Game of Thrones and the Evil Queen archetype

cersei With the destruction of the Sept of Baelor, the murder of hundreds and an ominous coronation scene at the end of season 6, Game of Thrones will be starting season 7 with an official Evil Queen™ on its hands in the form of Cersei Lannister.

Though Cersei is far from a cardboard cut out villain she’s come to bear a striking resemblance to one of the best known evil queens of all time, Snow White’s stepmother. Just as the magic mirror inspired the unnamed stepmother to kill Snow White, so Maggy the Frog set Cersei on the hunt for the younger and more beautiful queen who would be her undoing.

SnowMarg

What’s more, Cersei isn’t the only female character who might take on the Evil Queen™ mantle before the series ends. In “Battle of the Bastards” Tyrion had to talk Daenerys down from demolishing the Masters’ cities and there are some fairly well substantiated Mad Queen theories predicting that she’ll eventually over-embrace the Targaryen words of “Fire and Blood” and emerge as the surprise villain of the series.

I’ll be honest. A lot of this rubs me the wrong way.

The very inclusion of an evil queen in a series like Game of Thrones dredges up a long history of villainized powerful women in fantasy and folklore and it’s no coincidence that many of these queens, such as Jadis of Narnia or certain iterations of Morgan le Fay, were pitted against male heroes. The notion that the two most powerful women in the series may fall subject to such a tired trope can’t help but grate on me … particularly in light of R+L=J’s recent confirmation and its implications for Jon Snow.

Jadis

However … Game of Thrones has always dealt in shades of grey and it would be a disservice to the show’s complex morality and cast of thousands to view Cersei and Daenerys as representatives of all women in authority. George R.R. Martin has said that he strives to explore “the difficulty of rule” through his work.

Daenerys was, indeed, an imperfect ruler of Meereen and Cersei failed spectacularly as Queen Regent of Westeros … just as Robert Baratheon drove the Realm to bankruptcy, Aerys II descended into insanity, Theon Greyjoy botched his reign as Prince of Winterfell, Robb Stark was butchered at his uncle’s wedding for his bad decision -making and Jon Snow’s own men stabbed him to death.

In other words, leadership is tough in Game of Thrones. For. Everyone.

Moreover, Queen Nymeria, Lyanna Mormont and Asha/Yara Greyjoy are among Westeros’ few examples of competent leaders.

YaraLyanna

Men and women alike run the gauntlet of leadership styles in this series. Most fail. Some succeed. All struggle. Gender is not what determines who has and who does not have what it takes to win the game of thrones.

So, in conclusion … I remain conflicted. On the one hand, the sexist legacy of the evil queen archetype is too deeply ingrained in fantasy to merely shrug off. On the other hand, a thorough exploration of human frailty and “the difficulty of rule” should feature dangerously incompetent women just as it features dangerously incompetent men.

As with so many discussions about Game of Thrones, a final opinion can’t really be formed until the show and the books conclude. The problem with archetypes like the evil queen and (since I mentioned R+L=J) the long lost king isn’t so much the archetypes themselves but the way they fit into an overarching story that, very often, reinforces the status quo rather than challenges it.

While I remain confident in Game of Thrones‘ capacity to subvert expectations, until the last episode of season 8 is watched and the final page of A Dream of Spring is read there’s only so much we can analyze. What, in the end, will be Game of Thrones‘ take on the Evil Queen™ archetype? We’ll have to wait and see.

76 responses

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    1. To be honest, I don’t mind the evil queen archetype in GOT. As long as they have spared us the Snow White one.
      And I don’t think there will ever be a Mad Queen.

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    2. I think that Cersei is the best villain in GoT and the best villain in mainstream fantasy, because she is just a human. She has no magical abilities, no supernatural powers,… You can hate her, you can admire her, you can root for her, or wish her death..

      To have her as the last human antagonist in the show is the best possible decision, because she is the embodiment of everything great about this story.

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    3. A lot of this post seems to be about where we predict the series and the characters are headed, and not so much as to what we’ve seen.

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    4. How many major female villains have we had so far? Aren’t we due for one at least?

      I mean, there are a lot of archetypes in the series. We have competent female leaders, we have incompetent female leaders. Good women, bad women. I don’t see what there is to be conflicted about.

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    5. I think that the biggest difference between Cersei and “Evil Queen” is that Cersei in no ways thinks of herself as “evil” or “bad,” and she certainly does not see her opponents as “good” or “heroic.” Cersei is, more than anything else, the classic Dunning-Kruger subject from the left-side of their graph: mentally incompetent, but convinced that she’s brilliant. Yes, she is completely self-centered and she believes that she is due almost anything. However, that is not because she’s “bad.” Instead, it is because she combines an unethical morality system that venerates the “high born” with not being smart enough to realize that acts of kindness and generosity can be as powerful as acts of pure strength.

      Or, to paraphrase Babylon 5, given the choice of evil or stupidity as a motive, always bet on stupidity!

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    6. Oh dear lord Daenerys is not going to go “mad” except in the minds of “Jon Stargaryen is the only character that matters” rabid fanboy/girls (note that this label does not apply to most Jon fans!!).

      Honestly, I think the fact that so many people seem intent on “Mad Queening” every second female character with power says much more about the ingrained sexism of our society than about the sexism of the work itself.

      I also agree strongly with this: “On the other hand, a thorough exploration of human frailty and “the difficulty of rule” should feature dangerously incompetent women just as it features dangerously incompetent men.”

