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What Game Of Thrones taught me

learning from game of thrones

After 60 episodes (and 5 books), you'd have a pretty good idea about who the good characters are and who the bad characters are. But by paying a closer attention, I realize that the story is constructed in such a manner that we are bound to like some characters and hate some.

Subconsciously we form a good image of the character from whose perspective the story is being portrayed. We all love House Stark right? Because they are honorable, noble? Or maybe because almost half the story of GOT is being portrayed from the perspective of House Stark. There have been times when we failed to question or condemn decisions made by a Stark that had horrible consequences while we were not fine when the same kind of decisions were made by other characters and had similar consequences. Let's look at the stories of Rhaegar Targaryen and Robb Stark and how they made similar decisions and most of us still hate Rhaegar Targaryen for what he did and not hate (if not love) Robb Stark for doing the same thing.

Now if you don't remember Rhaegar Targaryen, he was the son of Aerys Targaryen - the mad king. Rhaegar Targaryen was, against his will, married to Ellia Martell (to establish political stability in the realm). According to Ser Barristan Selmy, Rhaegar never liked killing. Instead, he was a singer and used to sing to the common people in the streets of King's Landing. He was in love with Lyanna Stark (who was again against her will betrothed to Robert Baratheon). He supposedly* kidnapped Lyanna (though R + L = J theory says it was a two-sided affair). This started Robert's Rebellion and the rest is history. Now let's talk about Robb Stark. After Ned Stark is beheaded, Robb gathers the banners of the North and rebels against the kingdom. When he arrived at the twins, he needed the help of Walder Frey to cross the river and gain an advantage over Lannister armies. Robb Stark, a tactician agrees on a marriage pact. He was to marry Walder Frey's daughter. However, honorable Robb falls in love with Talisa, ignores (read insults) the marriage pact and decides to marry her. This results in Red Wedding and the death of Robb, Catelyn, Great John Umber and many others who believed in him, in House Stark and had proclaimed him the King In The North. Both Rhaegar and Robb did what they did for love and the actions of both of them resulted in the death of innocent people and of course in a war lost.

Let's look at some of the other characters. From the first episode, I loved (read respect) Arya Stark. She did not just want to be a lady. She knew what true empowerment was. But things turned out pretty bad for poor Arya. She faced a lot of struggle but never lost hope. But looking at Arya from another angle, you see a teenage girl consumed with vengeance. Vengeance brings me to our new beloved Stark. Sansa! Sansa has been through unimaginable horrors first at the hands of Joffrey and then at the hands of Ramsay. But just like her sister, she came out to be stronger. She with the aid of Jon gathered whatever northern forces they could and along with wildlings led it to the Battle of Bastards. She didn't tell anyone about the vale army though. The only logical explanation of her hiding the Vale army would be that she wanted to avoid a siege. She knows Ramsay. She knows if Ramsay realizes that Jon and Sansa have a larger army, he would not meet them on the battlefield and remain in Winterfell i.e. a siege situation. This would result in the delay of them acquiring Winterfell. But Sansa was so consumed with vengeance that she was ready to let Jon and with him, thousands of others die in the battle. For what? A castle? A revenge? Does Rickon mean nothing? Shouldn't Love overpower hate?

Jon! Wildlings! Ohh yes, Alliser Thorne. He was a bad guy, right? Maybe or maybe not. We hate him for killing his Lord Commander, a half Stark. And Starks are our favorite right? Their enemies are our enemies. Now I don't like him much but what he did wasn't very wrong. Alliser Thorne became a brother of Night's Watch after Robert's Rebellion. He was serving the Night's Watch for the past 20 years. He knows how wildlings have pillaged the villages and raped women and killed children for as long as the history is recorded. What he saw was a naive Jon Snow bringing in the enemies with whom they have a sour past. And when he was hanged, his last words, unlike some others, weren't asking for mercy. His last words were that he fought and he lost and that now his watch will end. Those are the words of a man with honor. While Alliser Thorne was not wrong, neither Jon nor the wildlings were wrong. Everyone did what they think was right.

What different would you do if you were Cersei? Her motivation clearly is her immense love for her children and her fear of Maggy's prophecy. What different would you do if you were Jaime? All he saw in Bran was someone who could expose his love. What different would you do if you were Tywin? He killed Tysha because all he saw in her was a whore who was stealing his family name. And family name is what drives Tywin. What different would you do if you were White Walkers? They were created by children of the forest to kill all the men. And what different would you do as children of the forest when the first men wage war against you? I can go on but I think I have made my point.

What GOT teaches us is that the right and wrong aren't as clearly defined as we want them to be. Good characters are really not that good and at the same time, bad characters (Exception: Joffrey and Ramsay) are not really that bad. There is no black and white. Things are gray. Things are really perspective. It is just that motivations of different people are different. Some people are driven by love, some by honor and law etc. We usually see what people do. What we fail to see is the reason behind their doing. More often than not, those reasons turn out to be really compelling and you realize had you been in their shoes, you'd probably have done the same thing. 

13 comments:

  1. Nicely Written! Appreciated ��

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  2. Thanks a lot Rishabh! Glad that you liked it.

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  3. Amazing as always... i really loved the last para. Great blog nick keep it up..

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  4. Amazing as always... i really loved the last para. Great blog nick keep it up..

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  5. Good One Hetalbro. keep it up.

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  6. I Loved your conclusion. :) well written.

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  7. u have an impeccable command over language. Its altogether a different level of experience when I go through your blog. keep writing like this and keep surprising!

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  8. Thanks a lot bro. Do read my newest post: Why are Indian farmers poor?

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  9. "most of us still hate Rhaegar Targaryen for what he did"

    Not really, we hate the mad king for the things he did. What Rhaegar did pales in comparision to what Aerys did, and even still, Rhaegar did not do anything by himself, Lyanna played her part too. Remember, "it takes two to tango".

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  10. I do not disagree but when you juxtapose Rhaegar and Robb, Robb seems to be a better man when he clear is not.

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