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by Lydia Bugg
“Is it really fair to have a grown man fight a teen-aged girl?” asked no one who has ever seen Game Of Thrones. Arya Stark and Westley no-known-last-name have a lot in common, from their killer fashion sense to their killer ability to kill people. If they went head to head, it would be an epic battle with lots of bloodshed, and that sounds all kinds of fun! So let’s wildly speculate about who would walk away from that battle ...
Both characters have similar motivations at their core. Westley is one of the great romantic heroes, motivated solely by his love for Buttercup. He leaves to find his fortune so he can afford to marry her and ends up getting conscripted into a group of bloodthirsty pirates. There he receives the training he needs to one day inherit the title of Dread Pirate Roberts and rescue Buttercup from the evil and hilariously named Prince Humperdinck.
Arya is completely driven by revenge, but her thirst for it comes in part from a place of love for her murdered family members. It’s also personal, though, and she’s not above killing people who threaten her safety. Arya’s need for revenge leads her to seek out training that will allow her to avenge her family with The Faceless Men, a group of shape shifting assassins. She makes a list of people who have wronged her family ... and like a pissed off Santa Claus that brings fatal stab wounds instead of presents, she methodically crosses off names.
The Round Goes To ...
I’m sorry; but if you ask me which is a stronger motivation in a fight (love or revenge), I have to say revenge. Love is a power that builds, while revenge only destroys. Love makes you cautious. At the end of the day, Westley wants to go home to Buttercup. Arya’s thirst for revenge will probably never be fully satisfied. Even after she crosses off all of the names from her list, she’s still going to be out there kicking ass for the little guy (or just for herself). Westley probably wants to retire to a little farm someday and have a daughter who will fall in love with their farm boy and then one day be kidnapped by a giant. It’s the fairytale circle of life.
Arya definitely takes the motivation category.
That huge guy she’s hiding behind is just SUPER stoned.
Westley and Arya are both pretty well rounded rogues. Westley defeats a giant in a feat of strength, he beats one of the world’s best swordsmen in a sword fight, and he outgeniuses a genius in a battle of geniuses. He’s also super good at climbing, he’s built up an immunity to certain poisons, and he’s so good looking we should probably count it as a skill.
Arya is also skilled with a sword -- or a stick if one is handy. She’s light on her feet and is able to take down men twice her size with the water dancer fighting style she’s been practicing since she was a child. The Faceless Men also taught her how to infiltrate difficult places, and oh yeah ... how to steal people’s faces. She doesn’t just take their faces though. After she has murdered someone, she can use their face to physically transform into them.
The Round Goes To ...
Um, you read that Arya can shapeshift right? Both Arya and Westley live in universes where magic exists. Westley is brought back from the “mostly dead” by Miracle Max, so we know there is some kind of magic in The Princess Bride, but he doesn’t have any. There’s a little sprinkle of magic in the Game Of Thrones universe, and whoever can use it gets a major advantage. Even if Arya wasn’t super sneaky and lethal, just being able to steal people’s faces would be enough of a skill for her to defeat beautiful, mortal, Westley. She just has to turn into Buttercup, and BAM! No more Westley.
Yeah, Westley might take her in a fair fight, but Arya doesn't fight fair. All skills considered, Arya takes this round.
“And I’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids!”
Challenges They’ve Faced
So did I mention that Arya’s father was beheaded in front of her? Because he totally was. A friend of her father’s made her look away while his body was being liberated from his cranium, but she was probably close enough to the stage to hear the thunk of his head hitting the ground. She also saw her brother’s mutilated body being paraded around by the men who killed him. Yeah, Game Of Thrones is pretty brutal. She manages to escape across an ocean to start her revenge classes with a man whose life she had previously saved. All of this happened at an age when most girls are stressed out by losing their retainer in the cafeteria garbage.
Westley’s past is mysterious but we know he’s been working on Buttercup’s farm for a long time. He grew up poor, so it’s possible his parents either sold him into indentured servitude or he’s an orphan. He has no one other than Buttercup, and when he goes off to find wealth so that he can marry her he’s immediately kidnapped by a pirate with a reputation for taking no prisoners. Every night before bed the pirate says to him, “Good night, Westley; I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”
The Round Goes To ...
I know you probably assumed Arya had this one on lock, but the thing is, Arya’s had something that helped her a lot along her journey: her family name. It was the fact that she was a Stark that got her smuggled out of King's Landing by Yoren in the first place. I’m not saying Arya is an entitled millennial, but she has roots that give her a small bit of privilege in the Game Of Thrones universe. Westley comes from nothing.
