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House of the Dragon: The Matriarchal Era of House Targaryen

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

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Just when we thought we had turned the page and furiously ended the cycle that HBO’s Game of Thrones’ ending left upon us, we are presented with a brand-new prequel in the form of House of the Dragon created by George R. R. Martin. Sure, most of us were pretty skeptical about it, especially because of the series finale leaving such a bitter taste in our mouths. Transporting ourselves back into the soapy-bloodthirsty warfare that the show displayed for us during several years felt a little faltering. Most of us fans weren’t really sure what to expect, and we certainly weren’t looking to sink our teeth into a fresh start. Luckily, HBO Max’s House of the Dragon has given us what we, Game of Thrones fans, have been craving for years. And that is a new era where patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism are axed by incredibly driven female leads.

One of Game of Thrones’ greatest strengths was the brilliance that its female characters brought us week after week and season after season. We rejoiced in Arya Stark’s victory in becoming a Faceless Man after overcoming a series of obstacles that led her to evolve into one of the greatest warriors in the history of Westeros. We cheered on Brienne of Tarth when she kicked some butt as an honorable swordsmith and knight. We applauded Sansa Stark when she finally had the guts to stand up for herself and claim her role as Queen of the newly independent North. We even loathed Cersei Lannister’s cruelty and her malevolent ways as a power-hungry tactician. All of these characters were, undoubtedly, prodigious and incredible women represented in the commercial blockbuster. Yet we always seemed to place our entire faith upon a specific woman, who perhaps served as the series’ most beloved character: Daenerys Targaryen.

We followed Daenerys throughout the various stages of her character development , and despite seeing some red flags along the way, we believed in her purpose and cause, which notably included the abolishment of slavery and putting the needs of others before hers. Of course, her mission wasn’t a given from the beginning of the show; when all she wanted was to go back to her old home. From here onwards, there’s a fascinating and complex character arc that’s slowly being written as  Daenerys finally takes matters into her own hands and decides she wants to pursue the Iron Throne, considering it her birthright as one of the last descendants of House Targaryen. But like any other human being influenced by immeasurable power, Daenerys slowly sinks  into madness and greed. Nevertheless, we rooted for her until the end of her days as she became the matriarch of one of the most powerful and distinguished houses in all the Seven Kingdoms. 

And here we are, once again, enrolled into the Targaryen’s lives, except this time we’re presented with two new characters, Rhaenyra Targaryen and Alicent Hightower: two best friends who belong to House Targaryen and House Hightower, respectively. So far in the series, their friendship provides us with a glimpse of how House of Dragon is stepping up in representing a new generation where women bear the right to be heir to the Iron Throneー a tug-of-war that has arranged itself to be the central focal point of the show. Considering the series takes place in Westeros 200 years before the mother series, it is interesting to witness how counterpart characters in the show would much rather destroy themselves than have a woman rule over them. It’s also heavily implied that, while the show highlights the beginning of their friendship, disruption within the kingdom will inevitably corner them on opposite ends of the patriarchal structure where they are trapped in.

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Regardless of the roles misogyny and patriarchy play within these characters’ storylines, these are innately powerful women that are fighting for what they believe in. In the case of Alicent, it’s been a little bit harder to fathom so far, but the key reason behind what makes her such a believable character is that she has to deal with an incredible struggle in order to stand her ground and fight for her cause. Perhaps she doesn’t know how to, whilst Rhaenyra is a confident and relentless fighter who will not take no for an answer. There’s a straight line where both ends contrast, and that reflects in our society where people often deal with tedious situations by using different approaches. These character dynamics help make this series incredibly groundbreaking, because they serve  to show different perspectives on how to manage loss and hardship, deal with complex friendships, and become better versions of ourselves.

Angel Alexander Salgado was born in Camden, New Jersey, but grew up and was raised in Puerto Rico. He is a student in University of Puerto Rico majoring in Creative Writing and Elementary school education. As a freelancer publishing author, Angel has always been ambitious about writing ever since he was seven years old. His journey began with a curious mindset and an impulse to tell stories to the world. Experimenting with songs and poetry, he later discovered his fascination for novels and narratives. In recent years, Angel has published three novels "Silent Road", "Bleed" and "The Last Legacy". He aspires for world positivity and to change people's perspectives that words and text on a simple sheet of paper can make an actual difference for the world.