Fans speculate that Jon will become a villain, but what about an anti-hero? (as opposed to Stannis who is an anti-villain
) Jon Snow could align with a rich history of tragically-fated antiheroes like Elric, Corwin, and Turin--all leaders of men, but cursed. For example, Turin seduced his sister, brought ruin upon his family, threw himself on his sword, but killed the evil dragon in the end. Jon has all the elements in place to go down this road: he's a "traitorous" bastard, a figure who by nature trucks in betrayal and doom. After ADWD he could embrace this imposed identity to the fullest, as he embarks on increasingly morally questionable actions, justified in his mind as payback for all the wrongs he's nursed over the years, while overall not doing much to improve the bastard image .
Lit critics love to point out the origins of the antihero in Kullervo, from Finnish mythology. Here's an interesting summary of one of the Finnish myths:
The death poem of Kullervo, like Macbeth in which he interrogates his blade, is famous. Unlike the dagger in Macbeth, Kullervo's sword replies, bursting into song: it affirms that if it gladly participated in his other foul deeds, it would gladly drink of his blood also. This interrogation has been duplicated in J.R.R. Tolien's The Children of Húrin with Túrin Turambar talking to his black sword, Gurthang, before committing suicide.
It's not a stretch to see the parallel between Gurthang, Stormbringer, and Lightbringer: they kill both enemies (Others, dragons) but also friends, family, lovers, and the owners themselves. Jon's not going to be a hero with a capital H, nor is Lightbringer going to be the Consequence-Free Magic Sword. Moreover antiheroes are people who lead complicated emotional lives. Heroics (a dirty word in ASOIAF?) are subtly masked under layers of entitled psychology and outwardly awful actions, which lends anti's a tragic quality instead of a triumphant one. For example, a reviewer of Children of Hurin
brings up an interesting point about Tolkien's notion of tragedy that no doubt influences Martin:
[The tale of Turin] is a tragedy, not in the Aristotelian sense (for there is precious little catharsis here) but in the northern-European sense of humans encountering an overwhelming fate with defiance. And that is at the heart of Tolkien's conception of heroism; precisely not achievement, but a particular and noble-hearted encounter with failure; not how you triumph, but the spirit with which you resist the fate you know to be unavoidable.
In other words the story isn't about "Jon as AA," its about his process
of resisting the role as a "cursed" figure (whether a bastard, a traitor, or AA himself), acting "heroically" (but only in his own mind), and by the very act of resisting his fate/nature, he inflicts great personal misery on himself and others.
Edited by Keep Shelly in Athens, 20 August 2011 - 10:40 PM.