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Everything posted by pudgiebudgie

  1. People don't want to read walls of text. I understand. When I look at GOT's ending of character's arcs, I first thought "This makes no sense. That makes no sense." Sound familiar? And furthermore, all GRRM's "story morals" seemed to be about political power. Why was this a fantasy story at all? ASOIAF does have a CORE message, which intersects EVERY major character and story. This message is: The importance of protecting children, and the consequence of failure The psychological weapons and tools unprotected children create to protect themselves from the world The ways these tools and weapons are frequently harmful both to the individual and the people they love The cycle of trauma, anger, abuse, that these damaged children thus continue to spread All those character decisions and story decisions that seem to make no sense? THEY ALL MAKE SENSE. Yes, even in the TV show, they make sense. Dany's choices make sense. Tyrion's choices make sense. Jaime's choices make sense. Each and every one of them. Why was this a fantasy? Because it allowed GRRM to write many, many different versions and segments of that core message without making it blatantly obvious what it was about, as it would be in a non-fantasy story. LOTR was fantasy to simplify the story of powers ability to corrupt. ASOIAF is fantasy to intentionally make complex the story of children suffering harm. Below, I have identified this theme very in-depth for Sandor Clegane's story, and following that, very briefly for other major characters, as I write it. If you want to get the gist of my argument, skip to the other characters, then come back up to read Sandor's, and see how I pulled the puzzle apart. Sandor Clegane was a true knight. He did not die two times, but THREE times. You cannot fully understand Sansa's and Arya's story and character without understanding Sandor's story and character. The characters of Sansa and Sandor are heavily obscured, from the reader, from other characters in the story, and even somewhat from themselves, intentionally so. Their stories both concern people who struggle to reveal themselves to the world, and in that fashion, they are just as hard to understand as such a person would be in real life. They both have a surface interpretation, and a deep interpretation. And by understanding Sandor's story, and then understanding Sansa's story, you can understand the primal theme of ASOIAF. So, first to understand this let me explain Sandor's story, as that has been my "Rosetta Stone". I'm going to make my claims, and you may at first think "Where the hell are you getting that from?" but please read through the reasoning of each claim, then tell me where it doesn't hold up. Who is Sandor Clegane? Sandor Clegane was born a true knight, but was terribly wounded in the deepest part of his psyche; not just by his brother, but by the failure of others to protect him from his brother nor to protect his true heart and philosophy from being broken by this fact. Sandor is the male counterpart to Sansa. Their names are not a coincidence. They have a "core essence" = Dreamers. Idealists. Poets. Dancers. Lovers of love itself. Hopes. Songs and stories. Faith. Romantics. Everything, in other words, that is weak and apparently entirely disproved and degraded by ASOIAF. The other parallel between them is that nobody ever properly protects either of them. + Ned kills her protection in Lady, and he only ever gave her pleasant truths (Compared to Sandor, who only gave her unpleasant truths). Following that, she rejects her fathers protection, putting her in further danger and leading to his death when he keeps trying to protect her as a prisoner. He didn't TELL her that there was danger or that she needed to be protected at all. This was faulty protection. + Tyrion protects her a bit, out of his general principles, but he also is massively enabling his family to hurt her in the first place. Their wedding night shows this; he “protects” her from himself- his own doing. She knows it is not true protection. + To an even greater and grosser extent, Littlefinger only protects her from danger he explicitly creates. Like he tried to “protect” Cat from a threat that wasn’t real. This illusion of true protection both confuses and jades Sansa. + When she finds Jon, he does not protect her. She has to return to littlefinger for protection from Ramsay (dunno how that plays out in the books). Bran does not protect her - he explicitly tells her he watched her suffer but could do nothing. Arya actively threatens her. She still loves them and they her, but it is a love entirely cold. Her fans wanted her to finally find a defender and happiness, but she never did. This fact reveals that her story maps against Sandor's quite well in this regard. Now back to Sandor. Due to his wounds, Sandor becomes the Hound, who is the male counterpart to Arya. As others have pointed out, the Hound's namesake was probably the Irish legendary hero Cú Chulainn - Chulainn's Hound - a warrior who became so berserk and furious in battle he could not be recognised by his friends. The Hound and Arya's shared essence = Righteous Anger. Hatred of evil. Warriors. Destroyers. Murderers. Remorseless pursuit of revenge. What's the point of him? So, why is he in the story, and why is he a clean 50/50 mirror image of the two Stark sisters? Simply put, Sandor Clegane is Sansa and Arya's joint Nissa Nissa, and they each kill their own half. He dies for BOTH of them, at BOTH of their hands, and each time he does so WILLINGLY. Then he dies a final and third time at his own hands. Let me begin by inserting his symbolic imagery and outlining his story from the start: + The Hound was the knight from Bran's vision, who, when he opened his visor to speak, was hollow inside. His threats and insults were empty; he did not sincerely mean them. All that spilled out from him was bile, poisonous cynicism and hatred, and it spilled over the girls he tried to protect. + The Hound is also the blind dog from the Ayrie, who tried to protect Sansa, but was too weak and crippled to do so. Who nevertheless comforted her and sought comfort in her, and whom she wished was Lady. She understood, at this point, that the Hound had wanted to protect her, but been unable to, and she wished he had not failed her. His personal trauma fed his terrible hatred and cynicism, and he spread this trauma to both girls unintentionally as he tried to protect them. This is a consequence of he, as a child, not being protected properly. His tools of survival were crude and brutal, and they hurt anyone who got close to him, even if he didn't want to. And he didn't want to hurt them. So, what he did to try and stop hurting them was to fight and defeat himself. He had to overcome his own trauma to allow this, and as we see in the greater story, very few characters managed to overcome their own trauma. He was one of the few. First, the Hound was killed, because the Hound had hurt Sansa. Arya killed him. Then, Sandor was killed, because Sandor was still hurting Sansa. Sansa did this. Finally, Sandor Clegane and the Hound in body were killed, at his own hand, because he needed to do so to rid the world of the cause of his pain, which had caused him to hurt Sansa. (And he also didn't want to hurt Arya, but I don't think he really hurt her to any degree like he did Sansa, and Sansa was his primary motivation at all times.) Connection with Sansa We start with him with Sansa, and the Hound is ascendant. The presence of Sansa rekindled the "core essence" inside him. It re-wounded him through the Hound's shield, and caused the Hound to become even more savage and cruel in defense. But at the same time, Sandor was interacting with her too. The Hound was responsible for everything he said to her, but Sandor was responsible for everything he did to her. The Hound terrified her, but Sandor attracted her. Sansa and Sandor are like two magnets with rapidly switching polarities, attracting and repelling each other with frightening speed and intensity, such that both were overwhelmed and confused by it. Critically though, this is why their story had to start with Sansa being so young. Any much older and her inability to figure out what was going on would have been more unrealistic. As we see, she DOES figure out what was going on, but too late. When we see her increasing understanding of his love, her memories of him become increasingly embellished and romantic. Sansa regularly "edits" her memories to make them less painful and more in line with her emotional understanding of the event. Unfortunately this can't be shown in the show, so their story is even more difficult to see there. What's important about this delay between him displaying his love and her understanding it, is that he was gone before he shed the Hound, so she only knew him as the Hound. Additionally, because their interaction occured while she was still a child, it forms part of her core childhood experiences and trauma, which, again, very few people can overcome. Sansa is not one of them. She finally "accepts" his love, and cherishes it closely, but what's important to understand is that she accepts the Hound's love. But prior to that, she rejects the Hound's protection, so he leaves. She