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Game of thrones is an epic fantasy television series based on the ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ series by George R. R. Martin which is about the struggle for power of the seven influential and noble families and their respective kingdoms and how the three powerful families; Lannisters, Targaryans and Starks, move towards the acquisition of the symbol of authority and power in the epic, the Iron throne of Westeros. This paper intends to discuss and provide political themes that are embodied in some of the significant scenes in the Episode 9 (The Rains of Castamere) and 10 (Mhysa) in the third season of Game of Thrones. Every political theme that will be discussed will be compared to different political philosophies of modern philosophers that are similar to the concept of the former. The central theme of each episode (episode 9 and 10) will also be discussed in the latter part of this paper.
The Rains of Castamere (episode 9) displays the “end justifies the means” as its central theme, similar to the Machiavellian Philosophy in The Prince, the Episode 9 is full of deception and violence in order to attain respective goals of the characters. The scenes that will be discussed will not be in sequential order but in the degree of relation to the central theme of the episode. The scene where Robb Stark, his wife and Catelyn were killed in a set up by the Lord Frey which was held after the wedding of Edmure Tully shows the deception-in-a-deception setup because the motives of Lord Walder Frey in killing Robb Stark and his companions remains unclear, though it may be because of his frustration on the refusal of Robb Stark to marry one of his daughters or it may be because he is in a secret ties with Roose Bolton, The recap on the previous episode suggests that Robb Stark and his allies also planned the supposedly wedding arrangements with one of the daughters of Lord Walder Frey in order for them to have the chance to make use of his army and have close ties with him. But the deception by Robb Stark was countered by Lord Walder Frey with another deception.
In the words of Machiavelli (2003), “He must stick to the good so long as he can, but, being compelled by necessity, he must be ready to take the way of evil (p.69)”. In relation to the scene, the text in the Prince suggests that in order to attain one’s goal, it is not necessary to be always on the side of the good, but one must know when to use the other side, or the evil side, for the sake of attaining one’s goal. The steps made by the Starks in order for them to establish a relationship with Lord Walder Frey, obviously basing on the standard of what is good, is evil in the sense that there is a deceptive agenda from them in order to acquire or have a share of the army of Lord Walder Frey. Lord Walder Frey, in turn, used his own deceptive strategy by setting up Robb Starks and his companions which have no idea on the evil plans of Lord Walder Frey.
The second scene in Rains of Castamere has the theme “desire to obedience”, where Deanerys Targaryen and Daario Naharis, together with other Targaryen officials, are planning the strategy to be used in order for them to enter and conquer Yunkai. The total surrender and loyalty of Daario Naharis to Deanarys Targaryen which is mainly driven by the feelings of the former towards the latter, is evident in the scene by Daario Naharis saying that “men cannot make love to property” when asked about his interest in slaves. The quality of Daario Naharis as being submissive to Deanerys Targaryan which is obviously driven by sexual desires makes him immobilized and under the control of Daenerys Taragaryen, by that, the skill of Daario Naharis in fighting and strategizing may have been motivated by his desire over Deanerys Targaryen, however, Daario is becoming a subject to the command of Daenerys Targaryen.
In Mhysa (Episode 10), the scene wherein two Lannisters; Tywin and Tyrion, are talking in the table, with the latter questioning the aftermath of the killing of the Starks, the former said “Why is it more noble to kill 10,000 in battle than a dozen in dinner? To end the war, to protect the family” and Tyrion replied “the northeners will never forget.” Tyrion could be considering having a peaceful relationship with the northeners. However, because of the killing of the Starks in the wedding, he knew that the bloodshed that cost the lives of the king of a prominent family in the north will destroy his plans because the subjects of the Starks will not easily forget the death of their leader. According to Kant (1917),
‘The causes of a future war existing, although perhaps not yet known to the high contracting parties themselves, are entirely annihilated by the conclusion of peace, however acutely they may be ferreted out of documents in the public archives. There may be a mental reservation of old claims to be thought out at a future time (p. 107-108)”
Following the thought if Immanuel Kant, the assumed goal of Tyrion, which is to have peaceful relationship with the northeners is hindered by the killing of the Starks. The peaceful relationship will now be harder to attain because of the “mental reservation” in the minds of the northeners regarding the revenge for their fallen leader. They may not engage in a war shortly after the killing, but later on or even in the next generation, there will come a time that the past conflict will be remembered again through public archives and hearsays. However, Tywin justified the killings by claiming that the aim of the assassination is “to end the war and to protect the family (Lannisters).”
In the last scene of Episode 10, wherein Deanerys Targaryen liberated the slaves of Yunkai has the theme of “power is liberation” mainly because Deanerys Targaryen used her force and resources in order to liberate the slaves. The slaves called her mother as a sign of respect and gratitude that uplifted the morale and confidence of Deanerys Targaryen as a leader.
The central theme of Mhysa (Episode 10) is the “use of violence to attain peace”. Evident in the two scenes substantiated, wherein the use of coercive force against the enemies in order to achieve peace has been effective most especially on the scene of Deanerys Targaryen liberating the slaves. The difference is that, the use of force by Tywin may have a motive of self-interest and not just for the sake of ending the war and protecting his family. The purpose of Deanerys Targaryen in liberating the slaves through engaging to a battle against the Yunkai soldiers is purely for the intent to release the slaves of Yunkai.
In conclusion, Game of thrones possesses political themes that are essential in understanding political concepts and theories by political philosophers. The two episodes are generally illustrates the Machiavellian philosophy of “the end justifies the means” merely because of the struggle for power that needs deception in diplomacy and evil actions if needed. In the end, a seat in the Iron throne of Westeros is the most important.
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