Power & Gender in A Song of Ice and Fire (Chapter Three).

Chapter Three

Investigating Power and Gender

Of A Song of Ice and Fire


The novel is analyzed from an intersectional perspective, and focuses on women’s positions in the power hierarchy, and in what ways they use their sexuality to access power. The biggest struggle in the book is the conflict over political royal power in the Seven Kingdoms; but power is also portrayed through warfare, or even the supernatural. The role of A Song of Ice and Fire has become more than mandatory in contemporary in existing within the vicinity of literature; Martin’s story has approaches historical resorts with an objective that was beyond sharing a gender issue in power, some male and female dynamics and other royal family and social classes struggles, Martin’s story came to show up in its historical impact upon the idea of Fantasy as it shared more than one figure significantly; it was something beyond old and modern fantasy, it was the multiple sides he chose to back, support and refuse eventually in accordance with some very perfectly arranged sense of events and characters.

  • Gender and power in A Song of Ice and Fire

As it has been established before by Martin, the point of view he shared throughout the entire chapters’ plot; was a step by step inception of the Gender matter in A Song of Ice and Fire, and how a switch in the characterization alongside each event that took place so far have contributed in causing a crack, a foundation and an honest point of view that Martin felt personally involved when he inserted his Anti-Feminist onto female protagonists, it was by then when he rendered them power, domination and wealth mainly to both Daenerys Targaryen and Cersei Lannister, these two major characters who the very sensations  and notions of power in its clearest relation to Gender; they demonstrated the most profound aspects that Martin wanted to utilize against what was meant to be the narrative point of view, and that climax and wars mad against men were none but the Feminists close-up to reaching their dream-like status in society, where men do not exist at any given chance, killing was necessary at some points in the development of chapters nevertheless.

And despite being needed as well, Daenerys has stated several statements and mostly actions against the existence of men, as those were the most extreme appearance that Martin ever created throughout his epic A Song of Ice and Fire; these statements were to illustrate the massive hate towards men, and especially the stance they seemed to have naturally; or as were in the form of belongings, Lands, Wealth, Kingdoms, Properties and Thrones as well. One of Daenerys courageous statements were some quotes that sounded such as these following: “All men must die, but we are not men “Another statement that showed the abnormal inclinations towards the sense of power in their very Gender, when Daenerys stated:

“I will take what is mine with fire and blood“ “Power resides only where men believe it resides. […] A shadow on the wall, yet shadows can kill. And of times a very small man
can cast a very large shadow.”
― George R.R. Martin,.A Clash of Kings.1
1 https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/804367-i-will-take-what-is-mine-with-fire-and-blood

These speeches and especially actions that still stood for what Daenerys did, as well as that of Cersei too, they only appeared to a certain fact that Martin himself displayed in those two vicious characters, and that was his limited access to them for his first portrayal of A Song of Ice and Fire since being slightly related to reality, Martin so far felt  extremely obliged to have a sort of an omniscient access to controlling fully the imagery of Female Gender being close; and most importantly abusing power and domination, misunderstanding it and rather disobeying what a social etiquettes had to stand for to keep balance in between the appearances he worked on from the beginning of the story; a blend of both male and female dynamics with Gender issues.

  • Gender Issues in Power

Martin had had another means to depict the Gender issues in power throughout the plots once again, with a perfectly laid plan that knew how to apply upon his second major character, Cersei Lannister; this manipulative personage that paved her to a well-designed plan including of ultimate wealth and domination, and though in a legal relationship for this Cersei that she was portrayed in; according to Martin, she managed to create herself yet another powerful part that showed itself in being politically subjected the thing she did, the love affair and the erotic scenery she had to go through for an actual gaining of a status she wished to have to satisfy her greed, nevertheless; Martin with this smart character, attempted to show the Feminist side being conducted through the application of brilliance; mainly through a sense of politics, legalization and royal matters that occur where men are powerfully the most.

