House words in Westeros aren’t just a catchy buzzword. They’re a mantra, an ethos to the way that this family works. Even after she’s Lady Stark, Catelyn Tully Stark makes decisions based on the Tully creed family, duty, honour. Daenerys spends her arc from Pentos to Meereen to the Dothraki Sea again figuring out what it means to bring fire and blood.
So if the Tyrells want to grow strong, work their way up the social chain, into positions of power, and have a Tyrell child one day be King on the Iron Throne… why marry the gay Baratheon brother?
This post could also be titled: the Tyrells knew all about the Lannister twins incest, because Mace’s enthusiasm for a Tyrell King only makes sense if he knew that a child born to Renly Baratheon had the best chance of ending up on the Iron Throne.
There’s so much being written at the moment about privilege in the real world. I’m going to try to steer clear of that for this blog, and focus instead on the representation of privilege that GRRM gives us in ASOIAF.
This blog is inspired by BryndenBFish’s latest blog on the factors that have led to the perfect political storm that Varys intends to exploit with the arrival of Aegon. What caught my eye was this observation about Jaime:
What Jaime could not understand was that the growing power of the sparrows was due entirely to his family’s actions specifically in the Riverlands. The army of sparrows that were massing in King’s Landing and the Riverlands were the expression of a popular outrage against the abuses committed during the War of the Five Kings. This is one of the flashing warning signs that Cersei should have heeded in her conversation with the High Sparrow. The sparrows’ grievances were built on a foundation of war atrocities that had been committed by her father and brother’s armies. So, while Cersei Lannister had allowed the Faith to rearm with the expectation that the High Sparrow and his army to be loyal to her and her son, these men and women were already hostile to the Lannister regime.
The Lannister children (Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion) are the epitome of privilege in Westeros. They are used to having everything that gold can acquire at their disposal, and complete political and legal immunity because of Tywin’s ruthlessness. This has led to the current climax of cock ups that constitute Cersei’s attempts to rule Westeros through her sons. In Westeros at least, the privileged are about to fall, and fall hard.
It’s not just that Cersei is so politically incompetent that she re-armed the Faith Militant, it’s also that Tyrion is lashing out because he wasn’t allowed to be The Lannister of Casterly Rock, and Jaime is continuing to enforce Tywin’s corrupt and cruel policies in the Riverlands.
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?
Mothers in A Song of Ice and Fire range from the overly loving to the point of smothering Lysa Tully Arryn, to the total narcissism of Cersei Lannister.
According to the Faith (itself representative of medieval Catholicism) and the medieval style gender-based roles for society, being a mother is the sole purpose of noble ladies. Breed and get out those heirs and spares, and raise them to be great lords and supple brides for other lords.
But what can we see in various mothers in ASOIAF? I might come back to this line of analysis in the future, but for now, have some thoughts on Cersei and Catelyn. Cersei’s is truncated a bit as I later adapted some of this for a more complex and nuanced analysis of Cersei herself, so bear with it…