Artist unknown, taken from here
Repost of a theory I posted to /r/asoiaf
Superficially, Cersei is the Mad Queen. Paranoid, with delusions of grandeur, and meeting more than enough criteria from the DSM to get a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder, Cersei appears to be Westeros’ answer to the cliche “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
As Queen Regent, she has – or thinks she should have – absolute monarchical rule over Westeros and, more importantly, over the Great Houses and families that she thinks are beneath the glory of House Lannister. However, she lacks the skills, tools, and intelligence to be the effective ruler she wants to be, and her plans are all undone by her own paranoid attack on Margaery Tyrell, resulting in her own fall from grace and naked Walk of Shame forced by the High Sparrow’s crusade against the sexual and other largesse that Cersei represents.
But what else does Cersei represent in the world of Westeros?
How can we assess femininity in Westeros through Cersei’s warped world view?
And where does her madness come from?
A woman’s weapons
Sansa’s observations of Cersei during the Battle of the Blackwater are illuminating. (This is ACOK Sansa VI, for those counting.) Through Sansa’s naive innocence, we see Cersei’s attitudes to rule: domination, flaunting power and wealth, and being feared are all more important than being loved by one’s people.
As they left, she turned to Sansa. “Another lesson you should learn, if you hope to sit beside my son. Be gentle on a night like this and you’ll have treasons popping up all about you like mushrooms after a hard rain. The only way to keep your people loyal is to make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy.“
Given what we later find out in TWOIAF about Tywin Lannister’s approach the the Reyne-Tarbeck revolt under his “weak-willed” father’s rule in the Westerlands, this is not that surprising. We don’t need to overanalyse why Cersei thinks this way: she thinks she is emulating her great father, the Lion of the Rock, who shows no mercy.
We also see what she thinks about the options available to women.
the young bride of one of Ser Lancel’s knights began to weep uncontrollably. The queen commanded Maester Frenken to put her to bed with a cup of dreamwine. “Tears,” she said scornfully to Sansa as the woman was led from the hall. “The woman’s weapon, my lady mother used to call them. The man’s weapon is a sword. And that tells us all you need to know, doesn’t it?”
”She noticed the look on Sansa’s face, and laughed. “Have I shocked you, my lady?” She leaned close. “You little fool. Tears are not a woman’s only weapon.You’ve got another one between your legs, and you’d best learn to use it. You’ll find men use their swords freely enough. Both kinds of swords.”
In this scene, drunk Cersei crudely educates Sansa during the Battle of Blackwater on what she sees as a woman’s only weapons – tears and sex.
This is the first indication we have of Cersei’s internalised misogyny. Whether through the lack of a maternal figure growing up, or because of something else, Cersei really resents her gender and what she perceives as the limitations placed on her due to her gender in society.
When we finally get to see inside Cersei’s head in AFFC, this internalised misogyny is even more striking. Every woman Cersei encounters is dismissed as a sap, stupid dove, dumb cow or any range of other animal-related scorn that Cersei thinks. She has some major, major issues about the role of women in Westeros, yet seems to think she rises above them all as Queen. But we also see her paranoia rising, and now that we’re in her head, we can see her grandiosity and delusions of cunning.
Cersei I AFFC:
If Tywin Lannister was truly dead, no one was safe . . . least of all her son upon his throne. When the lion falls the lesser beasts move in: the jackals and the vultures and the feral dogs. They would try to push her aside, as they always had. She would need to move quickly, as she had when Robert died. This might be the work of Stannis Baratheon, through some catspaw. It could well be the prelude to another attack upon the city. She hoped it was. Let him come. I will smash him, just as Father did, and this time he will die. Stannis did not frighten her, no more than Mace Tyrell did. No one frightened her. She was a daughter of the Rock, a lion. There will be no more talk of forcing me to wed again. Casterly Rock was hers now, and all the power of House Lannister. No one would ever disregard her again.Even when Tommen had no further need of a regent, the Lady of Casterly Rock would remain a power in the land.
Inconvenient facts, like Westerosi laws of succession making it likely that any male Lannister has a stronger claim to Casterly Rock than she does, despite her siblings being removed from succession through claims of the kingsguard or being a traitor, don’t enter Cersei’s thinking here. She never considers that her uncle Kevan has a stronger claim to Lord of Casterly Rock as Tywin’s brother than she has as Tywin’s daughter, or that Tommen could rightfully claim Casterly Rock as his seat on top of his royal holdings. Cersei is unable or unwilling to see the uncomfortable reality for women, despite spending much of the previous books complaining about that very thing!
