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Ambrose H

Does Asoiaf Have a True Protagonist? *SPOILERS*

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There are three groups of protagonist in the series.

The two main protagonists, and the ones around whom the story will likely turn are Jon and Daenerys.  They've been set up as the heroes (or maybe villains) since early on, and are the closest thing to main characters at this point.

The next level are the rest of the Big 6 - the remaining POVs from AGOT - Tyrion, Sansa, Arya, and Bran.  They are the future leaders of Asoiaf.

The last group is the ones on the way out: Theon, Jaime, Cersei, and Stannis.  They are yesterday's news.  They were (or tried to be) leaders of Westeros, but will make way for the Big 6.

Everybody else is supporting cast. They are not who the story is about.  This includes Littlefinger.  He is essentially a foil for major characters such as Tyrion and Sansa.  Even POVs such as Sam, Davos, and Brienne are essentially support or observers.

Edited by Nevets

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1 hour ago, lrresistable said:

Cersei is already a villain at this point

I don't see Tyrion or Jaime going down that path, Jaime is striving towards the light

Tyrion needs something to live for

Cersei's a villain, sure.  But she's doomed to remain one, more or less.  That's what I'm saying.  Though she might get a little more sympathetic before she meets her final come-uppance.

Jaime is not striving for the light.   And I think he is not likely to start, this late in his story arc.

Tyrion needs something to live for?  How about living for others, rather than wallowing in self pity all the time. 

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7 hours ago, Platypus Rex said:

Jaime is not striving for the light.   And I think he is not likely to start, this late in his story arc.

 

he went back & saved Brienne at Harrenhal

 

what more do you want him to do besides betraying his family?

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13 hours ago, Ambrose H said:

Is there a true protagonist or hero in Asoiaf? I'm not sure there is, because GRRM does a great job at showing his characters as human (which is perhaps why his universe is so wildly popular), flaws and all.

Up until when he kills his father in ASoS, Tyrion was my favorite "good guy" who I was absolutely rooting for. I still like him as a character, and he's still probably my favorite character for now, but he definitely lost some respect from me when he shot his father and strangled Shae. I understand why it was necessary in his eyes, but I think it could have been avoided, and definitely took him out of the running for protagonist in my book.

Another "hero" I loved (and still do) was Robb. Sadly, as is well known by now, he met an untimely end at the hands of the Freys. When he was alive, though, he was the figurehead for the North to rally behind.

Perhaps the most heroic character, Jon Snow definitely appeared incorruptible, up until he broke his vows. Again, I understand his motivations, but still. . .

My running theory is that there is no true protagonist, to which the surplus of narrating characters surely contributes, but I'm interested to hear the community's thoughts on this matter

 

-Ambrose

I think the point that GRRM tries and succeeds at getting across is that every character is the protagonist of their own story. I think this is why the series is so popular. Their really isn’t anyone in the wrong in this story, some people may do bad things, Ramsay, Cersei, which paint them as villains, but they still are the protagonists of their own story. One protagonist can be an antagonist to another character which is what I imagine we’ll see when all the characters eventually intersect. Dany will be the antagonist to a lot of POV characters upon her arrival in Westeros but that doesn’t make her an antagonist. It’s one of the wonders of the story that a character can both be an antagonist and a protagonist at the same time. In regards to “good guys” or “heroes” that’s all pretty subjective to the reader to decide on their own. Every character has their reasons for doing things, Tyrion killing his father isn’t exactly what a “good guy” or a hero would do but he still is considered a good guy to many and a lot of readers like him. Jon Snow leaving the Nights Watch isn’t something a hero focused on saving the realm would do but a lot of people still view him as a heroic person and a good guy. Dany crucifying and burning people isn’t what heroes or good guys do, but yet again, people still view her as a good person. Being a “hero”, “good guy” or “protagonist” is all dependent on the reader and GRRM let’s us decide for ourselves what it means to be a hero. At the end of the day I believe it is the why, not the what a character does that decides whether they’re a hero or a villain.

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4 hours ago, Starkz said:

I think the point that GRRM tries and succeeds at getting across is that every character is the protagonist of their own story. I think this is why the series is so popular. Their really isn’t anyone in the wrong in this story, some people may do bad things, Ramsay, Cersei, which paint them as villains, but they still are the protagonists of their own story. One protagonist can be an antagonist to another character which is what I imagine we’ll see when all the characters eventually intersect. Dany will be the antagonist to a lot of POV characters upon her arrival in Westeros but that doesn’t make her an antagonist. It’s one of the wonders of the story that a character can both be an antagonist and a protagonist at the same time. In regards to “good guys” or “heroes” that’s all pretty subjective to the reader to decide on their own. Every character has their reasons for doing things, Tyrion killing his father isn’t exactly what a “good guy” or a hero would do but he still is considered a good guy to many and a lot of readers like him. Jon Snow leaving the Nights Watch isn’t something a hero focused on saving the realm would do but a lot of people still view him as a heroic person and a good guy. Dany crucifying and burning people isn’t what heroes or good guys do, but yet again, people still view her as a good person. Being a “hero”, “good guy” or “protagonist” is all dependent on the reader and GRRM let’s us decide for ourselves what it means to be a hero. At the end of the day I believe it is the why, not the what a character does that decides whether they’re a hero or a villain.

