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What prevents Jaime from having a proper redemption arc ?


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After losing his sword hand to Vargo Hoat in A Storm of Swords, befriending Brienne and returning to King's Landing, Jaime Lannister has began to go through spectacular character development and a new journey to become a better and more honorable person, trying to give back its honor and reform the Kingsguard, befriending and helping Loras Tyrell mature into a better person and knight himself, distancing himself from Cersei after having learned of her infidelity and starting to see who for who she is, and being a more humble and pleasant person to others in general.

But there are things that don't make me think that it's a true redemption arc, at least not yet, as Jaime still is working for an antagonistic and illegitimate regime formed and run by his family, and he doesn't seem to have remorse over some his more despicable actions such as pushing Bran from the window after the boy witnessed his affair with Cersei.

Do you agree with this feeling ?

If yes, what are the other elements and flaws that make you think that Jaime's arc might not be a redemption arc yet, or even not at all ? What flaws do you think that Jaime still has, that may prevent him from becoming the honorable knight he seeks to become and/or to fully make up for all of his sins ?

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11 minutes ago, sifth said:

Yea, Jamie still helping the Lannisters, all be it in a noble way, is preventing him from having a proper redemption arc.

Basically this. I still maintain he’ll betray them at some point. I fully believe he’ll kill Cersei and probably die in or directly after the act. My crack theory is that he’ll be the one to talk to Howland Reed and find out about Jon. And he’ll carry the information to Jon as he would be deep honor bound to help Rhaegar’s child.

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Lack of repentance.  He is not sorry.  (Short answer to the title question).

"Still working for the Lannisters" is a tribalistic, and relatively trivial objection.  Pod was/is also working for the Lannisters, and Pod is an innocent.  Brienne, also an innocent, was also working for the Lannisters, in a sense, and to a degree.  And yet they never did anything wrong to repent.  Stoneheart hanged them anyway, but Stoneheart is a monster.  Lancel is (to a degree) also working for the Lannisters, and is indeed a Lannister himself.  But he has repented, and made a commitment not to do anything (even for the Lannisters) that violates his conscience. 

That was one of the points of the Lancel/Jaime confrontation.  Lancel is sorry for the things he has done.  Jaime, not.

Edited by Gilbert Green
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Just now, Gilbert Green said:

Lack of repentance.  He is not sorry.  (Short answer to the title question).

Basically this.

Jaime's not sorry for the horrible things he has done or caused, he's sorry for how the terrible things he has done or caused makes him feel.

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It seems to me that although he is doing the 'right thing', he is doing it because he doesn't usually have another choice - due to the loss of his sword hand he can't deal with things in the same way that he used to. He also, as other people have pointed out, doesn't actually feel sorry for any of the bad things he's done, or admit that they were wrong. He always has an excuse for himself. So far, I think the closest he's got to actually choosing to do something good of his own free will was when he chose not to go back to King's Landing and fight for Cersei. And even then, he chose not to fight for her because he thought she was cheating on him, not because she's a horrible person. Right now he is still to focused on himself. All his thoughts about honour etc. are all about making him look and feel good, not about helping others.

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In order for a redemption ark to work well, it cannot be a linear progression of events. The character should be introduced to a better way of living their life; they should take baby steps on the alternative path, only to backtrack. Next, they should be reminded of why their former, villianous life was bad and what made them want to leave it in the first place. Finally, they must make amends for their past behavior, even if it means humbling themselves before people who have good reason to hate them.

Zuko, from the magnificent Nikolodeon show Avatar: The Last Airbender, is an example of a redemption ark done masterfully. He starts the first season as a fairly straightforward, if complex, villian. In season 2, Zuko struggles to reconcile his desire to go home with his growing realization that the cause he fights for is monstrous. In the final season, Zuko, having apparently made his choice, returns home as an honored son, only to realize that he is still angry and more alone than ever. When he at last makes the decision to join the Avatar Aang and his friends, it takes a while for them to accept and trust Zuko. He must earn his place. That is how you make a redemption ark believable.

