By ELVIS MITCHELL
Photography CRAIG MCDEAN
You may be as different as the sun and the moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts. You need her, as she needs you.
nothing i do for the rest of my life will ever top this
i’ve been waiting for this
WHAT. IS. HAPPENING.
Alright, so I got this idea a while ago and it hasn’t left my head since. A Song of Ice and Fire is filled with paralleling and mirroring sets of characters, relationships and plots, and there’s one such parallel I’d like to discuss, because I’ve never heard anyone mention it anywhere. Granted, it may seem a bit weird on first sight, but I assure you it makes perfect sense:
The story of Jaime, Cersei and Brienne mirrors that of Rhaegar, Elia and Lyanna.
Wanna hear how?
1. Jaime thinks he failed to protect Rhaegar’s wife and children… Alright, so what tips us off about this parallel is Jaime’s connection to Rhaegar. In the course of ASOS and AFFC we are shown how Jaime is haunted by the ghosts of his past, especially the era of Robert’s Rebellion. One of these ghosts is Rhaegar Targaryen, a man he admired, a man he feels he betrayed. In Jaime’s weirwood dream Rhaegar blames Jaime for failing to protect his wife and children. In truth, it was not Jaime who failed Elia, Rhaenys and Aegon, but Rhaegar himself who ran off with another woman.
2. …while he actually failed to protect his own. This is the great irony. While Jaime is blameless for failing to protect Rhaegar’s wife and children, he has failed to protect his own “wife” and children, (and even for the same reason as Rhaegar, but I’ll get back to that later). Rhaegar was married to Elia Martell, but he ran off with Lyanna Stark, starting a war. He was not there when Tywin Lannister took King’s Landing and his mad dog Gregor Clegane butchered Elia and their children. Jaime is all but officially married to Cersei (they have had a long, monogamous relationship, they would be married if they could, “do you have a wife, ser?” no, I have a sister - you know the drill), and he left her: he burned her letter and ignored her plea for help. Then Brienne of Tarth turned up in his tent, and
even though GRRM is hogging information on what happened nextwe know he went away with her, and has been gone for some time already. He hasn’t made it back to King’s Landing to protect his family.
Meanwhile, Cersei is in King’s Landing, in mortal danger because of her pending trial with the Faith. The whole realm is in turmoil, and Tommen and Myrcella - gold shall be their crowns, and gold shall be their shrouds, don’t forget - are in the eye of the storm, one of them sitting uneasily on the Iron Throne, the other one the vessel of Dornish ambitions. (Also note that Jaime wasn’t there when Joffrey, their first child, died.)
3. Both Elia and Cersei’s fates are in the hands of Gregor Clegane. This is perhaps the most intriguing detail. It seems that it will be Gregor Clegane aka Robert Strong who has the power of life and death over Cersei, just as he had it over Elia. Only this time he is to protect, not to destroy. (And however the trial by combat ends, Cersei/Gregor will be a beautiful foil to Elia/Gregor.)
4. Rhaegar ran off with Lyanna, Jaime with Brienne. Now hold a sec before you disagree. I’m not going to start a debate about Rhaegar’s feelings for Lyanna, or Jaime’s feelings for Brienne in this meta. I’m sure we can all agree, however, that Rhaegar cared for Lyanna, and Jaime cares for Brienne, clearly enough to leave behind his duty and follow her at her word. Both Rhaegar and Jaime left a lot of things behind them when they left (even though we know precious little about the actual events of Robert’s Rebellion) including responsibilities and their families. Seeing a parallel here? Then consider this: Rhaegar left his duties and ran off with Lyanna because he believed in another duty, his duty to create the dragon with three heads, and Jaime runs off with Brienne because of his duty to the oath to keep Lady Catelyn’s daughters safe.
5. Blue, roses and beauties. Actually, I’m going to argue that there’s more to it: Lyanna and Brienne themselves mirror each other. (Granted, Lyanna does mirror many other characters of the series too, most obviously Arya and Margaery, but I’m not going to venture there in this meta.) Lyanna and Brienne share both similar characteristics and similar symbolism. Both Lyanna and Brienne are noblewomen who stepped outside their traditional role and became warriors. Both have taken part in tourneys, both have defended helpless people against bullies. (Assuming Lyanna is the Knight of the Laughing Tree, she defended Howland Reed - and in AFFC Brienne protects the orphans in the inn against the brigands.)
