The Ultimate Kickass Heroine?
"The world doesn't let girls decide what they want to be. But I can now." – Arya Stark
Arya Stark's quest from naïve young girl to Westeros heroine is nothing short of a phenomenon. Arya's journey as far as the TV show is concerned has been concluded which critics are calling the most satisfying conclusion of the finale1.
Small Girl From Winterfell.
From the very first episode, we see Arya Stark as a young girl who wants to become a warrior heroine than a house lady. Born as the second daughter of House Stark she already had her mother and her elder sister to look at and Arya is expected to follow the same path when we first meet her in the TV show and in the books. However, right from the start we see her more of a Stark than Tully. She is a girl who is an outcast and that’s why she likes to follow the people who seem outcast. She seems very close to Jon Snow who is also an outcast on account of being a bastard of Ned Stark. Arya likes Jon Snow because he can let her hold her sword and talks about quests and war stories and stories like these are what Arya likes most. Jon Snow giving Arya her sword “Needle” is one of the most defining moments in Arya’s life because now in little Arya’s mind, she thinks that she can actually achieve something and become a heroine, a warrior, a swordmaster. All these things show her innate character.
Arya’s Bond With Nymeria.
Although the TV show doesn’t say much about the Arya-Nymeria relation. However, we have to remember that Westeros is a world filled with supernatural mysteries and magic. From the TV show, we can see that Nymeria is given to Arya as a pet along with all of the other siblings. Arya naming her pet Nymeria actually shows the mindset of Arya. Nymeria was the name of a warrior queen who rules over the kingdom of Rhoynar2&3. Arya loses Nymeria in order to save life when Nymeria attacks Joffrey. This is more or less where we lose relation of Arya-Nymeria in the TV show. But in the books there is a lot more.
“A Song Of Ice and Fire” is filled with unanswered theories. The Westeros of the book is filled with much more supernatural and unexplained behaviors and occurrences as compared to the TV show. One of them is “warging”. Warg is a person who has the ability to transform his conscience into animal’s bird’s conscience and see the world through that animal’s or bird’s eye4. The definition of a Warg is mentioned here because In the book series “A Song of Ice and Fire” there are some instances where Arya is dreaming about Nymeria5 and sometimes Arya sees through Nymeria’s eyes exactly the same way as Bran initially used to dream about the three-eyed raven. So, Arya has the ability to warg just like Bran but since she’s isn’t searching for mysterious stories and following her dream she isn’t following the same path as Bran. Another instance is when Arya meets the red woman Melisandre for the first time Melisandre looks at Arya and says “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes sealed shut forever. We will meet again6.” Here we can deduce a fact that Arya Stark has supernatural abilities although either she doesn’t know them yet or she is very practical and wants to base her future based on her own experience and she just doesn’t want to use any of her power like her brother.
It’s also worth mentioning that after the show is over only two Direwolves are survived. One is Ghost and the other is of course Nymeria. Both of these belong to the most reliant fighters namely, Jon Snow and Arya Stark.
Arya’s Joining The Faceless Men.
This is where Arya’s identity really changes and her innate qualities and traits become real and naïve little girl actually becomes a ruthless warrior. This is one of the requirements of becoming a member of “Faceless Men”. In order to become the member Arya is required to get rid of anything that is related to her old identity. Here we see that she doesn’t completely do it. She is unable to get rid of her dear sword which she hides. This shows us that her actual identity will always be Arya Stark of House Stark no matter what. There is the city of Bravos she is required to do multiple tasks in order to become something she wasn’t. However, there too her old identity and her inner voice -to not to follow order blindly- comes into action. She defies her mentor Jaqen H’ghar on different occasions. It seems like her old identity is slightly in conflict with her new identity. In the books, It’s not Jaqen H’ghar who teaching Arya. Furthermore, in the books Arya’s transitioning from vulnerable girl to a powerful warrior happens slowly as she spends more and more time roaming around in the city of Bravos. Every moment in Arya’s life has some sort of experience. Becoming blind is also one of those experiences that becomes crucial at the final stage of her training when she becomes a deadly assassin.
Arya’s whole training and her new identity in the combinations of her experiences and most of the experiences trail back to Winterfell so that’s where she is going.
A Great Reunion And Arya’s Future.
Arya’s reunion with her surviving family members was something fans were looking for a while so when she meets each of her siblings, there is a strange feeling. None of them are who they were when they last were together. Jon, Sansa, Bran all of them had their own experiences which had a profound effect on each of them. Bran gives Arya the dagger which she used later to kill the Night King. Arya sparring with Brienne is also fun to watch. She uses the lessons which were given to her by Syrio Forel and defeats Brienne and even though it’s not serious we now know that where exactly is Arya at in term of her fighting skills. Arya’s meeting with different characters from her past also shows us that she is not just a cold heart assassin who single-handedly killer whole House Frey but she is also a girl who has feelings. Arya Stark remains one of the best characters on the TV to watch. She was already a fan favorite even before the TV show had begun. Wife of author George R R Martin - the writer of the book series- is a huge fan of Arya Stark and she told Martin that if he ever kills off Arya Stark, she will leave Martin7
Arya stark sailing off to discover new lands is exactly the kind of ending fans were expecting and hers was the only ending that fans weren’t disappointed at. Arya understands quite early that she is not going to end up as the lady of some lord or princess of some prince instead she knows she is here to create her own legacy.
What makes her one of the best characters of all time? I think it’s her will to be a survivor regardless of the circumstances. She has shown with her sheer will and her not-giving-up attitude what it means to be a true Heroine or a true Hero. Most of the fans of Arya Stark are hoping for a spin-off based on her character and let’s face it her character arc has not been completed yet. We have yet to understand the complexities of her character which is still very much open in the books. Maybe that's why her sailing off to the unseen places of Westeros is just a new beginning.
The World Of Ice & Fire: Chapter, The Coming of the Rhoynar.
A Dance With Dragons, Chapter 14: Tyrion IV.
Game of Thrones - Season 3- Episode 2.
A Storm of Swords, Chapter 3, Arya I.
Game Of Thrones Season 3 Episode 6.