The struggle throughout each event and with each character, is none but Martin’s feelings of opposing his anti-feminist side, as well as the addition of female not only in a figure of power, wealth and domination, but also in a state of personal details that went further to tackle huge deal of erotic matters such as sex, as this aspect who also profoundly dealt with when Martin oriented it to a state of violence; nevertheless, he wanted the portrayal of female to be his for a reality picture that existed back then, royal family battles with other class struggles round each kingdom at the time, this scenery grew bigger in A Song of Ice and Fire, and Martin had to switch his objective side to a subjective one, however, it was anti-feminism being the one to experience not only failure when starting, but also conflicts that seriously indicated the growth of women general voices in stances that did not belong to them.2


The multiple side that female ended up portrayed in, were due to Martin’s relevance to both imagery of old and new era, that is to say; the style in which he conducted his point of view was very deep as to what women felt oppressed towards, and how they rebelled eventually with the addition of supernatural powers and paranormal status that was added to the main plot, the position of Dragons, Witches, a human being who turns into a Raven crow with three eyes, through which this disguise of the crow it was Brandon Stark, he was able to see and know past and future, as well actions of each attacks and predictions, and one of the last remaining members of the Stark family to reign the Seven Kingdoms in the end of the last chapter, as for witches; it was Melisandre, or as was pointed to as the Red Woman or the Red Priestess, she used fire at will and had the ability to bring death to life. (ibid).

There was a quote when Daenerys warned one of the abusive characters who courageously raised his hand and talked down to her, Daenerys instantly replied in her original figure of an aggressive woman and said: “The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands “ (1.04). As this is more than a menace that frightens a minor character, or a major one, yet in the essence of a female individual that is related to power as that of Daenerys and Lannister, it is quite clear to the readers to realize the  multiple figures that  female were portrayed in the story generally, despite of the rank, inclinations and the rest of Martin’s imagery when he first created them, we get to notice the depth being minded heavily through the mindset of an oppressed female who breaks into fury and results in an either way successful case; a reign of a kingdom or a sense of rebellion, each power acquisition however was accompanied with a combatant conflict from male in the sense of both legacy and heritage to be kept, Jon Snow was an example of what a male character was able to do before he was murdered, his connection with Daenerys displayed so much trickery and power that was laid in his hands.

Now to the sense of Fantasy, Martin managed to create a conventional way of approaching the plateau of A Song of Ice and Fire, from the sense of both modern and new fantasy till the ruling systems, each idea of stratifications and social ranks Martin had in mind a plan for, the world in which he depicted the story in the Seven kingdoms of Westeros by the Iron Throne in the city of King’s landing. Martin had in mind a vast science fiction with fairy tales, this perspective was adequate to convey the message of the enriched cultural background of A Song of Ice and Fire, with more approaches to Realism and realistic social conflicts, however, those conflicts, combats and struggles over one another and properties as well, as mainly added such fantasy of fairy tales; and majorly conducted through legendary literary works, such as The Arabian Nights.

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.” By George R.R Martin.3

3 http://www.georgerrmartin.com/about-george/on-writing-essays/on-fantasy-by-george-r-r-martin/

Nevertheless, for Martin, the addition of such graphic orientations of Sex, Rape, Castration, Torture and mainly every sense of victimization towards the characters that the narrator used passionately, only to enclose a very brave sense of switching from one genre to another rather traditionally and modernly.

Martin succeeded in conducting these efforts and eventually separated their struggles in accordance with drives and dreams in their life challenges, from male to female dynamically, these foundations that Martin cleverly endured in creating each new chapter; was significantly the main aim that the narrator attempted to reach, especially when put to comparison to the Brave New World regulations, such as that of the drive for power, greed, wealth and domination, not to mention the political inclinations that an individual despite gender may head for.

Martin planned for such collision for both old and modern outlook of his A Song of Ice and Fire, as of such point, it is an opinion from readers, fans and literature fanatics that take the world of views upon the clash of fantasy with the modern world, when Martin thought of engaging modern aspects with the spine of his story, he dove to realize people’s enlightenment with their designations in life, so having a deal of paranormal activities with real people, unusual behaviour that both his characters and characterizations in general seemed to have and apply: to the ultimate point of having facts of being congregated in one thing that was common, it was social ranks, or stratifications being original the way narrated, put together in a multiple considerations for readers and fans.

