Are Wildlings Good

David Lawrence
• Saturday, 12 December, 2020
• 8 min read

Then, on the other hand, forge weapons from bronze and are ferocious fighters that enjoy cannibalism and also sacrifice themselves. These were just some over 90 tribes that united under Dance Ryder to attempt crossing The Wall and survive the Night King's march South.

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Years of coordinated attacks against the Night King and looting of villages immediately south of The Wall have also made the Free folk an unwelcome bunch. However, a close look at these fine people revealed that most of them were completely happy with their lives and even did some things better than the clean and organized Westeros.

On the other hand, in Westeros, kings were chosen depending on who their father was, and failing to bend the knee would get you killed. With no one to enforce the rules and some tribes like the Then inherently violent, peaceful existence was a problem in the North.

When some Wild lings walked away, refusing Jon's offer of lands South of The Wall, Dortmund told him that they would return because they had no more food and there was nothing more to hunt. Hard home was the largest Willing settlement in Game of Thrones, but it wasn't anything more than a large village secured with planks of wood that Wights simply pushed their way through.

The same was probably the case with the rest of the Willing dwellings, as most of them preferred caves and temporary structures to permanent homes. Gritty was a spacewoman, and she wasn't considered any less of a fighter than Dortmund and the rest of the men in the raiding party.

Arya only learned to fight because Ned Stark broke the rules and assigned Syria Fore to teach her. The Then were the only Wild lings that carried advanced weapons since they knew how to forge axes from bronze.

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The rest of the Free folk rely on rudimentary wood and bone axes, arrows, and spears that can hardly deliver any significant damage on the enemy. It is not clear how they remained so far behind in terms of metal technology, yet they share ancestry with descendants of the first men, such as the Stark's.

On the other hand, Westeros has advanced steel forges that produce all types of swords, crossbows, and spears, which make them formidable in battle. However, the Northerners learned how to get through long winters by keeping bigger food reserves than the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.

They can survive for days in the ice with limited supplies, a task that proved hard for Jon Snow's expedition beyond The Wall. Some people still speak the common tongue of the first men, but they only use word of mouth to send messages, which is too backward if compared to the advanced methods used in Westeros.

Dortmund told Jon Snow that the Free folk are not as cunning as the Southerners, and once they promised to show up and fight for him in the Battle of the Bastards, they would do exactly that. Dortmund didn't know how to dress fancily and exercise table manners while drinking his sour Goat's Milk, which is one of the reasons he never won Brien ne's heart.

For a significant part of the run of Game of Thrones, they’re a persistent threat, always lurking Beyond the Wall, ready to sweep down upon the south should the Night’s Watch slacken their guard. Despite the fact that they are, ostensibly, some of the most inveterate enemies of the southern realms of Westeros, the series seems more than a bit cagey about several aspects of their culture and their history.

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It’s rather strange to think that a group known for both their stubborn refusal to bow to authority and their hatred of the Night’s Watch would, in fact, unite behind a man who served for many years in that organization, even if he was born a willing. Obviously, this says a great deal about the sort of charisma and power that Dance Ryder wields as a leader, but there are still some aspects of their decision to unite behind him that don’t quite add up.

While many of them appear as one would expect of people who haven’t experienced the benefits of civilization, there are some truly strange, bizarre, and sometimes downright frightening tribes. As their name suggests, the wild lings seem to have an almost pathological aversion to anything that smacks of the civilization of the south, presumably because it would make them either soft or would take away their vaunted independence.

Students of history will know that, in Westeros, it’s something of a miracle that the entire continent still has any people left, considering the many uprisings and wars that have taken place over the centuries. Logically speaking and given their violent natures, they should've driven themselves to the point of extinction before the events of the series and yet, there's enough of them to mount a resistance against the White Walkers and even lay siege to the Wall.

Given how little contact there usually is between those south and north of that great edifice, however, it doesn’t make sense that so many of the wild lings would not only be able to speak Westeros, but actually be fluent in it. He’s a truly reprehensible character, but the bigger mystery is why the wild lings, not especially known for their caring or their mercy, would leave him alone to lead his life as he wants rather than (at the very least) taking his wives as their own.

Indeed, it is precisely their knowledge of the existential threat posed by the ancient and malevolent creatures that leads them to unite. However, it remains unexplained why they would have tried to live Beyond the Wall in the first place, knowing that there was such a power lurking there, simply waiting for its chance to strike at the south.

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Though they don’t get as prominent billing in the series as they do in the books, it’s still mentioned that the Horn foots, as their name implies, have feet that have been so scarred from the cold that they no longer need to wear shoes. Reddit's user SaboTheWanderer posits: “Yea, they lost quite a few people on the way, but they ended up forging an amicable relationship with the northerners, driving the white walker threat out of their lives through that alliance, and then returning home to a place better and more secure than they left it.

The wild lings were first introduced as antagonists, long-standing enemies of the Night's Watch, and back in season one it would have been almost impossible to predict that they would become such an integral part of the show's ongoing plot, and that we would come to care for them so much. The viewer first started to sympathize with their plight when they got to know OSHA, the willing who fled the White Walker threat and eventually became Bran's protector.

