One of the reasons why Game of Thrones is such a popular series is because it appeals to its audience’s desire for escapism. The elaborate costumes and enchanting accents serve as a mental diversion, and a way of coping, for those who wish to withdraw from the pressures of the real world and shrink away into a safer fantasy world. However, Thrones seems to channel so many contemporary political, social and sexual concerns, that its less of a fantasy and more of a reflection of the modern world. In the era Game of Thrones is taken place, women led very traditional lives and tend to be submissive to their husband or father. Today, gender roles evolved and women are rarely oppressed, allowing for a new term to enter modern society. Feminism has always been so taboo and misidentified that some groundwork must be laid. To put it efficiently, feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” The setting of the series made women seem inferior and subservient, however, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for these female characters. Since the beginning, there have been many moments where they took back their power and strongly defined their feminist identities, matching and sometimes beating the show’s men at their own game. Among the show’s setting in a feudal, agrarian society with battles and blades, and magic and monsters, the series also begins with a scene portraying female empowerment. As the daughter of Ned Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, Arya is expected to marry well, have children, and raise a prince or two into kings, but Arya continuously rejects her fate. Arya has a moment with her father where she denounces her obligation and expresses who she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life. This moment is introduced with a question when Arya asks her father: “Can I be Lord of the Holdfast (a fortress)?” Her father laughs, smiles, kisses her forehead, and tells her, “You will marry a high lord and rule his castle, and your sons shall be knights, and princes, and Lords.” To which she confidently looks her father in the eyes and daringly denies, “No, that’s not me.” Arya successfully sends a message to all women that you can be whatever you want and no one has the right to define you, even your own loving father. She wants to run around barefoot, take up sword-fighting lessons with the best swordsman in the kingdom, and doesn’t mind if she gets dirty doing all of it, proving to us that she wasn’t made for the fluffy comforts of a lady or a princess.
Game of Thrones is an ideal reflection of the social contemporary issues that are present in Sophocles’ Antigone. There’s a prevalent pattern of fearlessness and courage between Antigone and Arya. Patriarchy was alive and well in Ancient Greece, where Antigone took place, as well as in Arya’s era. Despite both societies being a male dominated culture, both Antigone and Arya didn’t allow their limits to restrain them from their accomplishments. Sophocles paints Creon as a sexist ruler with a low opinion towards women leading to Creon’s downfall, similarly how women in Game of Thrones often surpassed masculine power and beat them at their own game.
-Lauren Ishay, Team Vesta