Culture Articles

A Girl is No One

Looking at the women in episode three, series six of Game of Thrones

And so here we are, in the spoiler-filled zone. Let’s talk.

It’s obvious to everyone that without power in the Game of Thrones world you are pretty much no one. That power can be down to money, magic, strength or politics, but it’s pretty much the only way of raising yourself above the oppressed/ ignored “smallfolk”.

Unusually, the character previously known as Arya Stark is taking a route towards magic and skill by becoming “no one” as one of the Faceless Men. For her, being able to truly describe herself as no one is the most essential part of her training. Arya, The Waif and Jaqen H’ghar (who is strangely sexy) are nobodies with power. (Incidentally, given that the House of Black and White is supposed to be the headquarters of an entire cult of Faceless assassins, don’t you think it’s somewhat sparsely populated?)

Red Priestess Melisandre has always been assured of both her magic and her belief in The Lord of Light. She’s just demonstrated the extent of her powers by bringing Jon Snow back to life, but it hasn’t made Mel feel any more like a somebody. She’s as shocked as anybody else that Jon’s up and walking, and she’s also had her faith in the fire god disrupted. She begs Jon for information about the world after death. Jon says there’s nothing there. (And does anyone remember Melisandre having exactly the same conversation with five-times-resurrected Beric Dondarrion back in season three?) A priestess with increasingly shaky faith is well on the way to becoming no one.

And so to Cersei Lannister, a woman who will never be content and is also someone who is very aware that she lives in a society where power is the way to personhood. Cersei’s only real political links have been through the men in her life: wife of the king, mother of the king(s). She’s currently trying to snatch back some of her influence with strength, using the monstrous Gregor Clegane. So it must have really burned to be rather sharply reminded by Olenna Tyrell that she “is not the Queen”.

Daenerys Targaryen is a woman who has achieved power on her own terms. But she's now stripped of her freed cities, Unsullied soldiers, canny advisors and dragons. She’s being forced to obey Dothraki tradition and has been taken to Vaes Dothrak, the only Dothraki City and home to the Dosh Khaleen – something like an order of temple priestesses made up of the widows of great Khals. “You thought he would conquer the world with you at his side,” says one of the Dosh Khaleen to Dany – not knowing that, following her husband’s death, D’s done alright on the conquering front herself. The priestess notes that she too was the wife of a great khal and that D is young and will learn (learn the frustrating ways of respected-but-shut-away cronehood, that is – if there was ever a parallel with how our world treats older women…).

But then the bombshell: she may not even get to be a crone. She’s broken the rules and Dothrakki men will decide what to do with her.

It’s not a great situation for Dany, but it does also make us want to set up a series of emancipation workshops for the Dosh Khaleen – or hope that Daenerys can talk them into some sort of feminist uprising. Ladies, throw your weird brown tunics into the fire and dance! You’ve plenty of life left!

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