invoked Lady just before he offered it, and this invocation was for a protector who possessed "core essence". The Hound did not possess enough for her, so even though he responded to her cry for help, she was too repulsed by the ugliness of his philosophy to accept. When he left, he ripped off and discarded his cloak. This was obviously done in delirium, because that could have gotten her in extreme trouble. To have the cloak of a grown man and traitor found in her rooms? He wasn't fully aware of what he was doing. He was "blind" to what he was doing to her, and he also believed she would never love him, so had no expectation she would trust his advice. The Hound's Cloak The Hound's cloak was the shield between Sandor and the world. It was his determination to cut off his own emotions, never expect or accept love from anyone, never give it out, and protect himself, because no-one else would do it for him. The "bile" that poured onto Sansa from his mouth was the instructions for this self-annihilating survival strategy. When she rejected his physical protection, he gave her as a "parting gift" the psychic protection he himself had used, and the only protection he knew. In other words, he spread his trauma onto her. He poisoned her with his bile. But he had nothing else to give her. He gave her everything he was capable of giving at the time. In the Blackwater, we saw him physically discard his cloak, and her physically take shelter under it. But she didn't accept and don it until much later, when all her hopes were depleted. The summer silks she kept it under were her hopes. She didn't want to have to wear it, and crucially, he didn't want her to wear it either. But she did. (Edited Addition) Side note: People may say that this scene at the Blackwater was omitted from the show, so it can't have been that important. But the show did in fact include a scene of the Hound's offer of marital protection. After Joffrey has Sansa stripped, and Tyrion intervenes, the Hound practically leaps forward to cover her with his cloak. The shot frames the two of them, as she looks up in acceptance, framing the two with prisms of light reflected through stained glass. Just as prisms of light are reflected onto marrying couples in Westeros. Then, as Tyrion offers her a somewhat open offer of help, she rejects him coldly. Under the Hound's cloak, her resolve is iron. She protects herself. Connection with Arya We then see him with Arya, the Hound, already wounded by Sansa, falters under Arya's offensive. It's extremely clear that he didn't kidnap and protect Arya for the money, nor for her own sake initially. He kept her because she provided a link to Sansa for him. First, he hoped a real tangible link, by getting him in with the Northerners as ransom. But even after her family died, he kept her because Arya and Sansa had the same family genesis. Whatever similarities he could see between Sansa and Arya were a clear indication of their underlying values. Whatever differences he could see provided a highlight of what was unique to Sansa on top of that; the "core essence". By looking at Arya, he saw Sansa in greater clarity. But by looking at Arya, he also saw himself in greater clarity. Because Sansa was who he was born as, but Arya was who he had become. Seeing the differences and similarities between them forced a separation between his own two halves. Arya's anger, hatred and violence were not motivated by contempt for humanity, loss of faith and rejection of love like he believed his were. They were motivated by a desire to defend the values, ideals and virtues she had been raised on. He could begin to see how the Hound had formed around Sandor's core. What's more, he wanted to protect Arya from becoming more like him. The only way to do so was to let Sandor reach through the Hound and touch her; let her see that a pure core could become degraded and corrupted. Her parent's values were not defense enough against suffering his fate. She had to become self-aware. Arya is not a self-aware character by any means. Unlike Sansa, who spends most of her time in internal repose - some of it self-clarifying and some self-obscuring - Arya almost never indulges in self-reflection. As a result, she hates her own nature when seen from the outside. Her hatred of the Hound was formed extremely early, when he killed her young friend. But she herself killed a young boy in her first act of murder. And she never once reflects on this fact, that she committed the same crime she wants to kill him for. The only part of the Hound she can connect with is the Sansa half. When someone who is so much like her exhibits that "core essence", she realises it is comforting, compelling, and she does not have to reject it to remain herself. Her hatred of the Hound continues to dismantle that portion of him, and he allows this willingly, for two reasons: First is because he believes it is bringing him closer to his own "core essence", and thus Sansa, his true desire. Second is because he can see now how the Hound's attributes in Arya are hurting her, and he wants to protect her from them. He can only do so by effectively bearing his own wounds to her. Show her how the Hound is simply armour over a heart, so she can recognise her own armour as distinct from her heart. Eventually, her refusal to show him mercy and her rebuke of him not being a true knight slays the Hound. His first death. After the Rebirth When he emerges from his period of healing, Sandor is ascendant, though the Hound's mannerisms linger. (He did live most of his life as the Hound, after all.) Sandor and Arya now have a close and personal connection; Arya loves Sandor as a friend now that he has shed the Hound. Sandor also believes he understands what he did wrong with Sansa: He approached her, wanting things from her, trying to access her "core essence" without permission, in whatever way he could. Doing so hurt her, and she wouldn't accept his protection. This time, he believes, he will simply protect her from afar, never approaching, never asking. He can protect her without hurting her, and this will bring peace and satisfaction to his "core essence". The above can be inferred from the fact that when they unite in the same place again, we see him never speak to her or try to be physically close with her. But we know he desires her and wants to be with her. So why does he not act on this or even display it in any way? The best explanation is what I have outlined. Now let's move forward to when they do finally interact. The Second Death Why did Sansa wait so long to speak to him? The surface answer is that their interaction simply wasn't important enough to the story to be squeezed in before then. This is an intentional obfuscation. Why would she wait so long? Even at the end, it is in her nature to thank people, coldly, for what they have done for her. And she must know by now what he has done for her sister, too. If she has no lingering sentiment towards him, positive or negative, she would simply do that and then not speak again. If she hated him, it makes sense she would wait until after the undead were defeated, so as to use his sword against them. But then she would only approach him to accuse, and probably tell him to get lost. Let's also remember that she is now a practised manipulator, and is more effective the better she knows what someone wants. And she knows what the Hound wants. People are interpreting his "only one thing would make me happy" to mean his brother's death. But look at the context: Another woman goes before her, and he drives her off. Sansa sits down, and he allows it meekly. She asks what would make him happy, and he gets angry and defensive. Come on! Sansa knows he wants his brother dead and she knows what his brother did to him, because HE TOLD HER. (In the books, but it applies here too) If this was what he wanted, he would just repeat it to her. Instead he gets emotional. We all know what he wants, and Sansa knows it too. Because she's known it for a while now, and she wouldn't even have to give it to him to get him to dance on her strings. If young Sansa had realised what was happening and left with him at the Blackwater, she could have made him carry her on his shoulders all the way to Riverrun, or Winterfell, or wherever she liked. She could have called him Stranger and fed him carrots, and he would have enjoyed every second of it. He's a fattened, dimwitted duck with a crossbow pointed at it's forehead, sitting there looking stupidly at it. Sansa can see this expression on his dumb duck face. ("Men do stupid things for women.") Why would she pass up this opportunity to gain a loyal servant? Instead, she approaches and simply... waits. Take a look at her during this scene. At this point she always appears like a fortress, like she has become Winterfell itself. (Which perhaps she metaphorically has) The castle made of ice that Littlefinger helped her to build. He did this by both giving her techniques to protect herself, and also by continually hurting her, so she was forced to use them. Her chain necklace, I originally thought symbolished Littlefinger's "leash" on her. But it remains after his death; It is Sansa's own chain on herself. But even more than usual though, when she sits opposite the Hound, she has an almost inhuman control and