Sunday, July 28, 2013

When "Game Of Thrones" Meets Fairy Tales

The Princess and the dragon are one in Game of Thrones
Note: All images are made by (talented) fans who are clearly storytellers themselves...

It should come as no surprise that people see fairy tale themes and story lines cropping up in their favorite shows - even where none were intended - and the increase in popularity of "collaged image" fan art from TV shows has become an excellent way of people presenting how they see the show: the themes, the subtext, the fairy tales.

Here are three specific uses of fairy tale I found recently for the very popular HBO series Game Of Thrones (based on George R.R. Martin's best selling novel series A Song of Fire & Ice):

The first is regarding the youngest and scrappiest daughter of the Stark family, Arya. So young, yet on the run from many who might seek to harm her. Her family sigil is the "Direwolf" (essentially a monstrous wolf) and though she's had to part ways from her real companion animal, little Arya Stark proves herself wily and adept at navigating her "dark forest". Arya is very much the Little Red Riding Hood we wish our girls could be (while desperately hoping their woods will never be half so dark).
You have the eyes of a wolf and a taste for blood.

Arya's elder sister, Sansa, is a recognized Beauty and nothing like her sister (or so it would seem to everyone, including the sisters themselves). She was brought up to be a lady and tries very hard to be every inch that example, though is initially a little arrogant in lording that. Even when circumstances turn from her naive idea of fairytale to nightmare, she appears to remain soft in her ladylike manners and beauty. When she becomes trapped by people and circumstance she finds she has nothing left to defend herself with, other than the lessons she paid attention to - to be a proper lady and her spirit which is far stronger than even she knows. In Sansa, the opposite of Arya, we see a different female strength: one with a patient and adaptive spirit. One who quickly understands her limitations and physical weaknesses but doesn't give up hope, doing her best to rally herself to action at just the right moment. The beasts she encounters come in all forms - pretty ones who's souls are evil, ugly ones who show compassion when she least expects it. Sansa herself learns to no longer look on the outside, taking the hard road to wisdom, yet keeping her poise. It is the riddle that she must keep solving: who is a true beast and who is a true man? We can only hope our girls will show as much strength as Sansa does (like Beauty), in her situation, no matter what Beasts come their way.

He throws our human aspirations to the godlike sadly awry; only from a distance would you think The Beast not much different from any other man, although he wears a mask with a man’s face painted most beautifully on it.  Oh, yes, a beautiful face; but one with too much formal symmetry of feature to be entirely human: one profile of his mask is the mirror image of the other, too perfect, uncanny.
He is a carnival figure made of papier mâché and crêpe hair; and yet he has the Devil’s knack at cards.

Sansa has also been likened to Sleeping Beauty, as she waits, a hostage, in a tower, keeping her true nature quiet, asleep if you will, as she waits to be free of this curse she's under (though those who put the curse on her are actually waiting for her to "flower" or bloom into womanhood so she can be married to the (truly evil) King Joffrey and get with his child. In Sansa's case, things change and though her forced betrothal to the king becomes void, she is assured she will still be "deflowered" and remains under the curse. When the replacement, Margaery Tyrellwho is set to be Joffrey's new queen, arrives, Sansa becomes, in fact, surrounded by roses. Specifically it's the Court of Roses, which is the Tyrell family sigil.

During the princess’ long captivity, the riotous roses that bloomed on the thickets about her tower became her sole companions. 

They are the only ones she can speak to, even if it is using the "language of flowers" (in this case veiled conversations and witty use of courtly manners to say what cannot be said out loud). For a time, at least, Sansa is friends and allies with her flowery friends but it's very clear these roses have thorns and she would do best to be wary of their company as well.

The Game Of Thrones versions of these fairy tales, of course, remain unfinished. If you know anything of Game of Thrones it may be that the creator George R.R. Martin is likely to kill off any main character at any point in time. No one is safe. That this threat hangs over the stories of these girls in their versions of these tales, make it even more poignant.

And once again we see the strength of the fairy tale shine through. Though there is no guarantee of a happy ever after (especially here) there is still much we can take from these tales.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Beauty and Beast images of Sansa! (Possible SPOILER) I thought the storyline in the 2nd season (?) with the village of the man and all his daughters, was fairy tale creepy with shades of Bluebeard.