Help me, she prayed, send me a friend, a true knight to champion me.
I am coming for you, Lady Sansa, she thought as she rode into the darkness. Be not afraid. I shall not rest until I’ve found you.
And in that moment she realizes her power as a woman, without the armor, without having a sword, without killing people, without exerting strength or without exerting the more masculine elements of her personality which she’s focused on and that she’s pushed, and in that moment she embraces her womanhood and femininity. (x)
Brienne’s story is an adaptation of a traditionally male narrative, one that usually sidelines or victimises female characters. She swears fealty to a woman, as male knights swear to their liege lord, because she respects that woman’s strength, her bravery and her kindness. She goes on a quest to save the beautiful maiden, but not to marry her or benefit from the quest in any way, but to return her to her mother. Because she cares for Catelyn, and because it is the right thing to do. It is a story of a woman, rescuing a woman, for the sake of another woman. It is a rare story where the mother, the young girl and the shieldmaiden are all given equal weight and worth. Brienne, despite taking on many stereotypically male traits, is not “one of the boys” or in any way dismissive of her gender as a group. She does not fit into the role that society has assigned for her, but she does not disparage those who do. She uses her strength and her skill to respect and help other women in ways that most men in Westeros would never even think to attempt, because she understands, more than any other knight, that women are truly worth something as individuals.