rigidity. She looks like a very feminine bulwark. She expresses nothing. And she just sits, and waits for him to act. Consider also the setting: a crowded, loud tavern environment. Tons of people around. But nobody could hear what they are saying. He cannot touch her or do anything to her, if he was inclined to. She has chosen what she views as the safest possible area to meet him, and she "surveys" him first as well. Sansa feels threatened by him. Sansa is on full alert, total lockdown, all-stations-manned defense against him. But she also willingly confronts him. If she's so afraid of him, why not just get her people to eject him from the premises? She's in power now, and he has no power at all. If she's afraid but wants to keep his sword around, why not keep avoiding him? And why wait until after the undead are defeated? Because she is afraid of him. Because she knew she needed to be as strong as possible during that ordeal, and she could not afford to risk any damage whatsoever before then by speaking to him sooner. And really, why is she afraid of him at all? The surface interpretation would be that she knows the Hound hurts her feelings, and she's protecting herself from that. Sure enough, his first remarks are judgemental (You have changed), but like the judgemental remarks he made to Arya, they were not meant as insults but as attempts to help her see the route she had taken, so she could backtrack it, like he had. His second remark lets her know that he knows what she has been through, and is a typical barb from the Hound. So, although he grieves the loss of her innocence, he understands exactly how and why it happened. Yet both times, she has zero response in her armour. They ping off her like nerf bullets against a tank. Child's play. But then he reminds her that he gave her the opportunity to avoid it all. Probably this is fuelled by some lingering resentment still that she rejected him, but he obviously knows why she did it. He's not trying to find out why she made the choice she did. Partially, he is also letting her know that he is here to protect her now. He makes his claim with such emotion at the end that it's clear he still feels the desire to protect her. This breaks Sansa's defense, and it breaks it dramatically for who she is now. Sandor is the giant who comes trampling through her carefully constructed ice castle, not even knowing what he's doing, all "Hurf durf imma giant", breaking through her glacial stronghold as though it was a snow fort. It is not Littlefinger's head that she rips off in a fit of rage and stakes on her battlements. It is Sandor's head. Why?: Sansa's pain is too great to suffer this intrusion into her heart. Both Sandor and Arya, in building their mental fortifications, were able to use violence, force, and inspiring fear in others as defenses. These were available early in their lives, and were effective as both offense and defense. But Sansa didn't have this option. Sandor does not realise, that the damage to a completely vulnerable person, is much greater than the damage to one who has some ability to fight back. Her ice castle is taller, it's walls are thicker, it's paths more treacherous. Sansa had no offensive capabilities. She had to build a monumental defensive structure to compensate. Yet despite the tenacity of her construction, which has held against so many other, mortally dangerous threats, Sansa is terrified of Sandor. And rightly so. Because he busts through her defenses without even knowing what he's doing. When he reminds her that he could have saved her from all her suffering, saved her hopes and dreams, provided her with the love she always wanted (even if she never returned it), maybe even let her see her family again before they all (including her probably) died, she breaks. She doesn't fear the Hound's cruelty. She fears Sandor's kindness. Draw back a bit here: In the show, it is indicated that she is sexually mutilated like Theon. She tells LF that she can always feel what Ramsay did in her body. She is shown eating soup with Theon, a food for invalids, while everyone else is in bed with lovers. Whatever her damage is, she cannot tolerate being with a man physically any longer. This is part of her overlap with Jeyne Poole. Jeyne's fate symbolised Sansa's own: The Hound saved her life, but didn't take her out of danger properly. So Littlefinger was able to snatch her up and destroy her life again. In the books, Sansa's damage will likely be only mental and emotional, but the impact will be the same: She will. not. tolerate. love. Hoping for love caused her pain. Believing people loved her - Joffrey, Petyr, Willas, etc. - caused her pain. Sandor threatens to make her love again. Sansa panics. Sansa rebuilds her defenses, even stronger than before, to expel this threat. Perhaps, Sansa even knowingly wounds him to drive him away. She reaches out to him, touches him. An intimate connection that he is unprepared for. Then she tells him she is almost happy he did not protect her. She is happy the little bird died. She's happy with who she now is. Strong enough to defend herself. Strong enough to defend others. And she tells him that he provided her with this. He DID protect her. The Hound loved her, and so she trusted in his words and advice. The Hound offered his cloak to Sansa, and Sansa accepted it. She married the Hound; she warged into his skin; she took over the castle he had vacated and rebuilt it as her own. He did this to her. Now, without this protection, she probably would have died. If she had remained naive and not been given good instructions on how to protect herself from Littlefinger, she would probably have slipped up, failed in her schemes, fallen for LF's lies, or even just been overcome with depression as she had after her father's death, and let herself die. The Hound did save her life, but at the cost of her heart. And this realisation murders Sandor Clegane. She, in her castle of ice, slays him. He loved her heart. He hated the Hound, and he let Arya kill it. And now he comes back to the woman he loves, prepared to defend her selflessly, and she tells him he has already killed her. He gave her the knife, he told her where her heart was, and then abandoned her, so she had no choice but to push it in. She doesn't want him, and refuses to love him. She loves the Hound, who protected her in a way no-one else ever did, including Sandor himself. And his heart shatters. His few remaining hopes of being able to watch and love her from afar turn into ash. He realises he can't avoid hurting her. Because he hadn't thought she had any fondness, any trust or love or belief, in the Hound. He was totally blind to the possibility she could have had it. But she did. He caused her to love him by offering her the only selfless love she ever had after her family's death and removal, but she loved him as she had known him: as the Hound, his poisonous side. He had spread the trauma that enveloped him onto her; spread his disease. Now, even his presence with her was causing her mental anguish, as he reminded her of what she had potentially lost. He could not co-exist with her without hurting her. So he stopped wanting to exist. And Sandor Clegane died. ---------------------- The next time we see him after this - on the surface - unremarkable scene, he is ready to die. Why would he have come all this way, and then just decide to go kill something that's not even his brother anymore, and that Drogon could have easily taken care of? If he wants revenge so badly, why does he instead seem so resigned? Not having any reason or desire to live any longer, he returns south to finish the last unfinished thread of his life. He doesn't really care about his revenge. He just wants to know Gregor is in the ground. His brother ruined him, and in turn he ruined Sansa. The last thing he can do is purge the world of the cause of it all. To kill him, he has to accept being burned once more, the final triumph against his childhood trauma. What's notable is that Gregor did not cause his death, even by mortal wounding. Sandor killed himself to kill Gregor. Sandor dies consumed by fire. Sansa lives, buried under ice. But wait! Even if Sandor was Sansa's Nissa Nissa, how was he Arya's as well? Surely that doesn't make any difference to Sansa's story? It's actually pivotal to it. The strategy of personal defense that Sansa adopts from the Hound aligns with Arya's own personality and temperament. Sansa begins to understand how Arya sees the world; how Arya operates, not in a conscious fashion but a practical, actively lived one. As she fell in love with the Hound, she connected with Arya, in just the same way that as Arya fell in (platonic) love with Sandor, she connected with Sansa. Each Stark sister killed the half of him that she originally aligned with, and each bonded with the half of him that the other aligned with. Arya kills her half of this man to reach Sansa's half. And Sansa kills her half of this man to reach Arya's half. What Sandor possibly did not know, was that while he failed to protect Sansa and Arya sufficiently, and even caused Sansa damage, he actually protected them in an extremely profound way, which enabled both of them to survive. He protected their love for each other. As their initial reciprocal contempt and life circumstances pulled