September 13, 2011

Cersei II

Cersei Lannister (Artwork by Amoka)
Cersei restlessly paces her cell. She was unable to sleep the whole night, frightened of the things to come. She has decided to face it as bold as she can, remembering an episode from her youth when she faced a lion in a cage where Jaime dared not to. She muses about Jaime, wishing he was here, and hoping that she reaches the Red Keep soon. When dawn finally breaks, some septas come into the cell and shave her completely. When Cersei asks for sandals, they are denied to her. She is then put into a white septa's robe and ushered outside, where a huge crowd has gathered. A knight of the Faith Militant introduces himself as Ser Theodan and commands her escort through the city. Memories of Eddard's execution wash over here as she stands the exact same spot.

The masses that assembled to watch her walk of shame are poor, ragged and filthy. The septas announce her and her crimes, and she has to think of Tytos' Lannisters consort, who had to walk the same walk of shame at the command of Tywin. She has to get out of her robe, and completely naked, freezing in the cold winds, she commences her walk through the city. The streets are filthy, and she is in danger to slip several times and does so once or twice. While her escorts clears a path through the people who cry insults at her and throw rotten vegetables, she longs for Jaime, who, she is certain, would have cut down the rabble in an instant.

When the people begin to insult her appearance, her self-confidence shatters. Suddenly, she imagines to see Meggy the Frog in her path, quoting her prophecy at her. Tears are running over her face, she tries to cover herself, runs, stumbles, crawls until she is in the Red Keep. There, Kevan orders her to be covered, and a giant of a knight in kingsguard clothing carries her away. Qyburn comes to her, introducing the knight as her champion Robert Strong, having taken a vow of silence until he destroyed all her enemies. Cersei, dizzy, confused and hallucinating, is just glad and fades away.

This chapter is really short, but it has one punch for the reader and Cersei alike. Who would have thought that the proud queen, villain of four-and-a-half books, would end like this? Running naked through King's Landing, thrown filth at, insulted and tumbling at the edge of the abyss of insanity? As so often, Cersei is a victim of her own judgement. She thought that the walk concerned only her pride, and that she could weather it, but the fate of her grandfather's whore should have taught her a lesson. A person naked is a common person. It is a lesson that Doran explained earlier about the water gardens, a realization that has come to the old queen Daenerys already. It's lost to Cersei until it is too late. When she finally realizes it, she snaps, making it even worse by trying to cover herself, running, stumbling, crying. She destroys her image as hard, beautiful queen for good her. Whatever future lies ahead of her in the coming novels, it will most certainly be changed drastically. Like Jaime lost all he was with his swordhand, Cersei lost all she was with this walk of shame. They both are half people after. Knowing Cersei, however, it won't be a pleasant transformation here.

At the end of the chapter, we meet Cersei's new champion. The evidence found in "A Feast for Crows" suggested that Qyburn had the Mountain somewhere down in his cells, transforming him into something we don't know yet, but now we have almost certainty. Who, if not Gregor, should this knight be? Ser Robert Strong, my ass, the contempt for their own evidence is there even in things like the alias of this particular beast. Everyone who has eyes can see what this knight is, has to be, and what an obvious sham is conducted here. The question is, will anyone? Kevan's death in the Epilogue suggests that Cersei comes back into power, and she was never one for being too prudent in these matters.

As to side notes, we can see Cersei's false understanding of courage in the episode about the lion in the cage. She thinks that she would make a better fighter than Jaime for not fearing the lion and putting her hands through the bars, but in truth, it's fear that makes a fighter efficient. Cersei would be a brutish berserk and die quickly against a better man, since her fearlessness would cloud her judgement as it tends to do even so. Second, Cersei herself thinks about Tommen as "a good king, he does as he's told". It's a repeatedly stated phrase about kings. The first time we heard it being said by Bronn to Tyrion. Third, Cersei casually remembers Littlefinger trying to gain Sansa's hand after Eddard was captured. That confirms the assessments of his character stating that he is obsessed with her. Last, Cersei thinks that women are most cruel when other women are concerned, which seems to be a correct statement. Even today, it is startlingly oftentimes women who denounce "bitches" instead of men. Strange.

12 comments:

  1. Great point about Cersei not really understanding courage and the value of fear. Jaime was similar in many ways before getting captured and later mutilated. Had Cersei been a man, I suspect she would have simply been a mirror reflection of Jaime.

    I remember thinking that this chapter would generate a ton of heat and criticism, because it depicted the breaking down and public humiliation of a prominent, proud female character. It did, but many of the critics seemed so repelled by the graphic nature of it that they didn't grasp the point, about how Cersei's pride and her identity (the beautiful, powerful queen) were being destroyed by this. It's a deeply cruel punishment by Kevan and the High Septon, and made me sympathetic towards Cersei again in spite of everything she'd done in AFFC.

