Team Cersei – Hear me ROAR!

Posted: March 30, 2017 by Shannon Jelle in Game of Thrones, Opinion, TV
Tags: , , , ,

[This week’s post is a special bonus, a guest post authored by the lion-hearted Shannon Jelle from Geekly Press. I’m delighted to feature her observations on Cersei Lannister. — Pat ]

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It’s not easy being a lone direwolf flying solo… and by that I mean it’s not easy sporting fan swag that reads “Hear Me Roar” in a family of Stark and Targaryen supporters. It’s even harder when I let loose that I’m not just a fan of house Lannister, but one specific member. No, not Tyrion, who drinks and knows things. And not Jaime, the gilded knight who’s had one of the most redemptive arcs in all of fantasy. Oh, and yeah, not Tywin the very strategic and manipulative patriarch. I’m talking about Cersei. Yeah, you read that right. All Hail Queen Cersei, Long May She Reign.

Regardless of the likelihood that Cersei’s reign is probably going to be pretty short (converging ice zombies and dragons and all), I really hope it lasts.. She’s earned it. Now some might argue that Dany would be a much better ruler, or that little Lady Mormont could show her a thing or two about leading. However, I’m going to argue that Queen Cersei deserves much more respect and sympathy than she gets.


Cersei, for no reason (other than her gender) was groomed by her father to be two things. The first, unintentionally, to be a cunning leader. The second, quite directly, and frustratingly to be a dutiful wife. Being the first born she should have had all rights to Casterly Rock. But no! Being a woman she has rights to nothing, not her future, not her love, and not even her children.

1467073849-syn-esq-1467020570-game-of-thrones-jaime-and-cerseiNow if I can find one fault of Cersei’s it’s who she loved, Jaime. However it doesn’t change the fact that she shouldn’t have been forced into a marriage that she didn’t want. The books do a good enough job showing that she would have been happy married to Rhaegar Targaryen, and who knows how well they may have ruled together. But no! The men decide to go to war, and instead she ends up with Robert, who after years of poor leading, drinking and whoring got what he deserved. Who can blame Cersei for wanting out of a loveless and emotionally abusive marriage when she had no free agency? And let’s take a look at her children. No, I’m not going to defend her children, (not even Tommen… can we all agree he would have been an adorable but lousy leader), but I will declare that Cersei as their mother should have had more of a say in where they ended up or who they married. But no! They were raised and shipped off as the priorities of others deemed necessary.

Cersei’s a capable woman who should have had no problems running the Seven Kingdoms. Instead at every turn in life Cersei was told that despite her cunning and determination that she couldn’t have the things she wanted, only because she was a woman. She was brilliant and strong and fierce, and resorted to watching the world burn because the world told her no. Now after scratching and clawing her way to the literal top, she’s finally in control of things and she deserves to sit there for a while. The patriarchy in Westeros has had things their way for long enough.

gote10-2-645x356In some ways with the Lannister house words of “Hear Me Roar”, and hearing interviews where George RR Martin has talked about being raised by strong women; It now seems almost obvious that Cersei, despite everyone trying to put her in her place, would end up (at least temporarily) on top, considering “I am woman. Hear me ROAR” was such a feminist slogan.

 

Unfortunately, given the aforementioned ice zombies, dragons and the fact that everything in King’s Landing is a game of thrones I doubt she’ll stay queen for long. I however, will certainly enjoy it while she does.


[ Shannon kindly suggested that she contribute her Cersei Lannister post to my site – since my blog is so heavily weighted to Game of Thrones opinions. I’m honored to feature her as my first guest writer.

If you like her style, I recommend you check out her excellent site, Geekly Press.

Thanks Shannon! Defending Cersei is a bold choice, and I respect your appreciation of the lioness while you’re surrounded by dragons and direwolves at home. — Pat ]

Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)

 

© Shannon Jelle 2017 Some Rights Reserved

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Comments
  1. writingjems says:

    I will admit that, despite the fact that Cersei is nowhere near my favorite character, she might be Game of Thrones’ most fascinating character. I’ve loved watching her arc, culminating in the moment where she stops trying to be the power behind the Throne and takes it directly for herself. Winds of Winter was a breathtaking episode, mostly because of her.

    That said, I don’t agree with this post, given that it’s less a defense and more a gushing appreciation that overlooks or smooths over all of Cersei’s flaws and shortcomings.

    The fact is, while Cersei has always had the ambition, she never had the tact or the skills in diplomacy that make for a good leader. The evidence speaks for itself in that none of her plans ever work out, and the only one that does (empowering the Sparrows) comes back to bite her so predictably hard. To say nothing, of course, about ruining the only alliance keeping your House from bankruptcy and losing it’s hold on the realm. While I do think Westeros’ tendency to suppress female leadership is unfair, it’s evident from the Tyrells that it’s hardly impossible for a woman to play her way skillfully to power. Cersei has had many unfortunate circumstances piled on her (a judgmental father, an abusive and loveless marriage, a heavily patriarchal society), but it’s clear from the start that she has been, and always will be, her own worst enemy.

    From a writing and character standpoint, Cersei is an amazing, well-developed, and surprisingly sympathetic character. But condoning her actions, particularly the mass murder of innocents that put her on the Throne, is something I’ll never do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Uh oh, shots fired!

      I’ll let Shannon defend her position, if she wants to, but I understand where you’re coming from. But Cersei’s plans do sometimes work out… just with really bad side effects. I tend to call Cersei’s situation as failing upwards.

