On writing

The Value Of: ‘Game of Thrones’, and How It Changed My Perception of the World

It’s no secret that the best writing highlights our most well-guarded secrets and shines a mirror back into the ugly face of humanity. And it’s no secret Game of Thrones has been a bit of a hot topic as the TV show finally came to a wrap and fans are still waiting for the final two instalments in George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series.

Despite the mixed feelings that the HBO series left viewers with, there is one thing about the Westeros universe that most people can agree on: it never failed to present the truth in an entertaining manner.

‘What truth?’ I hear you ask.

How society works the same, whether you are riding a dragon or the bus into work. How happiness and pain go hand-in-hand. How the winner is never the crowd favourite, and never the last to win.

Game of Thrones taught me a lot of things. One of these things is highlighted in what I think is the central theme of the entire story: the battle between Love and Fear, and how every decision, every action and every word is influenced by them. They are each other’s faithful companions, although they are at odds from the beginning.

What follows is a mixture of quotes from both the books and the TV series, and what they reflect about the world we live in.

“People work together when it suits them. They’re loyal when it suits them. They love each other when it suits them. And they kill each other when it suits them.”

This is true now more than ever before. We’ve lost our sense of community and camaraderie. We’ve lost our bond to the natural world. We only look out for our interests, and this will only lead to more of the same.

“You are grown so very great now, yet the higher a man climbs the farther he has to fall.”

As the characters in Westeros have been trying to teach us for decades, progress is a double-edged blade. You win some, you lose some.

“Nothing’ isn’t better or worse than anything. Nothing is just… nothing.”

The world has driven by a sense of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘black’ and ‘white’. But who decides which is which? Who decides what ‘is’ or ‘isn’t’? At the end of the day, things just are, and no one can change that.

“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor. And it can never be used to hurt you.”

It takes a lot of courage to find out what you are, and then to admit it to yourself. But once you do, whatever the outcome, you know that you are also brave. That is half the battle won.

“They need never know how difficult it had been, or how much it had cost her. That was a lesson Melisandre had learned long before Asshai; the more effortless the sorcery appears, the more men fear the sorcerer.”

People don’t truly want to see what happens behind the scenes. When they do, they paint vulnerability for weakness.

“You know what leadership means, Lord Snow? It means the person in charge gets second guessed by every clever little twat with a mouth. But if he starts second guessing himself, that’s the end… for him…for the clever little twats… for everyone.”

This is connected to the main themes of the story, and the fact that leadership also comes from a place of Love or Fear.  If either intrudes on whichever one we lead by, the ground begins to crumble.

“Power resides where men believe it resides. It is a trick, A shadow on the wall.”

What we give power to over our thoughts, emotions and actions is a personal choice. Whether we let our opponents occupy our minds to the extent of obsession or our dreams lead us to great heights, it’s all up to the individual.

“If the race isn’t over after you have won, then it wasn’t your game!”

Know the game you’re playing before you start. Make sure what awaits at the end is what you truly want, and always stop to analyse if that’s still the case.

“Tears aren’t a woman’s only weapon.”

A topical statement in our society. Often underestimated, women are brushed off at the first sign of vulnerability, either by men, but more often by other women. But women always have a plan of combat, and they can always come up with a new one if the game calls for it.

I could go on for hours and hours, but you get the picture. Game of Thrones is the mirror held uncomfortably close to our noses, Geroge R. R. Martin is the light that makes it all visible.

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