I am a writer, and I currently have two major interests when it comes to what I read and watch for writing inspiration: educational theory and fantasy stories. The two genres are completely different from each other, but since I’m a Ph.D. student in Language and Literacy Education (Children’s Literature and Digital Literacies focus), and I love to read and watch fantasy, I’m going to draw parallels between two seemingly very different worlds. Specifically, while I was reading Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed for my Critical Theory 8200 class at UGA, I thought of my favorite scene from Game of Thrones, specifically Season 3 Episode 10:
Disclaimer: Do not read ahead or watch the video if you are trying to catch up on the series because there is a small spoiler in it.
In this scene, Daenerys a.k.a. Khaleesi gives power to a group of people who have previously been oppressed, which Freire encourages in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. This scene is more compelling if you know Khaleesi’s full story, so I’m going to summarize it. At the beginning of the show, Khaleesi is sold to a tribe by her brother for his economic and political gain. She might not technically be a slave, but her brother treated her like one for her whole life. However, Khaleesi eventually learns now to empower herself, and long story short, she slowly but surely rises to more power, forms political alliances, and gets a strong army for herself. In other words, she’s an attractive, shy young female who people initially don’t take seriously and who they even mistreat, but she gets tougher and smarter and learns how to not only take care of herself, but also help people who are in a bad situation she was once in herself. (Can you see why I love this woman? You do if you know me fairly well).
What I love most in this scene is that Khaleesi refuses to take credit for freeing the slaves. She tells them that they must earn and keep their freedom for themselves, and it is not hers to give them. She tries to empower the people to make the changes they want in their lives instead of dictating over them, a concept of which Freire would approve. Throughout the show, Khaleesi makes it clear to the people she commands (as much as possible) that ultimately, it’s their choice to follow her. I think it’s because she never had a choice in her early life. Parallel to Freire’s theories, Khaleesi had to realize the reality of her situation (i.e. being oppressed by her brother and initially by her husband) in order to change it. Once she realized she could change her situation, she convinced her husband to treat her more like an equal and also learned how to teach people to respect her more. As the show goes on, she becomes more empowered and assertive, and it’s cool to watch. The part at the end of the video where they call her “Mhysa” meaning “mother” is especially compelling, to the point where I can’t watch it even now without tearing up. Not only does this woman go from zero to hero, but she helps others to do the same. As Freire would encourage, she establishes a personal connection to those she wants to lead in a revolution. Hopefully, one day, I can be more like her. 🙂
Part of why I love Game of Thrones is because it features strong female characters. I haven’t read the books yet, but I’m told that the writer loved the Lord of the Rings and other traditional high fantasy stories, but wished they had more female characters. The show definitely shows that hundreds of years ago, women had less power than they do now. However, many of the female characters in the show empower themselves as much as they can and become at leaders or advisors to those in power. I look forward to seeing where the show goes in Season 4 and hope Khaleesi becomes even more strong and charismatic.