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Cersei vs. Catelyn: Who is worse for their family?


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#1 Tyler Snow

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 05:53 PM

I think it is fair to say that both Catelyn Tully and Cersei Lannister cause some problems in their respective households. Either foolhardy political moves, silly actions, arrogance, whining, and general, I guess what you would call, stupidity. So, who do you think was worse for their family?

My vote is for Cersei. While many of Catelyn's actions, if not all of them, backfire in spectacular fashion or outright fail (Tyrion's trial in the Eyrie, Renly-Stannis conference, Robb's promised marriage to a Frey), one could argue, and I think effectively, that they were all out of love. Catelyn, though inept, was taking steps that I genuinely feel she thought were for the best. I'd say the only one that, on any level, made no sense was releasing Jamie. That was idiotic and ridiculous and the way that she dismisses it as a "mother's love" made my head hurt and probably gave me cancer.

Cersei, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. She, through an accident of birth, was granted great looks and high station and has taken that as an actual mark of ability. Meaning, she has done nothing to get where she is yet still thinks she is the equal of Jamie's martial prowess and Tyrion's mind condensed into one form. This arrogance is allowed to persist in that, when Cersei's schemes fail or she is outwitted, she blames it on her sex as a cop out instead of realizing that she is not, in fact, the greatest thing since sliced bread. She is power hungry, cold hearted, and, fair to say, a slut. Did I mention that she's incestuous AND a drunk? Hard to imagine that a person with all these qualities is a bad mother, right? Don't worry, she managed to raise Joffery who is sadistic, cruel, dishonorable, spoiled, soft, and maniacal. Also, right after having her husband murdered and when the realm probably would've benefited from a smooth transition, she can't control said psychotic son, who promptly executes the only hostage that was keeping the North from open rebellion.

Cersei, while on the subject of the family, manages to drive away Tyrion and make him a bitter enemy even though he does, by all rights, save King's Landing while Cersei was getting drunk and getting ready to have Illyn Payne go Mortal Kombat on the entire court. Drives Jaime away, her twin brother/lover, with a combination of her cruelty and her lack of understanding of the situation he is in. Essentially, causes the death of of her father via her paranoid rantings of Tyrion murdering Joffery causing the trial and that whole fallout. Then, after that entire shitshow, drives away her uncle, Kevan, and refuses to give up being Queen Regent and why? Because Cersei wants to be queen. She doesn't care about her children, her father, her brothers, her family. All she cares about is her legacy and getting as much power for herself as she can get her dainty little hands on. She lacks the intelligence and the political machinations to scheme competently and so, to get what she wants, uses the manipulation tool that every whore in King's Landing does. Pitiful ho. Life for Cersei, if it doesn't end at an early age, would be over when she was 40 or 45, whenever her beauty left her and would just be a miserable, stuck up bitch.

Catelyn is inept, but she's at least coming from a genuine and honorable place, even though some of her ideas deserved to get her a back hand or at least a quizzical, one eyebrow raised look. She also managed to raise a pretty badass gaggle of children that weren't born of incest so, she's got that going for her too. Cersei is just a a self-centered, high born prostitute with an extremely high opinion of herself. Yuck.

#2 LugaJetboyGirl-irra

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 06:33 PM

Ned vs. Tywin: Who is worse for their family?

#3 Joy Lannister

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 06:47 PM

Ned vs. Tywin: Who is worse for their family?

Ned.

btw I don't think that how sympathetic either of the characers is has anything to do with judging how much they have harmed their families (politically or psychologically 'worse' for their families we are talking about here?).
Either way, my vote is for Cersei too. She's the weakest link among the Lannisters, she's the cause for the war and almost everything bad for the Lannisters comes from her (*cough*Joffrey*cough*) and her stupidity.

#4 Raiki

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 06:56 PM

Ned vs. Tywin: Who is worse for their family?



A ) Ned.

B ) While I was expecting some feminist responses after I first read the OP, I didn't expect the first one to be so swift and so elegantly simple. Brava.


~R~

Edited by Raiki, 15 May 2011 - 06:56 PM.