Well said, Starkz. Because doesn't everyone believe they're the protagonist? With a cast as large as the one that Asoiaf has, there are bound to be (and should be) plenty of interactions between characters who each believe they're doing the right thing for themselves and their people.

-Ambrose

Edited by Ambrose H

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6 hours ago, lrresistable said:

he went back & saved Brienne at Harrenhal

 

what more do you want him to do besides betraying his family?

He *thinks* he is striving towards the light. See all the ways that he pats himself on the back about being a good guy in AFFC, and how he's rejecting Cersei, etc.. But he's still perpetuating injustice on the Riverlands in the name of his family all throughout that book, because he hasn't had a true introspective moment about all of the evil that was done there in the Lannister name. You can look at his dealings with Edmure and Brynden Tully to see the depths of his delusion about what he's doing.

And yes, I think he's about to get a true reckoning since he's being led to Stoneheart, who has probably heard from Tom O' Sevenstrings EXACTLY the threat that Jaime made to Edmure's child.

If Jaime is the Valonquar, I'm guessing he is somehow able to realize the depths of his folly and persuades the BWB. If not, who knows where his story leads?

 

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18 hours ago, Marcelowww said:

Baelish is the definition of Neutral Evil.

I hadn't heard this term, but just googled it and I'd definitely agree. I was thinking more of the stuffy classical terms when I posted.

And in those terms Cersei is antagonist and protagonist - as many peeps have pointed out. 

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My apologies. I did indeed mean "hero", rather than "protagonist". Sometimes, they're one and the same, but not always, nor do they have to be.

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6 hours ago, Lluewhyn said:

hasn't had a true introspective moment about all of the evil that was done there in the Lannister name.

Probably noticed all those things as they were happening.   Coming to terms with them now would be for your benefit more than his.  He benefits most by using the family name as cover to do what really needs doing, keeping as many people alive as possible, and when the queen strips that authority away from him in disgust then he'll be doing the same in a lesser capacity because the essential change has already happened in him.   Jaime overcomes what needs overcoming, vows included, just not immediately.  Why would he spoil the surprise with an introspection chapter for readers (remember, we don't exist) when his shift into outright disloyal behavior is much better saved for someone real like Walder Frey, and only after the wave of change has started so that he can surf it and survive as before.   Only when the timing of it allows him to accomplish something substantial.   

 

In the meantime, the quiet heroism nobody sees or recognizes as such.   It's not about the light, glory and death like the names in the kingsguard book.  Much more good can be done in shadow.    Where Tyrion was rescued.   Unheroically.  Which left Jaime ensconsced as the golden boy who was then able to rescue all the Riverrunners from a seige death.   It's a long road.  A crossroads is coming, and a shove down a different path maybe.   Shit.  Brienne and Jaime may even be able to save Stoneheart as part of the, as Doctor Phil would call it, Changing Day in their Lives that's set to happen at this fateful meeting.

Edited by The Mother of The Others
The reason for this edit was the need for editing.

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6 hours ago, Lluewhyn said:

He *thinks* he is striving towards the light. See all the ways that he pats himself on the back about being a good guy in AFFC, and how he's rejecting Cersei, etc.. But he's still perpetuating injustice on the Riverlands in the name of his family all throughout that book, because he hasn't had a true introspective moment about all of the evil that was done there in the Lannister name. You can look at his dealings with Edmure and Brynden Tully to see the depths of his delusion about what he's doing.

And yes, I think he's about to get a true reckoning since he's being led to Stoneheart, who has probably heard from Tom O' Sevenstrings EXACTLY the threat that Jaime made to Edmure's child.

If Jaime is the Valonquar, I'm guessing he is somehow able to realize the depths of his folly and persuades the BWB. If not, who knows where his story leads?

  

Totally agree.

There is also the mockery he makes of Robert, when he confess to Payne to have sleep with Cersei in front of the drunken pass out king, and that he would murder him if he waked up.

He also go out of his way to confront Lancel about sleeping with Cersei.

He still tried to kill Blackfish after taking Riverrun.

He thinks about killing Tyrion.

If Jaime is in a redemption arc he is not doing it right.

"It was the white cloack that soiled me, not the other way around".

This sums up his self reflection, he still refuses to take responsability for what he did, but now he blames Cersei. Compare this with Theon arc and we can see what true regret is.

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On 12/20/2018 at 1:23 PM, Ambrose H said:

Is there a true protagonist or hero in Asoiaf? I'm not sure there is, because GRRM does a great job at showing his characters as human (which is perhaps why his universe is so wildly popular), flaws and all.

