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What would you say is the moral scaling of the Lannister family in terms of how morally bankrupt they are?


boltons are sick
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I was wondering in which morality category would you place these 5 members of the Lannister family Tywin, Cersei, Tyrion, Jaime and Joffrey (I know Joffrey is not really a Lannister because he thinks of himself as a Baratheon, but he technically is a Lannister because his real father is Jaime, so I am including him).

For those of you who don’t know, there are several wikis for villains. One of them is called Pure Evil wiki (which, in short, is about villains with no redeeming or sympathetic qualities), the second is called Near Pure Evil wiki (Which, in short, is about villains with almost no redeeming or sympathetic qualities but they still can’t qualify for the Pure Evil wiki for some reason. However, there are other cases where a villain can be Near Pure Evil even if they don't have any redeemable qualities like slightly lacking moral agency or slightly failing the heinous standard of the series because they don't go the extra mile in terms of crimes). There is also a third wiki called the Inconsistently Heinous wiki (which, in short, is about characters who have committed awful crimes, but they still have too many redeeming and sympathetic qualities and excuses for their actions to qualify as Pure Evil or Near Pure Evil). The name “Inconsistently Heinous” means that the characters are too inconsistent in their heinousness to be Near Pure Evil and they need to have many redeeming and sympathetic qualities and/or excuses for their actions or something else which disqualifies them from being Near Pure Evil. Often times Inconsistently Heinous characters can even be morally ambiguous heroes in the stories they are depicted, but they also do some bad things along the way. The Villainous Benchmark wiki is for characters who do some bad stuff, but can't be listed on the Near Pure Evil wiki (either because their actions are really, really tame or because they have too many sympathetic qualities, but also don't do quite enough to be listed as Inconsistently Heinous).

Here is how the Lannister members are listed:

Pure Evil: Joffrey (There is absolutely nothing redeemable or sympathetic about him and while there are some slight indications of a sympathetic past, those things are not really treated with enough relevance by the story to be a disqualifier)

Near Pure Evil: Tywin (Cares about some of his family members like his father, brother and wife and has a bit of a Freudian Excuse, but overall there aren't a lot of sympathetic qualities. He doesn't care about the people he rules over, so the fact he is a good administrator also doesn't serve as a redeeming quality because he is simply doing it to acquire more power for himself, not to mention as a whole he has caused far more misery and death than prosperity either way and it's very debatable if he cares about any of his children.)

Inconsistently Heinous: Cersei and Tyrion (their actions cross some moral boundaries, but they both have way too many sympathetic and redeeming quaities to be Pure Evil or Near Pure Evil and are too affected by their tragic backstories)

Villainous Benchmark: Jaime (he does some bad things like trying to murder a child but not quite bad enough to be Inconsistently Heinous and he goes through something resembling a redemption and is way too sympathetic to be Pure Evil or Near Pure Evil either way)

So, how do you feel about this moral scaling and would you make any changes to it?

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Just now, Aebram said:

I would move Cersei down to the Near Pure or Pure Evil category. The only people she seems to care about are Jaime and her children; and her "caring" seems to be based only on how they are valuable to her in her own life, not on any genuine desire to make them happy.

Cersei doesn't qualify as Pure Evil or Near Pure Evil for the following reasons:

