And What Do We Say to Arya Stark’s Haters? Not Today.
*this blog post contains GOT spoilers*
Some people, apparently, are calling Game of Thrones character Arya Stark a “Mary Sue” after she defeated the Night King in this week’s highly anticipated, anxiety-inducing episode. What exactly is a “Mary Sue”? It’s a type of female character who is depicted as unrealistically lacking in flaws or weaknesses. The criticism seems to stem from the belief and expectation that it would be her brother, Jon Snow (aka Aegon Targaryen) to take down the Night King. Arya Stark, played by actress Maise Williams, has been a fan favorite since the very first season. She has been training to become an assassin for several seasons, and has defeated some of the show’s best fighters in combat such as The Hound and Sir Brienne of Tarth, Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. Arya is a believable, human character. She is funny, spunky, and intelligent, but she can also be arrogant and impatient. In season five she was temporarily blinded after killing someone in her own interest, rather than serving the Many Faced Gods, and had a whole redemption arc that lead to her regaining her vision. Fans are also pointing out that it was foreshadowed in season three, episode six when Melisandre tells Arya, “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me: brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever. We will meet again.” Needless to say, it isn’t out of character for Arya to be the one to kill the Night King, so why are some “fans” angry that it happened? It’s part of a much larger issue—some people simply have a problem with strong female characters. They dismiss characters who excel at typically masculine things like fighting and saving the world to be unrealistic. In works of fiction, why are we willing to suspend our disbelief when male characters like Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Batman are seemingly flawless, but question Arya Stark and Captain Marvel? It’s not a matter of what is being done, it’s a matter of who is doing it. Someone needed to defeat the Night King or the season probably would’ve been three episodes, not six. Sure, most fans probably expected Jon to be the one to do it, but it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention that it was Arya instead.
Here at YWCA Princeton, we don’t believe in Mary Sues. We empower women to be bold, and unapologetically strong. We love history-makers like Brienne, the first woman to be knighted, and free-thinkers like Sansa, who outsmarts the men who underestimate her.