Jaime is in the early stages of his own redemption ark. In ASoS, he was forced to live with, fight beside and support and be supported by, Brienne. Through his interaction with her, Jaime found an alternative future for himself, as he grew to admire Brienne's sense of honor and justice and her conviction that a knight should uphold his vows to defend the weak. By rescuing Brienne from the bear pit, Jaime took his first actionable steps on the path to redemption. His willingness to become a mentor-of-sorts to Loras Tyrell also shows personal growth for Jaime. But of course, a redemption ark cannot be a straight line. Jaime still wants to have sex with Cersei. He still feels obligated to support his family despite knowing full well that the regime he fights for is wholly illegitimate. He channels his inner Tywin by threatening to murder Edmure Tully's unborn baby, even if he clearly doesn't have the cajones to go through with such an act. In fitting with a complex human being, Jaime Lannister is just as tempted by what's familiar and easy, i.e, loyalty to his family, as his is by values of honor, integrity and justice as represented by his affection for Brienne.

Jaime is at a crossroads for his character. Lady Stoneheart offers him a Stark choice; in order to fully redeem himself, he must make himself emotionally vulnerable before people who fucking despise him. Or, he can be punished for his greatest sin. He must atone for what he did to Bran. That is likely the reason for why Jaime has never reflected on Bran in any of his pov chapters. George is saving that part for when the stakes are at their climactic point for Jaime's character. He must face the literal corpse of that child's mother and ask, as Zuko did, "what can I do to make it right?"

Where Jaime's story goes from there is really up to the author. Perhaps nothing Jaime can say or do will save him from a swift and summary execution. (Rather unlikely.) Maybe Lady Stoneheart will send him forth to find Bran (assuming she finds out he is alive). More likely, perhaps, she could send him off to find and protect Sansa or Arya. The most likely possibility of all, however, is that Lady Stoneheart commands Jaime to return to Kings Landing to kill Cersei, wrapping up Jaime's story with a final, cruel test. 

The point of all this is that redemption arks are never linear progressions, and they are always physically and emotionally difficult for the characters involved. They must exact a cost, and there must be internal obstacles standing in the way of the character's desire for redemption. But Jaime's present reluctance to move forward on that ark does not mean he isn't on it. Zuko needed to return to his father and become an honored member of the evil Fire Nation again in order to move forward. And Jaime needed to reallign himself with the Lannisters and with Cersei in order to move forward. Otherwise, his possible future rejection of his family would never ever feel earned.

Edited by Nathan Stark
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10 minutes ago, Nathan Stark said:

In order for a redemption ark to work well, it cannot be a linear progression of events. The character should be introduced to a better way of living their life; they should take baby steps on the alternative path, only to backtrack. Next, they should be reminded of why their former, villianous life was bad and what made them want to leave it in the first place. Finally, they must make amends for their past behavior, even if it means humbling themselves before people who have good reason to hate them.

Zuko, from the magnificent Nikolodeon show Avatar: The Last Airbender, is an example of a redemption ark done masterfully. He starts the first season as a fairly straightforward, if complex, villian. In season 2, Zuko struggles to reconcile his desire to go home with his growing realization that the cause he fights for is monstrous. In the final season, Zuko, having apparently made his choice, returns home as an honored son, only to realize that he is still angry and more alone than ever. When he at last makes the decision to join the Avatar Aang and his friends, it takes a while for them to accept and trust Zuko. He must earn his place. That is how you make a redemption ark believable.

Jaime is in the early stages of his own redemption ark. In ASoS, he was forced to live with, fight beside and support and be supported by, Brienne. Through his interaction with her, Jaime found an alternative future for himself, as he grew to admire Brienne's sense of honor and justice and her conviction that a knight should uphold his vows to defend the weak. By rescuing Brienne from the bear pit, Jaime took his first actionable steps on the path to redemption. His willingness to become a mentor-of-sorts to Loras Tyrell also shows personal growth for Jaime. But of course, a redemption ark cannot be a straight line. Jaime still wants to have sex with Cersei. He still feels obligated to support his family despite knowing full well that the regime he fights for is wholly illegitimate. He channels his inner Tywin by threatening to murder Edmure Tully's unborn baby, even if he clearly doesn't have the cajones to go through with such an act. In fitting with a complex human being, Jaime Lannister is just as tempted by what's familiar and easy, i.e, loyalty to his family, as his is by values of honor, integrity and justice as represented by his affection for Brienne.

Jaime is at a crossroads for his character. Lady Stoneheart offers him a Stark choice; in order to fully redeem himself, he must make himself emotionally vulnerable before people who fucking despise him. Or, he can be punished for his greatest sin. He must atone for what he did to Bran. That is likely the reason for why Jaime has never reflected on Bran in any of his pov chapters. George is saving that part for when the stakes are at their climactic point for Jaime's character. He must face the literal corpse of that child's mother and ask, as Zuko did, "what can I do to make it right?"