The adaptation of Fantasy in A Song of Ice and Fire was the best addition to Martin’s hit, as it dealt a seriously appreciated matter; that is literature in its newest and oldest figure, no fantasy towards gender or power was specifically chosen, it was the plain focus on realizing historical events with more dramatic visualizations and theatrical focus on characters that portray realistic matters, yet still in an epidemic of real social struggles and gender issues till this day are making a huge controversy within each community and each society.4

4 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301649619_Women_of_Ice_and_Fire_Gender_Game_of_Thrones_and_Multiple_Media_Engagements
  • Power in A Song of Ice and Fire

According to Robert Dahl’s power is about influencing, controlling and making the other do what is not supposed to do when he said “A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do” (202–203). This way Martin represented power in the world of game of thrones and how kings and royals deal with the others.

Pablo Iglesias interpreted that Martin labeled power with two types the power or the ability to control others with no attempt to inter in war or making a single sort of hazard, while the other type of power is the ability and the capacity of your army and how this last can control and affect the enemy, in the book of Clash of Kings the second book of A Song of Ice and Fire, it is been mentioned a dialogue between the Bartheon brothers Ranly and Stannis , this argue between the two brothers of Baratheon represent the two types of power that been already mentioned.

Stannis: “The Iron Throne is mine by rights. All those who deny that are my foes.”
Renly: “The whole of the realm denies it, brother…. Old men deny it with their death rattle, and unborn children deny it in their mothers’ wombs. They deny it in Dorne and they deny it on the Wall. No one wants you for their king. Sorry.”
Renly: “Look across the fields, brother. Can you see all those banners?” Stannis: “Do you think a few bolts of cloth will make you king?” Renly: “Tyrell swords will make me king. Rowan and Tarly and Caron will make me king, with axe and mace and warhammer.”
(Martin, A Clash Of Kings. pp 356–59).

Despite the fact that Stannis has the legitimacy to be the king because he was the elder brother yet he didn’t do what was good for himself to be a king, he didn’t do what is called soft power which is influencing and controlling the others, however his younger brother Renly proved himself among other kings and among his soldiers that he is the best and the most legitimate person to be the king and this following words in the story approve that, “great king, strong yet generous, clever, just, diligent, loyal to my friends and terrible to my enemies, yet capable of forgiveness, patient” (Martin, A Clash Of Kings. p360). All the kings and the people agreed that Renly is the best to be the king because he did what his brother didn’t, which is providing in himself the two types or the two sources of power soft power which is controlling others mentally without any harm and the other type which is the hard power which is preparing a well trained and ruthless army to destroy everything in his path, with this two factors that Pablo mentioned in his studies and Martin presented in his characters he took all the credit and became the king.5

5 http://journal.finfar.org/articles/the-favor-of-the-gods-religion-and-power-in-george- r-r-martins-a-song-of-ice-and-fire/

According to Michel Foucault power exists among all people, and it is not a certain person’s belonging, he also defines power as an act that all the classes of society can have and practice, so that no one else should guard to himself and practice it freely. In the book of A Song O Ice and Fire, provides a great example of what Foucault concludes about power in his previous studies. This novel contains a vast cases represents the description of power by Michel Foucault, the best example is when all the kings and queens were battling and ruling the continents, and spreading their power, a neglected bastard called Jon Snow, is an example of a man who develops and courage himself to be a better and stronger man, the development of the character of jon snow shows to what extent Michel Foucault defines power because the events shows that all the kings are powerful and pureblooded, and have all the characteristics of royalty, however that didn’t prevent Jon Snow the bastard to be one of the main characters in the novel and among the kings.

