to take back the throne that should rightfully belong to her.
Cersei Lannister, on the other hand, is the queen of Westeros who is obsessed with her power and does everything that she can to stay in power, which includes killing anyone seen as a threat to her; she is manipulative, vicious, and cunning.
(From Left to Right: Sansa Stark, Arya Stark)
Arya and Sansa Stark are two sisters whose whole family has mostly been killed due to the Lannisters, Arya, a mere child is preoccupied for getting revenge on those who wronged either her or her family and does not hesitate to kill them, while Sansa was used as a pawn for the Lannisters until she had the chance to escape.
(From Left to Right: Ygritte, Melisandre, Brienne of Tarth)
Ygritte, Melisandre, and Brienne are supporting characters, but are still important to the story due to their personalities. Ygritte is a wilding woman, outcasted by her country and forced to live north of the wall, and must hunt for herself (an immigrant story per say). Mesliandre is a priestess, whose only goal is to serve the Lord of Light, and uses spells, magic, and other witchcraft for her religion. Brienne is a warrior women, who is outcasted by society due to her tall stature, “manly looks”, and the fact she wears armor instead of gowns.
So all in all, these women have been have been faced with some sort of oppression from empire and my research project will focus on that oppression and how these characters have or have not overcome that oppression. I will also be highlighting the fact that Game of Thrones’ focus on female characters helped show that women are complex, not stereotypical or one-note, which is unfortunately how many women have been portrayed in various media platforms.
(June 4, 2017 – NOTE: My research paper has changed after I wrote this blog post, while my paper will still focus on women in Game of Thrones and their relations to medieval women and their experience. I will specifically focus on Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa Stark in my research paper, so unfortunately all these kick-ass women will not be talked about, but with so many diverse women in Game of Thrones, that would simply be too much for the research paper. And I feel like Daenerys and Sansa both started out in very similar places and the show had them both evolve into two very different people, who are still very kick-ass and powerful.)