NB: some posters on /r/asoiaf thought I was being too hasty to write of women as inheritors in Westerosi law. I’m not altering my theory, because my interpretation of GRRM’s world’s law is that women are basically screwed in any succession law sense. But I’m putting this note here as an indication that I’ve heard that criticism and taken it on board.
What is this about? Why is Cersei both so dismissive of women, and so unwilling to bow to the expected standards of women in Westeros?
Is it just because she is raised by men after the death of her mother when she was 7?
Yes, there would have been nannies and the Westerosi equivalent of governesses (Septas?) and so on around Casterly Rock, but it’s clear from all the Lannister’s POV chapters that the smallfolk working for their family were interchangeable, forgettable parts of the scenery rather than integral parts of the family. So within that context, Cersei has no maternal figure in her life after her mother’s death, except maybe her Aunt Genna Frey (who might have been around Casterly Rock.) Tywin ignores his fatherly duties to his children, seemingly withdrawing into his own depression and anger about Joanna’s death. He does continue to teach them by his own example that power means you are feared, you are ruthless, and you are manipulative. The Lannister children had no other examples of a more compassionate rule, like the Stark children had of the highly respected, honourable but loving Lord Eddard Stark.
Cersei grew up watching Jaime receive all the knightly training she wanted. She grew up watching Tywin effectively control the Seven Kingdoms as Hand of the King, and saw the power and influence that a politically savvy, intimidating man can have – and she wanted that too. She is jealous of the freedom men have in Westeros, as she sees it, whereas women are only things of use, chattels of their fathers and broodmares to their husbands.
She shows this to Sansa, in vino veritas, as she gets steadily drunker while the Battle of the Bywater rages:
The queen’s face was hard and angry. “Would that I could take a sword to their necks myself.” Her voice was starting to slur. “When we were little, Jaime and I were so much alike that even our lord father could not tell us apart. Sometimes as a lark we would dress in each other’s clothes and spend a whole day each as the other. Yet even so, when Jaime was given his first sword, there was none for me. ‘What do I get?’ I remember asking. We were so much alike, I could never understand why they treated us so differently. Jaime learned to fight with sword and lance and mace, while I was taught to smile and sing and please. He was heir to Casterly Rock, while I was to be sold to some stranger like a horse, to be ridden whenever my new owner liked, beaten whenever he liked, and cast aside in time for a younger filly. Jaime’s lot was to be glory and power, while mine was birth and moonblood.“
In many ways, Cersei’s attitude is not entirely wrong. Westeros is, as our medieval world was, incredibly misogynistic and the fate of women, especially those of noble stock, is all too often to be little more than broodmares.
But we see through other characters, such as Brienne of Tarth and her steadfast devotion to the true values of knighthood, Catelyn Stark and the examination of a respected highborn Lady and counsellor to her Lord husband and then royal child, Arya Stark’s off the beaten path adventures through Westeros and Braavos, and even Jon and Sam’s exposure to wildling women from beyond the Wall: there are other ways for women to live that don’t involve condemning all your fellow sisters as spineless saps like Cersei does.
Tyrion, who notices much, knows that Cersei has craved power beyond what the social norms of Westeros say women can expect. In ASOS Tyrion XI:
Cersei always resented being excluded from power on account of her sex. If Dornish law applied in the west, she would be the heir to Casterly Rock in her own right. She and Jaime were twins, but Cersei had come first into the world, and that was all it took.
Sadly, Cersei has not taken up the sword she craves in the same manner that Brienne of Tarth has done. Blessed with beauty, rather than Brienne’s frame in the model of her likely ancestor (Dunk the Lunk…) Cersei uses what she has been taught, somehow, to think are a woman’s only weapons: tears and teats. Soppiness and sexuality.
But she is not good at using the first, because she has difficulties understanding emotions. She doesn’t like her emotional responses to be anything other than contempt, anger or other emotions that she equates to power (noting above the Tywin example of power = fear, manipulation and ruthlessness.) She also has other reasons she can’t process emotions well, connected to her mental health.
It’s one of the great and beautiful ironies of ASOIAF that despite their relative positions of power at the start of the series, as things progress, much is being said about the merits of Brienne and Cersei’s contrasting choices and self determination. Cersei craves the power of Queen Regent over her boy king Tommen, but she can’t get it now thanks to her sexual conduct in a climate of puritanical distaste for sex out of marriage or multiple sexual partners. Whereas Brienne, who has staunchly refused to ever use the “woman’s weapons” of tears or sex, is living the life she has always wanted as a true knight in the model of Ser Duncan the Tall. OK, it might not be a particularly successful life right now, (yo, Brienne – your ‘maid of ten and three, red of hair and blue of eyes’ is in the Vale. Y’know: the one place YOU DID NOT LOOK??)
