Gender is a lot more constraining in A Game of Thrones than it is in our world (we hope). The roles for men and women are pretty narrow: women are pretty and nice; and men are strong and capable of violence. At least, that's the way things are supposed to be. But since it's a George R.R. Martin book, nothing ever happens easily. Instead we're given a number of men and women who push against the boundaries of the roles that society has given them, whether it's tomboy Arya or sensitive Samwell. These characters don't always succeed in changing the way society thinks about gender (actually, they never really succeed), but they do make us pay attention to how rigid those gender roles really are.
Questions About Gender
- Are men and women equally constrained in A Game of Thrones? Does the presence of gender role rebels like Arya and Samwell Tarly show us that there's more flexibility than we might think? Or are these characters punished by society for their rebellion?
- What do we do with Varys, the eunuch? Do people treat him differently?
- What qualities or traits does this society expect from men? And from women? Are there any positive qualities that everyone should have, like loyalty? Is there anything universal about men or women in this book – anything shared by the Seven Kingdoms and the Dothraki, for instance?
- How do class and power affect the way that men and women are treated?
Chew on This
Being a woman in A Game of Thrones is completely limiting. There are no benefits. Sorry, ladies.
Martin's book presents a historical picture of the way that men and women were treated in medieval times; if he'd done it any differently, it would have seemed strange.