them apart, there was ample gaps between them for Littlefinger to try and insert his knives. The Hound himself was one of the things that they fought over in the first book, with Sansa being extremely defensive of someone who has threatened to kill her and she knows has killed another child, when you think about it. The existing friction between them is aggravated and pried open by Littlefinger in another attempt to isolate Sansa completely, forcing her to be reliant on him, as she previously had been. But the two sisters overcame his attempts, and killed him together. How were they able to understand and trust and love each other, when they had never done so as children, and someone was actively forcing them apart? Because Sandor Clegane had been their spirit conduit. He had given each sister the chance to love the aspect of the other, and understand the ways it was superior to her own, as well as the ways it was inferior. He let each of them "kill herself" and embrace the other. He let them do this, despite the pain it caused him, despite having to fight through his own immense trauma to do so. Driven only by love for the two of them, never having experienced any love from either of them as he did it, he sacrificed everything for them. He died first by Arya's hand, for Arya. He died secondly by Sansa's hand, for Sansa. And he died third and finally by his own hand, for himself. That was the sum totality of his life. The Threefold Death His death is a threefold death. There's two types of this death. One is a person who "dies" in three ways at one moment (say, stabbing, hanging, drowning). Another is a person who has three separate death moments, which is the kind he has. Here is some discussion of this topic from Encyclopedia Of Indo-European Culture (https://archive.org/stream/EncyclopediaOfIndoEuropeanCulture/Encyclopedia_of_Indo-European_Culture_djvu.txt). I have clipped out some bits and added my own emphasis. Obviously Sandor's story is not following these rules fully, but he *does* make a cowardly flight from battle. He also kills a child, which is the major sin (and I believe major theme) in ASOIAF. I haven't given it enough thought to see if he has a third obvious sin. But the parallels here are clear. A warrior commits sins and must atone for them in a threefold death. Furthermore: So killing oneself *for* oneself can be part of a threefold death And Sandor dies by falling. His death for Arya could be seen as blood sacrifice. Another similarity, as he died by fire. Finally: His fall with Gregor parallels a hanging. His wound in the vital part of his thigh parallels a quartering. And his wound to his heart and desire for love parallels a castration. Conclusion: This was a romance between two people who did not reveal themselves to the world, or even explicitly to each other. Even when young, Sansa did not always speak her true opinions - she spoke what she thought she should say. But Sandor could see her behind that, and eventually, when she was old and wise enough, Sansa could see Sandor behind his obscuring words as well. Their story is similarly obscured; hidden; only able to intuited by hints. Despite being a heavily obscured part of Sansa's story, it is actually critical to understanding her story properly. Although the Hound was only a portion of Sansa's story, and a smaller portion of Arya's, Sandor's story itself was entirely dependant on Sansa's. If the story threads and arcs of ASOIAF were arranged in astral orbits, such that each Stark sibling was a planet orbiting the story of house Stark, and that story was part of the galaxy that orbited the story of the seven kingdoms and so on, Sandor's story was a moon to Sansa's planet. Although her story has a fair portion independent from his, his story is the cypher to unravel her details. Though he is himself not straightforward to decypher. Without this understanding, Sansa's story appears to be a cold, entirely heartless mockery of the belief in true love, in true knights, in stories and songs. It is gloomy, depressing, and an undeserving fate for a girl who never hurt anybody, and never was provided proper protection. But with his cypher, her story is illuminated: She had her true knight. She had her true love. He loved her exactly as a knight should; from afar, with chastity, without reward. And it is a song of heart-strangling romance, where every note of the traditional romantic score is struck, in an almost imperceptible, ultrasonic tone. It mirrors what we know of the story of Florian and Jonquil; a fool and knight who fell in love with a lady, who was menaced by some monster, and ended in flames. He fought and defeated Littlefinger not by ever confronting him, or even knowing he was the true danger Sansa faced. He defeated him by loving Sansa, loving her sister, giving Sansa the strength to kill the monster herself. And though neither of them had a happily ever after, he gave Sansa maybe the happiest possible end she could have in the brutal winter of Westeros.
  2. ASOIAF looks like a mess of non-overlapping story messages and morals at first glance, but look deeply and you can see that there is only one main story being told: The importance of protecting children, and the consequences of failure. The psychological weapons and tools unprotected children create to protect themselves when others will not. The ways these tools and weapons are frequently harmful both to the individual and the people they love. The cycle of trauma, anger, abuse, that these damaged children thus continue to spread I have put together a series of entries for both major and minor characters showing how each and every one tells this story in a slightly different way, but how all point towards the conclusion we finally see. https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/ But I'll summarise a couple of major characters here. I always thought GRRM's stuffing his story with prophecies was lame, but it in itself is symbolic, because nearly all his prophecies can only be interpreted correctly after they have taken place. This is analogous to how, once each character's story is done, we can see how they were predicted right from the start, from their earliest traumas. Every character creates tools and weapons to protect themselves out of whatever small protections they were given as children. The success or failures of Dany, Jaime, Jon and the rest to break out of their own suffering and stop the cycle were limited or helped by the support or opposition others made to them, and how it interacted with their trauma. His story is not blatantly obvious in what it's about because in real life, people's traumas, their coping mechanisms and the way they hurt others are not blatantly obvious. The story of the white walkers is this story. The children of the forest, lacking help or protection from anyone else, created a terrible weapon to defend themselves from men. But this weapon eventually ended up destroying themselves and those around them. In trying to defeat it, they ended up sharing their trauma again and again, eventually ending with Bran, who was able to finally end the cycle. But only because he had support and love from his family. The white walkers embody the theme which each character story contains. Daenerys' attempts to break the cycle of abuse were doomed to fail, because she never properly healed from her own trauma. The death of her brother made her view violence as protective. The only man she trusted hurt her but protected her, with violence. Despite knowing "better", violence felt protective to her, and whenever she used it, she was trying to heal herself. But this was a self-destructive act. The harder she tried to heal, the more she hurt those around her. She never trusted and loved enough anyone who could have given her instruction on how to pull herself out of this. Despite so many advisers speaking of diplomacy, Dany trusted none of them. Here's her entry demonstrating this: Daenerys Jaime and Cersei's joint trauma was the terrible secret they carried from the world, and each had to protect the other from being discovered. His father offered him no emotional protection of any kind, and he could not confide in Tyrion. His father also led to him keeping a terrible secret from Tyrion as well. Cersei was the only source of emotional protection from shame, symbolised by his public shame for kingslaying even though he did the right thing. Despite trying harder than most other characters to redeem himself, nothing and no-one ever gave him protection from his trauma of shame besides Cersei, and in the end, he couldn't overcome the need for it: Jaime Jon's trauma was abandonment. From his mother, from his family, from Winterfell, from the Wall when he was captured by wildlings. But unlike Dany, he had a solid foundation of emotional protection that Ned had given him, and other characters also supplemented. Jon wasn't a "better" person than Dany at all. They were equally noble. Equally entitled to the throne. Equally desiring a better world than the one they had been born into. He made opposing choices because his life experiences were so different from hers, and he was enabled by those that loved him to make the choice to break the cycle by killing Dany. Jon Theon's trauma was a fear of not truly being loved, because he didn't "belong". His quarrels with whores were sparked by this fear of love that was falsely given. His failure to resist his father's demands to turn on the Starks are due to his fear being inherent in the "iron price"; if you paid for something, it didn't belong to you. Only what you took belonged to you. His arc of betrayal and redemption was deeper, then higher, to emphasise how turning away from the love of his "true" family, and then returning to it, were the underlying causes of his choices and fate. If he had not been loved by the Starks, he could not have been redeemed. Theon Arya's trauma was not only the death of her father, but the fear that she would be "crushed" by the restrictions of the world once she left the protection of childhood, where she was indulged to run wild. Arya was one of the few characters who never particularly wanted protection, but she often was given it anyway, and didn't refuse it because it could lead to her fear of having to grow up. As she was exposed to the true horrors of the world, she fell deeper and deeper into the hatred and rage that had been fueling her since early childhood. When Sandor protected her, he finally gave her an understanding of the tools she needed to protect herself from her own rage, which even her family had not been able to provide. Her parents hadn't needed them, so why would they have them? Arya's ability to not fall completely to her dark nature was thus enabled by protection and love from others, not solely her own will: Arya And Sandor, who obviously I have written the most in-depth post on, because he was the story I first discovered this theme in, was one of the few characters who managed to redeem himself (and he DID redeem himself) without being given any love by others. Lacking protection from his own family, forced to cling to the Lannisters for protection from death, and never supported to keep alive his desire to help the world, he devised his own protection in the form of the Hound. This was ultimately his downfall, as he inadvertently spread the trauma of the Hound onto Sansa, who "wears his skin" at the end of her arc. She hides away from the world. He goes to his death upon realising this truth, but his actions actually allowed the two Stark sisters to see and love each other in the way they hadn't as children, and this was his redemption. Lots of other characters have entries in my larger topic post, and I am trying to add more and refine them, but I'm not familiar enough with them all. And the ending? The major families of Westeros are extinguished or will not be given new children. Their cycles of trauma and abuse are over. New families are taking the reigns of the realm. Every character who lives in the end, while grievously damaged, is self-aware of this damage and how it hurts others. They will stop themselves from spreading it further.
  3. Yes, but what is the narrative purpose? GRRM spends so ridiculously long over-working his stories. Gendry's inclusion, his interaction with Arya, and their outcome, was not some whim he decided on and D&D agreed to keep in for no reason. Yes, that's what I said in Arya's entry, not sure if you have read it. Arya feared being repressed by society. Gendry's offer threatened to make that her fate again, after she spent so long escaping it.
  4. His decision to become a knight and then accept the lordship seems pretty clearly motivated by his desire to be with Arya, even if it was an immature love. But when you love someone, you try to understand them and meet their needs. I don't think Gendry is just too stupid to figure Arya out. He sees her violence, her hatred of girlish things. I mean, he meets her as a "boy". He knows she's not a typical girl! Why would he be so blind to what the woman he loves wants? Well, what if the deepest wish of his own heart is to have the things she's trying to reject? Doesn't that seem it would create a psychological blockade?
  5. Gendry Early Life Trauma: Neither being poor nor being a bastard was Gendry's trauma. Rather, it was the fact that this was true while his father was obviously an extremely powerful man. He was given protection, by being paid to enter a very prestigious trade that would set him up for life. But this couldn't overcome the lack of love from his father. As well as being made plain that money was no object to his father, he was visited by two Hands of the King, asking him questions about his mother. It's hard to believe Gendry wouldn't have had some inkling of who his father was, no matter how much he denied it to keep himself from feeling hurt. So the trauma wasn't his living circumstances, but being "cut out" of his father's life, both emotionally and physically. The shame of being a bastard must be so much compounded for someone who knows he's literally half royalty, but this can never be overcome by the "taint" of a non-noble mother. This makes the choices he makes extremely understandable. He can't see or listen to Arya's real needs because he's too busy trying to heal his own. He lets himself believe that he can do both, but he can't. He focuses on his personal trauma and effectively leaves Arya to her own. Arya knows he does love her, but because what he wants is so contrary to what she wants, and he can't understand this, he would only keep hurting her. On further reflection, Arya and Gendry's break-up is itself a symbolic "ending" of a cycle of abuse: the repression of women, their individual dreams and desires, in order to adapt to their role in a male-oriented society. Their story is of course a parallel to the story of Robert and Lyanna. Lyanna must have dreamed of giving Robert the reply that Arya gave Gendry. But unlike Arya, she still had too many restrictions around her for it to be feasible. Rhaegar's love, and the power he must have seemed to have to keep her family from pulling her back into line, must have been a huge part of her attraction to him. Rhaegar saw her for who she was, and was willing to "rescue" her from the fate House Stark demanded.
  6. That is why children must be protected while they are young. If they have no safety to form in a healthy manner, they will be warped by the pressure to make their own survival tools. In addition, it is not only protecting "your" children that is vital. Many of the characters protect children who are not their own. In fact, who ends up on the council? Bronn, Sam and Tyrion? All people who protected children who were not their own. This is what I mean about it being such a core theme. It is not one's own family or children that are important. It is all children, the fact that children are literally the future being formed by those that currently control the world. While that topic exists in many character's storylines, it is entirely absent from many, many others, especially minor characters. Yet the theme of protecting children is in every single one. If I had time, I could lay it all out. Working together is mutual protection of each other. Which is something that requires love and trust. As we see, the characters that are capable of doing this are mostly those that had the best foundation of love and trust in their childhood. The ones who were genuinely moral people but lacked enough love and protection ultimately fail to trust others, or protect others from themselves. The White Walkers were just a massive, magical coping mechanism created by children who had no other means to protect themselves.
  7. Littlefinger It feels dirty just to think about this character, so I probably won't write as much as I could. Early Life Trauma: Petyr's trauma is linked and similar to Cat's, except on the opposite side of the social rank divide. He is prevented from gaining the love he desires because his rank is too low. Rather than realise that the problem here is with the woman he loves, he seems to decide the problem is with the world for not letting him have that rank. Petyr first tries to "raise himself" in Cat's eyes by "protecting" her from a faux threat. Except Cat doesn't view marrying a man who doesn't love her as a threat at all. So this fails terribly, emotionally wounding him further. At this point, however, he was also offered a solution to his pain: Lysa's love. Lysa was willing to love him with almost unmatched devotion, and in the complete inversion of Cat's attitude, was even willing to "debase" her rank by getting pregnant with his child. If Hoster hadn't forced her to abort it, perhaps Petyr could have seen this love for what it was. But since the child was destroyed and Lysa also married solely based on rank, this compounded his trauma. I still am of the view that because Lysa continued to help, protect and love Petyr, he always had the option there to heal from his wounds. The social power and rank that he craved was gained almost entirely through her influence. This horrible betrayal of someone who truly loved him was his worst crime. Harm to Children: Ugh. Jeyne Poole. Robyn. Sansa. He pretended he was going to protect every one of them, at some point or another. He damaged each of them permanently. In the show, he let the bastard infant of Robert's be murdered, and had no sympathy for the woman who was disturbed by it. I'm sure there could be a massively deep analysis written of the theme's overlap with this character, but I am not the person to do it.
