Have you ever experienced a truly traumatic experience in your life? Something so dampening on your spirit; so draining that any positive thoughts fade and you are relinquished of your need for answers and are filled with a fire. Anger has now taken over the joy you once felt, and that joy will cease to exist until a sufficient answer presents itself. You know what I’m talking about. If you’re anything like me, you are at this moment filled with THAT kind of everlasting disappointment. That right. I’m talking about the HBO Series Game of Thrones.
Now to give you a spoiler free description of the show, Game of Thrones is a Medieval based series that chronicles the struggles of the Noble Families of Westeros and their quest to have someone head the Iron Throne (Whoever does is the ruler of all the kingdoms in Westeros). These families include the Starks, the Targaryens and the Lannisters (With some major curveballs). The show is so successful through the first few seasons at keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat. What happened?
The final season of a wonderful series really dropped the ball and I mean bad. Some of the key elements of the shows success included its’ lack of predictability and ability to develop multiple characters thoroughly. These elements really drag the viewer in and help develop emotional ties between characters, and as some of your favorite characters start to fade away you begin to make the logical and illogical connections as to how the series may end. Let’s just say the series finale they had chosen was not one of the viable options. It lacked any element of surprise and effective dramatic build up. So I tasked myself to search for answers.
In my attempt to discover any sufficient answer, I stumbled across an interesting article. The article touched on the unfinished nature of the actual novels by George R.R. Martin, and it’s incompleteness in comparison to Chaucher, and the Canterbury tales incompleteness. So in the midst of this post naturally this is one of the first ideas that had come to light for me. Though the mode of storytelling differs respectively, the essential idea is that the unfinished nature of each of the works leaves readers a chance to contribute their own narratives to the tale-telling competition.
Inspired to do a little more research on the subject, they do have more than one unifying element. Among those you can see that they are both medieval works, they both have elements of women in power, magic, and they both connect characters that are interacting from different social classes. In this blog I want to explore the elements that unifies them specifically through the Wife of Bath’s Tale and the goal is to do so without spoiling the show to anyone who might be interested!
One of the most interesting characters in the show is Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi (Mother of Dragons). As I can understand, if you haven’t seen the show this can seem like quite a loaded title. But I assure you it’s fitting for one of the most well developed characters in any show ever. Her brother feels entitled to the iron throne (as his father was the last ruler of the Iron Throne) and will do anything to get it. In the very first episode he sells her to a brute named Khal Drago, who she marries and is initially raped by. This situation reminds me of the Wife of Bath’s tale, how a great knight and warrior rapes a defenseless peasant woman and is then sent on a task to find out what women want which is sovereignty over all men. Though similar punishment isn’t placed upon Khal Drago, one could argue that it was her brother who sold her that actually received the punishment, as he sold his sister for power, in the selling of her he sold his power and became a second rate citizen among the Dothraki, elevating his sisters position unintentionally among people that hold no weight for the value of his family history. As for the sovereignty over men, Khaleesi embodies this quite fully herself as she desires to be the Queen of the Iron Throne to rule every man in the Kingdom. She wants her rise to power to be through the favor of the people and not through conquering by force, which she can do at her will. This sense of temperament reminds me of Queen Guinevere, as though she had the choice to kill the knight she saw no justice in it, and wanted to make him work for his life. Danaerys is the embodiment of power and in the same respect does not intend to abuse it but to use it in a logical, tempered manner.
Another interesting character in Game of Thrones is Melisandre, the red priestess. She has magical powers! None of which I’ll mention in my consideration to you but she is not generally thought of as a good or bad character. All that you need to know is that she’s very old but can make herself look young and she is very powerful. This is pretty similar to a character in the Wife of Bath’s tale, the ugly old hag. She makes the knight a promise to tell him what women most desire as long as he does whatever she wants next. She plots to marry him, so that he must fulfill a marriage debt and he being repulsed by her image cannot, so she gives the knight a choice and the knights reply, sufficiently satisfies her needs so she ultimately gives the knight what he would like. The knight, being a noble in these times was considered to be a great man. Similarly to the old hag, Melisandre holds this control over man and is even a guardian to man, as we come to find out. Her magic among other things keeps her looking young similarly as to how the hags magic changes her from old to young, and the old essentially fades as the living prosper.
Now there are many other connections between the Game of Thrones and Medieval Literature, but my favorite among the two extend to some of the most powerful characters! These connections give me life and excite me for the anticipated fan fiction and hopeful completion of the literary series. As for the show, good luck.