No, Arya Stark Is Not My Favorite Character
Arya Stark is a very well-written character. Maisie Williams is a great actress. But Arya Stark may be my least favorite character in the Song of Ice and Fire series, book or show. In fact, she may be the most boring.
I’ve Think I’ve Read This Before
There is nothing wrong with the way George R R Martin has written Arya in the Song of Ice and Fire books. There is even less wrong with Maisie William’s wonderful portrayal of her on the TV show Game of Thrones. And during the past few seasons I’ve looked forward to her scenes, but not for Arya herself. The scenes everyone loves are because of her interactions with people around her. Arya and Twyin scenes from season 2 jump to mind as well as Arya and the Hound this season.
But Arya herself isn’t the most striking character. She’s a lady who wants to be a knight. OK. Wait, wasn’t that Eowyn in Lord of the Rings? Or even Brienne in Game of Thrones? Arya may have come before Brienne but Brienne does the female knight better than Arya.
Personality? Well, Arya’s witty but it seems like almost every character in Westeros has some wit (except Jon Snow). It’s hard to define her personality beyond those two things and even lesser liked characters such as sister Sansa or brother Bran have more to them. And that’s rare for Martin. He has worked hard to develop his characters, to the point where now even Cersei has more than one side to her.
But Arya doesn’t. Arya wants to be a killer and wants revenge for the wrongs that have happened to her. That’s understandable given how many wrongs have happened to her but hearing her list of kills is starting to wear thin because that’s all we see of her. Even Sansa, one of the most disliked characters on the show has multiple facets to who she is. She is a lady, she is a survivor, a better liar than anyone thinks, motherly, and cold. Arya is a growing killer but in a world where, as Sandor Clegane says, “everyone is killer” it’s not interesting.
And it’s not new. Arya embodies a trend that is so common in fantasy that it is not even surprising anymore. At this point, the amount of girls who want to be knights or killers is probably greater than the number of characters who actually want to be ladies. It is still necessary and refreshing to see female characters bucking gender roles but it feels like a trope now. Even within the world of Westeros, characters such as Daenarys, Cersei, Sansa, Brienne, and Melisandre defy typical ‘gender roles’ in new ways. But Arya doesn’t. Arya Stark is nothing new and at this point, she is predictable. She’s going to work through her list of kills.
Next scene, please.
Arya has no personality? really?
Arya is smart, as she showed when she didn’t fall for the trap Cersei had prepared for her in King’s Landing, or when she tricked Jaqen to help her free the northmen that were captured in Harrenhal, she is loyal, otherwise she would have left Gendry behind when he was captured by Gregor Clegane or when she escaped Harrenhal, in fact she feels hurt when Hot Pie and Gendry decide to go their own way. She also cares about her family, all she tries to do during ACOK and ASOS is to get back to her family, and even after the RW she wants to go to Jon, but the Hound refuses, she cares a lot about justice and the smallfolk, that is why she blames herself for Mycah’s death and that is the reason some of the people from her list are in there, because she saw them abuse and kill and rape innocent people, she is stubborn, she is brave, she walked into a fire to save a little girl she didn’t even know, she has good instincts, she doesn’t trust easily, like we saw when she decided it was better not to tell Bolton who she was, she doesn’t judge people by their appearence or status, she makes friends easily (Mycah, Lommy, Gendry, Hot Pie, Brusco and his daughters…), and more than anything else, she wants to go home.
Is that enough personality?
Oh and she doesn’t want to be a knight, why do people think that? because Jon gave her a sword? before that happens, there is no instance of Arya being interested in swordfighting and she has never ever said she wanted to be a knight. Even when she was training with Syrio and talks with her father about what she can be in the future, she doesn’t say she wants to be a knight. In fact one of the things that define Arya’s first chapters is her desire to be more like her sister and mother because, even though is not who she is, she knows that is what is expected of her and hates the fact that she has such a hard time being a proper lady.
She is also pragmatic, is capable of adapting to different situations and is a traumatized little girl who thinks has nowhere to go except the FM.
It’s okay to not like Arya, but to say that she doesn’t have a personality or that she a cliché is wrong. She was one of the first characters to be created, she is among the characters with more POVs and the only one who appears in all five books, and she is GRRM’s second favorite character after Tyrion, she has a personality, she is complex and interesting and to reduce her to the “tomboy” trope is a huge disservice to the character.
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