    I'm hoping that this was Cersei's "Sharp Lesson", in the same way that Jaime's losing his sword hand was his. Although she still seems as ambitious and driven as ever, she also seemed more subtle in the Kevan epilogue, which means she might be more dangerous. Who knows, though? Maybe it won't work this time, and she'll be the same Cersei - only even more single-minded in getting her revenge.

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  2. I was under the impression that Jaime knew the value of fear even before losing his hand, but I'm not certain.

    I concur with the assumption about the nature of the punishment and it devestating Cersei (after all, she is described as washing herself repeatedly every day in the Epilogue). I would think, however, that she is not at all "humbled" by the event as Jaime was.

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  3. This is an interesting chapter, because are we really supposed to believe that Ceresi is completely humiliated or that this is a just a small and necessary means to an end? Since I don't think ANYONE has ever told her she is not the fairest in land, it stings a bit when they make fun her appearance. But,I don't think she's taking lye baths to wash away the sin--but to wash off the stench of septas. Probably conspiring with Varys during those lye baths. I'm not buying this humiliation--and think we can look forward to the high septon being hung and the septas having their tons ripped out (or worse). A Lannister always pay their debts, after all.

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  4. Guys, you're missing the whole point behind this, even if it doesn't bring Cersei herself to heel it completely undermines her authority and position of power. Before she got away with everything based on her looks and charm, take those away and all you have is a vindictive beotch.

    And no it does NOT make me sympathetic in the least, because everything that happened to her here was a result of her own stupid selfishness and you ALL know I'm right. Anyone else.... but no, Cersei well and truly did bring this on herself.

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  5. Missing the point?

    "As so often, Cersei is a victim of her own judgement. She thought that the walk concerned only her pride, and that she could weather it, but the fate of her grandfather's whore should have taught her a lesson. A person naked is a common person. It is a lesson that Doran explained earlier about the water gardens, a realization that has come to the old queen Daenerys already. It's lost to Cersei until it is too late. When she finally realizes it, she snaps, making it even worse by trying to cover herself, running, stumbling, crying. She destroys her image as hard, beautiful queen for good her. Whatever future lies ahead of her in the coming novels, it will most certainly be changed drastically. Like Jaime lost all he was with his swordhand, Cersei lost all she was with this walk of shame. They both are half people after. Knowing Cersei, however, it won't be a pleasant transformation here. "

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    Replies
    1. Is it possible to draw comparisons between Cersei's walk and Dany's burning of Drogo and the dragon eggs? Both women ended up naked and hairless and were transformed by the ordeal. Dany ended up leaving behind one part of her life (Drogo) and starting another (the dragons), while gaining the respect of her followers. Cersei may be completing an opposite transformation, as she will never be held in the same high regard by the public. Also, her change may be similar to the change we viewed with Lancel?

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    2. You could, but I'd say it's a bit overinterpreting. Perhaps after we know what became of them?

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  6. I forgot to add this, but great job on linking the point about the Water Gardens to this. That honestly slipped through my mind, even on re-read.

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  7. I mean missing the point behind why Kevan and the Septon's move to use this particular method, and its real objective, not simply to shame or punish Cersei herself but to strip her of her of any air of command or authority, figuratively and literally of course. I just think people are too fixated about the personal 'torment' Cersei went through honestly.

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  8. I also believe Cersei's authority is much less than it was, but I don't think it's broken. I DO think she was humiliated and scrubs for that reason. The abject and sick humiliation of being exposed in any way to strangers is shattering, I have no doubt that in some ways this will harden Cersei's vindictiveness and power grabbing, but I also believe the walk broke her in other ways. She will never have that easy self confidence again. Not for real, and that will only increase her bitterness. With Kevin gone she will again be in a position of power, but NOT unopposed. She thought she was awash in Roses before, but now she's going to find herself buried in them!

    I fear no part of the Seven Kingdoms will be spared from the disasters that are raining down.

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  9. Im really looking forward to Cersei paying her debts to the septal and the high septon. That said, in real life people hate women with any success or power, want them humiliated, and when they see them humiliated, just move on and even become a bit more sympathetic. Case in point is Martha Stewart. Basically Cersei will go back to ruling and the people might even like her after getting a chance to throw rotten vegetables at her.

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  10. I'm not looking forward to seeing this on the show at all.
    Yes, she's a terrible person. Yes, she brought this upon herself.
    It still breaks my heart. Cersei Cersei Cersei.

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