Apr 192019

I gotta say, I love the character of Cersei. I adore characters that are completely destroyed by the world, and refuse to take it anymore.

All her life Cersei has been a thing used by other people. She never mattered. She was marriage-material to be traded for alliances. She was a mare to be bred. Her opinions and feelings about her life didn’t matter.

The most poignant example of this is during the battle for King’s Landing, when Cersei, Sansa, and the other royal ladies are sheltered in an inner room while the fighting goes on outside. Cersei lets Sansa know that the executioner isn’t there to protect them. He’s there to kill them all should the city fall, because it is more merciful for them to suffer a quick death than to be slowly raped to death in the sack of the city.

The one thing the world has said over and over to her is that unless she has absolutely power, she has none at all. Even as the wife of the King, she is a thing foremost.

And then the High Sparrow really brings this home with the torture, degradation, and ultimately the public humiliation of the Shame! scene. All the while no one came to save her, because she was being weighed for her usefulness. Her safety and dignity were being traded around like so many pounds of wheat.

She’s decided this will never happen again. She’ll take any steps to prevent it. I love that.

I’ve seen this type of anti-hero before. Most recently, Syenite of The Fifth Season. I love that character as well, for the same reason. There comes a point where you’d rather see the entire world destroyed than condemn yourself to such an existence. Where you’d rather kill your own child than let them live such a life. Where you no longer care who dies, because everyone, EVERYONE was fucking complicit.

So I understand why, for Cersei, remaining in power is more important than saving Westeros. If either the undead or the humans are destroyed at Winterfell, but the opposing side is weakened enough that Cersei’s army can destroy what’s left and secure the continent under her rule, that is ideal. Humanity gets to continue to exist, all her enemies are dead, and she will never be used like a thing again. There is the possibility that the undead will win and destroy all life on Westeros, yes. But that is preferable to returning to life as chattel. If humanity has such a problem with extinction, maybe it shouldn’t have made life a living hell for so many.

Not that I agree with this, of course. I’m very pro-humanity. It’s just that this type of character speaks to me on such a deep emotional level that I can’t help but feel every single ounce of rage and despair with them. <3

  4 Responses to “Mad Respect for Cersei”

  1. Mad respect, or mad fascination?

    One’s path to villainy can be intriguing, for sure, but I’d never *respect* someone for inflicting murderous indignation upon the world due to offenses committed against her person. That indicates some serious myopia on her part, and *not* being that self-obsessed is one of the things that separates the good guys from the bad guys.

    What other tyrants — let’s say, in the real world, rather than the world of fiction — do you respect for not taking crap anymore?

    • It’s a turn of phrase. I certainly never want this to never happen in the real world. But I appreciate art that can make me feel it, because emotions are weird. It’s just one step away from righteous indignation and moral outrage, which have made some serious contributions to getting humanity to a better place. I like seeing how the same emotion/motivation can lead to vastly different results among different people and/or situations.

  2. Interesting but uncomfortable to read because my views on the subject are at odds with yours. To me Cersei spent a part of her life being trampled upon and used and her answer was to perpetuate the system just from a little higher up. I have the opposite of respect for that.

    When you truly don’t like something you don’t emulate it. I feel no connection to her at all actually. I enjoyed the Books a lot a a child but I feel literally no resonance with any of the characters nor have I ever. I always assumed AGOT was a Codex about how people are bad and only assholes want to be in charge.

    Actually as per the books Derrick Dondarrion didn’t do anything which was memorably egregious. Outside of him I cannot think of anyone who had enough of a part to be a character who wasn’t a terrible example of a person. Children are obviously not included in this equation.

    TLDR: Cersei’s answer to abuse was to become an abuser. This is bad.

    • You make a compelling point, and I find it hard to disagree. I’m just a sucker for revenge narratives. Unlike most revenge narratives, all the people deserving Cersei’s vengeance are already dead, and she only has the system to exact her vengeance from.

      I also love stories that show how otherwise admirable traits can be twisted and lead to awful outcomes. Which, come to think of it, is the definition of a tragedy, isn’t it? I guess I like tragedies, then. One of the marks of a well-done tragedy is that one sympathizes with the protagonist, despite seeing them bringing about their own downfall (and often lots of other people in the process). So maybe I’m just overly-conditioned to find tragic characters appealing, regardless of how terrible they actually are/would be IRL?

      Like, that desire to watch a world that wronged you burn still resonates with me, even though I wouldn’t actually encourage that in anyone. I dunno, I hope this isn’t a personal failing of mine. /shrug

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