Where Jaime's story goes from there is really up to the author. Perhaps nothing Jaime can say or do will save him from a swift and summary execution. (Rather unlikely.) Maybe Lady Stoneheart will send him forth to find Bran (assuming she finds out he is alive). More likely, perhaps, she could send him off to find and protect Sansa or Arya. The most likely possibility of all, however, is that Lady Stoneheart commands Jaime to return to Kings Landing to kill Cersei, wrapping up Jaime's story with a final, cruel test. 

The point of all this is that redemption arks are never linear progressions, and they are always physically and emotionally difficult for the characters involved. They must exact a cost, and there must be internal obstacles standing in the way of the character's desire for redemption. But Jaime's present reluctance to move forward on that ark does not mean he isn't on it. Zuko needed to return to his father and become an honored member of the evil Fire Nation again in order to move forward. And Jaime needed to reallign himself with the Lannisters and with Cersei in order to move forward. Otherwise, his possible future rejection of his family would never ever feel earned.

I wouldn't put it past George to have nothing that Jaime can do to save him from Lady Stoneheart. His name's already mud by giving Brienne Oathkeeper, a sword made from her husband's sword, decorated with Lannister symbols.

Edited by Angel Eyes
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He has done some good. Saving Brienne from being raped and then her life later on for example. That being said, he's still doing Cersei's commands, who very much is an evil person. He's following her orders in a honorable way, but he's still doing it never the less. 

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3 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

Jaime is in the early stages of his own redemption ark.

I read your entire post; I just wanted to focus on this part.  I would find this idea, and your other ideas, more plausible, if this were a 20-volume series, or alternatively if GRRM were to devote an entire volume to Jaime as protagonist.

Mozart's 2-act opera Don Giovanni has a scene where Don G confronts the ghost of his father.  The ghost tries to warn him, and call for repentance.  Don G refuses.  If this scene had occurred in the middle of act 1, it might have foreshadowed a redemption arc.  Unfortunately, it occurs near the end of act 2.  And it doesn't end well for Don G.

So where is Jaime in his arc as protagonist?  Is he in the middle of his own act one, or at the end of his act 2?  Looks like me he has already been confronted by the ghost of his mother (or was it The Mother).  He has already been called to repentance.  He has already refused.  An apparition has already met him at midnight, and the darkness has already swallowed him up, just as the trap door swallowed up Don G. 

I expect we will see Jaime again, just as Catelyn reappeared as Stoneheart, in the POVs of other characters.  But I think his arc as the protagonist of his own story is over. 

Supposedly, there are only 2 volumes to go.  That's not alot of space.  GRRM will have more space for the redemption arcs of other characters, if he is done with Jaime's arc.

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2 hours ago, Gilbert Green said:

I read your entire post; I just wanted to focus on this part.  I would find this idea, and your other ideas, more plausible, if this were a 20-volume series, or alternatively if GRRM were to devote an entire volume to Jaime as protagonist.

Mozart's 2-act opera Don Giovanni has a scene where Don G confronts the ghost of his father.  The ghost tries to warn him, and call for repentance.  Don G refuses.  If this scene had occurred in the middle of act 1, it might have foreshadowed a redemption arc.  Unfortunately, it occurs near the end of act 2.  And it doesn't end well for Don G.

So where is Jaime in his arc as protagonist?  Is he in the middle of his own act one, or at the end of his act 2?  Looks like me he has already been confronted by the ghost of his mother (or was it The Mother).  He has already been called to repentance.  He has already refused.  An apparition has already met him at midnight, and the darkness has already swallowed him up, just as the trap door swallowed up Don G. 

I expect we will see Jaime again, just as Catelyn reappeared as Stoneheart, in the POVs of other characters.  But I think his arc as the protagonist of his own story is over. 

Supposedly, there are only 2 volumes to go.  That's not alot of space.  GRRM will have more space for the redemption arcs of other characters, if he is done with Jaime's arc.

Meh. Jaime's pov's began in the third book of a seven part series. And each of these books are, or presumably will be, doorstoppers. The series might be called a "Song," but this is no opera. I stand by what I said, and will add, there is more than enough space.

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56 minutes ago, miyuki said:

What if the Jaime story is not about redemption?

If his story isn't about redemption, then what is it about?

17 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

I guess I wouldn't be surprised if Martin would subvert our expectations about Jaime's story being about redemption.

