Heroes, Heroines, and Anti-ones Too

Thursday, July 07, 2016
I am among the over 10 million people who watch Game of Thrones. Yes, it 's a very violent show with some of the worst villains to make it on to TV in a long time. Every once in a while, those villains have made me almost stop watching the show. But...I watch because the good side is so well done that I can't help cheering for and caring for and sympathizing or empathizing with the heroes and heroines, and most of all one particular, handsome anti-hero, (insert romantic music here) Jaime Lannister. (Some spoiler alerts below if you haven't watched season 6 yet.)

One of the complaints many people have about the show, besides the nudity and head chopping, is there are too many characters, and it's hard to keep them straight. So don't worry, this post won't go on and discuss each of these characters. I'll pick a couple and tell you why they stand out and why millions of people are behind this show, which I'm sure everyone knows, started as books. Book one has sold (as of last year) over 60 million copies. I think it's worth our time to look at this story, no matter what you write or what you prefer.

Heroes: The hero that comes to everyone's mind, and most people's favorite character, is the handsome, kind, and chivalrous Jon Snow. This poor guy has faced terrible tragedy (spoiler alerts if you have not watched Season 6 yet), including coming back from the dead after being stabbed by his very own men and cremating the love of his life in the woods. And yet, he leads a small army against the worst villain on the show, Ramsay Snow (Bolton), in the hopes that good will conquer evil and to save his sister's honor and his brother's life. Sure, he loses his temper and almost does the wrong thing a time or two; but in the end, his good heart always wins out, and he does the right thing. It doesn't hurt that the actor who plays this character is one of the most handsome on the show, in spite of the fact these people hardly ever bathe. (I can't help it--it's normal for them, but can you imagine that in real life?)

Is he perfect? Heroes can not be perfect, or we don't like them! And neither is Jon. My favorite character of all time, Brienne of Tarth, who will be discussed in the next section, says perfectly in one episode, “He seems trustworthy. A bit brooding perhaps, which is understandable considering.” He also lets honor and goodness sometimes get in the way of his intelligence, but luckily he has someone like his sister Sansa who realizes this and gets him out of a jam, where he almost died again!

If you are a fan, who else do you think is a hero on Game of Thrones?

Heroines: One great thing about this show is that women have interesting and powerful roles. Okay, there are many brothel scenes; and let's face it, some men weren't the most respectful to women back then. But I feel like with characters, such as Brienne, Sansa, and Daenerys, it's a story full of heroines. As I mentioned above, my favorite is Brienne. I'm not alone--she's a fan favorite--and for me, it's not just because she's tall (I'm over 6 foot by the way). She knows who she is, and she takes her role in this world and as a knight with an oath to the Starks more seriously than any other character on the show, in my opinion.

When Brienne enters the scene, we have no doubt how she will react. Really, most characters with this stubbornness and loyalty die on this show. I guess what saves her is she does not EVER waiver when making a decision. She is willing to kill the man we all know she loves if she has to face him in a battle because that is her role in life, that is who she is, and she is excellent with the sword.

So what's her flaw? The very thing that makes her so great--she sacrifices her own happiness constantly because of her oath to others, and sometimes, I want to shake her and say: it's okay--even Jon Snow followed his heart for a while. But not Brienne, and this is why she is the best heroine on this show.

Anti-heroes: An anti-hero is ultimately a hero who has bad behavior or something that makes him conflicted. Readers and viewers generally love anti-heroes (Batman, Indiana Jones, Lisbeth Salandar) because let's face it, in our own lives, most of us are anti-heroes. We are trying to fight the good fight in spite of all of our human flaws and past mistakes. Game of Thrones is FULL of anti-heroes: Tyrion Lannister, Theon Greyjoy, and Arya Stark to name a few. But Jaime, as I mentioned before, is the best anti-hero of them all, and another fan favorite.

I mean he basically starts the show out as one of the worst human beings on the planet. He pushes poor young Bran Stark out the window and cripples him for life because Bran sees Jaime having sex with his twin sister. They are hoping the fall kills Bran, but they aren't so lucky. However, everyone in the entire Game of Thrones world already seems to know of this obsessive love Jaime has for his sister, the only woman he has ever been with. Bran's knowledge doesn't really matter, and of course, he should not have been pushed out a window. So. . .how do I call Jaime an anti-hero? Why is he not a villain?

His journey after these first events is one of the most endearing on the show; and luckily for him, he has to spend a lot of time with the most honorable heroine of them all, Brienne. Through his travels and his affection for her, he becomes a better man. Yes, in season 6 to get what he wants, he threatens to kill his opponent's baby and he pledges his undying love for his sister (gross, I know), but he's an anti-hero--he still struggles with his dark side.

I argue that anti-heroes are some of the most interesting in literature and what make people keep reading more of your work, but they are also some of the hardest to create. You have to write a character who is complex and does bad things, but people still understand him and cheer him on.

If you are a fan of the show or books, I would love to hear your take. If you're not, hopefully this discussion on some of the most popular characters of all time help you with your own writing.

Margo L. Dill is a published author, writing teacher, and editor in St. Louis, Missouri. To check out more about her, please see her website: http://www.editor-911.com. To sign up for her novel writing class, please see the WOW! classroom


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Are you suffering from withdrawal? So much time to wait until our next GoT fix...

Brienne is one of my favorites as well, along with Tyrion. I was sad Ramsay's death wasn't slower and more painful but since his dogs were involved, it was appropriate.

I didn't realize they were twins. Probably that (incest) went on--in the Middle Ages (even though I know GoT is not from that period)--more often than we'd suspect.

I DO hope Brienne is able to find love at some point...

Margo Dill said...

NO withdrawal yet, but I'm sure it's coming. I admit I haven't read the books yet. One of my friends has them, so I was thinking of trying Book One this summer. You know my recent struggles with reading and writing. Maybe this is what I need!

Margo Dill said...

Jaime and Cersei being twins might also explain why Joffrey was so so so horrible.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I have not read ANY of the books. There are too many other books on my "must-read" list. If you want to dip your toes into George R. R. Martin, read "Fevre Dream" first. It's not a GoT book, but has a great plot, and is about 57,000 pages shorter than any of the GoT books. ;)

Angela Mackintosh said...

Everyone keeps telling me I need to watch GoT, but they are already on Season 6? Oy...I don't have enough time to binge-watch that! =/ It sounds like it has interesting characters though and I love a good anti-hero. Great post, Margo!

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