      Although I don’t think that it makes any sense to put anyone in the dangerously incompetent category except for Cersei and Aerys. So, on that, we are about 50-50 gender wise!

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    7. Paul: I see Mr Martin critiquing Mr Tolkien’s work, very good. Shall we complete your opus first

      Right after Professor Tolkien tries some actual character development.

      *rimshot*

      Remember, tip the staff! 😀

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    8. QueenofThrones: Honestly, I think the fact that so many people seem intent on “Mad Queening” every second female character with power says much more about the ingrained sexism of our society than about the sexism of the work itself.

      Can I upvote this 178266 times?

      Seriously, it also speaks to a complete misunderstanding of what people going insane are like.

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    9. I think that most characters in ASOIAF/ GOT are not archetypes, because they were built as believable human beings, even if on the strange, morally ambiguous or insane side.

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    10. I think people think GoT/Asoiaf is more subversive than it actually is.

      And imo all characters are archetypes. Even Cersei, Jaime or whatever grey character in this show. It’s the execution of said archetype that matters though. For example, Cersei, Dany, and Catelyn represent different variations of the mother archetype.

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    11. mau,

      Yes that’s also a problem.

      Fans have an issue with archetypes and tropes existing in the story, but they don’t see that in order for these tropes and archetypes to be presented in a realistic way (which is what I think the goal is in the series), they need to exist in the story in the first place.

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    12. “Daenerys was, indeed, an imperfect ruler of Meereen and Cersei failed spectacularly as Queen Regent of Westeros …”

      Daenerys – imperfect ruler FOR Meereen. I still maintain that Daenerys would be a great leader for KL and Westeros. Daenerys wants to lead for the people, unlike Cersei who wants to be queen for the power and glory, and why she’ll most certainly fail. As I’ve written before, Daenerys’ struggles in Meereen came from forcing a society based on centuries of slavery to immediately change everything they’ve always done. While that’s an admirable desire it would never work without major backlash. She knew it was wrong to allow it to continue so her initial idea was the only one she thought she had, more force. That doesn’t make her evil, just backed into a corner. She would not have to deal with anything of that same nature in Westeros if she attains the throne. The people would go about their lives as they are but under her protection, generosity and kindness.

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    13. Clob,

      I’m sorry I can’t like your comment 1000000 times, once for every slave Daenerys set free in Dragons’ Bay.
      She basically started with the worst prospect, trying to change the mentality of a society so deeply rooted in the past and in ancient, anti human traditions, it couldn’t possibly go smoothly.
      But she has learned from it, she has grown. She refused to leave until the freedom and safety of the people was secured. She will make a brilliant Queen of Westeros if she survives ’till the very end. And as much as I adore Jon, he doesn’t have the level of experience she has. No offense, he’s an amazing person and a good leader but he spent most of the series at the edge of the world, surrounded by thugs, thieves, rapists and wildlings. He makes a wonderful KITN though ! I’ve always thought the North should be a standalone, independent kingdom, their traditions and beliefs are not really embedded in southern westerosi culture anyways.

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    14. Wether you consider Cersei a villain or not, I just love her, well, I just love to hate her hahaha she is so complex, such a compelling character oh god.

      I actually like her more in the show rather than the Books, mainly because show Cersei has more “humanity” I think, but it’s just my opinion.

      And, I always thought Sansa would be a perfect Snow White (gosh, it looks like I’m a freaking Sansa fan haha) but you know, she represented the perfect Disney princess, beautiful, graceful, innocent, naive cough *dumb* cough (at least the most part of season 1) you know, the archetype of the damsel in distress, who, sadly, loses her innocence in an extremely harsh and brutal way, I actually think GRR Martin did it on purpose to deconstruct the “Disney Princess” type of character and having her becoming a player of the game (I hope we see more of than on season 7, seducing, manipulation… things that aren’t precisely very “fair maiden”).

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    15. Flayed Potatoes: And imo all characters are archetypes.

      Most literary scholars would heartily disagree with you! In modern literature, the story comes from how the main characters evolve. A protagonist can be heroic in some ways, but he/she cannot be a hero: the journey from what he/she was at the outset to what he/she is at the end is what is important.

      Indeed, one of the reasons fantasy gets so little respect is it’s reliance on archetypes over character development. Tolkien is the extreme case: but a lot of his literary descendants have followed in his path.

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    16. There’s men and women to cover all types of personalities in GoT. Not every woman in the show is going to be some superhero. That would be just as ridiculous as making them all whores or a “tired trope” evil Queen. I just don’t see what the problem is here…at least when it comes to GoT.

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    17. Wimsey,

      There are plenty of archetypal characters in non-fantasy works. And anyway, I was talking specifically about GoT so I don’t know what you’re taking issue with.

      Irina Stark,

      You know it’s possible to praise your girl Dany without having to put down Jon and his situation/accomplishments.

      “he spent most of the series at the edge of the world”

      So has Dany lol. Actually, she hasn’t even set foot in Westeros ever. And slavery is illegal there, so she won’t be interacting with slavers, but other types of people and situations that aren’t specific to Essos…boop. So you can all rejoice that the mustache twirling slavers are gone, but she’ll have other types of people to deal with so…. I’m not trying to bring her down, but what I’m saying is that some have the impression everything will be a walk in the park and she’ll be some perfect and flawless ruler. Whoever ends up on the throne, be it Dany or Jon or even Moonboy for all I know is realistically going to struggle hardcore.