But… who is actually achieving their goals right now? The sexualised Queen Mother now a social outcast and laughing stock in King’s Landing, or the lone ranging lady knight?
Cersei and her Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Cersei’s mental health is fascinating to me. It makes her a nuanced and interesting character. It also helps explain (though not excuse) her more awful behaviour.
She is just a terrible person. An awful mother. A feckless and idiotic Queen Regent. She treats everyone around her, including her twin brother/lover and own children with contempt, distaste and scorn when they do not meet her standards – and by that, what she really means is when they are not a mirror of herself.
Cersei is truly mad, in a very real manner – not just in the sense of a literary device, but in the sense that she shows many symptoms of psychiatric illness. Disordered thinking, detachment from her emotions, paranoia, narcissism, delusions – these are all things that sum up Cersei’s mental processing and behaviour throughout the series.
I think the question of when exactly Cersei really lost the plot is interesting. As awful as Joffrey was and as nasty as Cersei is, no mother deserves to have their child die in agony in their arms. My theory is that while Cersei has always been unwell, as she has a personality disorder, she did not lose touch with reality and become psychotic until after the death of Joffrey. This was the trigger for her current breakdown, where her PD symptoms have combined with an increasing paranoia until she is no longer able to accurately assess her reality around her. Remember, despite it’s layperson association with violent behaviour, “psychosis” simply means a break with reality, not being able to tell what is real and what is not. While a person is psychotic, they will not realise that their thinking is as disordered or unrealistic as it is to an outside observer.
I’ve long believed that Cersei has, or is meant to be representative of, narcissistic personality disorder. Using a quick google to find the list of DSM symptoms (probably taken from DSM-IV, not sure if DSM-V has updated these), we can analyse Cersei’s conduct in light of the criteria for diagnosis with this particular personality disorder. She far and away meets the criteria for diagnosis, and a personality disorder certainly helps explains Cersei’s broader behavioural problems and the way she thinks about the world around her.
Firstly, I’m going to quote this website on what a personality disorder is, because the term is poorly understood.
A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates from the norm of the individual’s culture. The pattern is seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition; affect; interpersonal functioning; or impulse control. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations. It typically leads to significant distress or impairment in social, work or other areas of functioning. The pattern is stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back to early adulthood or adolescence.
So in plain language, a personality disorder causes:
- entrenched behaviours that don’t fit with the expectations for behaviour
- this thinking and behaviour is caused by dysfunctional formative experiences and neuropsychiatric factors (so it’s not just shit happening as a child or young adult, it’s also the way the brain is set up that makes the patient more susceptible to developing these disorders as a result of the experience that might only give another person anxiety, depression or PTSD)
- the person with a personality disorder will have inflexible thinking around these areas – their world is black and white, they have difficulty finding shades of grey in the areas in which they have firm views.
- the behaviours will often result in issues with thinking (cognition), “people-ing” or dealing with everyone else (interpersonal functioning), presentation (affect – how you present or seem to others) or impulsiveness (self explanatory!)
These are the symptoms of NPD that I think Cersei displays, and how. Note you only need to display 5 symptoms to be diagnosed with NPD. (I believe Cersei meets 8!)
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance – Cersei shows this from a young age, based on the stories we have from Cersei, Tyrion and Jaime’s POV chapters. She has been taught to expect and genuinely believes that Lannisters are better than everyone and that House Lannister deserves to rule Westeros.
I am Cersei of House Lannister, a lion of the Rock, the rightful queen of these Seven Kingdoms, trueborn daughter of Tywin Lannister
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love – everything about Cersei’s obsession with Maggy the Frog’s prophecy fits this. Not just her obsession with the “younger and more beautiful queen” that may “tear down all you love and hold dear”, but also her ongoing obsession with Rhaegar, and her steadfast belief in her own beauty. Up until her walk of shame, Cersei consistently thinks about how beautiful she is – Jaime and her other lovers told her so, and her beauty has been praised and prized since she was a child. This extends to believing that her dresses are being shrunk, rather than contemplating that she is putting on weight!
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) – do I need to elaborate on this? Really?? Everything about Cersei’s characterisation and her efforts to ensure House Lannister’s reign, and her conviction from a young age that she should be a queen, supports this limb.
- Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations – Cersei’s behaviour when accused of treason etc by the High Sparrow, and her behaviour while under the Faith’s arrest all support this. Even before, we see this in her expectations of treatment from Tywin – her rage that Tyrion is sent to be acting Hand while Tywin is occupied on the battlefield (surely her father should come to King’s Landing and support her son as King, stamp Lannister authority over Westeros? Never mind that House Lannister is currently at war with the Northern Kingdom!) Also look at her reactions when members of the Small Council try to limit her power as Queen Regent – she expects to be treated as the ruling Regent, despite Westerosi misogyny and the expectation that women are not “able” to wield power.
- Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends – Lancel. The Kettleblacks. Jaime even. Cersei uses her sexuality to bribe people into doing her bidding to get her way. And when she can’t fuck them, she will bribe them literally with Lannister gold.
- Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others – her treatment of Sansa in King’s Landing supports this. Despite the sanitised version of Cersei on GOT, book Cersei consistently shows a lack of empathy with Sansa’s position, or any other characters. She can’t believe that Robb and Catelyn are holding Jaime prisoner, even though she is holding Sansa prisoner herself.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her – again, do I need to address this? Cersei’s envy is so great I’m surprised she hasn’t turned green yet. She is envious of Jaime for getting to be born a boy. She is envious of Tyrion for his intelligence and ability to “block” her plans/competently run the Small Council for Joffrey. She is envious of Sansa’s youth and beauty. Envious of so many things throughout the books, even before we see inside her head.
- Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes – we see this behaviour from the moment of her first entry into the books. She turns up her nose at Winterfell, she is described as haughty, rude and arrogant by all characters through GOT-ASOS. Then we see inside her head in AFFC and all her arrogance is confirmed not just as people’s perceptions of her, but how she genuinely thinks and acts.
I believe that Cersei has NPD throughout the books, but she doesn’t display symptoms of psychosis (losing control or contact with reality) until after Joffrey’s death. She becomes more and more paranoid and imagines threats that aren’t present, and loses the ability to distinguish between real threats and imagined.
Hilariously, this manifests itself most clearly in her spiteful war with the Tyrells. She projects onto Margaery the sort of plotting that she herself is engaging with, and does not see the consequences of her behaviour as her consequences – think about how Cersei responds to being put on trial for the very same behaviour that she sought to have Margaery put on trial for, ‘carnal knowledge outside of marriage’ and other sexual behaviours considered crimes by a puritanical Faith of the Seven. Cersei thought she was invulnerable from attack, while seeking to condemn another highborn lady for the same behaviour she continually showed.
Hi pot, would you like to meet the kettle?!
The Mad Queen: Where next for Cersei and her increasing paranoia and delusions?
Cersei’s mental health, and her deterioration throughout AFFC/ADWD is key to the Game of Thrones side of the plot (NB: I believe there are two stories being told by GRRM – the Game and the Song, the political and the mystical.)
Cersei firmly believes that she deserves the power of the Iron Throne, that she should be ruling (or ruling by proxy as the power behind King Tommen as Queen Regent) simply because she is beautiful and the head of House Lannister, now that Tywin is dead – although her position as “head” of House Lannister is only uncontested in her mind.
However, the rest of King’s Landing’s power structures won’t let that happen. This goes deeper than Westerosi misogyny and the social barriers against women holding power. The Tyrells are forced to support Cersei’s claims to power, being the legitimacy of her children, in order to maintain their own. As Kevan Lannister points out to Mace Tyrell before his death, for Margaery to remain Queen, the Tyrells depend on Tommen’s legitimacy – and thus, the outcome of Cersei’s Trial by Combat, where one of the insinuations of the accusations against her is that Stannis’ claims of incest are true. (And let’s face it: they are. We omniscient readers know this!)
This doesn’t mean that Mace Tyrell or the rest of the Small Council plan to let the Mad Queen Regent continue to harass his family, have his daughter arrested and generally stuff up the kingdom. But Kevan won’t let them forget she is a lady, The Lady of a Great House: ADWD, Epilogue
“Whatever Cersei may have done, she is still a daughter of the Rock, of mine own blood. I will not let her die a traitor’s death, but I have made sure to draw her fangs. … She is to have no further voice in the governance of the realm, nor in Tommen’s education. I mean to return her to Casterly Rock after the trial and see that she remains there. Let that suffice.”
