Where Power Resides: Femininity and Power in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire
Forbish, Katelyn Hope
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This project examines the relationship between femininity and empowerment in George R. R. Martin's fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. It combines medieval historical context, psychological and sociological research, and feminist theory to construct a framework through which to discuss how power functions in Martin's fictional world of Westeros. With six key characters, I argue that femininity operates as a kind of natural resource anyone can use to access empowerment, regardless of how one personally identifies; further, I illustrate how these routes to power are ultimately more successful than others. Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen are the most prominent figures I discuss at length, but Lord Varys, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, and Tyrion Lannister also serve as successful examples who additionally demonstrate the feminine as separated from sex and gender. Overall, I aim to illuminate how power is not exclusively accessed or utilized through masculinity or the rejection of the feminine, specifically by analyzing these six characters' empowerment.
General Audience Abstract
The heroes and heroines of fantasy fiction often access power by adopting masculine traits and rejecting femininity. But in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, characters who exhibit feminine traits and behaviors are more successful in accessing and maintaining power than those who do not. This project examines the characters of Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen—and also Lord Varys, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, and Tyrion Lannister—through the lens of medieval history and feminist theory to show how those characters succeed by using femininity as a means of empowerment.
- Masters Theses