      “surrounded by thugs, thieves, rapists and wildlings”

      Thugs, thieves, and rapists abound in Westeros though. They’re not only in the north. I’d say knowing how to deal with these kinds of people is useful. Knowing how to integrate the Wildlings is also useful, since they likely won’t be going back beyond the Wall anytime soon. They’ve been Westeros’ enemies for thousands of years and now they’re Jon’s allies. Knowing how to integrate different cultural groups in Westerosi society is a huge accomplishment.

      He’s also interacted with some of the Westeros nobility (though mostly Northern and I guess some Vale leaders in the season 6 finale, which is fitting since he’s now KITN). This is something Jon would have to work on among others. He’s not perfect. Perfection is boring.

      And anyway, the responsibilities he has had as LC will end up being very useful if he makes it to the end because Westeros is going to be as messed up as the Night’s Watch is right now on the show and have a lot of the same issues the NW is facing: starvation/lack of supplies, need to find people to farm lands, need for recruits to rebuild the armies etc. Good thing Jon is hands on about these things and has all that experience you see as insufficient lol. And those thieves/rapists/thugs you think are useless as experience will multiply after the war with the Whitewalkers because that’s what happens during and after wars. Good thing Jon has experience with those matters too lol.

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    18. Cersei is an ‘evil queen’ now but it took 6 years of beating her down and losing everything she had to reach the ‘fuck it, I’ll be 2D and evil’ stage, therefore she’s nothing like the evil queen stereotype she was in the books, or evil queens in other media.

      I don’t really think there’s a reason to be offended just because she’s a queen and she’s a villain, when she’s been presented as so multi-faceted and as a result is a lot of peoples’ favourite) love-to-hate-to-love characters (or in my case just my plain favourite)

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    19. I’m glad Cersei

      is the epic boss at the end of the show. Slay girl! She’s the best antagonist. Night’s King is a Marvel movie tier villain compared to her.

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    20. Cersei was always an Evil Queen figure, this isn’t new, except insofar as she’s on the throne in her own right now. GRRM uses tons of standard character types and storytelling styles, exploring various different types of heroes’ journey. Cersei was very much the Evil Queen/Wicked Stepmother to Sansa’s Snow White in the early books of the series, for instance, since there are tons of fairy tale echoes in her plot (both in terms of such stories from our world and stories that exist in-universe; people most commonly discuss “Beauty and the Beast” in reference to Sansa, for obvious reasons, but the other stuff is there too).

      Conversely, it feels very odd to be bringing up the Mad Queen Dany theory at this point. If that was going to happen, the ending of Season 6, where the whole season is built up to her unleashing her full wrath on the Slave Power in Essos only for her to be easily talked out of it and go back to doing what she did before, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Dany’s not been shown as anything but willing to take advice.

      In other words, leadership is tough in Game of Thrones. For. Everyone.

      Leadership is tough, but the point of Cersei’s story is that it’s particularly tough when you’re totally incompetent. Cersei isn’t supposed to be a good player of the game. She’s short-sighted and has mostly succeeded only because other people wanted her too (even with the Sept explosion, all she did was order the casks to be blown up; the existence of the casks was told to her by somebody else).

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    21. Sean C.,

      I don’t think that Cersei sometimes succeeds only because other people wanted her to succede.

      I think she succeeds because she is willing to make extreme moves no one else would make (and for a good reason) like arming the FM or the Sept explosion.

      It’s not like those moves were extremely smart, but they were so extreme that no one even consider that she is capable of something like that.

      And yes, the existence of the casks was told to her by somebody else, but she ordered that investigation.

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    22. mau,

      No, she didn’t. She did the same thing she did when she first came to Slaver’s Bay: she made a symbolic demonstration of force that killed a few people, and then demanded everybody give up their slaves. The only thing that changed in resolving the crisis, ultimately, was that the dragons started doing what she said again, and the Sons of the Harpy all decided to wander into the open where they could be easily killed.

      And yes, the existence of the casks was told to her by somebody else, but she ordered that investigation.

      The only people who knew about the casks were Jaime and Tyrion, so Jaime apparently had to have told her about their existence at some point after getting back from King’s Landing. All she did was follow up on that.

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    23. Sean C.,

      I thought you were talking about Qyburn. Yes, Jamie told her at some point, but I don’t see how that changes anything. Even the greatest players use the informations they’ve got from others.

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    24. mau,

      The storyline in the books, in my opinion, is building up to her dealing with the slavers the way she did in Astapor (i.e., mass slaughter), but more systematically, and with more attention to safeguarding whatever new regime she puts in place to succeed it (the problem in Astapor, other than the intervention of the other Slave Power states, was that the government she set up had no military force to prevent people like Cleon from ruining things). After Astapor she begins compromising with the slavers in Yunkai and Meereen, and her arc in ADWD is about bending more and more to try and pacify them without resorting to that level of force. It doesn’t work, because the Slave Power in Essos cannot allow Daenerys to succeed and is doing everything it can to undermine her and restore slavery. Wandering the desert, and finding her Dothraki horde, she’ll return to utterly break the slavers forever. Fire and blood.

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    25. Sean C.,

      I really don’t think that that would happen for many reasons. First of all, I find that development completely pointless story wise. She already committed mass slaughter in Meereen, when she killed 150-200 slavers. So she would now have to kill how many people? 1000? 10 000?

      She is one of the heroes of this story, and I really can’t see a scene in the books where she basically commits genocide. It is too extreme and too cartoonish.

