Obviously social mobility is very difficult in Westeros, the entire feudal/inheritance system is heavily geared towards preventing it. I'll look at a few cases of people who have upped their position.
Littlefinger was actually born upper class, as we British would call it, to a Lordly family, albeight one of the most lowly. While much has been made of his talents, possibly the biggest contribution to his success was actually his father befriending Hoster Tully when they fought together. Clearly one of the most important things for any social climber is to befriend a high Lord, and this meant Petyr was fostered with the Tully family. This meant Lysa fell in love with him, which helped him get his break as looking after the finances at Gulltown. He showed great ability there, which got him the Master of Coin job. As the son of a Lord, he still needed a big head start in life through and a great talent to get in that position. From there, he used an amazing ability to manipulate people and events, couple with an apparant complete lack of morality, to take official control of the Riverlands, and real control of the Vale. His "chaos is a ladder" speech was show only, but it shows his success well- even with his lead start, connections and talents, he needed the power vacuums the War created to make the gains he has. I always feel he has a certain vulnerability, in that everyone's loyalty to him is conditional, there would be no great backlash if he was betrayed.
Bronn's rise is another pretty noteable one- he has been pretty consistantly climbing the whole series. He is clearly an opportunist- he initially was hoping for reward from Cat, but when he realised he could get a lot out of Tyrion, he took his chance. He has great ability as a fighter, but has had to consistantly put his life in serious risk to get anywhere, starting with defeating the Eyrie's head of the guards. Again, the War was good for opportunity, earning his knighthood, when in peacetime he would probably find it hard to get respect from many high Lords. Like Littlefinger, his amoral viewpoint, including killing Tanda Stokeworth, has assisted his rise, as has knowing when Tyrion has served his worth. I feel Bronn shows how, despite all the chivalry and traditions and rules, might is right. It's no small task, but with enough might and cunning, a man can start with nothing and take over a Lordship. Still, perhaps the hardest part will be consolidating his rule, when the ancien regime will be so hostile to his lack of class or good breeding. His story has been really interesting so far, and I'm excited to see where else it goes.
A bit more of a positive example, and arguably even more a dramatic rise than Bronn's- as a lowborn and a criminal, he was the lowest of the low. His break was far more dramatic, and again it came in wartime. He saw an opportunity and he took it, again at great personal risk. This gives him an in with a great Lord, but what's great about Davos is that, in complete contrast to the other two, he has a great amount of morality and loyalty, and it actually serves him well. He has an interesting thought on social mobility once, when he thinks about how the other Lords shun him, but his sons fit in far better. True progression takes generations. Davos is a great character, one of the few it's very hard not to root for, but it must be noted that he has been so lucky. Not only with his near death experiences, but in finding a Lord/King like Stannis, who has relatively radical meritocratic views. Still, it's nice to see that you don't have to be an evil shit to progress in this world.
Edited by mankytoes, 23 June 2014 - 06:52 PM.