Date of Award
Professor Sarah Smith
Dr. Johnny Wink
Dr. Steven Thomason
Game of Thrones has a reputation for being unpredictable. Fans watch in anticipation as their beloved characters face dangerous situations, not knowing if they will make it our alive or not. No character is safe. While this reputation, may lead one to think that there is no way to know what characters will do and how they will react to certain circumstances, if one looks at them through the sphere of political theory and ethics, one can possibly piece together what actions characters will take and what outcome these actions could possibly have. Looking at the characters through these lenses provides insight into their leadership styles and also allows one to analyze why they have been successful or not.
What has allowed certain characters to flourish while others fail? Their abilities to gain and maintain power. In Game of Thrones, several kings have met their demise as have many notable lords and ladies. Having a title does not guarantee you protection or power. This has been noted several times throughout the series by both characters of the show and critics. When Tyrion remarks to his father, Tywin, about how he had sent King Joffrey, the most powerful man in Westeros to bed without his supper after he has an outburst, Twin replies, "You are a fool if you think he is the most powerful man in Westeros." Simply having a title does not give you power.
Lord Varys also contests in the series about how power lies where people believe it lies. In this series, while many people make claims for the throne, none of them necessarily have a legitimate claim or the strongest claim. Both Jon and Daenerys have claims to the Iron Throne under the Targaryen line, which had been usurped by Robert Baratheon. King Jeffrey and King Tommen have claims under Robert as his supposed children, while Stannis and Renly Baratheon have claims as his brothers if they can prove Robert's children are not his. However, since there is no certain line, this also gives others the opportunity to seize the throne or to break out as their own kingdom as the North and the Iron Islands try to do.
Game of Thrones is a show filled with the rise and the fall of leaders. Throughout its current seven seasons, the players of the game have routinely changed, shifting the power dynamics. While many people and houses have come and gone, three houses have stood strong: Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen. The current leaders of these respective houses, Jon Snow, Cersei Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen, have all overcome many obstacles to gain and hold power. Under the scope of several renowned political theorists and sociologists, this paper will analyze the perspective strengths and weaknesses of these leaders, as well as, how these traits and decisions they have made will affect their likelihood to sit on the Iron Throne.
Manus, Emily, "Lions, and Dragons, and Wolves (Oh my): A Study of the Series "Game of Thrones" and Political Theory" (2019). Honors Theses. 717.