The Beauty

I'm not the only fan of the "Fire and Ice" series to admit that Brienne of Tarth is my favorite character.  During the last book she took center stage and her fate is something of a mystery.

Recently they cast an actress to play this character.  Which surprised me because, considering there are so many characters in the book, Brienne might just as well be written out of the series.  But I suppose her popularity among the books fans have had great influence among the filmmakers.

This photo was released on George R.R. Martin's blog at Livejournal. Actress Gwendoline Christie will play the beauty.  The comments on the page were mostly excited but just a bit dubious as well.  Because...this actress is just a bit too beautiful to be considered ugly.  And ugliness is branded onto Brienne just as surely as it is on Tyrion because he is a dwarf.

Now, I know this may be disregarding the book a great deal, but I never thought Brienne as ugly as she was described.  I always took her ugliness as a sign of the culture.  And it is a culture we do not share.  Martin has taken cues from medieval europe and that culture had quite a different sense of beauty than we do today.  At the time the average peasant female was most likely under 5 feet due to spotty nutrition.  Noble woman were just a few inches taller.  Most nobleman at the time averaged around 5'7"/5'8", the peasant men a bit shorter than that.

Considering that Brienne is over 6 foot tall, she would make a quite a spectacle in that age.  There would be no basis of comparison for her.  She would be a freak no matter what the circumstances.  And we know human nature, anything that isn't regular is certainly considered ugly.  Compared to an average petite woman of 5'2", Brienne would be a giantess, an gangly, hulking, muscular looking he-woman.

Whereas in our day and age, in which we are used to women being tall and athletic, we just might consider Brienne a super-model.  To us, the maid of Tarth would be an absolute knockout.  That was the picture I had in my head of Brienne, an attractive woman who was stuck in an age that didn't appreciate her.  And it saddened me terribly when she was attacked and mauled in the last book.

I think the filmmakers of the series got the look of Brienne just right.

A personal experience that first got me thinking about Brienne's features and our modern definition of beauty was when I visited England a few years back.  I was walking around an historical palace and in the dining room were portraits of noblewomen.  All of them were narrow in the face, large in the forehead, had close set eyes and big noses.   One of the guides working in the museum watched me study the portraits.  She commented dryly, "They were all considered great beauties at the time."

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