  8. Let's look at two of the worst villains, and how they both underscore the consequences of harming children, and embody the antithesis of protecting children from harm. Gregor Clegane Early Life Trauma: As we all know, Gregor's trauma was he was perpetually in pain due to a skull deformity. Which, like Tywin, is an amazingly empty excuse for all that he did. Lack of Healthy Survival Skills: Gregor becomes addicted to opiates as the only way to escape his traumatic pain. We aren't given any information on whether his family tried to teach him to compensate for the pain, or whether he was simply left with no options. Harm to Children: Yeah. Yeaaaaaahhh.... Ramsay Bolton Early Life Trauma: Since the whole world seemed to know, Ramsay knew he was the product of rape. He knew his mother was not only tortured mentally and sexually, but probably tossed aside like garbage (if not killed) after giving birth to her Bolton bastard. Then he was raised wrong. Harm to Children: Another case where I don't have to make my case. His worst crime is clearly the murder of his own infant step-brother.
  9. The Ending The wheel was broken. Not by Dany, despite how badly she wanted to, but by Jon. Her trauma had been too deep, and the help offered to her to heal it too flawed. Violence came to seem to her to be the only real way of protecting others and herself. Diplomacy was useless against the undead, diplomacy required she re-submit herself to traumatic experiences, like her political marriages and treasonous allies. Dany decided violence was the answer, and Jon could see despite all she had done to save the world, she was going to keep turning the wheel. At the end of the story we see multiple major House bloodlines being extinguished or set to be so. Lannister, Targareyen and Stark will see no more offspring. Baratheon is gone. Martell is possibly gone? Robyn Arryn remains, though his ability to sire healthy offspring is clearly up for question. This is fairly historically accurate for how many dynastic power conflicts came to an end, although it was also just as likely for one faction to remain in existence after completely wiping others out. There’s also many historical examples of the exact opposite providing an end to hostilities; rather than destroying bloodlines, they are intentionally merged together. But those two latter examples still leave damaged and suffering people to possibly perpetuate their trauma on their children and subjects. Even Queen Victoria, who provided direct links for many of the major royal families of Europe, did not actually prevent her descendants from continuing in conflict despite being closely related. This inter-relation also caused harm to their children by removing genetic diversity and leaving them physically compromised. By contrast, the complete extinguishing of all the major antagonistic dynasties symbolises an end to their self-contained cycles of trauma. Although trauma and abuse will continue in Westeros, it won’t be due to deeply entrenched feuds and centuries-old political power plays. This “salting of the earth” has given the country a chance to catch its collective breath and create new social structures in the period of rebuilding.
  10. Rickon Stark Rickon, being the youngest child, was inherently the most vulnerable. The show indicates he has no major role in the story beyond serving as motivation and plot development for other characters. Despite this, he also serves an important secondary function; he provides an additional symbol of well-meaning but flawed child protection. Lack of Healthy Survival Skills: Rickon’s care is given to “wild people”, who can’t interact easily with the rest of society. Although keeping a child physically safe is the single most important part of protecting them, failing to teach them the skills to transition from that protection to the adult world is a grave flaw. If Rickon had lived and returned to his family, he would have been permanently marked by his time with these people. His view of how the world worked, what was moral and correct, and how to interact with people would all have been deformed. Harm to Children: Solely physical protection, without also protecting the child's moral development, is the mistake Ned made with Sansa and to a lesser extent with the rest of his children. It’s the mistake Drogo made with Dany. The mistake the Hound made with Sansa and then tried to compensate for by providing it for Arya. It’s Lysa’s mistake, and so, so many other characters mistake as well. Because children’s self-created tools are highly likely to simply continue the cycle of trauma and abuse. Most of the characters who were deprived of a healthy survival skillset cause repeated damage either to themselves, or themselves and others, again and again.
  11. In light of the ending, I think what CrypticWeirwood has said here is massively symbolic. Westeros finishes in a position where "great and small" are mingling much more than before, and the realm moving forward will try to serve both of them better, instead of crushing the poor under the rich. Just like the water gardens, Daenerys' "inheritence" or birthright was the realm of Westeros, but she will not get to enjoy it. It will be enjoyed by the people in her absence.
  12. The reason Dany dies is because despite her desire to break the wheel, that is the opposite of what she was going to end up doing. Dany's psychic wounds had been too deep and never healed, and she was going to pass them on, plain as day. Sansa's wounds are also terribly deep, but unlike Dany she is purposely "withdrawing" from the world to prevent spreading them further, symbolised in withdrawing the North. Sansa will clearly never have children (show indicates she is sexually mutilated like Theon), she simply wants to protect all that's left of her and the North. I've written a series of posts pointing out how every character's story and ending play into the theme of the cycle of abuse. I haven't written Sansa's, but the main arc of her story is painted fairly clearly in Sandor's. https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/
  13. pudgiebudgie

    As much as some hate how this season has played out...

    I believe they translated it as well as they could for TV, considering that GRRM himself is purposely hiding the underlying story's message. ASOIAF is about the need to protect children from the cycle of trauma and abuse, or it continues on. Every character's ending in the show perfectly matches the direction they were taking in the books. I have written a series of posts demonstrating that here: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/ Only Sandor's is fully in-depth, the rest I have just shown the skeleton of. But although D&D couldn't do it in the same layered, rich way GRRM could in prose, they told the story in a way it *is* possible to see it clearly.
  14. The game goes on in the way life goes on, but the massive burden of built-up anger, bitterness and trauma that the major houses of Westeros carried is gone. The realm has the chance to start afresh. Obviously it won't be utopia. But it will be better than it would have been had the old families continued. I show how this is the main theme of ASOIAF in a series of posts here: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/
  15. pudgiebudgie

    "Bittersweet" can't happen in the show

    Absolutely everything you've written is the opposite of what this ending means. I've written a whole series of posts summarising every character's place in the story and how ALL are about the cycle of abuse and trauma, and what it takes to stop it. https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/ Most every character tried immensely hard to redeem themselves, and many DID succeed - the story simply doesn't spell it out for you.
  16. pudgiebudgie

    "Bittersweet" can't happen in the show

    There was a very, very good reason for Dany's assassination, and it was absolutely pivotal to the story GRRM is telling: how the abuse and trauma cycle perpetuates, and how it can be stopped. I've written a post summarising how every character fits into this theme. Dany is practically yelling it. Her entry is here: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/&tab=comments#comment-8373511
  17. pudgiebudgie

    "Bittersweet" can't happen in the show

    This was a bittersweet ending, because it provided the exact remedy to the problem ASOIAF was written to highlight: the cycle of trauma and abuse. All the major Westeros houses had been perpetuating feuds and power struggles for aeons. They are nearly all now extinguished or set to be. This is an end to the damage they kept inflicting on their children and each other. The Stark children, massively damaged, have refused to continue the cycle. Dany was going to continue the cycle. This is why it is bittersweet. I have outlined this entire theme and how every character supports it here: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/
  18. pudgiebudgie

    So what was this long story all about?