Later on, when Jon Snow fell in love with Gritty, we saw more of the free folk's way of life: nomadic and dangerous as hell. Over several seasons, the wild lings learned to trust Jon and join him in his fight against the Night King, a storyline which was all the more satisfying because the truce took time.

Dismissing Dortmund and the rest of the wild lings in last week's “The Bells” was an unceremonious end to that portion of the saga, but it's true that they are going back to a much safer home. They are considered savages by the rest of Westeros, due to their barbaric lifestyles and worship of the Old Gods of the Forest.

Such factions include the raiders from the Frozen Shore, the woodsmen of the Haunted Forest, ice-river clans believed to be cannibals, and the people of Then. The people of Westeros believe that all Wild lings are savage and are the main reason as to the necessity of the wall and the Night's Watch.

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However, the Night’s Watch does not forget its origin and believes the Wild lings are the least threatening force to come from beyond the wall. Game of Thrones has become one of the most popular books in the genre of fantasy, and the most watched show in HBO history.

The Wall might just be the most direct inspiration from the ancient world in Game of Thrones. The map of Westeros can be interpreted as England and Ireland inverted to create the western continent.

When building Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman surveyors exploited features in the natural British landscape. Hadrian’s Wall facing east towards Crag Lough lake in Northumberland, England.

In contrast, when Brandon the Builder constructed the Game of Thrones ‘ Wall 8,000 years ago, it was entirely made of ice and stood almost 700 feet high and 300 miles long. At every fort and mile-castles there was a gateway that acted as a check point to control movement and goods between the north and south of Britain.

The mile-castles were small forts at intervals of a Roman mile that were defended by a patrolling garrison who would be able to quickly respond to any distress or situation. Along the Game of Thrones ‘ Wall, there are nineteen castles, three of which remained manned while the others were abandoned with their gates sealed.

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In the island of the men of old built a long wall, cutting off a large part of it; and the climate and the soil and everything else is not alike on the two sides of it. For to the south of the wall there is a salubrious air, changing with the seasons… many people dwell there, living in the same fashion as other men.

Old Nan (Margaret John) would entertain Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) with scary stories about the Others during his convalescence, something characters like Tyrion might deem to be Snarks and Drumlins. This is an example of rumor and tales that go along with unknown parts of the world; however, in Game of Thrones some seem to be true.

The Wildings: specifically, Rattle shirt (either Edward Dorian or Ross O’Hennessy) and his war band. The wild lings have similar societal structures to the pre-Roman Britons or Scots: chieftain societies organized in tribes and clans which were not politically unified.

The ‘civilized’ people of the southern kingdoms describe the wild lings and their way of life using language similar to that of the Roman ethnographers. The same is said for Game of Thrones, the people in the south have both a fear and hatred for the wild lings and circulate stories of their savage cultures.

Savages, raiders, rapers, more beast than man,” and these types of descriptions carry on throughout the novels. In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow’s perspective on the wild lings is that of an outsider, a man from Winterfell and not North of the Wall.

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When Jon enters the wild lings camp, he notices their tents made of skin and hide, and makeshift shelters. He sees their warlike nature, men and women making primitive weapons and spearheads, as well as fighting each other.

When Jon begins to live among the wild lings, he still believes that “they have no laws, no honor, not even simple decency. They steal endlessly from each other, breed like beasts, prefer rape to marriage, and fill the world with base born children.” Yet he quickly became fond of Dortmund, sharing stories and learning the customs of the wild lings.

Initially, Jon still believes the southern stereotypes of the wild lings as savage brutes constantly fighting. Jon begins to respect and care for the wild lings, he learns from Dortmund, he grows to admire Dance Ryder and falls in love with Gritty.

He proposes letting some wild lings pass through the Wall to protect them from the beings of the north, which is not a popular idea with the other men of the Night’s Watch. The Roman writer Prices was able to observe the court of Attila the Hun during a diplomatic mission and gives a completely different view.

Although Prices was in Attila’s court for a far shorter time than Jon Snow is with the wild lings, Prices had the opportunity to observe and discuss Runic customs and differences from the Romans with a member of Attila’s court. Jon Snow comes to the same conclusion about the wild lings : they’re humans and not the monsters they are made out to be.

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Jon grows to respect some wild lings, even though they have distinct cultures and are different from the men of the south, he recognizes that they need help, and tries to make decisions for the greater good rather than personal prejudices. Jon Snow is basically a Roman who gets the opportunity to explore beyond the Wall and observe and partake in the society of the Other.

George RR Martin explores history in a unique and different way. In addition, the descriptions of the wild lings are similar to the Roman ethnographers, both categorized the Other as brutes, savage and primitive peoples.

Jon Snow, however, is able to give a description of the wild lings life, culture and needs, while the Romans lack this type of source in the society of the Britons. Martin takes elements of Classical society and perceptions, he enhances them to make mythology and misconception into reality.

The Wall and the wild lings both reflect historical reality for the Britons and Romans, but Martin changes and exaggerates them to create a new universe in the epic fantasy genre.

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