Why would Martin do this? If he subverts our expectations just to subvert our expectations, that's veering into D&D territory. I have more respect for George as a writer than that.

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6 minutes ago, Nathan Stark said:

 

Why would Martin do this? If he subverts our expectations just to subvert our expectations, that's veering into D&D territory. I have more respect for George as a writer than that.

It's more along the line of "I wouldn't be surprised if it happened."

On the other hand isn't plenty of ASOIAF subverting expectations? Quentyn's story is one long subversion of the Hero's Journey: half his band is killed off before we meet him, the queen he was supposed to marry marries somebody else, he tries to prove himself worthy by taming a wild beast... which roasts him alive. His father and uncle are subversions of the revenge quest: Oberyn is the hot-blooded type whose thirst to gets him brutally killed while Doran's indolence in his plans leads to others killing his targets and because pawns have minds of their own.

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16 minutes ago, Nathan Stark said:

If his story isn't about redemption, then what is it about?

Damnation ?

There is a limit

19 minutes ago, Nathan Stark said:

Why would Martin do this? If he subverts our expectations just to subvert our expectations, that's veering into D&D territory. I have more respect for George as a writer than that.

It wouldn't. It would be consistent with the character we had so far.

Jaime keeps breaking his vows to Catelyn. He keeps making excuses instead of keeping his word and he is now trying to emulate Tywin, a man he knows is rotten to the core.

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So he's working for his family's illegitimate regime?  What, you expect a Lannister to abandon a regime run by Lannisters?  It's not that kind of fantasy.

Besides, who is he supposed to support anyway?  Stannis?  Oh, please.  The Starks?  They're gone, though I can see him joining them when they reappear.  The Brotherhood?  Not likely.  The Lannisters are the only game in town for now, and he is doing what he can to mitigate damage.

He sent Brienne to look for and protect Sansa; for obvious reasons, he can't do it himself.  He resolved the siege of Riverrun peacefully.  Realistically, it was a lost cause.  He has distanced himself from Cersei.

It's a journey with fits and starts, but I do think he is truly trying to do the right thing and make things better.  How successful he is is yet to be determined.

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2 hours ago, Nathan Stark said:

Meh. Jaime's pov's began in the third book of a seven part series. And each of these books are, or presumably will be, doorstoppers. The series might be called a "Song," but this is no opera. I stand by what I said, and will add, there is more than enough space.

Sure.  There is more than enough space to redeem Jaime.  But something's got to give.  Someone else is going to have to be disappointed with the redemption of his own particular favorite villain, and/or the adequate resolution of many other hanging plot threads.

A doorstopper does not contain unlimited space, especially the way GRRM writes.  If it did, this would have been a trilogy of non-doorstoppers.

Book 3 was a doorstopper.  But it only divided its action among 10 POVs, not counting a Cressen** one-off, and a Merritt one-off, and not counting Theon who failed to appear despite (as it turned out) not actually being dead.  Already, plot development was starting to drag a bit.  GRRM at least managed to kill off Catelyn.  She didn't exactly stay dead, but at least she failed to return as her own POV.

[** I should have said Chett, of course.  Thanks for the correction, Angel Eyes.]

Books 4/5 were where it really started to drag, with action divided between 20 POVs, not counting a Pate one-off and an Arys one-off, and a Merrett one-off, and a Mel one-off, and a Kevan one-off.

In the end, Jon was stabbed, Quentyn was flamed, Brienne was hanged, and Jaime got lured into a fatal trap.  Everyone thinks Quentyn is dead; a few people think Jon is dead; but for reasons I can't quite understand, nobody thinks that Jaime or Brienne can possibly be dead.  I think it's just popularity.  And by that, I merely mean that FEAST/DANCE dragged so much for other characters, that Brienne/Jaime fans are the ones that now tend to dominate the forums.

GRRM has talked openly about wanting to trim the POVs. 

10 years ago, GRRM told a French newspaper that Book 6 would contain 13 POVs.  Nobody accepts this of course, because everyone wants to fantasize, not only that his favorite character will appear, but will get at least 8 chapters.  But if everyone but dead Quentyn get 8 chapters, and Hotah (who has no fans) only gets a single chapter, we are still left with 145 chapters, not counting prologue and epilogue.   I've seen fantasized projections for WINDS that contain 90+ chapters.  But even Book 3, the longest book, contained only 82, including prologue and epilogue.

My only point being, that something's got to give, and someone is not going to get what he wants.

 

Edited by Gilbert Green
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