#5 iamthedave

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:08 PM

Yeah, it seems weird to blame the mothers when the fathers have all the power.

It's actually more apt to say Ned vs Cersei, who's worse for their family? IMO, that is.

Cersei had all the power over her family, and Ned had most of the power over his. The bizarre thing is that I would say Ned vs Tywin but there's no evidence he's had much influence over the really important generation (Joffrey/Myrcella/Tommen vs Arya/Sansa/Robb/Bran/Jon/Rickon).

It's made more awkward by Jaime having no influence on his own kids, and I can't help but feel that if Uncy Tywin had taken a hand in raising Cersei's kids (obviously impossible given they were thought to be Robert's) they would have turned out better. I'm sure he'd have beaten Joff into shape. That man had ZERO tolerance for Joffrey's arrogant posturing.

#6 Tall Tyrion Lannister!

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:11 PM

Cersei by a long shot. for all the reasons that were mentioned

Also to answer the second question, probably ned.

#7 Chirios

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:23 PM

Cersei by far. It's not even an issue.

As for the second, it's a toss up. Tywin is a lot like those parents who keep forcing their children to compete, scarring them for life. All Tywin really needed to do was tell his children he loved them every once in a while and they wouldn't have grown up as fucked up. Ned is the other extreme, he accepts his children for who they are but he doesn't try and reduce their negative traits, and he chooses to tell them stories about great heroes instead of explaining to them the nature of the world as it is.

#8 iheartseverus

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:27 PM

A ) Ned.

B ) While I was expecting some feminist responses after I first read the OP, I didn't expect the first one to be so swift and so elegantly simple. Brava.


~R~


Nah, this seems really unfair to me. C & C are both major characters, both make major decisions that have enormous consequences for their families, as well as for a lot of other people. But, they should be off the table for criticism because they're... females? Nah, unfair. We've debated and argued over every character, every decision made by the character, down to the most miniscule nit-pick. Should Tarly have sent Sam to the Wall? Did it make him a monster of a parent, or just a stern and logical one? Is Littlefinger sniffing and creeping all over Sansa for political gain only, or is he at heart a pedo panty-sniffing slug? The list is endless, all the families come under intense scrutiny and criticism, the females of the families should be treated no differently. The point of feminism is equality in all things, period. Not special treatment, not being given a pass, not being off-limits to criticism if criticism is warranted. I mean, how many posts are on this board tearing Ned Stark to pieces for every decision he ever made that negatively affected his family, hell, every word he's ever spoken. Many, many thousands. Equality, that's all I ask. C&C are major players in this game, subject to the same intense scrutiny as everyone else. The only feminist nit-pick I have with the OP's post is the 'yuck, Cersei's just a high-born prostitute' stuff. In this paternalistic, martial world that GRRM has created, she uses the tools she has, that's all.

#9 Raiki

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:28 PM

It's actually more apt to say Ned vs Cersei, who's worse for their family? IMO, that is.


I actually like that question a lot better, and it also becomes much more difficult to answer. Both of them have made huge mistakes/miscalculations that have cost their family a great deal.

I think I would still have to say Ned, though. He single-handedly brought down an entire family with one ill-advised moment of weakness and sympathy for a woman who had just murdered his best friend.

Actually, on that note, with that one moment of weakness he started the War of the Five Kings. If he had taken Renly's offer, then Cersei would have died, but Renly/Robb never would have declared, Joff would have been swiftly deposed by Stannis (or not, but either way either Joff or Stannis wouldn't have been in the King picture), and the realm would never have bled enough for Balon to find his kingly ambition again. The entire war (and books 2-3) avoided in one fell swoop.

So yeah, definitely Ned.


~R~

#10 Erendis

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:34 PM

It seems like this was started to have more space to complain about the female characters in the books. Any negative comparison, like this one, is bound to degenerate into an endless debate about the pros and cons of the women in ASoIaF, especially Catelyn, Cersei, and Sansa (and sometimes Lysa). Basically all the "weak" and "feminine" women in the series.

