Women in Game of Thrones: Power, Conformity and Resistance (Valerie Estelle Frankel)

Women in Game of Thrones: Power, Conformity and Resistance is a book by Valerie Estelle Frankel.

In the book, Frankel examines the female characters in Game of Thrones (the show, not the novel) up to and including its third season. She looks at them through the lens of Jung’s archetypes and several subtropes, seeing which character embodies which type and trying to determine how feminist the show actually is.

I think that the topic Frankel chose is interesting and well worth examining (I myself am doing a research project at uni about a similar topic). Game of Thrones shows a wide variety of female characters – at least at first glance. And it is rewarding to look more closely at these representations of women. But unfortunately, this book is not particularly well-argued or well-written.


I read the book while in the UK with puzzledpeaces, which led to poor puzzledpeaces hearing me muttering and complaining about it all the time. I couldn’t go more than a few pages before a new paragraph would drive me insane. My biggest problem is that it felt like Frankel had her opinion – that Game of Thrones sucks from a feminist point of view – and then she started looking for everything and anything that fit that theory, completely disregarding all the things that don’t. I’m not saying that GoT is without its issues. But the way Frankel goes about it is one-sided and feels hurried. It’s completely biased.

Add to that that her scientific method – and this is scientific literature – is completely unclear. Jung’s archetype’s are barely explained and then subdivided into tropes, but it is never mentioned how these tropes come to be and how their connection to the archetypes actually is. Yes, Yara Greyjoy is a female pirate. That doesn’t mean that the female pirate is a trope, or that she fits said trope and it is not yet said how the pirate trope is an extension of an archetype. There are about five steps in her argumentation missing to make those things clear.

I was particularly disappointed because feminist critique is so important and should be vital to any discussion about shows like this. It would be very worthwhile to examine how far these characters are actually well-rounded characters (the men and especially the women) and how much their apparent diversity is actually only a contrast of one-sided stereotypes. But this is not the way to go about it.

Summarizing: unsatisfying.

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