Daughter. Sister. Queen. Mother. Queen Consort. Monster. Cruel. Sociopath. Just some of the many words that are used to describe Cersei Lannister. And while this woman is many things to many people in the Seven Kingdoms, to me, she is a sociopathic woman, incapable of loving anyone but herself and her need for power.
Cersei Lannister was born to privilege and has never had to suffer for anything in her life. Yes, we all know the tragic story of how she lost her mother in childbirth when Tyrion was born. But let me point out to you that Cersei Lannister had a cruel streak a mile wide from her early years. Case and point: look at her treatment of her younger brother, Tyrion. She beat him and mentally abused him for years. Imagine growing up with her for an older sister. No thanks. The evil that began to bubble underneath the surface of Cersei’s calm façade was noticeable when she grew into her teens. There is something very wrong with a young teenage girl who decides to start a sexual relationship with her own twin brother. VERY WRONG. It’s wrong on every level and in the eyes of God and man. Cersei didn’t care. Her reasoning for it would be revealed once she had a confrontation with the late Ned Stark (“We came into this world together, we belong together”). To a normal person, that rationale is beyond ridiculous. Nobody in their right mind would willingly enter into an incestuous relationship with any of their siblings, twin or not. (The Targaryens are another matter entirely)
Cersei had the golden ticket – she was the only daughter of Tywin Lannister and that itself had huge privileges. She knew she possessed power and used it for all the wrong reasons. How many servants were at her mercy? How many simple folk suffered from her wrath? Just look at all the atrocious acts she committed against her infant brother, Tyrion. Her desire for knowledge of future events had disastrous consequences – a simple trip to see Maggy the Frog ended in tragedy. And all at her hands: she murdered her childhood friend, Melara Hetherspoon, all because the poor girl had feelings for Jaime and Cersei could not stand it. So, Cersei started down a murderous and shadowy path – committing incest was just the start. Add murder and manipulation to her resume. (Unfortunately, I cannot offer the scene I want to use here so please hit the link for a look at Cersei at her best. )
Her own wicked ways and selfishness got the better of her when she wanted to know exactly what was in store: she desired Rhaegar Targaryen and fancied herself in love with him. She went so far as to enlist her aunt Genna Lannister, in attempting to make the match between their two houses happen. A walking, talking hypocrite: while she was allowed to desire other men and even want to marry one of them, her twin brother was not allowed to look at another woman. She masterminded the idea of having Jaime be in the service of the Kingsguard, so that he would always be accessible. After all, in her mind, she was going to marry a King (she automatically assumed it would be Rhaegar, as he was Aeyrs’ heir) and that prophecy came straight from Maggy. What she could not predict was that it would be Robert Baratheon who would usurp the Iron Throne, fighting against and killing Prince Rhaegar for a most heinous crime: the abduction and assault of Lyanna Stark. Cersei Lannister would come to know the name Lyanna Stark with great hostility and suffering: after the Iron Throne came under House Baratheon’s power, Cersei was wed to Robert. While Robert was a handsome man, both virile and lusty, with proven battle prowess, Cersei’s love induced infatuation with her newly crowned husband would come to a grinding halt on their wedding night. Imagine being called “Lyanna” in the midst of consummating your marriage with your new husband. Talk about an epic failure and a major downer for Cersei. She would only ever be sloppy seconds in Robert’s eyes; and she would never know true love with Robert, as he was still mourning his love, Lyanna.
So, what does Cersei do to exact her revenge on Robert? By placing horns on him: unbeknownst to King Robert, Cersei was once again sleeping with her brother, who was conveniently stationed with them at King’s Landing. What’s worse: she became pregnant three times and passed off those incestuous babies as the royal offspring of House Baratheon. Cersei, now in her late 30s, can proudly boast that she’s killed one childhood friend; slept with her twin brother; had three children that were not her husband’s; kept that lie closely guarded for decades and generally met anyone who was not of House Lannister with great contempt and suspicion. She also happened to make sure that Robert was so drunk the day he went out and hunted, that he got himself gored savagely by a boar. Yes, Cersei thought of everything. How very considerate of her. You could see how truly depressed she was, that Robert was going to die. NOT. She also didn’t stay faithful to Jaime – she bedded down with her cousin Lancel, on several occasions. When she got bored with Lancel (when it didn’t suit her anymore) she moved on to bigger fish: the Kettleback brothers. They were in the service of the Kingsguard, but what did that matter? The show may portray something a little bit different, but book readers know what I mean when I say Cersei sleeps around with the Kettleblack brothers to try and frame Margaery.
Not everyone is fooled by Cersei’s pretty face and her silver tongue. Hm. Guilty conscience, perhaps? Or was it that people began to see, with their own eyes, and of course with all the whispers around Westeros, that Cersei truly is a depraved woman, unfit to rule and not worthy of trust, love or admiration? After all, secrets have a very funny way of coming back to haunt a person and they usually do that when a person is at their most vulnerable.
For Cersei Lannister, her troubles are only just beginning: the prophecy that Maggy told her also warned of many things that would come to pass. Things such as, beware of the younger brother (“Beware the Valonqar”) – both her brothers are younger than her. Which brother was Maggy talking about? Even more troubling for Cersei, is that another woman would take her place as Queen…but who might that be? (“Aye, Queen you shall be, until there comes another, younger and beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear”). A few names come to mind here: Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark and Margaery Tyrell. Perhaps the most frightening portion of Maggy’s words were that her children would all die before her (“…and gold shall be their shrouds, and when your tears have drowned you, the Valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you…”)
The sins of her past are starting to catch up with her and the price is more than she can bear. Her firstborn son, Joffrey Baratheon, choked to death at his wedding. Her father was killed by her brother, Tyrion. Margaery Tyrell is now engaged to Tommen and poised to be the new Queen of Westeros (she is well liked for her personality, her charitable works with the poor and her wealth). Daenerys Targaryen now commands a massive army of Unsullied, has three dragons that grow more ferocious with each passing day and has sacked several cities. Sansa Stark has fled to parts unknown, only to land at the Eyrie and be mentored under the careful tutelage of Petyr Baelish. She is also heir to the North and to Winterfell and that brings untold wealth, loyalty and power. She is also a great beauty, something that must bother Cersei immensely (can we say painful reminders of Lyanna Stark’s ravishing good looks?).
Women have a hard enough time living in Westeros as it is: the constant threat of sexual assault in prevalent; being married off to a stranger was law; being treated like a second class citizen was the way of the world. If you were a poor woman, you had a very tough life. If you were a woman born to privilege, you had a comfortable life. If you were born into or marry royalty, you were set. Cersei could have used her wealth and power for good. Instead, she chose to inflict pain and misery on people without thinking about the aftermath. She could have used her influence to make life for women a little bit better; she could have shown compassion to the poor; she could have been a patron to orphaned children. There were so many good things she could have done that would have helped many people in Westeros. She would have been held in high esteem. She made poor choices. She cared for nothing and no one except herself. She deliberately and maliciously chose to do the opposite. The scales of justice are tipping against her. What goes around comes around. That’s the thing about living a profligate and sinister life. Eventually, all the bad things that you do will come back to you.
I, for one, am glad to see this woman get her comeuppance.