Analysis Of A Game Of Thrones Through A Marxist Lens

A Game of Thrones is a novel written by George R. R. Martin, published in 1996. Following characters through the war between the seven kingdoms, a major part of the story revolves around their influences and authority. With many unique and memorable characters, the novel manages to captivate its readers into a historical fantasy filled with action. Martin creatively depicts a constant power struggle of hierarchy as families from different noble classes are intertwined in an intricate war for the iron throne, overcoming all odds regardless of upbringing. Acquiring the Iron Throne means you have complete control over the seven kingdoms, basically ruling the world. 

As we learned in the beginning of the course, marxism is a form of social economic class used to determine the hierarchy of people. There are many classes in today’s society but mainly the low, middle, and high class generally. In everyday conversation, we hear the use of class systems, like high or low class. This is a form of marxism. A more specialized term would be bourgeoisie and proletariat, meaning the wealthy or the working class respectively. This ideology was invented by a german philosopher named Karl Marx. Social hierarchy is the ideology of human interaction. In the past, marriages were utilized to merge different families together forming a political alliance. Much is similar in A Game of Thrones, having an heir to one of the great houses wed another heir of another great house uniting the two, while creating a diplomatic marriage. Having connections with more than one house is extremely beneficial, leveraging the land, armies, food, supplies and more. A prime example of this in the novel is Khal Drogo and Daenerys. Daenerys was forced into a marriage by her brother Viserys, wanting to gain access to Drogo’s mass army. This shows the difference of power between men and women, as the women were treated like objects, being used for trade and agreements. The first quote, “You will not fail me tonight. If you do, it will go hard for you. You don’t want to wake the dragon do you? His fingers twisted her, the pinch cruelly hard through the rough fabric of her tunic.” said Viserys, showing a dominating presence as he threatens Daenerys with physical force. As mentioned before, the man and women relationship is extremely similar to the olden days, allowing for the opportunity to analyze in a feminist lens. The next quote, “Daenerys Targaryen wed Khal Drogo with fear and barbaric splendor in a field beyond the walls of Pentos, for the Dothraki believed that all things of importance in a man’s life must be done beneath the open sky”, again another example of the fear Daenerys felt when reality came and she had no other choice but to marry Drogo. The suppressed feelings Daenerys must have felt in that moment showed no sympathy of the men witnessing the wedding.

The economic hierarchy ties into the military as wealth buys man power or soldiers. Two great examples of this is the Lannister army and Khal Drogo’s Dothraki army. Lannister’s are plain wealthy, having the wealth, they can afford to purchase enough man power to rule over the seven kingdoms. This is important as the other less wealthy houses have to unite or form an alliance to deal with such a military. Hence where the Dothraki come into play, where Viserys was trying obtain their barbaric power. “Drogo had called his khalasar to attend him and they had come forty thousand Dothraki warriors and uncounted numbers of women, children, and slaves.”, showing the immense army Drogo possesses. Even with the military force, the Dothraki savage nature leads them to capture the men women and children, turning them into slaves, another form of social and political hierarchy. As for the actual position in the military, the commanding officer or general is usually the one giving orders to the subordinates or footmen. Using the Lannisters army for example, King Joffrey would send out the order to the army general, Jamie, and then Jamie would send out the order to his commander or foot soldiers. This is how the military hierarchy is run. One of the most prominent ways to take a kingdom and assert dominance is by force. Whichever house had the largest armies usually won the wars. Prior to Aegon, Westeros was a democracy, each kingdom having autonomy and individual rights. As each kingdom submitted to the targaryen’s he eventually forged the seven kingdoms, ruling over everyone, forcing them to obey to universal laws. “A king should never sit easy, Aegon the Conqueror had said, when he commanded his armourers to forge a great seat from the swords laid down by his enemies”, this was a quote by Aegon himself. This shows that even obtaining everything, he cannot rest, creating an uncomfortable iron throne on purpose. Back to the present day in the timeline, the type of government being run is a monarchy. The hierarchy is hereditary, as the family with royal blood has the right to the throne. Daenerys with her royal blood must claim her rightful throne. We see the corruption of political hierarchy in terms of the Lannisters by paying the advisors to sabotage certain things. This relates to their wealth, as that ultimately motivates everyone to live by corruption. Ned Stark saw something, something unforgivable, but was silenced before he had the opportunity to tell the public. This type of capital punishment is all part of the political warfare in the novel. 

It is clear that George R. R. Martin wanted to depict a power struggle of hierarchy through means of nobles engaging in tactical warfare. A Game of Thrones beautifully portrays a historical representation of modern day society along with its differences emphasizing social, political, economic hierarchy. It connects to modern society as the world revolves around the different types of hierarchy in ways such as the business world, popularity at school or materialistic status.   

16 December 2021
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