Just to be clear, my statement above is not meant to add fuel to the fire; I just want to point out the futileness of debates like this one because of the essense of the question (this is truly about the role of the women in the series. This may not start this way, but it'll just become another thread related to that topic.) and the tone of the OP.

#11 Chirios

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:35 PM

The only feminist nit-pick I have with the OP's post is the 'yuck, Cersei's just a high-born prostitute' stuff. In this paternalistic, martial world that GRRM has created, she uses the tools she has, that's all.


Does she though? Her sexuality is only really necessary when it comes to Robert. There are other ways that she could convince many of the men in her service to do things, bribery, intimidation, subtle manipulation of character traits etc. Cersei is very quick to sleep with men in an attempt to manipulate them, to the point where she actually ignores other, subtler, safer methods of manipulation.

#12 Sivin

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:44 PM

Cat. She doomed Rob's war effort the moment that she released Jaime, and saved Cersei's ass by allowing Tyrion to live.

Granted, Cersei has done some dumb shit, but at the end of the day the Lannisters are still in power while the Starks are dead or exiled.

Also, I really like him, but Ned hurt his family more than Tywin.

#13 iheartseverus

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:49 PM

Does she though? Her sexuality is only really necessary when it comes to Robert. There are other ways that she could convince many of the men in her service to do things, bribery, intimidation, subtle manipulation of character traits etc. Cersei is very quick to sleep with men in an attempt to manipulate them, to the point where she actually ignores other, subtler, safer methods of manipulation.


But, you gotta be subtle to do subtle, see what I mean? Cersei's about as subtle as a sledge hammer, IMO.

#14 Raiki

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:52 PM

*This was going to just be an edit, but it ran away from me and kind of turned into its own post.*

@iheartseverus: I actually agree with you on most counts. I wasn't objecting to the question posed so much as the tone that was used. The 'backhand' and 'pitiful ho' comments were completely unnecessary and coloured the entirety of the post.

Also, iamthedave made a very good point that womeon in ASoIaF have very little control or influence beyond that of a generally-ignored advisor; Applying modern concepts of feminism re total and unweighted equality isn't really fitting.

All that said, you're absolutely right that every character is open to equal scrutiny, and if I gave the impression that I thought anyone should be 'off the table' for honest critique or a critical review of their actions, I appologize. I can assure you that was the farthest thing from my intent.

Well I think I've derailed the post enough here, so I'll just say that I may be overly sensitive and leave it at that.


~R~

#15 Lady Blackfish

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:54 PM

I'd say the only one that, on any level, made no sense was releasing Jamie. That was idiotic and ridiculous and the way that she dismisses it as a "mother's love" made my head hurt and probably gave me cancer.

My goodness, you must have flat-out died when Robb refused to lay down his sword and kept on fighting and knowingly and directly sacrificed hundreds of lives for what he dismisses as a son's revenge.

This arrogance is allowed to persist in that, when Cersei's schemes fail or she is outwitted, she blames it on her sex as a cop out instead of realizing that she is not, in fact, the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Cersei is arrogant beyond her abilities, but her grievances against the patriarchy of her society still usually have a lot of merit. There is a lot of potential for useful skills that she doesn't develop or realize, but her anger is one thing about her that I find very easy to understand. No, she isn't Albert Einstein, but even people less brilliant than Albert Einstein deserve to be treated better than she often is.

Edited by Lady Blackfish, 15 May 2011 - 07:59 PM.


#16 Chirios

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:56 PM

Tywin's inability to recognise that Jaime was a better swordsman than administrator divided them for years. Tywin's inability to recognise that Tyrion was the only child who came close to being able to match his father's intellect meant that Tyrion had to rely purely on instict, and self-taught leadership. Tywin's inability to explain to Cersei the delicacies of power, instead of seeing her as a womb to be sold off to the nearest king/prince, meant that she grew up resentful of her place as a woman, leading directly to her becoming the woman she was. Tywin's problem was that he raised his children the same way he led his soldiers, he expected them to do what he told them to do, when he told them to do it, without ever explaining why.