      GRRM was always inspired by history. And I don’t know when in history the problem of slavery was solved with a slaughter of every slaver?

      You said that in the show she did the same thing she did when she first came to Slaver’s Bay only more extreme. But you are proposing the same.

      Again, I don’t think that the climax of her storyline in Essos would be Dany turning into a crazy tyrant who slaughters thousands of people.

      That’s not “Fire and blood”. That’s not what good Targaryens were.

      That’s “Sieg Heil”

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    26. I think that in the books “Fire and blood” will be just like in the show, only more complicated. She will finally start to use her dragons like a real Targaryens in the battle. And that would be the climax of her arc, because during ADWD she is constantly refusing to use them, she is refusing what she is, she is refusing her identity as the Mother of Dragons.

      She will embrace that and became what she is meant to be, and that’s not the tyrant who commits genocide.

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    27. Well-substantiated, my foot. Anyone who is waiting for Daenerys to become evil or mad is in for a disappointment. For one thing, she’s clearly the younger queen referred to in Cersei’s foretelling.

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    28. mau:
      She is one of the heroes of this story, and I really can’t see a scene in the books where she basically commits genocide.

      She’s already done that, in Astapor: “Unsullied!” Dany galloped before them, her silver-gold braid flying behind her, her bell chiming with every stride. “Slay the Good Masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who wears a tokar or holds a whip, but harm no child under twelve, and strike the chains off every slave you see.”

      She orders the deaths of everybody wearing a tokar and anybody holding a whip; and that she feels the need to specify not killing anybody under twelve shows that this is a very wide net to cast, and she knows it. She wipes out the Good Masters as a class, essentially, leaving only women and young children.

      First of all, I find that development completely pointless story wise. She already committed mass slaughter in Meereen, when she killed 150-200 slavers.

      Crucifying a small number of slavers was not “mass slaughter”, it’s the equivalent of her incinerating that one boat and killing two of the envoys. She killed a few guys as a demonstration to the others, and told the rest to do what she said on threat of punishment.

      You said that in the show she did the same thing she did when she first came to Slaver’s Bay only more extreme. But you are proposing the same.

      It is a return to Astapori tactics, true, but in terms of her handling of Meereen, she begins her reign in Meereen with a bit of symbolic bloodletting to try to cow everybody else into doing what she tells them to, then the dragons stop listening to her and she tries conciliating the slavers, then she leaves. I don’t think this whole arc is leading up to her coming back to do the same thing she tried to do before in Meereen. Leaving the slavers with all their power and status was the canker in her attempt reshape Meereenese society.

      GRRM was always inspired by history. And I don’t know when in history the problem of slavery was solved with a slaughter of every slaver?

      Dany’s campaign in Slaver’s Bay really doesn’t have much in the way of obvious historical comparison. An essentially autonomous individual with the power to reshape whole nations, and the desire to do so motivated primarily by altruism rather than any sort of imperial design, is just not possible in our world. It’s only possible because Dany has the equivalent of three reusable nuclear bombs in her dragons. The end of slavery in most nations was the result of decades of gradual legislative change, and usually, as a result of this process, followed by gross inequality as a result of the continued endurance of the old power structure.

      That’s not “Fire and blood”. That’s not what good Targaryens were.

      Looking at history, I might agree, but actual history doesn’t matter here. The revelation that ADWD builds up to for Dany is “dragons plant no trees” — which is nonsense. The golden age of the Targaryen monarchy, the reign of Jaehaerys the Wise and Good Queen Alysanne, was all about planting trees and watching them grow. Jaehaerys certainly wouldn’t have agreed that dragons plant no trees, nor would Daeron the Good, but they aren’t there to voice their dissent. It only matters what Dany perceives being a Targaryen to mean, not what it actually meant.

      Beyond which, I don’t think Slaver’s Bay is going to result in Dany becoming the ruler she’s meant to be. It will advance her, but there’s going to be more character development for her when she actually gets to Westeros. It’s the same with Tyrion, who, unlike the show version, is putting himself back together largely because he wants to fuck over all his enemies, not out of an altruistic desire to give Westeros a good ruler. He and Dany will leave Slaver’s Bay all aboard the vengeance train, and what happens after that will be where the really interesting character stuff happens. Among other things, Book!Dany is going to

      curbstomp poor fAegon, from the looks of it.

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    29. I think that this analysis is a little unfair. We have a plethora of frail, human, flawed characters in GoT, male and female. Why single out Cersei for a trope that does her little service?

      She’s evil but she wasn’t wholly evil. Hell, we rooted for her to kill the High Sparrow, if we are honest with ourselves. Everything she did was understandable, though ruthless, most of the time. She may be an ‘evil queen’ but I doubt that she is a cartoonish one.

      I don’t think that this is necessarily a fair or even useful way to analyze Cersei Lannister.

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    30. Sean C.,

      When GRRM wrote that scene in Astapor, Meereen’s storyline didn’t even exist in his head. Only in ADWD situation with slavery became more nuanced (I used that magical word Lol) and things became grayer. That scene in ASOS was acceptable because at that point those characters were just caricatures. Only in ADWD Martin started to deal with those issues in a more serious way.

      She incinerating that one boat in the show because of the budget. Who knows how many boats she burned off screen.

      As for everything else, I really don’t see the point in further discussion, because that book still does not exist.

