Vision Quest in GAME OF THRONES : Bran
Vision Quest in GAME OF THRONES : Bran
being Part Three of the Outright Geekery series
GAME OF THRONES and The Hero’s Journey
AT A GLANCE
The travels of Brandon “Bran” Stark ( Isaac Hempstead Wright ) constitute what Joseph Campbell and others have called The Hero’s Journey, aka monomyth, stories where a young adventurer seeks the boon that will restore his native land.
This article traces Bran’s journey, demonstrating how it follows the narrative structure of monomyth.
REVIEW IN DEPTH
As noted above, in The Hero’s Journey a young person undertakes a quest. Two examples : Galahad and the Grail Quest might well be the most recognizable example of monomyth in early Western literature, while the most recognizable modern example of monomyth is probably Luke Skywalker’s mastery of The Force, the boon that will restore peace to the galaxy in STAR WARS.
The Hero’s Journey is found in so many cultures and in so many times and places that Joseph Campbell used the word monomyth to describe all of these stories, particularly in THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES.
Last week, I discussed Arya Stark’s story as a Hero’s Journey. Her Hero’s Journey begins when she first leaves Winterfell, culminating in a Journey to the East, where she wins a great boon : the mysterious powers of The Faceless Men. Arya literally becomes a hero with (at least) a thousand faces. Arya’s mastery of these powers allows her to literally save humanity from extinction and the Earth from endless winter. It doesn’t get more heroic than that – then again, it turns out that she was The Prince That Was Promised.
This time around, I want to discuss Bran’s travels as Hero’s Journey. In doing so, I use terminology from four of the monomyth templates in wide use (q.v.), borrowing freely from all four. I have to do this, because stories are messy, and no story will fit a single template precisely ( terms from these templates are in italics in this text ).
Being unable to walk, Bran starts out as an even less likely hero than Arya, but no matter : Bran’s dreams of The Three-Eyed Raven draw him toward his destiny, constituting Bran’s first Meeting with the Mentor.
Bran’s journey is both Vision Quest and Road of Trials, but he gets through it with help from his many allies and helpers, from Hodor and Osha to the precognitive Jojen Reed and his martially-skilled sister Meera. At the Approach to the Innermost Cave, Jojen dies – and, later, so does the boy Bran Stark, who undergoes a kind of death and resurrection as he becomes the new Three-eyed Raven. The boon that he receives is a kind of limited omniscience, called greenseeing. With this boon, he is able to play a crucial role in the fight against the Night King and his horde, restoring the land and the people who live there. As King Bran the Broken, he is a visionary Master of Two Worlds.
Of course, my description of Bran’s travels here is just a skeletal framework – students could make a paper of just about any length, just through the inclusion and analysis of story details. Readers of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE know that Bran’s journey has a wealth of detail lacking in GAME OF THRONES, particularly in the training that Bran receives from The Last Greenseer – this training closely matches the vision quest monomyth found in many traditional societies.
Although it’s beyond the scope of this article, I would note here that Bran’s story corresponds in some ways to the Grail Quest of Percival, another famous monomyth story, with The Last Greenseer being symbolic of the Fisher King.
Well, that’s it for now. Next week, in the fourth and final article of the series, I will examine the stories of other children in the Stark household, to see how much their own stories serve as monomyth.
Until then, thanks for reading – and stay safe. If you liked this review, I’d be honored if you’d please read the rest of my stuff here at Outright Geekery. Thank you.
I’d also like to thank the Seattle Public Library, for providing my family with internet service through its SPL Hotspot program.