“They hate you because you act like you’re better than they are……………… ” “[they are] Four that you humiliated in the yard. Four who are probably afraid of you. I’ve watched you fight. It’s not training with you. Put a good edge on your sword, and they’d be dead meat; you know it, I know it, they know it. You leave them nothing. You shame them. Does that make you proud?” (George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire. n.p.).

In this passage, a stranger informs Jon Snow how the kings and the queens of other kingdoms are afraid of him and the bitter fact of facing him along wars, the bastard that everybody neglects; is now everybody’s nightmare, this is power according to Michel Foucault, the author didn’t limit it and precise it to a certain group of people or given community.

  • Female Character Portrayal

Within a very story or a novel, the author is compelled to create characters, these characters are males or females vary in the way the writer portrays them, in Fantasy; female used to be portrayed like a slave or a follower to the male, they obey them resolutely for male contributes to wars; ruling kingdoms and countries, and mainly the burden of making decisions and imposing command. Martin in his a Song of Ice and Fire saga, he tried to portray the female character with a complexity that is similar to the complexity of the conflict over the iron throne, and a different structure also, the story is told from a different point of view; unlike the usual Fantasy, stories only from a single point of view and each chapter is named after a certain female character, which is the point of view of that chapter when told by that character, Martin’s female character in this novel takes a further, as it would be called tomboy, seductress or extremely violent, writers like Martin who engages in such a genre, high Fantasy or saga; they take into considerations the development and the involvement of the female in the story, simply because the story takes place in the European medieval ages, and each intervention of a female has a sexual background as well as the persecution they underwent thoroughly, conclusively; they Develop and involve in certain things that are not meant to evolve in the first place, Under the light of these portray Martin gives the female another dimension in the genre  of Fantasy.  Ivana  Varga,  Women Character  in A Game of Thrones, Osijek, 2015.

The range of characters includes Cersei Lannister, the mother of the current king; Margaery, the king’s wife; Sansa Stark, whose family’s home has been taken over by their enemies; and her sister Arya, who is learning how to disguise herself with the help of those at the House of Black and White.

There’s so much controversy, its depiction of women in so many different stages of development. There are women depicted as sexual tools, women who have zero rights, women who are queens but only to a man, and then there are women who are literally unstoppable and as powerful as you can possibly imagine. So it pains me to hear people taking ‘Thrones’ out of context with anti-feminist spin – because you can’t do that about this show. It shows the range that happens to women, and ultimately shows women are not only equal, but have a lot of strength.6

6 https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-abused-wives-of-westeros-a-song-of-feminism-in-game-of-thrones



As far as the story continues, the more it provides and shows what the majority of critics and political experts say concerning power and  politics, this part decipher what the story hides between its lines, and how Martin uses his vast knowledge about what has been mentioned about power in different studies and books written by qualified and intellectual persons, that their mental and critical abilities allowed them to create such platform of study so that authors and researchers can rely on in their projects, this chapter treats what has been mentioned earlier with providing a textual evidence from the story, the examples that were exhibited are the case of the Baratheon brothers, Stannis and Renly and the argue between them about their situation. The second example is when a stranger told him about his power and showing his transformation in the story, so we can conclude that this chapter is a representation of what other said with and example from the text.



.Thedailybeast, retrieved from: https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-abused-wives-of- westeros-a-song-of-feminism-in-game-of-thrones May.26.2019

  • Brinton, P. (2016) How the Names in Game of Thrones Give Away More Than You Realized.

Popsugar, retrieved from: https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Game-Thrones- Character-Name-Meanings-41442660May.14.2019

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Amy_Mazur/publication/288623012_Women’s_move ments_feminism_and_feminist_movements/links/5799dbfa08ae33e89fb79d6b/Womens- movements-feminism-and-feminist-movements.pdf#page=173. April20, 2019.

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/04/19/george-rr-martin-quotes/ April.29.2019

:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301649619_Women_of_Ice_and_Fire_Gender_ Game_of_Thrones_and_Multiple_Media_Engagements on May.21.2019


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Saad Chebaani

An occasionally driven writer of very important events, incidents and newly popping activities of certain deals, a musician who wishes to put both his career and English on one road.

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