      For me, embracing “Fire and blood” for Dany means her connection with dragons, her identity as Mother of Dragons and I see slavers only as a plot device to achieve that. I really don’t think that her storyline in ADWD was about compromise, I think that it was about her identity. And everything starts to fall apart for her when she refused that identity.

      I never said that Slaver’s Bay is going to result in Dany becoming the ruler she’s meant to be. I was speaking about her as a person. We really disagree about the direction in which that storyline will advance her. I don’t think that committing mass slaughter serves anything, both in terms of plot or in terms of character development.

      I think that climax of that storyline in the books would be the same like in the show. She will become the true Targaryen, she will control her dragons, she will bring fire and blood to her enemies, she will accept her ideentity as the Mother of Dragons.

      S7 spoilers

      We know from the show that she will end up with Jon. I really don’t see how mass slaughter in Meereen serves any purpose in that regard, why would Jon or anyone else even be in contact with a person who killed 10 000 (or more) people, why would Tyrion serve her, and how will GRRM avoid complete destruction of her character with that development.

      There is a very real possibility that we will never find out answers for these questions.

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    31. great article. its so awesome to be able to read articles from GOT’s biggest fandom site that are gendered and speak about the implications, meanings and possibilities of gender in GOT (something you rarely get from sci-fi fandoms)

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    32. Sean C.,

      It doesn’t work, because the Slave Power in Essos cannot allow Daenerys to succeed and is doing everything it can to undermine her and restore slavery. Wandering the desert, and finding her Dothraki horde, she’ll return to utterly break the slavers forever. Fire and blood.

      …yes. Also, “genocide” hardly comes in here. Westerosi nobility is mostly grey. Not so on Essos, where slavers are hideous monsters who piss themselves and crucify little children. I think GRRM made Essos an exception in order to free Dany’s hand. She couldn’t wipe out the entire nobility of, say, Westerlands, and still be considered a hero. She has already wiped out the slavers of Astapor, and remains a sympathetic figure, mostly because the Astapori slavers weren’t really human.

      Dany’s campaign in Slaver’s Bay really doesn’t have much in the way of obvious historical comparison. An essentially autonomous individual with the power to reshape whole nations, and the desire to do so motivated primarily by altruism rather than any sort of imperial design, is just not possible in our world.

      ita. There are historical parallels for much of what happens on Westeros. Dany is, as always, the exception. No one should be able to free a region of slavery in a couple of years (hell it might be less than a year) but I believe GRRM will allow her to do it.

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    33. I don’t think Dany will go down the mad road either. I really don’t mind Cersei as a mad queen but I think she’ll be more cold and calculating than stark raving. I can’t wait to see how Lena brings all that to the table next season! I’m also looking forward to seeing Emilia handle some more battle scenes.

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    34. Anonne: She’s evil but she wasn’t wholly evil. Hell, we rooted for her to kill the High Sparrow, if we are honest with ourselves

      Was anybody denying it to themselves? Religious whackjobs always are best when served well-done.

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    35. Wimsey,

      As I said, I certainly do. I wouldn’t choose to live under the High Sparrow’s preferred regime, but when the choice is him or Cersei, he wins every time. Cersei’s corrupt, sadistic regime has driven Westeros into the ground, claiming untold thousands of lives, and she has no interest in anyone but herself. The High Sparrow and his movement to sweep away Westeros’ aristocracy would be a huge improvement for most people living in Westeros.

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    36. Wimsey,

      Enough of Tolkien bashing. He was a professor who specialized in Nothern European myth cycles and based LOTR’s on those same myth cycles – i.e. He used the tradition of the heros journey to construct his own version of the same journey. If he hadn’t done so there would be no GOT.

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    37. mau,

      Thats the thing though ..there is no need for to talk her out of it because she wouldn’t have had the thought in the first place if not for writers wanting to foreshadow what’s to come in next episode and tyrion to do something ..

      I certainly can’t see dany ever saying I will crucify every masters after her reaction to the first time in the books..

      Dany has shown time and time again how she reads the situation and take the best out that situation ..she wouldn’t have need tyrion to say that she can go another route to get all those slaver fleet because that’s the first thing she would have thought of.

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    38. mau,

      I like that Cersei’s character is not black and white, she’s a woman in a man’s world fighting to survive and yes she certainly can be cruel and sadistic when push comes to shove. If you read back through Medeival history, there were Kings that did far worse than Cersei and today they’re held up as ‘heroes’ and their brutalities are played down. I expect she’ll finally meet her end due to her own machinations backfiring on her. I have enjoyed Lena’s portrayal of her though, fantastic actress.

      Dany, if the spoilers are true will show us her ‘Targaryen side’ once again and we’ve seen hints of that already. She also seems to think she’s owed the throne – no different than Cersei in that respect but she’s not bitter and hardened through loss the way Cersei is yet. She’s still young and smart enough to realize she needs to listen to her advisors even though you see her struggle with it at times, in the end she mostly does the right thing because she wants the Seven Kingdoms so it’s more out of ‘wanting the prize’ than having the patience to think of the consequences of her actions at this point. I expect if she lived a long life, eventually the Targaryen madness might overtake her but I dont’ think she’ll allow that to happen. I think she will finally recognize the darkness that lurks inside her during the upcoming battles and she’ll regret her impulsiveness. Perhaps she will sacrifice herself for the greater good proving she is better than her father and her brother Viserys were. That would be a bitter sweet ending.