  • She loves her family members except for Tyrion (more specifically, her children,her father, Tywin and her mother, Joanna). She is very protective of her children, doesn't want them to die and constantly fears for their safety.
    • When her son Joffrey dies, she breaks down over his corpse and cries and then she stays with his corpse and mourns it for days. At one point, she has a nice dream where Joffrey is still alive and she marries her brother, Jaime.
    • She is angry when Tyrion sends her daughter, Myrcella, to Dorn without her permission and starts threatening him. She breaks down into tears when he mentions that if Myrcella stays, she could be killed in the coming battle. She is also shocked when she learns that Myrcella has lost one of her ears.
    • In the fourth book she gets very protective of her son, Tommen, after the death of Joffrey. When Tommen chokes on his wine, she is afraid that someone had poisoned him, quickly stands up and goes to him to help. When she discovers that no one has poisoned him, she goes away and starts crying. During her imprisonment by the Faith Militant, she constantly thinks about her son and how she wants to go back to him. When she goes back to him, she starts spending a lot more time with him than ever before because she was relieved to see him again after her long imprisonment.
    • At one point, she had a nightmare where Tyrion has tied her up. She begs him to spare her kids, even though in the dream her own life is in danger.
    • She loves her father as she wants his respect, constantly thinks about what he would do and is sad when he dies.
    • She loves her mother. She blames her younger brother, Tyrion, for "killing" her mother because this is what she saw from her father. She also mentions to Sansa that when she was a little girl she prayed to the Gods to give her mother back.
  • Cersei is too tragic to be Near Pure Evil:
    • She lost her mother at the age of 7 which has left her traumatized.
    • At the age of 10, Cersei received a prophecy from Maggy that all of her kids would die, that a younger and more baeutiful queen would take everything she holds dear and then Cersei herself would be killed by her younger brother. This made Cersei very paranoid about her life and the lives of her children, made her even more abusive towards Tyrion because she believes that he is the younger brother from the prophecy and caused her to become distrustful towards most other people. A lot of the crimes she commits are an attempt to prevent this prophecy from happening and saving her children and herself.
    • Her father Tywin was neglectful most of the time, barely displayed any parental love aside from a few occasions and he was a brutal ruler who taught his kids that they should be merciless, that they shouldn't care about morality only about the end results and that they should look down on small folk or anyone who isn't a Lannister. He is also strict with his expectations of her and doesn't allow her to deviate in any way from what he envisions her to be but at the same time he never disciplines her on how she should treat other people properly, never corrects her behaviour and even makes her believe that her younger brother Tyrion "killed" her mother due to simply being born which causes her to hate him. Even after she becomes a Queen, he still acts in a controlling way towards her and orders her around despite the fact she outranks him, doesn't seem to care a lot about how her husband treats her or if she is happy with her life, doesn't take her opinions into consideration most of the time and tries to force her into a second marriage despite Cersei's immense displeasure, which would also deprive her of her position as regent to King Joffrey and force her into another position where she is a powerless housewife to someone else, just because Tywin wants to increase his own power with him possibly even wanting to take the regency for himself away from Cersei. Her upbringing as Tywin's daughter causes her to have a very warped view of the world and because she feels unappreciated by her father and suffers from insecurities, she tries to emulate him in any way she can to win his approval.
    • She was married to Robert Baratheon, who cheated on her and abused her by sometimes even raping her which also has an affect on her because she feels powerless during the rapes and she doesn't want this to happen again. The affect the rapes have on her is displayed when she tries to force herself on another woman because she wants to feel powerful and learn what Robert has felt when he had done that to her but stops at the last moment because she realizes she doesn't feel enjoyment and just feels empty.
    • In the world of Westeros if it's discovered that she had cheated on her husband with Jaime, she and all of her kids would be executed while her husband also cheats on her all the time with dozens of different women which displays the double standards of Westerosi laws. The reason why she kills Robert and Ned is because she wants to protect her life and the life of her kids from execution.
    • In general, she has suffered from systematic sexism throughout her whole life starting from childhood because she was born in a highly sexist society where women are inferior to men and she and Jaime were treated differently because of their gender. Jaime was groomed to become the heir to Casterly Rock and was taught how to rule and fight while she was groomed to be married off and be a housewife despite being older than her brother. When she was married to her husband, she also suffered from the sexism of her society because her husband was allowed to cheat on her while if she was caught cheating, she and her entire family would be executed. She was also raped because there was no definition of marital rape in Westeros.
  • She suffers from a lot of insecurities (about being a woman, winning her father's approval, being fit to rule, etc.). She also has insecurities about not having any friends and she immediately decides to befriend the first woman she meets in the fourth book simply because she doesn't want to feel lonely.
  • On one occasion, after Ned gives her a chance to escape with her children from the city before he reports to Robert that she had been cheating on him, Cersei tells him that because of this she would allow him to go back to Winterfell and live out the rest of his life if he kneels to Joffrey and swears fealty to him. Ned doesn't do it and he ends up dead for this reason, but there is no indication Cersei wouldn't have kept her word if he had accepted and she still doesn't agree with Joffrey executing him.
  • Even though she is rude to Sansa, she still tries to give her advice about how to rule as a Queen, about the specifics of the female body and that she shouldn't love too many people or else she would get hurt. It's implied that the reason for this is because Cersei sees Sansa as a younger and more inexperienced version of herself. While, Cersei lates desires to execute Sansa because she believes that Sansa was involved in Joffrey's death, it doesn't entirely subvert her prevention because during her Walk of Shame, she still noticebly feels bad about how things turned out and that Cersei could have provided a good marriage for her if Joffrey hadn't beheaded her father. Sansa is also one of the people Cersei hallucinates about which indicates that she feels guilty about how she treated her
  • She is capable of feeling remorse on certain occasions. After the torture of the Blue Bard, she feels bad for him and tries to justify herself even if she doesn't take moral responsibility for what she did, and for a moment she even considers stopping his torture.
  • She is also played for sympathy a lot as shown by the above examples. Aside from the examples that are already mentioned, during the Walk of Shame when she paraded naked through the streets of the city and the common people throw things at her, the story tries to frame the moment as an "Alas. Poor Villain" by presenting it from Cersei's point of view, presenting it in excrusiating detail, showing how it affects her psyche. The story clearly tries to make the readers feel bad for her during this chapter.
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10 minutes ago, boltons are sick said:

At the age of 10

she murdered her BFF out of spite and jealousy.