Lyanna is famously associated with the blue roses of Winterfell. Brienne, too, is associated with roses - her fever dreams in AFFC feature rose as a constant motif, and in ASOS a wound Jaime gives her is referred to as a “red flower”. (I know it doesn’t say “rose”, but it it goes in line with how the rose motif in Brienne’s dreams is associated with blood.) Actually also the colour blue is shared by Lyanna and Brienne - with Lyanna through the roses, and Brienne has blue armor, blue eyes and is associated with sapphires, and to underline it, she’s even called Brienne the Blue in Renly’s rainbow guard.
Lyanna is famous for being the Queen of Love and Beauty, and her beauty is generally often referred to. Brienne is known as Brienne the Beauty, only mockingly though. I find it very interesting how this trope is subverted. You know Ned’s famous line about Lyanna: “You saw her beauty, but not the iron underneath.” Reverse it, and you get: “You saw the iron, but not the beauty underneath.” Is this not how Brienne seems to most people? They don’t recognize her beauty (except, again, Jaime Lannister, who does note her “astonishing” eyes), whether we talk about her physically not fitting to Westerosi beauty standards, or people judging her based on her outer, not inner beauty that stems ultimately from her good heart. I think no one will disagree with me if I say that Brienne is one of the very few clearly “good” characters in ASOIAF.
Now I refuse to believe it’s only coincidence these characters share so many traits and motifs. A lot of it can, however, be attributed to GRRM’s well known fondness of Beauty and the Beast variations. Jaime and Brienne is one if not the most complex and multi-layered version of the theme in ASOIAF, so it is hardly surprising traditional elements of the tale, such as roses and beauty, are important parts of Brienne’s narrative. I would hesitate to pigeonhole Lyanna and Rhaegar as yet another variation of the theme, but there are fitting elements in the story we have given in asoiaf this far - namely the roses and holding the beautiful maiden captive for sexual purposes. Nothing of this makes the parallel between Brienne and Lyanna less valid though.
6. Queen you shall be. There would be so much more to say about the parallels between Brienne/Lyanna, Jaime/Rhaegar and Cersei/Elia, but I’m also sure someone else than me would have a lot more to say on the topic. Let me just remind you that the prophecy that haunts Cersei - queen you shall be, until there comes another, younger and more beautiful to cast you down and take all that you hold dear - could also have applied to Elia, from whom you could claim Lyanna - younger and more beautiful - took everything, even if it wasn’t her aim to cast Elia down. Now I’ve seen people half-jokingly suggest that the younger queen of Cersei’s prophecy is Brienne, and while I think the younger queen is someone else (probably Dany), I can’t see why there couldn’t be this kind of a level in the prophecy too. After all, prophecies are only what we interpret them to be. Also I find it fairly amusing that Cersei was supposed to marry Rhaegar before Elia did, and that Elia and Cersei are very opposite personality wise, Elia had “a gentle heart and a sweet wit”, while Cersei is everything but gentle and her wit is cruel rather than sweet.
What I’ve brought up is just the tip of the iceberg, and I’d really love to hear other people’s interpretations and thoughts, especially on the parallels between Rhaegar/Jaime and Elia/Cersei. I also wish my meta would lead to some kind of conclusion and I could tell you what’s going to happen to Brienne, Jaime and Cersei in TWOW, but I can’t. Personally, I hope history won’t repeat itself and Jaime will go back to protect his family and Brienne won’t die for his duty as Lyanna died for Rhaegar’s.
That kind of optimistic point of view is of course very much against Maggy the Frog’s prophecy if we take it literally. The valonqar part - which I’m intentionally mostly leaving out of this already long meta - as well as the prediction of Cersei’s children having golden shrouds do make it sound like the future of Cersei and her children is going to be as bleak as that of Elia and her children. I also agree with those people who think Jaime must be the valonqar. Only maybe he will cause Cersei’s death by neglect and failure, the same way some people blame Rhaegar for Elia’s death? I don’t buy the argument that the choking has to be literal.
Okay, and now the last bone I’m going to throw is - if there’s a Cersei/Elia parallel, can there also be a Jaime/Oberyn parallel (no just Jaime/Rhaegar)? Will Jaime somehow face Robert Strong (why does it always come back to Gregor Clegane?) before the end because of Cersei? To get through him to kill her? To protect her? To avenge her?
I’m afraid I have more questions than I started with, but if I made even one person think of hese characters and storylines in a new light, I am happy.
Smile for the camera! [x]
You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.
This set is dedicated to fuckyeahdisneyfanart/disneydiversity (Ally).
Ally, your blog changed my life. Your ideas, your values, you inspire me, inspired me to change. You will always be a dear friend to me. Thank you for being you, and I love you so much!
Stone and Snow, that was all that was left of Winterfell. Just like she and Jon.