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    39. I still have not gone back and rewatched 6.9 or 6.10. I was pretty scarred by last season, it’s pretty much unheard of for me to only watch an episode in GoT only once. At some point I’m going to rewatch the whole season after having taken some time off of it, but I don’t think it’ll change my perspective: there was a marked lack of creativity in the writing as compared to previous seasons.

      Hopefully D & D (who I still regard as excellent writers) can get in touch with their literary selves instead of just trying to connect the dots with crowd pleasing moments and get the story from point A to point B no matter how sloppily. Hopefully they can go back to the unpredictable and dynamic story telling that made GoT so original and different for me and made me fell in love with it. Not just a haphazard collection of squishy moments so the millennial viewers can feel warm and fuzzy.

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    40. I don’t think of Dany as evil or inclining that way. She’s been trying to learn how to rule and assume the mantle of her family, but hopes to break the wheel as well. She has bollocksed up at times and been violent at others but was also willing to listen to advice from Jorah, Selmy, and most importantly, Tyrion. He often counsels restraint, and like Davos being Stannis ‘s conscience , the mere fact that he’s her Hand means she chooses diplomacy and justice when possible. Some American president said “Speak softly but carry a big stick.” She’s firm in her pronouncements but uses the dragon stick when needed. I think seeing Jon’s, Davos’s, and other Westerosi perspectives will further modulate her fire and bloodymindedness, though it will never go away. She’ll employ it on an as-needed basis. Even Jon executed Olly.

      Cersei comes closer to the stereotype, especially as she chooses violence and does not restrain her underlings in their violent methods. And, yes, we did sympathise with her several times: the walk of shame, her battle with the High Sparrow, her treatment by her father and others. She is a nasty but cack-handed manipulator, but has three qualities for which she deserves some respect. 1) She lives up to her credo about the game of thrones–you live or you die and there’s no middle ground. 2) Show Cersei at least avoids the cardinal sin of the GoT/ASoIaF moralverse: she does not intentionally harm children. I think that is the ultimate ethics litmus test for all characters, too many of whom fail it. 3) She was doomed to act as she had, mostly by her gender but also by Maggy the Frog. A good explanation can be found at:
      http://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/game-of-thrones-cersei-lannister.html/?ref=YF&yptr=yahoo

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    41. Daenerys was, indeed, an imperfect ruler of Meereen and Cersei failed spectacularly as Queen Regent of Westeros … just as Robert Baratheon drove the Realm to bankruptcy, Aerys II descended into insanity, Theon Greyjoy botched his reign as Prince of Winterfell, Robb Stark was butchered at his uncle’s wedding for his bad decision -making and Jon Snow’s own men stabbed him to death.

      Men and women alike run the gauntlet of leadership styles in this series. Most fail. Some succeed. All struggle. Gender is not what determines who has and who does not have what it takes to win the game of thrones.

      I agree with this part more than the others. I agree with the others who said all characters can be said to be archetypes. If you start limiting characters into boxes, you can find boxes for all characters, not just the mad queen and the hidden prince. Ned the father figure, his children the orphans having to find their own way in the world, Dany the exiled princess etc.

      And it’s high time we had a female antoganist in this story. Every single antoganist so far have all been male and female have mainly been the “good” kind. Females, just like males, should be able to have different shades in them, white, grey or black. We are not doing female representation any favors by questioning every time they are portrayed as “bad” or “evil” (I think Cersei is more complicated than that).

      Since this is being compared with r+l=j, I assume the problem is that a male might be seen as a more competent replacement? But even Dany can be classified as the more competent replacement (no she is not going mad, it’s only a small minority who thinks that) and besides, cersei’s prophecy itself says that it will be a queen, not a king who will take everything away from her.

      Frankly I don’t think sexism is an issue here.

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    42. I think that there is a huge difference between book Cersei and show Cersei here.

      Book Cersei is Mad. Show Cersei is Competent Evil.

      The misogynistic archetypes “warn” against what happens when women have ambition and rise to power (in reality they are an expression of the insecurity of weak men against competition). A part of that “warning” is what Martin made happen to Book Cersei: the woman in question “can’t stand the burden of power” and goes mad.

      In comparison, Competent Evil characters don’t go mad. They are evil, but they are also ruthless, ambitious and, above all, competent. And ruthlessness, ambition are, actually, in our society usually positive characteristics – and competence, for a good reason, always is.

      And the thing is, in popular culture, Competent Evil characters are usually male (because there is no “need” for a “warning” against male ambition – in ye olden tales, there used to be warnings against “the scheming vizier/eunuch” upsetting the social order, but recently, such characters crossed into the realm of “antiheroes”. Think Littlefinger before it turned out that he was just a pedophile with an obsession for redheads.).

      So, in my view, as far as I’m concerned, it’s *great* to see Show Cersei being Competent Evil. I’m OK with women being villains, as long as they are competent villains. Not to mention, on the show, she’s also been given excellent reasons to be a villain – she’s been shat on her entire life by the people who were supposed to be closest to her: her father, her husband, her brother. She was humiliated in excess of her crime. The “gives no fucks” reaction is totally understandable, if not, to an extent, admirable.

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    43. As someone who lived through the Thatcher years, I’ve no problem with evil queen archetypes. You only need to look at Katie Hopkins to see they exist.

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    44. Corbyn Stark,

      Yep, Maggie – ‘The Iron Maiden!” 🙂

      Just hope Theresa May doesn’t suck up the ass of Donald Trump like as Maggie Thatcher did with Ronald Reagan! The same could be said for Tony Blair and George W Bush and look at the disaster that has caused in the Middle East since the second Gulf War 🙁

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    45. Yaga: Book Cersei is Mad. Show Cersei is Competent Evil.