Up until when he kills his father in ASoS, Tyrion was my favorite "good guy" who I was absolutely rooting for. I still like him as a character, and he's still probably my favorite character for now, but he definitely lost some respect from me when he shot his father and strangled Shae. I understand why it was necessary in his eyes, but I think it could have been avoided, and definitely took him out of the running for protagonist in my book.

Another "hero" I loved (and still do) was Robb. Sadly, as is well known by now, he met an untimely end at the hands of the Freys. When he was alive, though, he was the figurehead for the North to rally behind.

Perhaps the most heroic character, Jon Snow definitely appeared incorruptible, up until he broke his vows. Again, I understand his motivations, but still. . .

My running theory is that there is no true protagonist, to which the surplus of narrating characters surely contributes, but I'm interested to hear the community's thoughts on this matter

 

-Ambrose

I think the ultimate protagonist is Jon Snow. 

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On 12/20/2018 at 6:23 PM, Ambrose H said:

Is there a true protagonist or hero in Asoiaf? I'm not sure there is, because GRRM does a great job at showing his characters as human (which is perhaps why his universe is so wildly popular), flaws and all.

Up until when he kills his father in ASoS, Tyrion was my favorite "good guy" who I was absolutely rooting for. I still like him as a character, and he's still probably my favorite character for now, but he definitely lost some respect from me when he shot his father and strangled Shae. I understand why it was necessary in his eyes, but I think it could have been avoided, and definitely took him out of the running for protagonist in my book.

Another "hero" I loved (and still do) was Robb. Sadly, as is well known by now, he met an untimely end at the hands of the Freys. When he was alive, though, he was the figurehead for the North to rally behind.

Perhaps the most heroic character, Jon Snow definitely appeared incorruptible, up until he broke his vows. Again, I understand his motivations, but still. . .

My running theory is that there is no true protagonist, to which the surplus of narrating characters surely contributes, but I'm interested to hear the community's thoughts on this matter

 

-Ambrose

The author is the protagonist. He says we are all heroes in our own story; and it's his story, after all.

If I had to pick one, I'd say Bran is the sleeper hero.

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I truly regret having to read Theon's horrible treatment of his true home, yes, so there needs to be a lot of regret there on his part.  Jaime hasn't made that poor of a decision, so his upward arc trajectory is less steep.  Sure he banged his way through some of Ned's men, but in his defense that's the sort of thing that happens.   It's what they'd signed up for, really.  And Bran was just one kid after all, and kids are small.    It's not like he killed a Mikken guy he'd known his whole life like an uncle.   Also, maybe Tyrion deserves killing as much as he deserved saving, so Jaime would naturally mull that over as one of the accurate appraisals of friends and foes that make his POVs so informative.

Daenerys has gotten everyone killed or near to it.  Jon just took a sack in the endzone , which gives the Others 2 points and the ball.  People are breathing because of Jaime's efforts..  That's all I'm saying.   Not just the Riverlands folk.   All along.  Killing Aeris saved untold lives in KL.  (Cowardly, oathbreaking, Lannister- benefitting move though it was.)   Killing Bran saved more than one life.   (The "royal" kids, and no doubt more than a few grown Lannisters saved from Robert's rage).  Killing the bear saved a more noble beast.  Being overconfident and getting caught by Robb probably saved lives, at the time.  He's probably saved people while on the toilet, because it seems to happen a lot.  That nice semi-sleazy gal with missing teeth.  Getting Payne away from the KL swamp has sort of brightened that doofus with new life instead of only death.   Edmure's daily routine has improved. 

Horrific decisions, but not horrible ones.  Deathly dealing, with precision, as a tool to not have to kill and kill and kill.   And I'll stop now.  

Edited by The Mother of The Others

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13 hours ago, BRANDON GREYSTARK said:

Even though Arya will appear in all of the books , my money is on Daenerys . Her storyline deals with both the struggle for the Iron Throne  and the war against the Others .

Dany is the closest to a hero.  There will be others along the way.  Heroes are accorded the status based on a deliberately chosen snapshot of their life.  The new warden of the north, Roose, will be seen as a hero if he stops the Others.  

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On 12/20/2018 at 11:29 PM, Nevets said:

The last group is the ones on the way out: Theon, Jaime, Cersei, and Stannis.  They are yesterday's news.  They were (or tried to be) leaders of Westeros, but will make way for the Big 6.

From the start of his POV chapters, Jaime has yet to be relevant to overall plot. His only contribution to it is probably freeing Tyrion, everything else he did is of insignificance and does not warrant having POV chapters for the character (like we absolutely didn't have to actually see how the siege of Riverrun was resolved, it could have happened of screen in few paragraphs). So surely George has plans for him, or else having Jaime's POVs and spending a massive amount of developing him is going to end up just a huge filler. 

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11 hours ago, Ambrose H said:

My apologies. I did indeed mean "hero", rather than "protagonist". Sometimes, they're one and the same, but not always, nor do they have to be.

Hero.  Protagonist.  There is only one character in the books who fill those shoes:  Daenerys Targaryen.  All the others who had potential failed.  They failed because they can't conquer their own hearts and gave in.  

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