A Game of Throne Themes and Analysis 📖

‘A Game of Thrones’ utilizes an excellently descriptive story, a limited character point of view, and a layered thematic structure to guide its reader into its vastly complex world.

A Game of Throne Themes and Analysis 📖

A Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin

From exploring the value of family to showing the complexities that surround power struggles, ‘A Game of Thrones’ has undoubtedly influenced fantasy writing. The story’s use of an expertly crafted figurative language structure, lore, history, and symbols makes it addictive.

A Game of Thrones Themes and Analysis


A Game of Thrones Themes

Family

A primary theme of ‘A Game of Thrones’ is the bond associated with family. The story portrays how people’s lives and decisions get influenced by their families. Jon Snow felt the strong impact of family on his life. Because he was born a bastard, he became a shadow in the House of Stark; this made him seek out meaning in his life, leading to him joining the Night’s Watch. 

Though Jon tried to forget about his father and siblings, he still risked everything by deserting the Night’s Watch. However, his friends stopped him, and Lord Mormont taught him that his new family was his brothers who would die for each other; this made him realize that his new family was his friends in the Night’s Watch, brothers who would give their life for him.

When Arya fought with Joffrey, she stood before the king to defend herself but got betrayed by her sister. Sansa’s betrayal cost her relationship with Arya to falter. Even though Ned tried making his daughters amend their rift, the disdain they had for each other negatively impacted their lives individually. Sansa tilted towards the Lannisters and Arya towards the way of the sword. 

The bond of a family also had an impact on the Lannisters. Though Tyrion felt like an outcast for being a dwarf, he admitted that the one thing his father never played with was an attack on his family, and when he got detained by Catelyn, Tywin, his father, raised an entire army to get him back.

When Tyrion got captured, his brother tried to get him back by acting rashly and attacking Ned. Though he knew it would be a crime, he could not care less as he loved his brother dearly. Tyrion also admitted that Jaime was the only one who treated him nicely, and the bond between them as brothers was intense.

Daenerys was a little girl who had no family except her brother Viserys. However, he only saw her as a tool he could use to get an army from Khal Drogo. She still felt attached to him. Even when Viserys tried to hurt her, Daenerys tried to save her brother from shame and disgrace. However, when she married Khal Drogo, she found a new family, and the bond between her and her brother waned to the point where she felt only disdain towards his actions.

Honor

Honor was an essential part of ‘A Game of Thrones.’ With the existence of knights, lords, kings, and khals, honor was a man’s badge. Jamie got hated because he betrayed his king, Aerys II Targaryen, and killed him, trampling on his honor. In the story, a man’s honor made him stand out from the crowd. Elegance and bravery got tied to honor.

When Ned discovered the truth about Cersei and her children, he could have ordered an execution as she betrayed her husband, the king, and lied to her people. However, he chose honor and gave her the chance to leave; this led to his downfall. Till his last breath, Ned kept his pride, making the people of the north swear their allegiance to his son. Other noble families prided in their honor and strength. For the Lannisters, the power of family above all governed their actions. 

When Daenerys married Khal Drogo, he gave her the honor she never got from her brother. Having been downgraded for existing, she felt a new form of power, one given to her by the man she loved. When Viserys dishonored the Dothraki, Daenerys did not plead for her brother as she realized that a man without honor is worse than a beggar, and a man without honor is not fit to rule a kingdom or have an army.

Power

‘A Game of Thrones’ centered around power. When Jon Arryn died, Robert asked Ned to become the hand of the king; this put him in a position where he saw the dwindling might of the seven kingdoms. Ned realized that the almighty Westeros was deeply indebted to the House of Lannister. Westeros getting indebted to the Lannisters showed how great their power in the seven kingdoms was. Tywin, the Lord of House of Lannister, became so powerful that he was the personal bank of the kingdom and in the story, whoever has the money, has the power.

When Tyrion got detained by Catelyn, the power of his house over the seven kingdoms bought his freedom. He could buy his way out of almost any situation and even the lord of Castle Black, Lord Mormont, pleaded with him to put in a word with the king because he had enough influence to have his voice heard.

In the Night’s Watch, Jon realized that his power and influence gave him the upper hand over all his peers. He soon became a leading figure in the castle and led the other boys in training and governance. When Samwell Tarly came to the Castle, Jon used his influence on the others to ensure he did not get bullied. When he and his friends became men of the Night’s Watch, he made Samwell became an apprentice for master Aemon.

Across the sea, Daenerys became powerful as she got married to Khal Drogo. Drogo was a warrior with the largest army of Dothraki, and when Daenerys married him, she became his Khaleesi, a position of esteem. Her new husband showed her what true power felt like as she had thousands of men and women obeying her every command. 

Betrayal

Without betrayal, the story of Eddard Stark would have been different. Before going to King’s Landing, Ned and his best friend, Robert, agreed that their children should get married as a sign of their friendship. When Ned reached King’s Landing, he uncovered secrets vital to the throne. He shared his secret with Petyr, a man he thought could have enough dignity not to share with anyone else. However, when Robert died, and Ned tried to take over the throne as was right, he got betrayed by Petyr, who held a knife to his throat.

When Ned got imprisoned, Varys made him believe that if he lied about taking over King’s Landing, his daughters would get spared. Even Ned’s daughter, Sansa, thought that Joffrey would have enough love for her and spare her father, but that was far from the truth. He got killed to the dismay of his daughter, who felt she had saved him. Betrayal was the greatest dishonor among knights and lords; this is why Jaime got the title ‘Kingslayer’ after he betrayed his won king and killed him. 

Daenerys felt betrayed by her brother, Viserys. Initially, she looked up to him as he assured her that her marriage to Khal Drogo would give him the leverage he needed to claim the throne. However, she realized that Viserys was willing to betray her and did not care for her. When Viserys said he would let thousands of men have their way with her if it meant him claiming the throne, she felt stabbed and hated him.