Also, Arya volunteered to be trained as an assassin, whereas Westley’s training was forced upon him. He was essentially a prisoner of The Dread Pirate Roberts for years, and it has affected him. When he’s first reintroduced to Buttercup he says, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” Westley still feels the pain of his challenges while Arya eats them to make her stronger.
As weird as it sounds, Westley takes this one.
Dat hair, doe!
The Rogue-iest Rogue
So which of these two most embodies the rogue spirit? Smart, sly, tough, charming, and willing to bend the rules to get the job done.
Right out the gate Westley has charming on lock. I mean he could be shotgunning a Natty Light while getting a prison tattoo on his neck that says, “I make poor life decisions,” and most people would still be tripping over their own feet to tell him they like the font he chose.
Arya can smooth talk people into seeing whatever personality she wants them to, but when she’s just being herself she’s got a pretty unsettling “cat watching birds” face that just isn’t going to win her any points with the general public.
They’re both extremely tough. They’ve survived their pasts and come out stronger, ready to take on a world that wants to murder them. Westley survived being tortured pretty much to death with a jaunty smile on his face. Arya was stabbed multiple times by The Waif and didn’t let that stop her, even when they took her sight.
Arya tends to be more impulsive than Westley, but that doesn’t mean she’s not smart. She knows how to be strategic when she needs to be, like when she stole Walder Frey’s face and invited his entire family to a feast. Then casually poisoned them all as revenge for what they did to her family. Wesley is slightly more strategic than Arya, who on occasion was unable to control her need for vengeance.
The Round Goes To ...
It’s not just that he’s the most charming, it’s that Arya is a straight up murderer. She doesn’t seem to take any pleasure in killing, but she also doesn’t feel a whole lot of remorse either. The detached way she slit Petyr Baelish’s throat and watched him bleed out is a good example of something that’s just a little too brutal to be rogueish. Or, when she baked Walder Frey’s sons into a pie and fed them to him. That was ... a little extreme, maybe?
Westley only kills when he thinks he has to, and it pays off for him. Inigo and Fezzik end up joining his team after he spares their lives. He only kills Vizzini, leaving even the evil prince Humperdinck to a long miserable life with his cowardice as his only companion. In the end, Arya is reluctant to kill those who are truly innocent like the actress Lady Crane in season six but she leans too far in the direction of “serial killer” to be coined the rogue-iest rogue.
Westley all the way, here.
“I’ll kill to protect the one I love, but ... like no creepy, gross stuff, OK?”
Their Coolest Scene
Both Westley and Arya have pretty similar sword fighting scenes that are totally badass. It doesn’t get much better than the “I’m not left handed” sword fight between Inigo and Westley.
Arya’s almost superhuman quickness in her spar against Brienne kind of makes Inigo and Westley look like two bears playing with pool noodles. In both instances, each character is delighted to have found someone who can match them in battle ... in Arya’s case, however, that person is twice her size and comfortably wielding a weapon taller than her.
Westley’s outwitting of Vizzini by simply exposing both of them to a poison that he has built up immunity to is one of my favorite battles of wits. It shows how dumb and arrogant Vizzini was to let Westley choose the competition when he, Vizzini, was holding all the cards.
The Round Goes To ...
However, nothing beats Arya poisoning the Frey family in Game Of Thrones. It was the vengeance that fans had waited years to see, and you almost can’t help but clap when you watch it. What the Freys did at the Red Wedding convinced Arya to be trained by The Faceless Men in the first place, so seeing that come full circle was just awesome. Plus the speech she gives as the Freys die is full of epic fury. “Leave one wolf alive and the sheep are never safe.” And, “When people ask what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.” These are unforgettable parting lines for this chapter in Arya’s revenge. Yeah, Arya wins again.
ARYA STARK beats WESTLEY SERIOUSLYHEDOESN’THAVEALASTNAMEEVENINTHEBOOK 3-2
Honestly, this was a tough call. They both rock leggings like nobody’s business. They’re both smart, skilled, fighters. You just can’t mess with Arya Stark. If Arya and Westley fought, not only would she kill Westley but she would eliminate everyone he ever knew before you could say, “Anybody want a peanu- AH SHE STABBED ME! THAT LITTLE GIRL JUST STABBED ME RIGHT IN THE NECK! WHHYYYY?!”
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