The rest he left unsaid. Cersei was soiled goods now, her power at an end. … Better to live shamed than die proud, Ser Kevan told himself. “My niece will make no further mischief,” he promised Mace Tyrell.“You have my word on that, my lord.”
It remains to be seen if Kevan’s wishes will be carried out after his death. Is there any Lannister left able to rein in Cersei, apart from Jaime? It would seem unlikely.
With Kevan gone, that’s the last of Tywin’s brothers out of the picture. Of Tywin’s sons, one is a Kingsguard and thus has forsworn his ancestral rights, and the other is a traitor to the Crown officially. Is Cersei the only person that can claim Casterly Rock? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Westerosi law is very misogynistic, and women have been shoved out of succession and inheritance across the lands. As the Lannisters showed in their plots with Sansa, where Tywin and Cersei forced her to marry Tyrion to claim Winterfell and the North, a woman’s claim to a title and lands only lasts until she is married – then her lands and titles are her husband’s. While Cersei has no wish to be married again, her father’s attempts to have her married off after a suitable grieving period for Robert in ASOS show that her wishes in the matter may have very little impact on what happens.
Technically Tommen himself has the best claim under Westerosi law to Casterly Rock – will he grant dominion of his lands to his Lady Mother? Or will he let it pass, under the advice of his Small Council, to another, more malleable Lannister, some cousin further down the Lannister branch? Or will he grant his mother Casterly Rock, and then be manipulated through his Small Council to have her married off, so that the Rock passes to a suitable pro-Tyrell candidate?
Cersei’s best bet of retaining control of Casterly Rock actually lies in her twin, and encouraging Jaime to give up his role on the Kingsguard to take up lordship and the role of Warden in the West. Jaime is also one of the few people that Cersei might listen to, although even that is a stretch.
Which poses another question – can Jaime assume control of House Lannister while still a sworn Kingsguard member? It seems unlikely. A big part of his vows is forswearing all allegiances to minor dominions and only being loyal to the king he guards.
If the answer is no, will the Small Council be willing to relieve him of his Kingsguard vows, and would Jaime even want that? This is the Lannister who has never wanted power or responsibility, the golden boy who has only wanted to be a knight. He is growing up now, finally, and Jaime’s arc in AFFC is all about taking responsibility for his own failures and the sins of his family, but he is still publicly towing the Lannister Line – leading Lannister/Royal forces in the Riverlands, commanding that the Tully prisoners be taken to Casterly Rock, and sorting out the chaos of the Riverlands in the name of King Tommen, First of His Name etc etc etc…
While Jaime might have gone AWOL at the end of AFFC (and remained AWOL throughout the parts of ADWD that extend past AFFC), he has not shown any interest in getting mixed up again in his sister’s chaos. Which is good for his personal development, but perhaps not so good for his family’s longevity.
What does this mean for Cersei going forward?
Her paranoia is likely to continue to grow out of control as she fights to retain her power against the establishment that considers her as soiled goods. No doubt Cersei will continue to fight to remain in King’s Landing, in power and act as though she is the Lady of Casterly Rock in substance as well as in her own mind. She has already indicated that this is her intentions in her thoughts as she does her walk of shame. Her pride and confidence has been dented, but not abandoned.
Barefoot and shivering she paced, a thin blanket draped about her shoulders. She was anxious for the day to come. By evening it would all be done. A little walk and I’ll be home, I’ll be back with Tommen, in my own chambers inside Maegor’s Holdfast. … The queen had to find another defender or today’s ordeal would be the least of her travails. Her enemies were accusing her of treason. She had to reach Tommen, no matter the costs. He loves me. He will not refuse his own mother. Joff was stubborn and unpredictable, but Tommen is a good little boy, a good little king. He will do as he is told. If she stayed here, she was doomed, and the only way she would return to the Red Keep was by walking. The High Sparrow had been adamant, and Ser Kevan refused to lift a finger against him. “No harm will come to me today,” Cersei said when the day’s first light brushed her window. “Only my pride will suffer.” The words rang hollow in her ears. Jaime may yet come. She pictured him riding through the morning mists, his golden armor bright in the light of the rising sun. Jaime, if you ever loved me …
Until she has to face the crowds, the thrown refuse and rotten food, Cersei still thinks she is untouchable. Until she slips and falls in dung, she still believes she is more beautiful than any woman in Westeros – but then she has this awful realisation while her nakedness is laughed at that her beauty has faded, her body shows that she has born three children and that the smallfolk have now seen her stripped and shorn of all the beautiful cascading hair and rich gowns she wore as Queen.
