Friday Reader Rambles – Sympathies for Cersei

Ever have a character in literature that every time you mention feeling the slightest bit of sympathy with, you get dirty looks? That’s happened to me with Cersei Lannister of Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire. What follows is my argument and may contain spoilers through season four and book four.
I don’t like Cersei any better than the next person. My favorite Lannister is Tyrion, of course. I cheered when Joffrey died and was disappointed that she didn’t screech louder. In the books, I think she is too arrogant for her own good, not nearly as smart as she thinks she is, and has a severe case of penis envy. I hate that phrase, but even I have to admit that it applies to Cersei Lannister.
And yet… after the end of the fourth season, I found myself beginning to feel the first stirrings of sympathy for this woman the rest of the world hates. At least on the show, her children are all she has. Her words to her father about protecting Tommen from being torn apart by those who seek to control the young king made me want to cheer for her. “I’ll see our house burn to the ground before I let that happen” were her words to Tywin. In the books, it’s arguable Tommen is a puppet for her just as much as anyone else. All she cares about is being Queen and ruling unopposed. Have I mentioned that she’s not nearly as smart as she thinks she is? It kind of hurts her in the Queen department, big time. As a feminist though, from a historical standpoint, I cannot help but feel sympathy for her.
She’s a mother who does love her children desperately, at least in the show. It’s made clear that they are all she feels she really has that is hers and that no one can take away from her, though Tywin does seem determined to try. Not only that, but a reader/viewer must remember: she’s a twin to Jaime. That’s a no-brainer right? Consider this. Being a child and doing everything in the world with your twin and you are treated as equals for the longest time. Then they decide to begin training you and puberty hits and suddenly, in the eyes of all around you, you are less than your twin. You’re a second class citizen.
Cersei could have been smarter about gaining power as a woman in a medieval-ish society, but again, she’s not so smart. Lena Headey does an awesome job playing the role. I’ll never go so far as to actually like the character, but there’s more to her than just an evil bitch, pardon the language.

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