Lessons From Beth Harmon

Blog Post #7

The Queen’s Gambit came out last year and was basically an instant sensation worldwide. I was just amazed by this multidimensional, badass feminist chess genius main character, as were many others I imagine. The Queen’s Gambit follows Beth Harmon, an orphan in 1960’s America with a natural skill for chess, getting lessons from her orphanage’s janitor in secret and once she’s adopted, taking the chess world by storm. Beth has had a tough life, and she faces a lot of conflict within herself, as well as some really bad luck, but we get to see her mental health journey and her personal growth, and it’s a really inspiring story.

I think we have a lot to learn about being the main character from Beth Harmon. First and foremost, Beth is a girl in a man’s world, working to break down barriers in the 1960s and show the world what women are made of. In the beginning, Beth is definitely underestimated, and when she attempts to enter her first chess tournament, the administrators are surprised and somewhat resistant when she asks to be put in the main competition, not the beginner’s competition. In the whole tournament, there’s only one other girl competing, and Beth shocks everyone when she takes home first prize, beating out some well-known male competitors.

I also think Beth really shows us that main characters can be broken and struggle and that doesn’t take away from your importance and your power. Beth suffers from an addiction to pills (thanks to the nightly medication the girls at the orphanage had to take) and alcohol, using these vices as a coping mechanism for the loneliness and conflict in her life. Beth has some really bad moments with these addictions, but by the end of the series, she is in a much healthier headspace and has really worked to improve her mental and physical health. I think it’s really important to see main characters that face the same issues many of us do, and Beth’s story is really inspiring as she rises up and beats her addictions and faces her trauma.

Overall, Beth has a lot to teach us in my eyes. If you haven’t watched The Queen’s Gambit I implore you to, if only for the gooooorgeous fashion and sets in the series (but really, the story and characters are amazing too).

(P.S. Check out this compilation of Beth Harmon being superior, I loved it and you will too.)

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