Ned's problem was different. Ned created a code to live his life by, saying x is right and y is wrong. He taught this code to his eldest son, who emulated him. To the rest of his children, he taught stories, things which he thought would inspire them to lead the correct way of life. Bran remembers his father telling them about The White Bull, Arthur Dayne, and the Dragonknight. The problem was that Ned knew that his code did not always fit every situation. He knew that sometimes you had to compromise. He'd done it himself, several times over. He didn't explain that to his children, ever. Sansa would've been a very different child had Ned explained to her the violence and cruelty he'd witnessed during the war. So would Bran.

Ned's problem was that he was a nice man. And I use the word "nice" deliberately. He was a good father. He understood his children well, but he didn't understand the world. Tywin's problem was the opposite. He was a hard man, one who understood the necessity of doing the cruel thing. He understood the world, but he did not understand his children. Both of them made mistakes as a result of this fundamental difference.

#17 iheartseverus

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 07:59 PM

*This was going to just be an edit, but it ran away from me and kind of turned into its own post.*

@iheartseverus: I actually agree with you on most counts. I wasn't objecting to the question posed so much as the tone that was used. The 'backhand' and 'pitiful ho' comments were completely unnecessary and coloured the entirety of the post.


Totally agree. I forgot to mention that 'backhand,' that did set my teeth on edge, for sure. Agree, too, that the pitiful ho and yuck were bummers. But then, Ned's been called every kind of idiot, everybody's glad about Joffrey being slapped silly by Tyrion, etc. Just seems we gotta keep a balance, is all. I appreciate your post.

#18 dcon

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 08:00 PM

Tywin's inability to recognise that Jaime was a better swordsman than administrator divided them for years. Tywin's inability to recognise that Tyrion was the only child who came close to being able to match his father's intellect meant that Tyrion had to rely purely on instict, and self-taught leadership. Tywin's inability to explain to Cersei the delicacies of power, instead of seeing her as a womb to be sold off to the nearest king/prince, meant that she grew up resentful of her place as a woman, leading directly to her becoming the woman she was. Tywin's problem was that he raised his children the same way he led his soldiers, he expected them to do what he told them to do, when he told them to do it, without ever explaining why.

Ned's problem was different. Ned created a code to live his life by, saying x is right and y is wrong. He taught this code to his eldest son, who emulated him. To the rest of his children, he taught stories, things which he thought would inspire them to lead the correct way of life. Bran remembers his father telling them about The White Bull, Arthur Dayne, and the Dragonknight. The problem was that Ned knew that his code did not always fit every situation. He knew that sometimes you had to compromise. He'd done it himself, several times over. He didn't explain that to his children, ever. Sansa would've been a very different child had Ned explained to her the violence and cruelty he'd witnessed during the war. So would Bran.

Ned's problem was that he was a nice man. And I use the word "nice" deliberately. He was a good father. He understood his children well, but he didn't understand the world. Tywin's problem was the opposite. He was a hard man, one who understood the necessity of doing the cruel thing. He understood the world, but he did not understand his children. Both of them made mistakes as a result of this fundamental difference.

Good post. I don't really hold it against him for not telling Sansa about those things, though, because it's probably not a normal conversation between father and daughter.

#19 zmflavius

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 09:17 PM

Cat. She doomed Rob's war effort the moment that she released Jaime, and saved Cersei's ass by allowing Tyrion to live.


Is that really fair? Jaime's release did start off a chain reaction that led to the Karstarks' desertion, but when Robb lost the Freys, he already had lost the war essentially, as much as he had lost it when Stannis lost on the Blackwater.

#20 Xenophon

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 09:36 PM

While many of Catelyn's actions, if not all of them, backfire in spectacular fashion or outright fail (Tyrion's trial in the Eyrie, Renly-Stannis conference, Robb's promised marriage to a Frey), one could argue, and I think effectively, that they were all out of love. Catelyn, though inept, was taking steps that I genuinely feel she thought were for the best.

I don't see how you can call her inept for those last two. Both were fine ideas; it's not her fault that the conference failed in spectacular fashion or that Robb behaved like a fool.

Edited by Xenophon, 15 May 2011 - 09:37 PM.