We will begin with Dany and her relationship with Daario. This quote, from Dance, gives some good insight into Dany:
How beautiful, the queen tried to tell herself, but inside her was some foolish little girl who could not help but look about for Daario. If he loved you, he would come and carry you off at swordpoint, as Rhaegar carried off his northern girl, the girl in her insisted, but the queen knew that was folly. Even if her captain was mad enough to attempt it, the Brazen Beasts would cut him down before he got within a hundred yards of her.
Dany is wishing that Daario would take her “at sword point”. This is interesting, and in a way it is very much the same as the events that transpired with Asha and Qarl at Deepwood Motte. Dany is happy and willing to put herself at Daario’s mercy in the name of roleplaying with him. In this relationship (or at least in that moment) Dany wants to take the role of submissive partner. It is also worth noting how the “girl” in her wars with the “queen” – how does this reflect an even deeper conflict within Dany herself? Who will win out in the end, the submissive girl who was wed to the Dothraki warlord or the fierce conquering queen? Or will they somehow successfully merge?
Now let’s turn our attentions from the Mother of Dragons to everyone’s favorite Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister. One might reasonably assume at first that he would be dominant to the bone, but wrt his relationship with his twin, Cersei, we see that this is not the case for much of the series. His outer physical strength belies his inner submissiveness—Cersei has him, for lack of a better term, “whipped”. While his twin’s affections are divided between love of power and love of him, Jaime’s mind is often consumed solely by thoughts of Cersei (for instance, take a quick peek at some of his early ASOS chapters).
Here are a few quotes that illustrate Cersei’s dominance over Jaime:
If truth be told, Jaime had come to rue heaving Brandon Stark out that window. Cersei had given him no end of grief afterward, when the boy refused to die. “He was seven, Jaime,” she’d berated him. “Even if he understood what he saw, we should have been able to frighten him into silence.”
Had Cersei remembered him afterward and hired this man Lady Catelyn spoke of, to make sure the boy never woke? If she wanted him dead she would have sent me. And it is not like her to chose a catspaw who would make such a royal botch of the killing.
And when Jaime first sees himself after his imprisonment, his first thoughts are of what his sister will think, revealing a sad sense of dependence on her:
The reflection in the water was a man he did not know. Not only was he bald, but he looked as though he had aged five years in that dungeon; his face was thinner , with hollows under his eyes and lines he did not remember. I don’t look as much like Cersei this way. She’ll hate that.
Of course, we see in AFFC how Jaime orders Cersei’s letter to be burned. Is this a sign that he is not only freeing himself from an unhealthy relationship (for the both of them), but also beginning to free himself from the poisonous ties of his family in general? Out of his siblings, Jaime appears to be the least like his father: he does not seem to desire power, and lacks the political drive of Tyrion and Cersei. Can Jaime assert his dominance through simply being his own person? And will he?
Now let’s look briefly at Jaime’s “other half” herself. Cersei is, for much of their relationship, the dominant parter. She rules Jaime his entire life, and, until recently, he has done almost everything she asks of him. But Cersei is not just dominant wrt her relationship with Jaime—she also tried to exert control over Robert. This is particularly interesting because in the Cersei/Robert relationship, one might assume that Robert would be the single dominating force. Not only was he her husband in this patriarchal society, but he was also her King. Yet Cersei loathes to be ruled by anyone, and her struggles with Robert reflect this. If anything truly “dominates” Cersei, it is her love for power.
Speaking of characters with a taste for power—what about Mel? She’s an interesting one, and, IMO, has a dominating personality. We see her try to dominate Stannis, and while occasionally she fails, many times she succeeds. Stannis is a rather unyielding man, and the fact that she can exert some influence over him goes to show how strong her will really is. The brilliance of Mel lies in her gift of persuasion, her ability to sway those around her to her cause. Clever and unafraid to use whatever means necessary to gain power, Melisandre is a classic dominating personality.
Last but not least, we come to the Great One himself, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. He is lauded by many as being a “totally self-made man”, a skilled social climber, and a master player of the Game (note: I do not necessarily endorse all of the aforementioned claims). When it comes down to it, is Littlefinger really a closet submissive personality?
Let’s look at his relationship with Cat. Though we have no LF POV and therefore cannot assess his inner thoughts, I think it’s fair to say that he is/was utterly obsessed with Catelyn Stark (and who can blame him?). Though he’s transferred his affections onto her daughter, Cat was the one who started it all. In their relationship (or lack thereof), Cat was the one who wielded all the power. He even risked his life to win her love, and has never seemed to have healed from the remaining scars. On the surface, LF seems to have a dominant personality, but is he really just a scorned submissive man, too weak to recover from a story of unrequited love?
Things to think about.