In light of the recent controversial episode regarding Sansa’s wedding night, I decided to post the second part of my discussion. If you missed the first part of the discussion, here it is. There will be spoilers in this discussion as well. And now on to the characters! So obviously in GOT, we follow a cast of characters, switching POVs. We follow Bran, Jon, Ned, Catelyn, Danerys, Arya, Sansa, and the dwarf. I’m probably only going to discuss Jon, Ned, Catelyn, Sansa, Tyrion, and Daenerys.
Let me start by saying that I understand why GOT is different from traditional fantasy in terms of characters. Martin is trying to subvert the traditional fantasy characters both the hero and the antihero tropes that are so pervasive in this genre. He does this by trying to create morally complex characters, with neither good nor bad intentions and even worse execution of those intentions. But I feel as though Martin didn’t truly accomplish writing morally complex at all and I have a particular problem with the way that Daenery’s story was written.
Jon Snow with his albino wolf. Can the symbolism be any more blatant? Despite saying these characters are morally complex, Jon really isn’t. In fact, he’s actually a fairly standard hero of the fantasy trope taking on an almost divine presence. Taking care of the other boys at the Wall. He’s an orphan, he has a following at the Wall, he sacrifices himself for others. Sound familiar? Yea…Also there are about 10 million references about him being a bastard and that got old quickly.
Ned would have been the perfect example of showing moral complexity. Instead, he comes off as being stupid and there’s really no mention of how he deals with his honor throughout the book except near the end. There is no sense of honor in this world and the attempt at making Ned have a shred of honor so he could have some internal conflict with who takes the throne at the end feels contrived.
He actually had a chance of showing charisma but just fell flat because all he would talk about were wenches and whores. Yup, there’s no room for character development with all that going on. I understand that this is the first book but having read an 800 page book, I expect some ounce of character development. Otherwise, why the hell did I follow these characters around for that long.
Ah, Sansa, the fan favorite. Yeah that was sarcastic. I think complaints about her a bit unwarranted imo simply because she is 14 years old in this book and she is being punished for being a dreamer. She yearns for that perfect fairy tale romance with Joffrey. She has fights with her actual fan favorite sister Arya which might I remind you is pretty normal for a teenage girl.
The problem with these characters is that their motivations are nothing relatively new. It’s not original. Catelyn is your typical mother who would do anything for her children. Her hatred of Jon for being a bastard is a bit out of the blue to be honest. She really has no motivation for hating him besides the fact that he is a bastard which is repeated over and over again. Yeah, we get it, he is a bastard and you hate him.
The biggest problem with her characterization is the fact that she is shown to be growing stronger throughout the novel through her love for the khal even though I have no idea how she fell in love with him. This is an abusive relationship for crying out loud. Now, sure, you can say maybe this is a loose case of Stockholm syndrome. Sure, this can show that D is a victim, and that this world is so twisted that this 14 year old girl is falling in love with her rapist. Fine. But this relationship is written very romantically so you know this relationship was not meant to be seen as bad.