Cersei’s reaction to coming “home” and being picked up by Ser Robert Strong show that she still believes that this is a minor inconvenience standing between her current imprisonment and her rightful place as Queen Regent.
Interestingly, in this passage she thinks of the Red Keep as “home” – not Casterly Rock. This is in spite of her constant proclamations in previous books that she is the Lion, the power of Casterly Rock. Stripped of her power, sycophants and fripperies, she’s just a lonely mother wanting to get home to her son. Will this change the way she deals with the boy king Tommen in future books? Will she stop condemning him as weak and malleable in the hands of Margaery? Remember, her main beef with Tommen’s closeness with his queenly wife in AFFC was that Margaery was convincing Tommen to do things Cersei thought were unkingly, like mingle with the smallfolk and ensure that the people had sufficient food – in other words, rule through love rather than fear.
Where is Cersei’s future? Will she retire to the Rock and take up the reins as Lady of Casterly Rock, ruling her own little empire of servants and unable to interfere with Tommen’s reign any further? (Unlikely)
Or will she seek to remain in King’s Landing, and continue on her descent into the Mad Queen who burns it all down? (Bring it on.)
Many have predicted that the Chekov’s gun of the Aerys’ wildfire stashes under King’s Landing + Cersei’s increasing paranoia will combine in some explosive event in TWOW or ADOS, most likely during Aegon or Daenerys’ attempt to take the capital. I think this is a reasonable prediction, and would also be a narrative tool for Jaime’s bravery in stopping Aerys’ from carrying this out to become known to the broader Westerosi population. Maybe after he also takes down the Mad Queen for trying to blow up the city, they’ll stop calling him the Kingslayer?
Remember, Jaime has also noted with concerns the parallels between Cersei’s long held thirst for power and emerging fascination with wildfire, and his observations of the Mad King’s pyromania which led him to kill Aerys to save King’s Landing. Jaime has also compared Cersei’s thirst for power explicitly to wildfire – all consuming, dangerous and unstable.
From AFFC Jaime II:
Firstly, Jaime’s concerns about his twin’s capacity to be a competent Regent:
… His sister liked to think of herself as Lord Tywin with teats, but she was wrong. Their father had been as relentless and implacable as a glacier, where Cersei was all wildfire, especially when thwarted. She had been giddy as a maiden when she learned that Stannis had abandoned Dragonstone, certain that he had finally given up the fight and sailed away to exile. When word came down from the north that he had turned up again at the Wall, her fury had been fearful to behold. She does not lack for wits, but she has no judgment, and no patience.
Some people say that Cersei’s wild emotions point to Borderline Personality Disorder, but I think Jaime’s observations of her here are still in line with just Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Because she lacks empathy for others, she cannot comprehend that Stannis might actually want to protect the realm of men from the threat she has dismissed as bullshit (remember: Lord Commander Jon Snow did send out notices to all Great Lords, including the King on the Iron Throne, begging for help to fight the Others… so the folk in King’s Landing have been told of the threat up North – they just don’t believe it!).
Cersei can’t imagine people doing something for the good of the realm, so she can only process Stannis’ conduct within her narrow frames of personal glory – ergo, she can’t understand that Stannis’ actions might not be immediately connected to a further assault on King’s Landing. This is how Cersei brings herself to the conclusion that the impartial Night’s Watch have been “converted” to Stannis’ cause to fight her for the Iron Throne. She thought she had him beat when Stannis left Dragonstone, only to find out that Stannis didn’t just disappear off into the ether but was still hanging around. Remember, this is the same Cersei whose grand analysis of the Iron Fleet reaving up and down the Western coast of Westeros is that it must be part of Stannis’ plot…. she ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and can’t see the forest for the trees. Or mountains in some cases. She’s very like MacBeth, unable to see Birnam Wood when it’s on the move.
Back to Jaime: his observations of Cersei’s glee at the wildfire fuelled burning of the Hand’s tower.
Jaime knew the look in his sister’s eyes. … Even in the baleful glow, Cersei had been beautiful to look upon. She’d stood with one hand on her breast, her lips parted, her green eyes shining. She is crying, Jaime had realized, but whether it was from grief or ecstasy he could not have said.
The sight had filled him with disquiet, reminding him of Aerys Targaryen…
Jaime recognises that his twin has the same capacity for capriciousness, cruelty and harebrained rule that Mad King Aerys did in his day.
With Cersei further unravelling, what actions will she take to confirm her power or ultimately prevent anyone else from taking power?
What exactly will it be that forces Jaime over the edge to fulfil his role as Valonquar?