No, this is not a post about Pride weekend.
I'm currently reading through A Song of Fire and Ice for the fourth time, and (as with each reading) noticing new nuances. When you really delve into Martin's work, you start to see patterns emerge. Whether it's the role of the Trial by Combat or Jojen's Green Dreams, everything has a purpose. This read through, I have been struck by the portrayal of the Queens in the books. They are all proud, driven, vengeful and (like all of Martin's characters) flawed. Spoilers and insights worthy of a 6th grade book report follow after the cut…
Cersei, Catelyn (I am considering her as much a Queen as Cersei,) Maergery and Daenerys seem, at first blush, to have nothing in common, and yet each is unyielding in protecting their loved ones, blinded with vengeance against wrongs (real or perceived) and every bit as cold blooded and murderous as any man in the books.
I am not suggesting that Martin's portrayal of women is in any way misogynistic. Quite the opposite, his Queens are fully realized characters with emotional depth and strength. He points out the chauvinism of the realm, and yet allows these 4 women to be the driving force of the novels.
I was really struck by a few passages of Catelyn's when she admits to herself that she is the cause of the sundering of the realm. She takes on a huge amount of guilt, and in the third book returns as some sort of Revenant to exact revenge and somehow assuage that guilt. In some karmic sense, she gets what she deserves, as does Cersei.
Maergery and Daenerys are slightly different cases (perhaps because they grow into their role) Both are clearly vengeful and seek to right wrongs done to their families. Maergery uses guile and treachery to bring down the Lannisters, showing a steely side that was not previously even hinted at (other than her being a Tyrell, of course..)
Daenerys is the closest to a sympathetic character amongst these women, and yet she wars incessantly, kills thousands and wants nothing more than to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. It is her driving goal.
Are Maergery and Daenerys headed for a similar fall as Cersei and Catelyn? Are Cersei and Catelyn's roles in this saga complete? I hope the 5th book hurries up so I can find out.
Last 5 posts by Ezra
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