Game of Themes: Growing Pains

CliffsNotes October 8, 2014


This post contains spoilers from seasons 1-4 of Game of Thrones.  We repeat, SPOILERS. It is known.


We all know that growing up can be tough. Whether your mom is making you clean your room before you go out, or your dad wants you to mow the lawn before you can use the car, life isn’t always easy. When we’re growing up, we’re stuck in this place of yearning to be independent but without the tools we need to do so.

Literary characters have felt this struggle right along with us. Pip from Great Expectations is a passive dreamer who prefers the fairy-tale like world of Miss Havisham’s house. As Pip sheds his childhood innocence and engages in a life of sin in order to find wealth, he’s reminded that nothing in life is free. All choices have consequences.

In Game of Thrones, the pains of growing up are particularly painful. Children in Westeros are hardly allowed to be children as they must enter very quickly the adult world of murder, deception, politics, and sex.

The Stark children have had especially difficult and abrupt transitions to adulthood. Robb Stark was unsuspectingly thrust into his late father’s shoes, King of the North, once Eddard Stark was beheaded and Robb subsequently led a revolt against the Iron Throne. The Stark sisters watched their father’s beheading in front of thousands of people. Sansa Stark was held captive, first as evil baby King Joffrey’s intended fiancée and later as her tormentor’s uncle’s wife. Arya Stark has been in disguise and on the run. And we don’t mean a road-trip-up-the-coast run, but a killing-and-stealing-to-survive run. Both sisters have seen their fair share of death and deception. These Stark kids know a thing or two about the heartache and pain of growing up too fast.

Not to forget the young girl we once met across the way in Essos – Daenerys Targaryen. Just to recap this girl’s debut from childhood: Daenerys was bossed around by her vile older brother, forced to marry a scary and bearded stranger (Khal Drogo), became a Khaleesi, got pregnant by the aforementioned stranger-now-husband, lost her husband, gave birth to a swamp monster, lost her Dothraki people, hatched dragons, amassed an army of the Unsullied, and is now poised to take over all of Westeros to lay her rightful claim to the Iron Throne.

I bet that 10 PM curfew doesn’t sound so bad right about now, huh? Whether you’re growing up in 19th century England like Pip, in the realms of Westeros & Essos, or smack dab in the middle of here and now, one thing is clear: Growing up is tough.

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