Arya Stark is a young heroine from the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. She also makes an appearance in the television show called Game of Thrones, based off the book series. She is the fourth child in a family of six and the youngest daughter of Eddard and Catelyn Stark. The Starks are one of 10 great houses in their home of Westeros and Eddard Stark is the lord of a castle, in the north of Westeros, called Winterfell. Arya is more rebellious than her sister Sansa and strays away from the gender rolls she is supposed to follow. These books are set in medieval times with kings, queens, and lords alike. There are certain expectations in this time period for men and women and they each have their own roles they are supposed to fulfill. Instead of doing her needle work, Arya practices her sword fighting skills with her brothers and when she is supposed to be learning her manners she is out playing in the mud with her pet direworf, Nymeria. She does not follow the rolls of feminism in Barry’s Beginning Theory.
In Chapter 6: Feminist Criticism of Barry’s Beginning Theory, it discusses that very few women “in nineteenth-century fiction work for a living … instead, the focus of interest is on the heroine’s choice of marriage partner, which will decide her ultimate social position and exclusively determine her happiness and fulfillment in life.” These goals of finding a marriage partner are complete opposite ideals of Arya. Granted Arya is only nine years old, but her sister is two years older and is already dreaming about marrying the prince she has been promised to. There is one scene in the first installment of A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones, where Arya’s inner monologue is discussing her hatred of doing needle work. She states that her “stitches were crooked again. She frowned down at them with dismay and glanced over to where her sister Sansa sat among the other girls. Sansa’s needlework was exquisite. Everyone said so” (Martin 57). In this scene, Arya does not match Barry’s description of nineteenth century women. While this series does not take place in the nineteenth century, but in medieval times, the gender roles for women had not changed much. In these times, Arya was still being taught her manners and to do lady like thing like needle work. Unfortunately for her, she was not allowed to be trained in how to use a sword or to fight. Marriage is the last thing on her mind and she does not let that determine her happiness for the rest of her life.
Later in the book, when Eddard Stark has been asked to move to the castle where the King lives, he brings Arya and Sansa with him to the port of King’s Landing. Sansa is to be wed to the King’s son and Eddard has been offered the position of King’s hand, or the second in charge. One night when Arya is in her room, her father comes in and finds a sword that was given to her by one of her elder brothers, Jon. He takes is it from her and sighs saying he and her mother have given their nurse “the impossible task of making [Arya] a lady” to which Arya replies “I don’t want to be a lady!” (Martin 185). The term lady is referring to gender role of a women. Being a lady means that a woman is proper, knows her manners, and can take care of the children while her husband works. Arya wants to do none of that and instead wants to fight and hunt like her brothers. Later in this chapter, her father gives in and lets her keep her sword and finds her a teacher to train her to sword fight.
Heroines like Arya stark are important to young girls reading or watching A Game of Thrones. While this is not the most kid friendly television show out there, Arya is still a strong role model. She shows that just because you are a girl you can still do things boys can do. She revolts against her lessons and choses to practice with a sword instead. To young girls who don’t want to be the stereotypical girly girl, she can be a strong example of a girl who broke from the norm. Arya is strong, even when she is taken away from her home, and refuses to back down even from the prince himself.