    That's actually the exact opposite of the story's message. I've written a whole series of character entries summarising how the entirety of ASOIAF is about the need to protect children from trauma, or they will perpetuate the cycle of abuse: https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/154628-asoiafs-overall-theme-the-protection-of-children-starting-with-sandors-arc-and-his-threefold-death-i-will-show-it-to-you/ The ending, with so many major houses of Westeros extinguished or set to be, was massively symbolic of an end to the cycle of trauma.
  19. Bran Stark I can’t do justice to this character, but I can make a start for someone else to. Protection of Children: Bran protects his younger brother, he tries to protect his people when he serves as lord in Winterfell, but he is too young and incapable to actually achieve either task. Very quickly in the story, Bran’s own protectors are reduced to only other children. His only adult defender, Hodor, was mentally damaged and prevented from ever developing out of the mind of a child. (Ironically by Bran himself) As with so many other protectors in ASOIAF, he gives physical defense, but cannot provide healthy adult skills. Harm to Children: Bran also suffers the single biggest “trauma cycle” incident in the series, when the literal memories and trauma of millions of people are placed on his shoulders. The imagery of a prior generation of children pushing their damage onto the next is openly blatant in Bran’s story with the children of the forest. Blood Raven only gives him enough skills to prevent this trauma from driving him insane. He himself oversees this massive damage to Bran, which although he probably is aware is a great evil, also knows is critical to saving the entire world. Bran's mental damage to Hodor in the past, his putting Hodor in danger and warging him could possibly be considered harm that Bran commits against another child, and even the act of taking Hodor deep into danger is questionable. By himself, Hodor would almost certainly not survive. Bran’s harm to him was never a product of malice, but rather neglect, and simply failing to consider Hodor’s needs and wishes. Lack of Healthy Survival Skills: Bran thus was taught no healthy coping skills and has no means of developing normally. When Bran’s two primary protectors, Hodor and Summer, are killed, Bran himself dies as a person. Summer’s name symbolised hope, just as Sansa’s summer silks did. His hope lost, Bran loses himself completely in the terrible fate he knows he has no choice but to endure. The girl who loves him and who he loves departs, knowing that she can never get through to him or help him any longer. She enters symbolic widowhood. Only Bran’s innate goodness and the underlying foundation of love and moral upbringing his family provided keep him afloat in his dark ocean of inner torment.
  20. While I said above I feel totally confident in declaring "the need to protect children" to both be the core theme and to explain every character's actions and fates, I also encourage people to challenge me on this. Maybe my confidence comes from the fact that, being a child myself who lacked protection and had to create her own ways to cope with life from scraps, suddenly seeing the evidence for it in one story (only a day before I first posted here), then two, then five, then ten, like an avalanche it became almost impossible NOT to keep seeing it, again and again and again. Is that colouring my interpretation of these stories, the whole story? I'm willing to hear it.
  21. So those who've read to here might be saying "OK, but even if you can connect every character and story in ASOIAF to the need to protect children, how can you claim it's the core theme, when it's so obscure and subtle? Surely GRRM would have made it more apparent if it were so important." I can't rule that out, nor that GRRM, while being technically excellent at prose, is not an effective story-teller. But actually, my confidence that this is the theme is because it is not obvious. I have three reasons for this. Maybe that's coincidence, maybe not. #1 Early Life Trauma - Every single one of us carries trauma from our childhoods, and the vast majority of them are hidden from each other. The people you know, you can usually understand them fairly well. But for strangers, their behaviour can seem random, unexplainable, confusing! Does that sound familiar as you read your favourite character's ending? Some characters we get to sit in on the trauma formation. Others we hear accounts of as events past. Even more must be inferred from hints and clues. This is exactly the way we learn about each other's trauma in real life! Almost nobody simply goes about openly telling people their worst fears. (Except Sandor, who consistently sets speed records for Telling All His Secrets to Little Girls, but that may be an intentional kick at convention from him.) #2 Survival and Coping Skills - Just like childhood trauma, people's life skills are very often concealed. In fact, poor coping skills are most often hidden from the person who is using them. Some people's poor coping mechanism are obvious, like Cersei's alcoholism or Robert's whoring. In fact, both Ned and Cat receive a shock from finding someone they knew from childhood has transitioned to adulthood with a glaring deficit of coping skills (Robert and Lysa respectively). Many more characters have more subtle revelations of their possession - or lack - of healthy ways to survive and cope in the real world. Some characters are aware of their own flaws on this front, but most are not. We see characters carry out and experience their coping skills the same way we often carry out and experience our own. #3 Harm to Children - Yes, horrible as it is to contemplate and say, most harm to children takes place where it is hidden from other's eyes. The violence to children in ASOIAF is openly apparent, but the forms it takes are as varied as it is in real life. We, the reader, may easily see the similarity between a child's murder and a child's beating, but be less easy to see the connection to a child being betrayed, a child being deprived of love, a child being neglected, a child being abandoned... When you look for children being harmed in ASOIAF, it is absolutely everywhere. But even while I was looking for it, sometimes it took me quite a while considering a character's story to actually spot it. Renly is a perfect example. There is no direct connection ever made in the text to his nephew and niece's murders and Renly himself, or to the way he dies, or that his "assassin" is also a nephew/niece. Dany's reaction to her brother's murder is clearly emotionally abnormal, but because Drogo saved her life, we don't immediately realise she has just been traumatised by she saw happen. You actively have to be on the look out for the harm to children to spot it, just like real life.
