Wish Fulfillment in GAME OF THRONES
Wish Fulfillment in GAME OF THRONES
being Part One of the Outright Geekery series
GAME OF THRONES and The Hero’s Journey
AT A GLANCE
Like GAME OF THRONES ? Need ideas for a paper ? You’ve come to the right place.
This series of articles will apply Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to characters in GAME OF THRONES, giving numerous ideas for papers of all sorts. This first article discusses the Stark household’s children in terms of wish fulfillment.
Feel free to use any ideas you find in the series – these days, when online learning is so important, I wrote this series to help out. Look for Part Two of the series next Friday, June 5th.
REVIEW in depth
In the Great Hunker Down, binge-watching TV is high on many people’s To-Do lists. At the top of my own list was watching GAME OF THRONES a second time (at press time, I’ve just finished the fourth episode in the fifth season).
When I watched the very first episode, I noticed how four of the young people in the Stark household state their aspirations clearly, and all four will achieve their goals by the final episode. Hence, on one level GAME OF THRONES is about wish fulfillment.
Arya Stark wants to explore what’s west of Westeros, and winds up doing exactly that.
Bran wants to see the world, and he winds up seeing it as no one else can.
Sansa has her heart set on being a King’s wife, but winds up as a queen in her own right, having liberated the North.
Jon Snow wants to be a brother of the Night’s Watch, clearly hoping to find family that won’t snub him. Although he’s revealed as the rightful king of Westeros, he instead becomes King Beyond The Wall, spiritual father of the Free Folk, bringer of the boon called civilization to a ‘Wildling’ group of traditional societies.
Robb Stark doesn’t state a goal, but as the oldest son his perceived destiny is to be just like his father, and he embraces that destiny, seeking no other. He winds up living a condensed version of his father’s life : both prosecute wars to free sisters from the mad kings that had killed their own fathers, and both are betrayed by men who swore to help them.
Theon Greyjoy doesn’t state a goal, either, because his loyalties are divided, and he is destroyed by his choice of rapine and murder over the Starks’ righteous cause.
On one level, all of this can be seen as wish fulfillment : the reader identifies with the characters, so that when they succeed, the reader vicariously succeeds, too. This is one of the things that makes heroic stories so appealing (e.g. who doesn’t want to be Superman ?).
But, if you look closer, there’s much more to these characters than simple wish fulfillment.
Watching GAME OF THRONES a second time, I realized that these first four characters – Arya, Bran, Sansa, and Jon – all undertake something called the Hero’s Journey, an idea popularized by celebrated mythographer Joseph Campbell.
Stay tuned on Friday, June 5th for Part Two of GAME OF THRONES and The Hero’s Journey, in which I discuss the idea of the monomyth and apply it to the travels of Arya and Bran Stark. To get you started thinking, here is the Hero’s Journey as conceived by four different authorities, with the steps all mapped out :
As far as a general review goes – for those who’ve been hangin’ under that proverbial rock – GAME OF THRONES is brilliant from beginning to end, with few creative missteps. I haven’t watched hardly anything twice since film studies in grad school, but I didn’t hesitate with GoT.
Incidentally, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE is likewise brilliant, and worth reading even if you’ve seen GAME OF THRONES, e.g., for the rich detail, or for the power of the written word to reveal characters’ interior lives in a way that film cannot. Moreover, the story in the books is different – so it’s something that fans of the show can enjoy, even if the last two books have been very slow in coming.
If you like this review, I’d be honored if you’d please check out the rest of my stuff here at Outright Geekery. Thank you.
Thanks to the Seattle Public Library, for providing my family with internet service through the SPL Hotspot program.
Speaking of libraries, if you’ve got a library card, you can stream free comics – along with music, movies, and TV – at Hoopla Digital. For example, right now I’m reading WOLVERINE : ORIGIN, free of charge. I’ve found that being a nerd has its advantages.
STAY SAFE, EVERYBODY !