11 minutes ago, boltons are sick said:

After the torture of the Blue Bard

I can't believe we're here again. No, she feels NO remorse for the Blue Bard. She feels sorry for herself (as usual) and blames Margaery for "making her do it". 

 

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23 minutes ago, boltons are sick said:

Cersei doesn't qualify as Pure Evil or Near Pure Evil for the following reasons:

  • she feels bad for him and tries to justify herself even if she doesn't take moral responsibility for what she did, and for a moment she even considers stopping his torture

Truly, the hero we deserve.

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I am not about to try and analyze a character's moral stature by simply using a checklist, especially one devised by someone else whose ideals, ideology, and thought processes are entirely unknown to us.  That route leads to inconsistency, absurdity, and madness.

Cersei is the worst of the Lannisters, with the possible exception of her son, who was a work in progress at his death.  Deal with it.

Tywin is next in the hierarchy, mostly because he simply doesn't care about the damage he does.  He's the ultimate Machiavellian.  Tyrion and Jaime are about equal.  Tyrion started off quite decent, but has gotten worse, especially after Joffrey's death, while Jaime started off as pretty bad, but seems to cleaning up his act.

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2 hours ago, Nevets said:

Cersei is the worst of the Lannisters, with the possible exception of her son, who was a work in progress at his death.

Both Joffrey and Cersei are sadistic. But at least Joffrey is still a minor, and with Cersei as a mother and her treating him as the golden child, I consider Cersei to be worse even than Joffrey. And Joffrey didn't murder anyone before he was 14, while Cersei murdered at the age of 10. So, yeah, she's the worst.

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Move both Cersei and Joffrey into Near Pure Evil. Include Kevan in Inconsistently Heinous. Put Genna in…hmm honestly we don’t see enough of her, just the benchmark one for now. Put Tommen and Myrcella on the good list, probably both Near Pure Good or even Pure Good. Devan Lannister - Not sure. Middle ground, lol. 

Also note - I put Tywin in the same category as Cersei and Joffrey, but the be clear, Tywin is worse than them. I can’t put him in pure evil, because I don’t think he is, but he is amongst the most evil characters I have seen in fiction. Cersei has never murdered an entire castle full of people, neither has Joffrey. Maybe they would given a chance, BUT they haven’t. Tywin went out of his way to do so directly AGAINST his father’s orders. Tywin is not some impassionate man that his stans want to make him out to be. Tywin Lannister likes the cruelty he inflicts and that is partially why he inflicts it. Tywin is just as careless about human life as Joffrey and Cersei, but unlike them, he is much more directly brutal in the methods he chooses. And while Joffrey certainly enjoys cruelty, so does Tywin, just only one of them is honest about it. A Tywin PoV would really shatter a lot of his stans ideas, lol. GRRM dropped plenty of hints about how Tywin feels about cruelty, and y’all (Tywin stans) missed them.

Edited by Lord of Raventree Hall
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5 hours ago, boltons are sick said:

Cersei doesn't qualify as Pure Evil or Near Pure Evil for the following reasons:

You make some good points (and by the way, good topic; thanks for the OP).  I guess the key question is: if a person is mistreated by others, especially in their childhood, to what extent does that justify or excuse their own bad behavior? Cersei had a tough life in some ways, but a very privileged and fortunate one in others. Tyrion clearly has had a more difficult life than her; but I don't think he descended as far as her down the good-vs.-evil scale.

I see Cersei as being similar to her father, about whom you wrote: "the fact he is a good administrator ... doesn't serve as a redeeming quality because he is simply doing it to acquire more power for himself."  Cersei doesn't have lands or titles; her children are her most valuable resource. So when she shows concern about them, I think it's fair to wonder whether she is really motivated by love of them, or simply by their importance to her own life. For instance, her fear of losing Tommen has grown to the point where it is not good for him. If she's not careful, he will end up being another Sweetrobin.

