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Friday, February 23, 2024
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The Manifesto of a Free Woman: Ygritte’s Lesson

Il manifesto di una donna libera: la lezione di Ygritte

There is no one like Ygritte in Game of Thrones. From his first appearance, he displays such courage, loyalty, and resolve that, even with a sword at his neck, he refuses to weep, humiliate himself, or give any valuable information about his people to the Night’s Watch. He sticks his head out and just says “go ahead and be quick”. And Jon Snow, charged with executing her, is so impressed by her that he spares her. After all, a character that is already so compelling, intriguing and that reveals great complexity from the very first moments deserved more screen time. And fortunately she got it, becoming one of the baddest women on the show not only because of his fighting skills, but mostly because of his fiery personality.

Jon had no idea his life would be upended on Game of Thrones by Hurricane Ygritte.

She’s a completely different woman than the ones he’s used to; In short, is there anyone who looks as modern as Ygritte in Game of Thrones? She is a strong warrior, a skilled archer and hunter, able to defend herself even against the scariest of men, perfectly independent. After all, the reality beyond the Wall is harsh and she has had to get used to conditions in which most others would have perished. He doesn’t understand how one can faint at the sight of blood, given the numerous battles and, as he explicitly says (and here is his small revolution), women bleed more than men. He makes fun of the Southern ones, when he dramatically falls into Jon Snow’s arms while pretending to faint from fear of spiders. Because what he saw she far outweighs the terror of these little creatures.

She doesn’t have the sensuality of southern women, yet she retains her very personal femininity; the one that makes Jon – and other men – fall at his feet. Tough, witty, unconstrained by societal expectations towards the female gender and more open to everything, she does not hide her attraction for the Bastard of House Stark. She embarrasses him, protects him even if he doesn’t want to, shows him a certainty that disarms him, conquers him and makes him break his vows, when she says in the cave:

“I want you to look at my body. My whole body. Why are you still dressed?”

Game of Thrones

Before perhaps the most iconic quote from the HBO TV series:

“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

Already, that joke with which Ygritte mentally challenges him; that mantra that Jon will carry with him for life in Game of Thrones. La Bruta does not simply want to tell him that he is an ignoramus who does not understand anything (which is how the majority of the public usually interprets him, with too much simplification), but wants to invite him to look at the big pictureso as to broaden his mind and see more perspectives on one thing.

Indeed, the relationship with Ygritte is essential to open his eyes to the wildlings. They are not heartless as she had always heard, these sworn enemies of the Night’s Watch. They are complex, human, gray, multifaceted; the point of view, hopes and fears of the woman are those of a real person and she is not evil just because she is brute. She begins to respect those people and the willingness to integrate them into society is fundamental in her development as a leader, and it all started thanks to Ygritte. The latter, however, had immediately understood who Jon Snow was: a free, pure spirit, belonging to the true North and who is unable to submit to the suffocating and stringent rules of the South. She also liked his ingenuity so distant from his own world, his delicate inexperience which lays bare the true nature of the boy, his not knowing that made her fall in love with him.

Because he’s different from the men he knows, but also from the people he belongs to on Game of Thrones.

He has his father’s honor, too abstract a concept for her, but he is also a rebel who does not stop at any obstacle, always looking ahead, always beyond. He has the same hunger for freedom that animates his people; half brute, half lord, perfect synthesis between Ned Stark and Mance Rayder. And here, by introducing him into his own universe, he not only makes him find himself, but guarantees him a fundamental ally and decisive in the battle against the Night King.

Jon Snow he’s so important to her that his warning not to cheat on her sums up her character perfectly in Game of Thrones, showing that emotional side and those strong feelings that trigger its ferocity. And when it inevitably does, with Jon returning to the Night’s Watch, she has mixed feelings towards her and vows to kill him herself, warning the other wildlings to stay away. And she’s so intimidating at the time that she has no one to object to. You can feel her devastation, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to see her shoot three arrows at Jon, with tears in her eyes, not to kill him but to wound him despite the fact that she would have earned the ridicule of his parents, especially after he confirmed that he loved her and that she he had never stopped doing it.

The final confrontation between wildlings and the Night’s Watch is inevitable and Ygritte is guilty of killing innocents, although she decides to spare Gilly and her son. Like many characters from Game of Thrones, Ygritte is complex and capable of doing both great and terrible things. But she doesn’t fear death, likewise with members of his people. Because for them it is worth dying to live a free existence, in an egalitarian society and in that shaky democracy in which, as he explains to Jon Snow, they don’t serve a king just because his father was, but they have chosen Mance as their guide .

Not living the existence she craves is scarier than death, and the whole wildling ideology is encapsulated in the phrase Ygritte passionately says to her beloved:

“If we die, we will die. But first, we will live.”

It’s tragic, because they really can’t live together, despite the fact that their relationship has broken down prejudices, traditions, superstitions; defied oaths, duties, rivalries and memberships; overcome any barrier, even the physical one of ice that divides their worlds. Except the last one, that of death. However, the promise of a full and free life is enough to give hope, overcome fear and sum up the essence of a complex womanhonest, which showed a different female model in Game of Throneswho kept Jon down to earth, taught him many things and forged him (so much so that, in the final, he chooses the wildlings and Ygritte), fully capable of making his own choices and embarking on his own relationships. Simply free, like her beloved North.

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