One of the things I love about Jordan is how strong and well drawn his female characters are. Unlike most of the other fantasy epics I read, with the men the main characters and the women just window dressing, the women in Jordan’s world are just as much a part of the action as the men. The men assume the women need physical protection; the main women at least don’t need that protection, thanks to their access to the One Power. Each woman chafes against the limits this protection puts on her, in her own special way.
Egwene and Nynaeve were raised with that sense of protection; Egwene plans for this protection and how to work around it, Nynaeve allows herself to ignore it, but when her efforts to do so are thwarted, her temper rises to the surface. It’s reflective of their larger personalities: Egwene is political, watching everyone around her and making her own plans based on what she sees. Nynaeve, on the other hand, generally assumes things will go the way she wants and expects them to, but when other people mess up their plans, she becomes infuriated. Elayne was also raised expecting a certain level of protection, but she assumes all desires to protect her come from her rank as future queen rather than her female status. The queens of Andor have a reputation of bravery and strength, and she assumes that is what people expect of her. When men–or people in general, when she becomes pregnant–try to protect her due to her femaleness, rather than her rank, she is shocked and angry. Aviendha wasn’t raised with that type of protectiveness at all, and is legitimately taken aback by it. She was a warrior before crossing the Dragonwall, and to her, the idea that she needs physical protection is incomprehensible.
Well, I went on a bit of a rant. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately–I might go more in-depth on these thoughts later on. I’m too obsessed with this series lately.