In the story Game of Thrones Arya Stark is showcased as a young girl who isn’t particularly like most little girls her age. She does not want to wear a dress and play with doll babies. She wants to become a knight and fight like her father. Unfortunately with her being a girl none of the things she wants is expected of her. She’s not one to shy away from a challenge and her mouth gets her into a world of trouble at times. She often does not think before she speaks causing trouble for herself and others around her. She gets herself into a situation when she injures the prince who wants her killed for embarrassing him and if her father and the king were not such good friends who is to say she would still be alive. She witnesses her father get beheaded and is later separated from the rest of her family.
In order to stay hidden from the people who killed her father, she cuts her hair short and disguises herself as a boy. In her journey to get back to the rest of her family, she gets abducted by a man named the hound who had previously saved her sister Sansa from being raped by a group of men. He was never cruel or did anything to hurt Arya, he just wanted to sell her back to her family in exchange for money. He ultimately never got the chance because he got injured really badly after a fight with someone and in return Arya took that as her chance to escape.
During her journey she meets a man who she happened to let free while he was chained up and to thank her he tells her whoever she wants dead, he will kill them. She uses that to her full advantage by giving him names of people left and right who have done her wrong. She begins training with this man by using the faces of people who have died to turn herself into a completely different person to get revenge for the people that have murdered her father, mother and brother. She is later reunited with her only living family who are her two brothers and sister where they work together to have peace between the lands.
A Greek Mythology hero is usually born from one parent who is a god and the other parent is mortal. They spend their journeys battling evil creatures and saving the people of the land that the monster is invading. They possess bravery and courageous attributes that makes them stand out from the average person. Heroes will usually have to prove themselves by going on dangerous missions where the worst of the worst monsters are waiting for their moment to strike. Joseph Campbell references the stages of the monomyth; the stages that a hero will experience. The first stage is the departure. It’s when a hero receives certain task to complete or their mission.
In Game of Thrones Arya sets out to get revenge on the people who killed her family. More specifically King Joffrey who ordered one of his men to cut off her father’s head. She forms a list of all the people who had a hand in her families killing and makes it her sole mission to kill every last person on it. She spends a large portion of her time alone because she has no money, is a wanted person, and does not actually trust anyone due to the unfortunate circumstances she has experienced. Of course it would not be a story of a hero if Arya did not run into some obstacles along the way. She meets a group of people where she is able to pass herself off as boy but is later kidnapped by a man who calls himself the hound where he wants to trade her for money.
During her time with him he protects her and is able to give her pointers on how to be a better swordsman. Although his intentions were bad in the beginning, he proved to be a compassionate person towards her and did his best to keep her safe. Campbell mentions that after the hero accepts his calling, he will encounter a protective figure who is often elderly such as a mentor who provides special advice and insight for the journey the hero has ahead of him. For example when Athena gave Perseus the shield he used to slay the vicious Medusa. She serviced Perseus as a guide to a great defeat.
Although Arya was never given a physical supernatural aid, she received the gift of guidance on how she should attack her enemies by several men who had Arya’s best interest at heart. In a since, the hound could represent her mentor and a “threshold guardian”. He prevented her from being completely free and in the past he worked for the king that killed her father, but he kept her safe from possible dangers she would have faced had she been alone because there’s no way Arya would have been able to take care of herself. Seeming as though she is just a child.
Belly of the Whale occurs when a hero “passes into a new zone by means of rebirth.” It is not a physical threshold but more of an inward threshold the hero will face. After Arya was able to escape the hound she comes into contact with a man who possess many faces by the name of Jaqen who is able to take on the face of any person once they have died. In order for Arya to learn from the faceless man, she has to lose her personal identity and anything that is connected to her. The initiation phase occurs when “The hero is challenged to survive a succession of obstacles”.
During her time with the faceless man Arya has to reinvent herself to become no one. Jaqen takes away her eyesight and the only chance she has of getting it back is by saying she has no name when asked who she is. Pleased by her response Jaqen gives Arya her eyesight back but the training doesn’t just stop there. She goes through very vigorous training sessions by sparing with one of Jaqen’s partners. Arya’s ends up saving the life of someone who she was supposed to let die causing Jaqen to send his minion off to kill her but she defeats them and reclaims her identity and her purpose which is to kill the people who were responsible for killing her family and return to Winterfell.
Joseph Campbell says “Only birth can conquer death—the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new.” The Ultimate Boon comes when Arya cuts the throat of Walter Frey. Although she killed him in cold blood which isn’t what a hero would typically do, he was a murderer and evil man who would have killed Arya without hesitation if he had the chance.
The Return is the part of the adventure where the hero chooses to return home after finding enlightenment in the other world. In The Game of Thrones, Arya chooses to come home after killing Walter Frey. She stood over him and watched him take his last breath and that gave her the ultimate joy that she needed to return home to Winterfell to reunite with her brothers and sister. Some would consider if Arya is a hero because her tactics haven’t always been heroic but she contains qualities of bravery and courageousness at such a young age.
The level of determinism she has to avenge her family’s death is admirable to say the least. Although she might be the darkest most brooding character in the series her loyalty goes unmatched and with her on your side, at least you know she will not betray you. Once she arrives at Winterfell, she reunites with her sister Sansa and the two of them are able to work together to kill the man who betrayed her father which led to him being executed right in front of their eyes.
I don’t know if Arya has become a better person because she always had good morals instilled in her from the very beginning, but definitely has done a lot of growing up and has developed into a mature young women who does not get as easily angered as she would have in the past. She carefully thinks before she acts which takes an amount of discipline that most people don’t have. Yes Arya has returned to where she started but will ultimately never be the same person she once was. In a lot of ways Arya is similar to the great legend Achilles. They both contain a great deal of rage in them and lose control at inappropriate times. Achilles is angered when Patroclus is killed and wants nothing more than to get revenge on the man that killed him.
Unfortunately like most heroes Arya somewhat lost her innocence and had no choice but to mature quickly. Ultimately her story would fit under monomyth, with her call to the adventure of her avenging her family’s killings, finding mentors to teach her the ways of battle, killing horrible men, finding herself throughout this journey and finally returning home to her family.