Edited by Aebram
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5 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Both Joffrey and Cersei are sadistic. But at least Joffrey is still a minor, and with Cersei as a mother and her treating him as the golden child, I consider Cersei to be worse even than Joffrey. And Joffrey didn't murder anyone before he was 14, while Cersei murdered at the age of 10. So, yeah, she's the worst.

Whether someone is sadistic or not is usually not taken into account when it's decided under which category a certain characters should go. In fact, there are a lot of characters under the Pure Evil category who don't show sadism, yet, they still qualify because they don't have any genuine redeeming qualities, don't have any excuses and they simply don't care about the lives of other people and they still commit terrible crimes for selfish reasons (most of the time out of greed).

An example of this includes, Wat Tambor from Star Wars: The Clone Wars who is a corrupt businessman who wants to increase his own profits by enslaving the population of an entire planet and forcing them into work under his oppressive rule where they starve because he wants to gain a lot of wealth by exploiting them. When the Republic attacks, Tambor uses the people as living shields to slow their advance and when his superior, Count Dooku, sees that he is going to lose the planet, he orders Tambor to firebomb the whole planet and commit genocide against its billions of inhabitants to send a message to the galaxy about the cost of a Republic victory. Tambor complies with Dooku's orders and specifically instructs his droids to target ever village by starting with the inhabited ones and it's explicitly mentioned that there are many women and children killed by his droids. He also tries to evacuate from the planet, but first he tries to steal all the treasures for himself. Later, he is shown to lead horrific experiments against sentient creatures in his facility because his company is developing new weapons they want to sell and they need test subjects and he is shown to have subjected a Clone to a fate worse than death where the Clone constantly relives the last moments before his supposed death because Tambor wants to extract useful tactics out of his head and sell them to the Separatists. Despite not showing much in the way of sadism, he is still Pure Evil because he doesn't have any genuine redeeming qualities, no Freudian Excuse which could explain his greed in the present and all of his actions are motivated by a desire to increase his profits.

Another example of a Pure Evil villain who is not sadistic is Lewis Dodgson from Jurassic World who is another corrupt businessman. He tries to unleash artificially modified locusts on the world to eat all the crops except the ones generated by his own company. He does this to force the whole world to starvation where millions would die. He does this to force the world to buy crops generated by his own company or face starvation because he wants to increase his profits. Despite not showing any sadism, he still qualifies as Pure Evil because, like Wat Tambor, he doesn't have any genuine redeeming qualities, no Freudian Excuse which could explain his greed in the present and all of his actions are motivated by a desire to increase his profits.

And another example of a non-sadistic Pure Evil villain is Petyr Baelish from Game of Thrones (his book counterpart is Near Pure Evil due to some minor preventions).

Edited by boltons are sick
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2 hours ago, boltons are sick said:

Whether someone is sadistic or not is usually not taken into account when it's decided under which category a certain characters should go.

I don't give a damn about the wikis for villains. In fact, I'm weary of anyone who requires someone or something else to inform them what is evil and what is good, whether that's a religious text several milennia old, or some wiki.

Sadism is the enjoyment in inflicting pain as a motivator to act. That is an evil to me.

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Jokes aside was there any good in Joff? People like to say this series only has grey characters, but I can’t think of a single time Joff was ever kind to someone. I think him pouring wine for Sansa and her septa, at the Hands Tourney, might be his only kind act in the whole series. 

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18 minutes ago, sifth said:

Jokes aside was there any good in Joff? People like to say this series only has grey characters, but I can’t think of a single time Joff was ever kind to someone. I think him pouring wine for Sansa and her septa, at the Hands Tourney, might be his only kind act in the whole series. 

Even if this act was genuine on his part, he later subverts it by having the septa executed and Sansa beaten and threatened with rape.

Edited by boltons are sick
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4 hours ago, sifth said:

Jokes aside was there any good in Joff? People like to say this series only has grey characters, but I can’t think of a single time Joff was ever kind to someone. I think him pouring wine for Sansa and her septa, at the Hands Tourney, might be his only kind act in the whole series. 

I think he loved/looked up to Robert. Maybe Cersei, too? Not sure, their dynamic is so freaking weird. Oh, and he let Tommen joust on his name day. You mentioned that scene where he pours for Sansa and her septa. If I remember right, Robert screams as Cersei shortly later, and Joffrey is clearly bothered by it, and takes off. I'm not saying that..shows kindness exactly, but...it shows...empathy maybe? For his mom? Not sure. 

Edited by Lord of Raventree Hall
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