15 September 2011

Writing Strong Female Characters: Daenerys Targaryen

Feels like it's been forever since I've written about this. The last time I did, I wrote about how Bella Swan is not a strong female character and listed my reasons why I felt that way. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would argue me and that's fine. Fiction automatically sets up for debate; that's one if its beauties.

Today, I wanted to highlight a character I've been thinking about a lot lately--Daenerys Targaryen from George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. As much as it pains me, I haven't yet read the books, though I did buy the first book yesterday (with Sean Bean on the cover--YUM), so I'm basing this entirely on the TV adaptation, which may or may not stray from the book.

The first scene with Daenerys just weirded me out. It seems the brother-sister relationships are just effed up. We see Daenerys' brother Viserys basically sizing her up, ensuring she'll be just perfect for the Dothraki leader Khal Drogo (AKA Mr. Crazy McSexypants). Daenerys' value is based solely on her beauty and whether Khal Drogo will want her, and really, Viserys is putting a lot of pressure on his little sister. At first, I wondered if Daenerys was going to be one of those pitiful, whiny girls whose life is determined by those around her. Oh man, was I pleasantly surprised.

Daenerys quickly became one of my favorite characters. She's AWESOME. First, yes, she's shy and nervous and scared, and who wouldn't be? Drogo is INTIMIDATING AS HELL. Plus, she doesn't really speak the language. The Dothraki are a barbaric, violent tribe, and they prefer doggy-style. Daenerys doesn't just lay down and take it, though. She learns how to please her husband the way she wants to (girl on top FTW), and thereby earns Drogo's respect.

Through the rest of the season, Daenerys and Drogo perform this delicate dance of cultivating respect and affection, eventually falling in love with each other. Apart from Ned and Catelyn Stark, they have the most stable loving relationship.

So. Cute. OMG.

I found myself looking forward to their scenes because I was so intrigued by how Daenerys had grown as a character since wedding Drogo. She adopts a lot of the Dothraki's characteristics. While her brother is busy whining and complaining and being a total douche canoe, Daenerys accepts her role as Khalissi with a grace and power I didn't expect from her. She loses her quiet doormat self and becomes a strong leader among a tribe that does not accept her because she wasn't born Dothraki. And though Drogo is willing to protect her and stand up for her (including ripping a dude's throat out for insulting her [hot]), Daenerys is also willing to stand up for herself, even if every person in that tribe could rip her limb from limb in a second. I LOVE that about her. Her inner strength is amazing. She even finds the strength to stand up to her brother. 

Daenerys' progression is only beginning. I'm so anxious for Game of Thrones to start again (and to dive into the book) because I want to know what she's going to do next. Seriously, if you haven't checked out the show or the books, you should. Daenerys makes it worthwhile. 

(Also, Jon Snow. He'll be featured on MANic Monday soon.)


Teri Anne Stanley said...

We must be in some kind of weird, NKY cable zone, because, well, check me out today:
Granted, I'm a little more interested in Crazy McSexypants, but whatever.

Great post, and I agree about the supreme kick-ass potential of the Godess of Peroxide.

Matthew MacNish said...

Just wait. I've read the first three books, and I won't spoil anything for you, but I can tell you that Dany only keeps getting more and more awesome. Other than Arya she may be my favorite character.

Oh, and get this, she's supposed to be like 13 or 14 when the story begins.

lexcade said...

Teri Anne, Haha I do so love Mr. Crazy McSexypants. I read your post and cracked up. I have a huge crush on Sean Bean, so getting him and Drogo *and Jon Snow [le sigh]* together was fantabulous.

Matt, I finally started reading the book a couple of days ago and when he introduced Deny, I was like O_O and wondered if the beginning of her relationship with Drogo would be anything like on the show. Thank God it isn't!

Landra said...

I'm always tardy to the party. I haven't jumped onto the Game of Thrones bandwagon yet. I usually stay behind on these things by a few years. All this talk though inspires me to read. Especially now that I know you're just starting lexcade!