Is Cersei Lannister Misunderstood?
For the past seven seasons, Cersei Lannister has graced our screens with some of the most shocking moments throughout the series.
Regularly described as evil; Cersei has had her husband and the king Robert Baratheon killed, had a long affair with her brother, empowered the faith militant and blew up The Sept of Baelor whilst also wiping out many of Westeros’ most influential figures in one go.
However the deeper you try to dive into Cersei’s thinking and slow decline into insanity, the more and more you feel sympathetic to the character who's been responsible for so much death and destruction. Below are five reasons why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge Cersei’s character as completely evil.
With the presence of so many powerful and admirable women in Game of Thrones, it’s easy to forget just how oppressive the world is for the fairer sex in Westeros.
Cersei feels that her father continually overlooked her skillset in regards to politics, and who tried to marry her off against her will for the second time to Loras Tyrell against her will. As most will agree, the more we’re told we can’t do something, the more we want to do it, and Cersei is no different; each act of defiance being a catalyst for the next, becoming more violent and destructive as time goes on.
Loveless and Abusive Marriage
Cersei’s first marriage was to the new king, Robert Baratheon after his rebellion a seventeen years prior. In the first series, the two discuss their seventeen year long relationship and whether or not they loved each other at all.
Cersei, who was once under the same illusions Sansa was at the beginning of season one of what it meant to be queen, quickly had her dreams dashed when she realised Robert was never really interested in her but Lyanna Stark, sister to Ned Stark and heavily rumoured secret lover of Rhaegar Targaryen.
To be married to a man that for seventeen years has pined for someone else and has shown her little affection with an odd beating thrown in for good measure, Cersei had spent the most of her adult life trapped with no sign of a happy ending in sight.
When Joffrey ordered every known bastard of King Robert to be killed, it came as a shock to Tyrion and us the viewers that Cersei had no part it in. Her feelings towards the matter were almost silent, but she still spoke volumes.
Cersei is a mother who loves her children, and being such a devoted mother would have her consumed with internal conflict. On the one side it’s her son who she must love unconditionally; on the other, he’s committed an act that would see most men and women in Westeros executed, filling her with a sense of disgust for her own son.
The Walk of Atonement
This was the moment where most fans will tell you they sympathised with Cersei Lannister. As punishment for her sins, Cersei was made to walk the streets of King's Landing naked whilst the common folk abused her both verbally and physically; covering her in waste as the people spat on her.
This as many have observed was Cersei at her lowest point, and many believe she was reborn after, becoming cold and almost emotionless as the last of her sanity hangs on by a thread.
The Death of Her Children
For anyone, losing one child is unthinkable, and could bring the greatest of humanity down to their knees. To lose all three however, is something that we can’t truly comprehend until it happens to us. It would be nothing short of traumatic.
With Joffrey and Myrcella killed by poison and Tommen giving a whole new meaning to "Kings Landing", the nature of their deaths only added to Cersei’s trauma. A soul can’t survive without love, and with a large portion of what Cersei focused her love on has now been taken away from her.
At the start of season 5 we see a young Cersei and her friend in the tent of a Maegi who reads Cersei her prophecy.
The Maegi goes on to tell Cersei that she will become queen before a younger more beautiful looking queen comes to take all that she holds dear. She was told that the king would have many children, whilst she would only have three, and that they would all suffer a gruesome end before ending with the prediction that she’ll be killed by valonqar which translates from High Valyrian into little brother.
Cersei has never forgotten what happened in that tent, as it would of played a part in her mind slowly growing as more and more parts of the prophecy came true.
They say that when someone loses their mind they will never know, because they aren’t themselves to know it. Cersei has certainly passed the point of no return with regards to her sanity. She’s inadvertently sent her self down a one way street that in today's society would most likely be associated with mental illness.
She’s lost everything, a lot of it due to circumstances which she may perceive to be out of her control, leaving her with no purpose other than to take and hold onto the Iron Throne, and seeing as life without purpose is no life at all, you can bet that Cersei’s level of insanity will exceed anything we’ve previously seen from her; built on the foundations of oppression, confusion, grief and her own tormented mind.
Do you think she is truly evil? Or just trying to cope with all that's been thrown at her? Let me know in the comments below.