Everyone who watches Game of Thrones knows that Brienne of Tarth is just marvelous. When she proudly removed her helmet, revealing a woman warrior bested the adept knight Ser Loras Tyrell, it was met with instantaneous murmurs of shock and surprise amongst the crowd. But her reputation for defying the odds was established long before that. As the only surviving child of Lord Selwyn Tarth, Brienne's role in the great game ought to have started and finished with a marital alliance to a prestigious lord — she understood that men would marry only for her inheritance and power in the Stormlands.
Facing mockery and disbelief at every turn, she carved her own destiny by eschewing the finer things and becoming a powerful, unrelenting champion of justice. The brutally spectacular battle between Brienne and the Hound has to be considered one of the best scenes on TV like, ever. In spite of the physical and emotional struggles Brienne weathered over her journey and the prevailing cynical perspective most characters now hold, she still values loyalty, courage and true-heartedness above all else. Truly, there are no men like her.
Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves
Not only is she a force of nature in the Seven Kingdoms, Gwendoline Christie's fantastic performance as #BrienneOfTarth inspired fans' confidence to embrace what makes them unique and to rise above society's expectations. Dutch cosplayer JoHoltzmann reached out to the actress on Twitter last Sunday, thanking her for the character's impact on her own self-acceptance:
I suffer from a terrible lack of confidence. I've always hated seeing myself in the mirror. Women on tv never looked like me.
When I bumped into you in the Museum of London a few years back, I'd only just started watching GoT, but I knew who you were and was struck with awe. You were standing tall and proud and believe me, it's quite a sight.
When Brienne first appeared on my screen I immediately loved her. She looked like me! Sure, she seemed a bit cold at first, but also strong and loyal. She didn't take shit from anyone. She very quickly became my favourite character.
So I started cosplaying as her. I was scared, as I had to leave my beloved mascara and brow pencil at home. I was so scared of not being recognised as the character and looking ugly.
But lo and behold, people loved it! People smiled when they saw me, they complimented my costume and even my face. They compared me to you! And it felt really good.
I've cosplayed Brienne at several events now and it has definitely boosted my self confidence. And I want to thank you for that.
I want to thank you for being a role model, helping to redefine what society thinks of as beauty. Because of you, I can look at pictures of myself and not feel horrible. Thank you so much for that.
JoHoltzmann's cosplay absolutely rocks — the outfit, the hairstyle, the "do no harm but take no sh*t" air to her poses. Evidently, there's no need to barter with the Many Faced God because the resemblance between the two is incredible! But don't reach for the tissues just yet, because Christie responded with an affirming sentiment that could melt the Night King's heart:
A Woman's Kind Of Courage
It's no secret that #GameOfThrones has accrued as much criticism as it has praise on its treatment of female characters. Especially in the earlier chapters of the show, the grim, fatalistic, masculine traits were applauded, causing women that chose the less-bloodthirsty road to be reviled.
Despite a wobbly beginning, the show's seventh season appears to finally accept that all representations of femininity are equally valid and do not require a pedestal for mimicking traditional masculine ideals. They are as different as the sun and the moon, but the Stark sisters' skillful takedown of slimy Baelish epitomized this, and resolved the latent "Sansa vs. Arya" dynamic present in its writing and fandom.
There is no wrong way to be a woman. You may be brash like Yara, indecisive like Ygritte, fierce like Ellaria, shrewd like Margaery, idealistic like Daenerys, willful like Shae — or all of these things at once. Human beings are complex, and to create one boxes categorizing traits by gender is restrictive, not to mention stuffy. If anyone says otherwise, take your cue from the inimitable Maid of Tarth and knock them into the dirt.
Who is your favorite female character from Game of Thrones, and what was their defining moment? Let me know about it in the comments section.