Friday, May 2, 2014

Revolution in the Realm?
           Game of Thrones is arguably one the most popular shows on television.  Game of Thrones revolves around a plethora of fascinating characters, and plot twists that will have your head spinning. The Game of Thrones story takes place in a mythical land with families fighting for control of the throne of Westeros.  The main premise of the show is people trying to become ruler of the land, and the people living there.   Though many of the characters fighting for the throne come from the dominant class in society, there are a few characters that come from the underbelly of society, and are making a legitimate push for the throne.  In this blog I will discuss how the show seems to be representing the classic theory of Marxism, in the sense of certain groups of characters pushing against the class order of society and bringing equality to the realm.  
           Marxism theory is an economic and political theory that holds that actions and human institutions are economically determined, and that the class struggle of society will ultimately lead to historical change in which there will be no more classes in society (Collins English Dictionary, 2009).  In other words the theory holds that the rich people rule society, until ultimately the lower class fights back, and society eventually becomes equal in every aspect, which include race, gender, and wealth.  The theory has been around since the 19th century, and has been regularly talked about in recent times.  The history of the world has been built around this theory, and all influential changes in history can be examined through this theory.  It is no surprise that television would eventually follow suite as society did, and start to use this theory as a determining factor for a television series. 
            Game of Thrones takes place in a time when Kings, Lords, and people with money hold the most power in their society.  The story is set up to show that people with money are the people with power.  This is shown by the main families fighting for the throne, in which you have the Lannisters (who are considered the richest in the kingdom), Starks (who are the rulers of the north), and Baratheons(the rightful heirs of the throne).  Though these families are pivotal to the story, I will lay the focus on the lower class of main characters, who are arguably pushing for a Marxist revolution in the plot.
            First, one character that is clearly pushing for a revolution, and has shown tremendous hatred for the ruling class, and love towards the underbelly of society is Daenerys Targaryen or Khaleesi.  She comes from a royal family but was shoved out of that society as a child and has since been trying to return to her homeland.  She is a prime example of a Marxist theorist; she surrounds herself with slaves, and people who have been violated by the ruling class.  Marxism theory revolves around the notion that eventually there will be an uprising of the lower class.  Daenerys clearly supports this idea, she is sick of people ruling unfairly and wants to do harm to all in charge.  One scene that demonstrates her views is when she is trying to gain ships for her return home, and supporters to back her cause.  In this scene she is presented the cites leader who offers her gold, and as many ships as she wants as long as she promises to leave the city alone.  Daenerys returns the offer by stating “I have a gift for you as well. Your life.  And the lives of your wise Masters, but I also want something in return. You will release every slave in Yunkai. Every man, woman, and child shall be given as much food, clothing, and property as they can carry as payment for their years of servitude. Reject this gift and I shall show you no mercy” (Game of Thrones Season 3 Episode 7, 2013).  In this sequence she is clearly demonstrating her hatred for the ruling class, and her belief that no one should have power over other people.  After she gets her wish of all the slaves being released, she doesn’t use them for her own agenda she gives them the choice to leave, or follow her as free people.  Since the beginning she has been releasing slaves and allowing people to make the choice of being free from their masters and chains.  In the season three finale she tells the newly  freed slaves that she cannot give them their freedom, for their freedom is not hers to give, their freedom belongs to them alone.  This illustration amplifies her notion that no one should be held on a higher pedestal than someone else.   Daenerys is drastically different from the other main characters of the show, as she expresses all people should have the option of choice in the matters of their life.  She is a true Cinderella story; she has come from nothing, to holding arguably the most power in the realm, and is driven by her hatred of the ruling class, and if all goes well she will get her revenge.   
             Secondly, Daenerys is not the only power in the realm expressing these Marxist theories, there is a group of people in the Northern parts of the land that express equality throughout their society right when they are introduced to the story.  These people are called the Wildlings to the southern kingdoms, but they refer to themselves as free folk.  Free folk have no structure of class in their society, and in most cases they despise the thought of having Kings, and Lords.  The free folk don’t have nobility sanctions in their society, and everyone is free to do what they please.  The free folk elect their own leader to orchestrate their attempt at regaining a foot into the southern kingdoms.  When Jon Snow a main character and noble bastard of a lord first meets the leader of the free folk he tries to bow down to him to show his loyalty, but the leader Mance Rayder replies “Stand up, boy. We don't kneel for anyone beyond the Wall” (Game of Thrones Season 3 episode 1, 2013). This dialogue represents that no one is held at a higher value in their society.  Even the supposed leader of the rebels doesn't believe he is better than any one else.  Women of the free folk also hold the same footing as men do in their society.  Women are allowed to fight and do what they want without being ruled over by men and power figures.   The free folk of the north are trying to push their way into the south, and in doing so might be organizing, or pushing for a revolution against the class order that has held them dormant for so many years. 
              Though the show revolves around the fight for the throne, and rightful ruler of the people, and there are many instances pushing forward the notion that the story might take a turn into the revolution of the common people. Marxism is in fact a theory that exemplifies the belief that all people should be equal, and in the sense of the characters I just described, there might just be a revolution of the common people in the land of Westeros .  Only time will tell, there’s still a lot of story left, and after all “Winter Is Coming.” 

Daenerys Targaryen. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2014, from

 Marxism. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from website:   

Troperville. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2014, from


  1. Colby, I really enjoyed reading your blog as I am a huge fane of Game of Thrones. I agree with your analysis that Khaleesi represents the rise of the lower class and the potential of a revolution. It is interesting how she was brought back from almost the brink of starvation and has risen to the position that she is in currently. I also think there is one class you that could also support the argument, Jon Snow and the Knightwatch to me represent the working class and could be the backbone of what prevents the overtake of the wildlings. Although he is not making a run at the throne he does position himself in a positive manner for the future.

  2. Very interesting piece, as a Game of Thrones fan this really makes me look at the characters you mentioned a bit differently. Though I feel your argument about Daenerys is a bit undercut by the fact that she has royal blood. She is a Targaryen, one of the original ruling families of Westoros, and this is commonly cited by her advisers as being the reason she can be such a competent leader (and why she can't be burnt). And while the Free Folk do seem to have an equal society, it is undercut somewhat by the fact that some of them are cannibals. Their unlimited freedom and anarchism, while it does allow them to be relatively equal, comes at a high price. All in all it was an interesting piece, and I'll have to keep it in mind next time it watch Game of Thrones.

  3. Colby, I just started watching Game of Thrones and i'm OBSESSED!! I really enjoyed reading about the connections you drew between the characters on the show fighting for power and marxist theory. I would have never made that connection watching the show but it really makes sense after reading your blog. What about the Lannisters and the Starks? Do they exhibit any qualities or characteristics of the ruling body of marxist theory? Maybe thats something to explore as well! Im only in the middle of the first season but I will keep in mind the idea of marxism as I continue watching the series!


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