      Liked by 1 person

      • writingjems says:

        Haha, I think it’s just painting Cersei in an unrealistically positive light. Cersei’s a great character, but it’s as much because of her faults as it is in spite of them. I like that description though! “Failing upwards” lol.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was thinking what you said above, about Cersei lacking tact and diplomacy, and that reminded me of one of my fave almost kings, Stannis Baratheon (until he burned his daughter…) who famously lacked those qualities as well.

          Again, I don’t feel the need to defend or argue on behalf of Shannon’s work, but I appreciate its examples of the double standard Cersei had to work through.

          Tyrion honed his intellect because it was all he had to survive, really. Jaime (I feel) is as smart as Tyrion, or nearly so, but in general hadn’t needed to rely on his brains. Cersei, I think, had a similar capacity, but she didn’t have the need to develop critical thinking skills like Tyrion, and wasn’t given the opportunities for leadership like Jaime had. She was kind of raised in this odd bubble.

          I’m not saying we should necessarily sympathize with Cersei, since there are probably better examples on feminist virtues on the show, but I do think she brings an interesting dimension.

          I’m not saying you don’t find her interesting… and I agree with you that her actions are pretty uncondonable. She’s one of my top war criminals for the series.

          Liked by 1 person

    • “own worst enemy”? Let’s discuss that character flaw… and to do so, let’s use a better example like Ned Stark, or a secondary example… like Robb Stark. Both men valued their own self-righteous sense of honor above the common good. Ned should have had less trust in the residents of King’s Landing, and Robb should have just married Frey’s daughter. But no! Instead they were each their own worst enemy, to the detriment of the Seven Kingdoms.

      I’m not going to say that Cersei has no flaws, however I think that your main point is a bit on the biased side.

      And on her “mass murder of innocents”, I agree, it was horrendous (and devastatingly poetic when you think about Jaime). However, I rarely see these complaints about Robert… or any of the Baratheons when they wage war.

      Oh and for the Tyrells to show “that it’s hardly impossible for a woman to play her way skillfully to power”, Margaery was only in the position she was in because she was a willing pawn of the patriarchy, much like Cersei was when Tywin was coordinating her intended marriage to Rhaegar. Had Margaery spent a marriage with Joffrey (if she’d survived it), I find it highly likely that she would have ended up with a disposition similar to Cersei’s.

      So, to sum up. Love her or hate her )or both), Cersei has earned her spot on the Iron Throne as much as any usurper and she’s had to overcome a lot more societal obstacles than any of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • writingjems says:

        Oh, you’re absolutely right that most of the characters on the show end up being their own worst enemies. Ned and Robb Stark are great examples of that. But pointing out their flaws doesn’t minimize Cersei’s own flaws.

        I don’t think it’s biased. I only pointed out Cersei’s flaws because the post was about Cersei, but I could spend all day listing the faults of every character on the show. You are right that Cersei’s faults tend to get highlighted more than others, but that’s because she tends to showcase them more and has fewer virtues to hide behind.

        I have many, MANY complaints against Robert, not the least of which is his treatment of Cersei. But there is a difference between people dying in a war both sides agree to enacting, and people going about their daily business and getting exploded. It’s equating a war to a terrorist attack. Yes, you are killing people either way, but the circumstances are very different.

        Yes, that is true. Cersei was in a hard place because she could never learn to embrace her femininity the way Margaery did, nor was she able to discard it the way Brienne was, and I think that created a lot of bitterness and resentment in her. I don’t think Margaery was a pawn though. She knew her own strengths and played to them. I can only imagine how long she might have held sway on Joffrey during their marriage, but one can assume it would have gone even worse than Cersei’s.

        Liked by 1 person

        • writingjems says:

          Accidentally hit reply too soon! Yes, you could say Cersei “earned” the Throne as much as any usurper. Possession is nine-tenths of the law and all that. But I don’t think she deserves it any more than Robert did. You’re either suited for leadership, or you aren’t. And Cersei definitely isn’t.

          Pat made a good point about Stannis also being undiplomatic. And it’s true that their “bend the knee or destroy” disposition has done them no favors and has the unfortunate side-effect of alienating people that could otherwise prove useful. I think anyone who has the mentality that “everyone but us is an enemy” isn’t going to make for a good leader. But Stannis at least knows the wisdom of council you don’t like hearing. That’s why he had Davos. But Cersei is content to only surround herself with people who tell her what she wants to hear. Not only does Cersei not possess good leadership qualities, but she refuses to hear the council of people who do. Either way, Cersei’s leadership isn’t likely to last long, and that’s probably going to be a good thing.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely think Cersei is another victim of Westeros’ patriarchy like Lysa Arryn (who arguably is the most victimized by it). Had she been given a chance, I think she could’ve been a capable ruler, and you can see the bitterness for her lot in life occurring young, or you could chalk that up to her having a rich rather and being a bit of a spoiled brat (I’m thinking of the scene where she first hears of the prophecy, and how she initially treats Maggy the Frog, but then Sansa behaved in a similar way due to her place in the feudal system).

    Unfortunately, I think the abuse she suffers makes her just want power for the sake of having power, because it was denied her on the basis of her gender, nor did she have a good relationship with her first husband, so the only power she really wielded was the mostly superficial one of queen (though only queen as the king’s wife not in her own right). Compare her to Catelyn Stark who cultivated an excellent relationship with Ned so that they ruled the North as near equals, but that’s only because Ned was that kind of man. Had he been like his best friend Robert, Catelyn could’ve turned out just like Cersei or her sister Lysa.

    I think she’s a tragic figure who deserves sympathy, though I do think she lacks empathy and can no longer see/realize the harm she’s causing.

    Like

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