Saturday, April 28, 2012

How Does Marriage play a Political Role in “Game of Thrones”?

As a continuation of my last blog post, in which I introduced various female characters in the series “Game of Thrones”, I would now like to focus on the recurring motif of marriage. In the Seven Kingdoms, marriage is a whole other concept of what is in contemporary American culture. Mainly, marriage in Westeros is used as a tool to solidify a political tie between two parties. Almost all the marriages are arranged and females do not have any say in who it is they are to marry. As women are degraded as someone with no useful capabilities except to further solidify a political tie, they nevertheless are able to exploit their newly political status to further their power.

Unsurprisingly, Cersei Lannister’s political status as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms is acquired through her arranged marriage with now King Robert Baratheon. She does not love her husband and instead, has an incestuous relationship with her twin brother, Jaime Lannister. Her clandestine relationship with her brother and her motivation to keep it a secret leads her to kill the Hand of the king, Jon Arryn. Her marriage to Robert only signifies a nominal political tie to him and nothing more. Consequently, as women were expected to belong in the domestic sphere of the household, Cersei’s character breaks gender barriers. She only appears to be the wife of King Robert Baratheon, but in reality is plotting and  calculating almost every move the Lannisters make. Here's a video more on Cersei:

Another female character who is married in order to establish a political tie is Deaenerys Targaryen. Her brother, Viserys, her brother, forces her to marry Khal Drogo, the leader of the Dothraki. Because she is docile and expected to conform to gender roles, she does marry Khal Drogo. In exchange, Viserys is promised the Dothraki army to reclaim the throne, for the Targaryen siblings were exiled children of the previous king. In this case, Deaenerys is objectified as a tool to politically benefit her brother. However, Deaenerys gains a sense of belonging and community, comes to love the Dothraki people, and becomes queen, the Khaleesi of the Dothraki. Her character develops from the docile and gentle girl to an assertive and determined leader. The video below talks more about Deaenerys's character, her marriage to Khal Drogo and  her relationship with her brother.

 We also see the marriage of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully. Despite that Catelyn was initially in love with Ned’s brother, Brandon. However, after Brandon’s death, Catelyn married Ned. They eventually grew to love each other. However, she could not forgive him when Ned went away to war and he had an affair and came back to Winterfell with his illegitimate son, Jon Snow. Despite that Ned commits adultery, I still find that the marriage between Catelyn and Ned revolves around love and trust, unlike Cersei and Robert. Nevertheless, similar to Cersei, Catelyn does not let gender roles define her. For example, she ventures out to seek justice to find out the real culprit of pushing her son, Bran, out the window, when he saw Cersei and Jaime together. Her quest for the truth and her quiet tenacity allows to Catelyn Stark exert her political influence in the Seven Kingdoms.

1 comment:

  1. Though I've never seen the show, and don't really know anything about the characters you are mentioning, a show with so much focus on marriage is interesting. Back in the day in real life, this happened. Women were bargaining chips to gain position or political bargaining chips.

    I would say, from what you pointed out, that is seems as if the show is showing the wrongness of this principle. The women don't just let this happen. They realize the injustice done to them in having no voice or the right to choose their life. Then they work to subvert the system in having other relationships and plotting. It shows the women can accomplish stuff even if they have to be more sneaky about it than men because of their lower position.


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