Note from the Editor: This contribution is from “Mlgagne”, a member of the FoCC forum.
April 24th is just around the corner, and for those of us who are Game of Thrones fans, a mixed sense of excitement and relief is in the air. The sixth season of the series will finally surpass the published content of George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels, marking the first season that viewers and readers alike will have no idea what to expect. As such, if you have been toying with the idea of starting the series up until this point, now is the time to jump headfirst into the show – and here’s why.
In an extremely brief summary, Game of Thrones focuses on the several contenders for the Iron Throne and their noble families, all vying for control of the Seven Kingdoms of the fictional continent of Westeros. Add magic, dragons, and an undead frozen army into the mix, and you have the makings for a show of epic proportions.
Of course, Game of Thrones is surely not for the faint of heart. Given the nature of the story, shocking themes and the deaths of major characters are the norm, and adult themes, heightened levels of violence (both physical and sexual), and explicit language are to be expected. However, the more familiar that you become with the series, the clearer it will be that these elements are not what should take precedence to viewers; rather, it is the rich, multidimensional characters who capture our attention and who drive this carefully crafted story forward.
(A word of caution: some spoilers ahead).
The characters in Game of Thrones are representative of people as a whole and what we go through as humans. Almost every single character brings to light the idea that no one person can be divided into a single category, because nothing is black or white. Humans in the real world are incredibly complex beings and have a range of emotions and characteristics that don’t necessarily fit into society’s concepts of “good” or “evil;” rather, they are just human, all falling into a “gray” area of existence. And the characters on this show are so well fleshed out that they are undeniably relatable to the modern viewer, despite the fact that the story takes place in a world of fantasy.
Three perfect examples of the complexity of human nature demonstrated on the show can be seen in the three Lannister siblings, the children of the mighty and fearsome Lord Tywin. Firstly, we have Tyrion Lannister, who is seen by the viewer as being mostly “good” but is not without his own faults. While Tyrion is painted to the viewer as a funny, good-hearted person with a sharp mind and a talent for the game of thrones, he is also a drunk who frequents brothels. Though these are likely coping mechanisms for the serious mistreatment he has received from his father and sister his entire life and the judgment that has come from society due to his dwarfism, this also displays the darker side of Tyrion’s psyche, refusing to shy away from the complications that he has faced in life and making him more human to the viewer.
In contrast, Tyrion’s sister, Queen Cersei Lannister, tends to be a character that most viewers see as “bad.” She is involved in an incestuous relationship with her twin brother, Jaime, with whom she has had three children that she publicly passes off as the legitimate heirs to the throne. And she will stop at absolutely nothing to keep her family on the throne, ruthlessly attempting to rid herself of any supposed enemies – including Tyrion. However, on the other hand, she is also a mother who fears for the safety of her children and is driven by the desire to protect them. Almost all of her actions can be dwindled down that idea, taking some of the “badness” out of her actions and making her seem extremely human.
However, possibly the most interesting examples of human psychology on Game of Thrones are the characters that perfectly embody this “gray” area of existence; that is, the ones who the viewer can see as both “good” and “bad” at the same time. The best example this is the final Lannister sibling – Ser Jaime Lannister, twin brother and lover to Cersei. Early on in the series, we learn that Jaime killed the king he was sworn to protect in his early years as a knight of the Kingsguard, thereby earning the nickname “Kingslayer.” The viewer sees him as arrogant, vain, and prideful – and, at the end of the first episode of the series, Jaime pushes ten-year-old Bran Stark out of a window after Bran witnesses his sexual relationship with Cersei, intending to silence the boy from spreading their secret but instead crippling him for life. However, two seasons later, Jaime reveals the true reason why he broke his oath: the paranoid king he served refused to surrender to the armies overtaking King’s Landing in his final days, ordering Jaime to bring him his father’s head and planning to burn the whole city to the ground, along with its citizens. Suddenly, Jaime’s actions become more understandable; his fierce sense of loyalty to those he loves explain his crippling of Bran, and his arrogance and vanity and pride are mostly a cover-up for his internalized self-loathing. The viewer begins to feel sympathy for him because though he was once painted as a complete villain, the other side of his story is eye-opening. It makes it clear that he is neither a good person nor a bad person. Rather, he undeniably falls into that “gray” area, a perfect – albeit, extreme – example of the internal conflict and choices that we as humans must make every day.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Characters like the teenage King Joffrey Baratheon and the bastard-born Ramsay Bolton are both separately painted as irredeemable, vicious psychopaths. But, like the three Lannister siblings in the examples above, the majority of the characters on the show are relatable to people from all walks of life, all representing the fascinating idea that human psychology is something that can bring us as a people together, transcending time and space.
Come April 24th, I will be tuned in to HBO, breathlessly awaiting each characters’ fate and marveling at the incredible paths that each and every one of them have taken up until this point. And while most of these characters will likely die as casualties of the war to come within the story as a whole, that is something that all Game of Thrones fans have come to accept. After all, Winter Is Coming, and not every player can survive in the the game of thrones.
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