  22. Jaime Lannister The apparently "confusing" choices Jaime makes at the end are not confusing at all. As follows: Harm to Children: Just like the Hound, Jaime's service for Cersei includes the murder of children. Jaime attempts to murder a child (Bran), and also offers to murder Arya after the direwolf incident. He has no personal drive to murder children, but he's willing to do it for the woman he loves. Bran's death you could claim was to protect her. But the offer to murder Arya was purely to please her As Jaime begins to question his principles, we see him become critical of children's abuse. He chastises a kingsguard for beating Sansa. Yet when besieging Riverrun, he threatens to catapult an infant. Would he have done it? Probably not... but it does show a deep struggle in his quest to become a better person. Finally, one is forced to consider the responsibility he had to protect his own children both from Cersei’s toxic influence and Robert’s emotional neglect. The latter one he seems to have attempted to some extent, but he never rebuked Cersei, and fear of their secret being found out would have limited his options greatly. Simply by creating children in the situation they did, they put children into danger. Early Life Trauma: Jaime and Cersei’s secret relationship was a joint trauma. A terrible secret, one which would have caused guilt, lies, and paranoia… and that’s all before Cersei even got married to the king. At that point Jaime was trampling over so many ideals of knighthood, but he’d trampled his way up to where he was anyway. There’s no difficulty in seeing how all other morals and social conventions became just as flimsy to them, when they started breaking such serious ones so young. They key part is that they lived this ordeal together. From the moment their relationship became sexual, they shared a secret from the entire world. Even in youth, if widely discovered it would have terrible personal consequences. It also would have been such a deep wound in House Lannister’s pride that it’s inconceivable Tywin would have given them much mercy. After Jaime became kingsguard, he stood to lose that if discovered. After Cersei became Queen, they both would have lost their heads, their children’s heads, and a massive blow dealt to their House. Cersei and Jaime were constantly, every single day, upping the stakes of their secret. In a mutual self-destruction pact, Cersei protected Jaime just as much as Jaime ever protected Cersei. Every indication is given in the book to see Jaime as her protector. But the truth is more subtle. Jaime never got healthy affection or morally correct adult life skills from his own father; you can’t get blood from a stone. The death of their mother left the Lannister children emotional orphans. Cersei protected him. The gross secret of Tyrion’s marriage that Tywin placed on Jaime’s head prevented him from ever forming a true intimate connection with his only other sibling. And his revelation of the truth puts a permanent wedge between them. In the show, much is made of his attempts - and failure - to protect his remaining children. In the books, he is gone before they die. It’s thus hard to view his children dying in his absence is what will bring him back to Cersei. He also clearly felt compelled to protect the realm even over protecting their "new" child together. This is perhaps Jaime's underlying character: He believes he must protect the realm, the people, generally. But not individual people specifically. On top of the failure to protect his children, I have come to believe the major blockade for Jaime was public shame. Cersei’s story provides a clue to Jaime’s in the form of her public shaming. Both Margarey and Cersei undergo no change of heart whatsoever from their ordeals. Throughout ASOIAF, internal shame causes some people’s behaviour to change, but external shame causes very little true change I can recall. Although Jaime didn’t undergo the ordeal, he still faced constant public shame once the truth became known. And the second clue for this being a major factor is his past history; even though most of the realm probably wanted Aerys dead by that point, Jaime was still tarred forever with the shame of having killed him. As a man who had betrayed the king he swore to serve in a most intimate fashion AND betrayed a grave taboo, only more shame was piled onto him by the world. Lack of Healthy Survival Tools: Brienne’s appearance in the story offers Jaime the opportunity to reconnect with his innate, desired ideals. To cut himself loose from Cersei and be able to protect himself, as well as others. While Brienne's own trauma was similar to his - scorn and shame of the outside world - her tools to deal with it were the opposite of his. She faced the world every day, throwing their shame back at them, and never compromising her morals. This must have been part of what attracted Jaime. But this approach only worked for Brienne because critically, she had never done anything of which she felt she should be ashamed. Jaime had. Jaime does find the will to break with Cersei after her actions begin to strip away everything else of value in his life. Essentially, Cersei is Jaime’s childhood protection mechanism, and like so many others, she begins to go wrong and destroy his life. But his attempt at redemption does not account for one factor: that still present external shame. Despite defending all of the world from the undead, he must have realised afterwards that even this most selfless act… did not free him from the binds of public shaming. There literally was no good deed he could perform to be free of that curse. I can't recall how it is between them when they reunite, but by that point, Brienne has now done things she is ashamed of, she has let herself down. She herself is probably searching for a new set of tools to handle her trauma. Previously Jaime could see her as having "the answer" for his problem. Now he sees her approach could never have worked for him, because it no longer works for her. Jaime is thus a highly tragic figure, because he attempted redemption with a true heart, and he did lose almost all of value to him to do so. But in the end, the world around him would NOT LET him be redeemed in anyone’s eyes but his own and Brienne’s. In that way, he had simply gone from one “the two of us against the world” relationship to another. But Brienne was not going to protect him like Cersei would; protect him from personal accountability and guilt. She wouldn’t lie to him, and she wouldn’t try to believe his evil deeds to not matter. To be with her required that he face his shame – his trauma – every single day for the rest of his life. As Tyrion reminds him, he always knew how toxic Cersei was, but loved her anyway. He knew how self-destructive and dangerous his “coping mechanism” was; he only turned from it when it began to hurt him though. The slightly selfish colour to this motivation provides precedent for a slightly selfish colour to escaping other hurts. And at that point, he probably felt he has suffered enough. Lost enough. He can’t hurt himself any further by continuing to subject himself to public shame. To return to Cersei meant return to a relationship where none of the deeds the outside world shamed him for were rebuked. If they lived, maybe they could even escape to somewhere no-one knew them; a place without shame. He chooses the self-destructive shelter, that carried him through his childhood pain. He chooses Cersei. Who he knows only protects him to protect herself. Who even only loves him due to loving herself and seeing him as symbiotic. But Cersei won’t ask him to face any more painful truths or defend others. The only responsibility she asks is for herself. Just him and Cersei, against the world. Protection of Children: In another case of the tragedy of Jaime's story, Jaime does eventually genuinely want to protect children. But he fails at every attempt. Too late to help Sansa, unable to prevent the deaths of his own children. There is no incident I can recall where Jaime successfully protects an individual child. This may be symbolic of his attempt but failure to redeem himself.
  23. Indeed, the many lost possibilities of Dany's childhood are littered through the story, many of which she is even unaware of, in addition to the many she was. I have updated her section significantly, since i figured much more of it out.
  24. Renly Baratheon At first I couldn't figure out if his story fit the theme. Then all of a sudden it became clear, just like the rest: Early Life Trauma: We don’t “see” a great deal of Renly, but we can infer from all indications that his family did not know of his sexuality. It’s hard to imagine that growing up homosexual in that world without close support couldn’t have been traumatic. At the very least, confusing and frightening. Headfallsoff also notes he was without his family for much of his youth, and that he underwent the brutal siege that Stannis refused to break. This makes Renly's act of throwing a peach at Stannis, in an entreaty to "enjoy life", all the more symbolic of the deep behavioural impact of childhood trauma. Lack of Healthy Survival Skills: This calls into question his political alliance with the Tyrells. Is it actually based on sound politics, or is it hinged entirely on his love for Loras? Loras did love him, but the rest of the Tyrells were using this connection for power grabs. The desperation for love and protection from the rest of the world who would have persecuted him may have led him to ally with them on a purely emotional basis. If all or at least Olenna/Margarey knew of Loras's relationship, that made it not just one confidante but potentially a whole family giving him the open support he lacked. He had an inferior claim to the throne to Stannis. He really had no right to try and overstep him. But he knew Stannis’s moral hardline would keep people like himself locked in the dark, cowering with their secrets. His childhood trauma compelled him to challenge this. Harm to Children: Well, let’s consider that he’s murdered by, effectively, a “nephew” of his. When he fled the city in a hurry after Robert died, he spared no thought to all of his nieces and nephews left behind… Who were all murdered. Headfallsoff also notes he supported the assassination of Dany.
  25. pudgiebudgie

    GRRM struggling how to show Daenerys' mental instability

    Dany doesn't go mad in the TV show, nor in the books. She's not "going mad", she's being further and further ensnared into her own childhood trauma. She's desperate for a protector as a child, she seeks one in many places. But when she "immolates" her childhood self and creates the dragons - both children for her to protect and tools to protect herself - she attempts to put that behind her by becoming a protector of others rather than wanting protection. This is why she says "If I look back, I am lost". She doesn't wish to be that child any longer. Each time she "protects" people, by freeing them from slavery, from oppression, from danger, etc., she relives this very intense personal need. Maybe one needs to have a similar need in oneself to understand. When you act out based on personal trauma, you are always, to some extent, reliving or re-accessing that trauma. The act of actually ruling people, leading people, and so on, does not fulfil this need in the same primal way defending them with the dragons does. So the more and more she uses the dragons, the more and more she feeds her own deepest, unresolved fears and desires. Think of people addicted to sex with the strangers, or who keep entering relationships with the same kind of people who hurt them, and so on. Dany is trying to cure her own deepest needs, and it overwhelms her past her ability to see what it is doing to others.