Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hate Cersei all you want, but make sure it's for the right reasons

**Spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire books 1-4**

I recently finished A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in A Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones). I have to admit that I found it disappointing. First of all, it only featured half of the cast, and two of my favorite characters were nowhere to be seen. Second, was the fact that it was more of a reaction to the events of Book 3 than an independent story of it's own. As a result, I was fairly bored. And third--well, Cersei.

Out of all the characters in the series, Cersei is probably the one who receives the most hate (other than Joffrey, of course). Ned Stark hates her, King Robert hates her, Tyrion hates her, and by the end of Book Four, even Jaime hates her. I'm sure most readers hate her, too. Hell, I would be lying if I said I didn't hate her.

But let's look at some of the reasons as to why everyone hates Cersei:

1. Cunning, selfish, manipulative, power hungry.

2. She killed Lady.

3. She hates Tyrion.

4. Incestuous.

5. Sleeps with people to get what she wants.

6. Had her husband killed.

7. Her entire campaign to take down Margaery Tyrell.

So why do I hate Cersei? I hate her because, as a queen, she cares far more about maintaining her power than she does about taking care of the realm (and because she killed Lady). But you know what? Robert was a shitty king, too. He was a useless leader, a drunkard, and a coward in any situation that didn't involve violence. He plotted to have a thirteen-year-old girl murdered, and he raped and beat his wife repeatedly over the course of their marriage. And yet, Robert doesn't seem to get nearly as much hate as Cersei. Why is that, exactly?

Now let's talk about the sex thing. Cersei cheated on her husband with her twin brother, and then went on to cheat on Jaime with half the knights in the realm. This was essentially what caused her downfall in the end--which shows the hypocrisy in Westeros' society. It was common knowledge that Robert fucked half the whores in the city, but if a woman like Cersei got caught sleeping around? That would mean her death. If the people living in that culture are raised with that mentality, then it's hard to criticize them for their double standard. But I would hope that modern readers would see things on more equal ground. Cersei slept with her husband out of duty (read: he would get drunk and rape her), with her brother out of love (squicky, yes, but mostly harmless), and with everyone else for strategic purposes.

Devil's Advocate: But isn't 'sleeping with people to get them to do unsavory things' kind of an evil thing to do?

Me: Cersei's sexuality is one of the few assets she has available to her in order to get certain things done. I'm not going to blame her for using that. I would sleep with my cousin too if that were the only way to prevent my abusive husband from having me and my children killed.

Devil's Advocate: But Dany doesn't have to sleep with people to get them to do what she wants.

Me: Dany has dragons.

The whole world of A Song of Ice and Fire runs on a black-and-gray morality. It's almost impossible to find characters in this series who don't do horrible things, and the ones who do reach this moral standard tend to die pretty quickly (see Ned Stark, Catelyn, most likely Brienne). Most readers understand this, and it's sometimes shocking to see what they're willing to forgive. Look at Tyrion and Jaime. Both are considered BAMFs, even though Jaime pushed a seven-year-old out of a tower and Tyrion had a man murdered out of jealousy. So if you're willing to forgive those actions (I still want Tyrion's babies) then think about why you hate Cersei so much.

I'm not saying you shouldn't hate her--just make sure you're holding her to the same standards as everyone else.

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