Abstract: Often, I hear complaints about Jon Snow, the bastard of Winterfell. I previously wrote responses to various common complaints, and now I wrap it all up in a bow.
This is the sixth part in a series examining alleged negative aspects of Jon Snow, the acknowledged illegitimate son of Lord Eddard “One Does Not Simply Play the Game of Thrones” Stark. This was all explained five posts ago. Should you not want to read the whole thing, I’ll summarize: I’m a fan of Jon Snow, and I’m concluding my defense of his character with a general character defense. Oh, the symmetry!
To recap, Jon Snow has been accused of being boring (or his storyline is boring), he’s an emo whiny dummy, he’s indecisive, and he’s a bad boyfriend.
Well, yeah. I guess. I mean, I don’t agree. Daenerys has some boring storylines (WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS!), Theon is way more whiny, he’s no more indecisive than anyone else, and as a virgin who has his first sexual experience with a threatening scary barbarian, I think there’s no way he could avoid being a bad boyfriend.
But I’ve already fought those battles. Time for two more tactics, and I’ll even call upon my classical education to bring it home.
The Athenian Greeks were pretty big proponents on the idea that every citizen should have the ability to speak for themselves. They didn’t have what we’d consider lawyers advocating on someone’s behalf. If there was an issue, you went to court and you debated. Jon Snow isn’t real and can’t speak on his defense, and neither of us (or probably you readers… reader? Readers!) are ancient Athenians, I guess, so we’ll all just have to get used to me speaking on Jon’s behalf. But let me get to my point.
Greek oratory in winning an argument usually focused on three things: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.
Logos was an appeal to rational thought, to logic: winning the debate with a logical argument.
Pathos was an appeal to emotion. Getting the listeners’ sympathies on your side or to inspire them with your rhetoric, if not with your well-thought out logical argument.
Ethos was an approach based solely on character. Basically by convincing the listeners that your character was so upstanding, any counterargument must be invalid.
I’ve tried (possibly succeeded, possibly failed) in presenting logical arguments in defense of Jon Snow from the various allegations. Now it’s time for the other two approaches.
It’s okay to complain about Jon Snow, but it’s wrong to dismiss him. He’s clearly an important part of the Song of Ice and Fire, for this alone:
I read the books, so I might not have had the same experience as a show-watcher, but when Ned’s head flew off his neck, one of the first thoughts (other than OH NO THEY DIDN’T!) was BUT WHAT ABOUT JON’S MOM???
I was really distressed that Ned got killed before he could tell his bastard son about his mother. When Ned was imprisoned at Kings Landing, and the offer of him serving for life at the Wall was offered, I was quite intrigued. I hadn’t been expecting this, but I could see the path of the novels: Jon Snow waiting for Ned at the Wall, Ned filling in Jon (and us) the details, and the two of them dealing with the northern problems then grappling with their honor as they consider what clearly needs to happen in the south.
Then Ned got his head cut off and I lost my mind. That’s how invested I was in Jon’s story and the mystery of his parentage.
When I was reading book three, the second time I threw the book across the room (first time was Jaime getting his hand cut off) was obviously the Red Wedding. It was bad enough all the carnage and the betrayal. But I had this realization that there was a hole in my heart, something I hadn’t noticed before. I really wanted some kind of resolution between Jon Snow and Catelyn Stark. I desperately wanted that. Gaaaaah!
Jon Snow just looms large on the emotional landscape. He’s tied in with such big things, and he doesn’t even know it. (Because he knows nothing, I know, I know. Oh oh oh.)
So, any complaints against him I just can’t get behind, because I’m too invested in him. And if people are not that invested in him, I feel they haven’t been paying attention.
And then there’s this:
Before season one even began, HBO had great teasers. One had a blurring collection of scenes from the upcoming shows and a series of lightning fast flashes of people on the throne. King Robert (obviously, he’s king), Ned (Hand of the King, he gets to sit on the throne occasionally), Daenerys (she’s the rightful heir to the throne), and Jon Snow. I’m not saying anything else. But it’s a solid image of import. Boom. Feel free to disagree.
So, you’re bound and determined to dislike Jon Snow. That’s cool. I’m sure you can find others who don’t like Jon.
But here’s someone who is not going to be in your club. This gal:
You tell that adorable murder-angel that Jon Snow is lame. Oh, you just tell her. Heard of her list? The one she says at night? Welcome to that list. Seriously, she loves Jon Snow, he’s been great to her. The rest of her family leaned on her to be the perfect little lady, but Jon the outsider recognized the kindred spirit. So if you’re hating on Jon Snow, you’re virtually hating on Arya.
Who else is fond of Jon Snow? No one else, right? Oh, there’s this guy:
Tyrion, along with Arya, is arguably one of the most beloved characters in Game of Thrones. He took a shine to Jon immediately. He had no reason to do so, and yet he warmed up to the sullen lad, and helped him out. On Jon’s request, Tyrion philanthropically gave Bran a wonderful gift of a saddle, so the lad could ride like a knight. So, you can hate on Jon Snow. But that’ll raise an eyebrow on the Imp. TV show Tyrion is a bit less ruthless than book Tyrion, but I’d keep on his good side all the same.
So what does this have to do with Jon Snow, and Ethos, and his character? I’m saying that Arya’s love and Tyrion’s friendship speaks highly of Jon. Even though we can’t know his thoughts, his effect on people we love and respect should transfer to him as well.
I’m sure I can bring up someone who doesn’t like Jon Snow. Finds him lame and useless. Maybe is a bit scared of him.
Theon would be happy to be part of the We Hate Jon Snow Society.
Now, maybe I haven’t convinced you, and that’s cool. I’d love to hear your thoughts (although again, I’ve read the books so I don’t need to see anything that hasn’t happened on the TV show, and if you want to discuss rumors and/or theories I’m all for that in email, not in comments.)
Anyway, I enjoyed this long, painful exercise. I need to do something while I’m waiting for season four.
Hey, I’ve been meaning to try out the WordPress poll feature, so here this is… totally scientific and unbiased. You can trust me on that.
The images of Kit Harrington, Sean Bean, Maise Williams, and Alfie Allen are obviously from HBO’s Game of Thrones.
That awesome image of Jon, Ghost, and the Wall was found at:
I make no claim to any of the artwork obviously, but I do make some claim to the text of this posting. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2013 Some Rights Reserved