      I think that the Show!Cersei we now have is more than a little unhinged. Her one redeeming feature, as Tyrion put it, was that she genuinely loved her children. Tommen’s suicide was a final straw: in that twisted “Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry” way, she expected him to know that she wiped out Margaery and the rest for his good; Tommen (obviously) did not see it that way. Basically, Cersei was four steps away from narcsistic sociopathy: and three of them are dead, and the fourth (Jaime) is estranged.

      Now Cersei has pretty much nothing to lose but also nothing for which to live. And that makes a person very unpredictable and unstable. Again, she’s not “evil”: she’s just a completely messed up, grieving person who already was largely devoid of empathy and nowhere near as smart as she believed herself to be.

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    46. Cersei is a great character in the show, the primary human villain, with LF as a close runner up. I think that she is more “evil” than she is “mad”. However I think that she has a Lot in common with how Aerys was early on. Plus some of her own father (the total lack of empathy for basically anyone). Add a sprinkle of internalized misogyny and you have Cersei.

      But, my definition of an evil person is a person who does evil things for evil reasons, and conversely rarely does good things for good reasons. The best we can say for Cersei is occasionally she does bad things for good reasons…

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    47. Queenofthrones,

      I personally think Cersei is more like Maegor the Cruel than Aerys the Mad King. She doesn’t seem “mad” to me but she is power-hungry, incredibly ruthless and pretty much a sociopath at this point. She is still a complex person overall and like I often say, there are no “good” or “bad” people… everyone has a choice in their actions.

      “The most dangerous person is the one who has nothing more to lose.”

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    48. While it does fall into a sterotype, I don’t mind the “Evil Queen” arc for Cersei because George brillantly explains why she’s so evil? Throughout the books you see: maggie the frog prophecy, death of her mother at a young age, and being forced to marry a thug who raped and beat her. The same one that is famous for killing the man she wanted to marry. Combine that with the fact that she lives in a patriarchal society that relagates her to 2nd class citizen and you see exactly why she’s so evil.

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    49. Lord Parramandas:
      Queenofthrones,

      I personally think Cersei is more like Maegor the Cruel than Aerys the Mad King. She doesn’t seem “mad” to me but she is power-hungry, incredibly ruthless and pretty much a sociopath at this point. She is still a complex person overall and like I often say, there are no “good” or “bad” people… everyone has a choice in their actions.

      “The most dangerous person is the one who has nothing more to lose.”

      That’s why I said she was likehow Aerys used to be – basically a selfish and cruel person who only cared about themselves. Also not particularly bright. And both increasingly used violence
      and torture (and wildfire) to secure their Power. Also I don’t think Aerys was actually insane until the very end. Just pAranoid and ruthless.

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    50. There is plenty of evidence that Dany will become a villain both in the books and show, the season 7 spoilers give further support. That does not make her pure evil and it’s clear this a character who struggles with internal conflict and likely slips over to villainy when she realises everything she felt entitled too isn’t actually hers by right so she will have to try to take it. I am not sure how this plays out but her death before the end seems a natural outcome.

      Cersei is similar she has a desire for power like Dany and her flaw is she loves her children.

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    51. Queenofthrones,

      Yes, I agree. I often hear people calling her “The Mad Queen” but her “evilness” seems more calculating one. A bit of Maegor/Aerys and also a bit of Tywin’s ruthless side, like you said. I hope she won’t become too cartoonish in next season.

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    52. Jon Snowed:
      There is plenty of evidence that Dany will become a villain both in the books and show, the season 7 spoilers give further support.That does not make her pure evil and it’s clear this a character who struggles with internal conflict and likely slips over to villainy when she realises everything she felt entitled too isn’t actually hers by right so she will have to try to take it.I am not sure how this plays out but her death before the end seems a natural outcome.

      I don’t read spoilers and I don’t really appreciate people making not-so-veiled references to them but honestly there are some people that will jump at ANY reason to label Daenerys (and Sansa, and Arya) “definitely going to be a villain”. Like, she gave a “let’s go get ’em” speech to some Dothraki (carefully leaving out stuff about rape/pillage etc) = OMG SHES GOING TO KILL EVERYONE IN WESTEROS. I do find it rather… odd how few people do this with male characters. People did it with Stannis but the evidence there was far more overwhelming. There are a few obscure theories about Bran (or Jon) maybe going in league with the Night’s King but these have never inspired the bloodlust of the “Mad Queen Dany” theorists. In the books anyway, Tyrion is literally a rapist but people rarely say he’s going to be a major antagonist to the good guys in the end, and never that he will go “mad.”

      I think when it boils down to it, the main reason people seem to want to make Dany a villain is so that certain male protagonists COUGHjonCOUGH don’t have to share the hero spotlight. And when I asked to please outline how Daenerys could actually become in opposition to characters like Jon who are also fightin gthe WW there’s never a good explanation. “She hates all Starks” (false) so “she’ll kill Jon/Arya/Bran without a second thought” (entirely out of character) or “she’s going to let the Dothraki rape and pillage” (she left that part out of the speech) and it goes on and on… I maintain There’s no way that Dany becoming a primary villain could actually work convincingly.

      I do agree with you that she’s likely to die before the end. But it will be while saving Westeros.

      Cersei is similar she has a desire for power like Dany and her flaw is she loves her children.

      Um if by “flaw” you mean “one saving grace” then yes? Loving others is not a flaw.

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    53. Petra, I always love the analysis you do in your posts, and am enjoying this discussion. Thanks for that.

      I have no trouble with archetypes – they are how stories began. Commedia de Arte in medieval Italy had stock characters that everyone knew, and we still recognize: Harlequin, Pantalone, Scaramouch, and that still carry on in some aspects throught our story telling – whether it be written, oral or filmed or staged. But good writers take these characters and shine all sorts of light on them, with different facets of their lives and interactions. You can make Cersei evil (and incompent) but you know enough about her to have seen other sides of her, and why she made the decisions she did.

      Men and women alike run the gauntlet of leadership styles in this series. Most fail. Some succeed. All struggle. Gender is not what determines who has and who does not have what it takes to win the game of thrones.

      yes exactly – that is why I love this story (book and show form) You don’t know who will win..

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    54. Sean C.,

      Yes perhaps, but what would take its place? Sparrow and his sparrowites aren’t going to be much better; they certainly don’t have a plan how they would govern. Them taking over would be frightening indeed.

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    55. QueenofThrones,

      Pretty much what I wanted to say

      Jon Snowed,

      .Cersei is similar she has a desire for power like Dany and her flaw is she loves her children.

      This quote in itself shows how much you have to learn about dany and yet to read ..
      Maybe instead of skipping those chapters put of bias why not give it read before actually making a point

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    56. Since we have gone way ahead of the books, lets stick to discussing only show-Cersei and understanding her character independent from the baggage of book details.

      Firstly, apart from the incest, the first major evil action she did on the show which made ppl hate her was getting Sansa’s wolf Lady killed. But again, from her perspective it was totally understandable not having a wolf around which has the tendency to harm and hurt her son. Like she tells Ned Stark later on that she admits it was an “extreme measure” but she had to take it for her childrens’ safety.

      Then onward, everything she’s done were always extreme measures which she had to take out of self protection and protection of her children/family. There were times when the opposing party could have chosen to exist with her in harmony and left her alone but they just would not back down thinking that a women like her is the perfect tool to made an example of and establish their own power and authority. She being a Lannister and all that ofcourse did not allow that to happen and only took extreme steps when backed into a corner such as with Ned Stark and the High Sparrow.

      Whereas the Tyrells are concerned, they did kill Joffrey first even if Cersei is yet unaware of it she could definitely sense that they will do whatever it takes to gain total control and leave her powerless. Her getting Marg and Loras jailed was exactly what Ollena made it out, to put them in their place and not more. However things went out of hand and then she tried to make up and work with Tyrells and her Uncle Kevan but all of them snubbed her and basically condemned her to a fate which if not death, would be equally worse. So she had one chance to kill them all and she took it.
      Just imagine had she not “chosen violence” and went with Lancel to the sept and detained there until her verdict, she would not be in any position to play the game and would surely be put in a position of being held as a permanent hostage to hold over Lannister forces.

      Lastly with Tyrion, she had her reasons for hating him but after spending time with him under extreme circumstances she did eventually respect him and would seek him out for a chat and open up with her. However the whole incident of Purple Wedding was planned to frame him and she was unable to see things beyond surface level which is a major shortcoming of hers. But she is in no way evil in my eyes. She would do anything a man would do to retain power. Now that her children are gone it would be interesting to see her character develop, but I would want to see some redemption and not make her go total mad queen and get killed my Jaime.. its been said so much already that it would totally be anti climactic for a great character such as Cersei now who is one of my favorites. Want to be surprised by her fate and not see predictions and poetic justice unfolding through various plot tools leading to her demise.. which is why IM GLAD THE SHOW LEFT OUT THE VOLANQUOR PROPHECY AND DIDN’T BIND THEMSELVES TO THAT OUTCOME FOR HER.

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    57. I have read all the books and watched each series of the show multiple times. Dany begins as a timid girl who fundamentally wants to do well, over time she battles that against some serious self entitlement issues and increasingly becomes more power hungry.

      It’s true I am not a huge fan of the character versus say Jon, Arya or Tyrion but I do believe she will be more villain than hero at the end and there is plenty to support that in both mediums.

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    58. Jon Snowed,

      You keep saying that for three years even though it is not happening in both mediums.. Yes there are theories and as Queen said there are theories for everyone like that and dany has more haters in this case and its blown up ..

      Maybe its time for a reread if you keep saying that she is power hungry and you have openly said you skip those chapters during rereads

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    59. MOTHEROFMADNESS,

      It’s the amazing amount of contemporânea and smugness she shows that makes all your points mute. Look at her face when she demands Lady’s death. That whole scene, It’s the perfect presentation of what she is all about. And we’re NOT passing her getting one of her maids tortured. Or forcing Jaime hand on pushing Bran. And yes she forced it, because Jaime would not haver fone it with out her saying so. So that’s 3 as far as I know, aside from a lifetime of making Tyrion life hell. All of this shows greatly the kind of person she is. On the First 2 Episodes no less.

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    60. MOTHEROFMADNESS,

      Jstoru,

      One of the most telling passages for me, as far as revealing Cersei’s true character from a very young age, was when Oberyn Martell told Tyrion about their first “meeting” when Tyrion was just a few months old. It was a bone-chilling memory, and served to show both Cersei for the icy, resentful, cold-hearted b*&^h she always was… and Jaime for the far more decent, but ultimately subservient weaker half, that he’s always been when it comes to all matters Cersei.

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