Coming of Age

In Westeros, adulthood began at 16. Robb was a young boy of 14 who was the heir of Winterfell. After his father left for King’s Landing, his mother, the regent, left for the same King’s Landing to uncover the truth about her son’s fall; this made Robb become the Lord of Winterfell at a young age.

Robb’s growth from the ages of 14 to 15 was astonishing as he became a lord governing the affairs of a kingdom. After Robb clocked 15, Catelyn met him and admitted that Robb was a man worthy of leading an army. Robb’s growth was so astonishing that even at 15, he was a great strategist that successfully led the defeat of Jaime, a knight.

When Jon snow decided to leave Winterfell for Castle Black, he never knew what to expect from his future. On reaching the wall, he realized that his destiny was to become a man of the Night’s Watch, sworn to defend and protect the kingdom from the shadows beyond the wall. As time passes, Jon garners the respect of his peers and soon becomes the leader of his group.

Before leaving for King’s Landing, Arya was a little girl fascinated by the sword and repelled by anything ladylike. When she leaves Winterfell, Jon gives her a sword, and she starts learning how to fight. Gradually, Arya becomes a good fighter after learning how to sword dance from Syrio Forel. Her desire to gain strength saved her from getting captured by the Lannisters.

Bran was seven years old when he got thrown off the wall by Jaime Lannister. He met a three-eyed raven that gave him the power to see all the kingdoms. When Robb decided to go to war, he left an eight-year-old Bran to rule Winterfell and look after his brother. Gradually, Bran started becoming wiser.

Sansa was a naïve girl of 11 when her father told her she soul get married to prince Joffrey. Her love for elegance made her daydream about marrying someone as perfect as Joffrey. However, she starts learning the harsh reality of life after her father gets beheaded. Though Sansa’s naivety made her blind to the world, she became braver as she stood up for her brother when Joffrey said he would love his head as a gift.

Joffrey was a young boy of 12 when he visited Winterfell. His rudeness character shaped him into becoming a heartless person. When his father died, he assumed the throne, and childishness made him feel intoxicated with power. He made decisions and delivered judgment with no consideration of honor or sense.

Daenerys was a young girl of 13 when her brother gave her to Khal Drogo to be a wife. As a child, she becomes the Khaleesi of Drogo’s Khalasar and begins to gain emotional and mental strength. At 14, she gets pregnant, and her attitude and decision-making become polished. When her husband died, Daenerys admitted that she had learned her lesson on trust and consequences; this made her a woman of strength.

History of the Past

The history of the past is a crucial element that influences many characters in ‘A Game of Thrones.’ Robert Baratheon hated the Targaryens so much that he placed a bounty over a young Daenerys and her child. However, his hatred came from the past as the woman he loved, Lyanna, died after allegedly getting abducted and raped by Rhaegar Targaryen.

The Starks also had a rich history. According to records, they are the direct descendants of the First Men; this played a crucial role in Bran meeting the three-eyed raven. He learned the history of the seven kingdoms and realized it got made in the blood of the children of the forest.

When Ned reached King’s Landing, he tried uncovering the truth about his friend, Jon Arryn’s death; this led to him realizing that Cersei’s children were not Robert’s. Without a history of the noble house, Ned would have never uncovered the truth about Cersei’s infidelity.

Brotherhood and Friendship

Brotherhood and friendship were a vital part of the culture of Westeros as they fostered peace. Ned was a sworn brother to Robert, and they decided to take their brotherhood further by making their children marry.

Jon Snow left Winterfell and joined the Night’s Watch. Though he felt alone and afraid, he met other boys like him, and they became brothers. When Jon met Samwell, he formed a bond with him. It strengthened as Samwell defeated his fear to prevent Jon from deserting the Night’s Watch.

When Daenerys married Khal Drogo, she was gifted three girls as maids. Soon, she grew a bond of friendship with her maids, and they helped her navigate her new life. Without Irri, Daenerys’s life would have been unbearable as she taught her how to please Drogo.

Corruption, Politics, Power Hierarchy

Westeros was a kingdom ruled by politics and the powerful. Deep beneath the kingdom’s governance, the power struggle bred corruption. Cersei had ulterior motives to gain control as she craved for it. When Ned discovered that she had children with her brother, she decided to go all out by orchestrating her husband’s accident. Though Robert Baratheon was king, he could not see that his kingdom got governed by corrupt lords who never cared about anyone but themselves. After he died, a power struggle led to the political instability of King’s Landing.

After Robert’s death, Cersei used her influence to put her son as the king. She also made herself sit on the small council using corrupt means and arrested Ned Stark for treason; this sparked conflict in the seven kingdoms as the north denounced their loyalty to King’s Landing.

Hierarchy was an essential part of governance in the seven kingdoms. From lords to knights, the hierarchical order made the government of Westeros function.

Analysis of Key Moments in A Game of Thrones

  1. Three men of the Night’s Watch face White Walkers. Eddard Stark kills one of them that runs away as a deserter, and his sons Robb, Bran, and Jon find six pup direwolves.
  2. Ned learns that his friend, Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, is dead and that Robert Baratheon, the King, is on his way to Winterfell.
  3. Viserys prepares his sister to get married to Khal Drogo, leader of the Dothraki.
  4. Robert visits Ned and asks him to become Hand of the King.
  5. Ned throws a party in Robert’s honor, and many people attend, including his brother, Benjen, a man of the Night’s Watch. Jon asks Benjen to take him to the Night’s Watch Castle Black, but Jon refuses.
  6. Catelyn, Ned’s wife, gets a message from her sister accusing Cersei of killing her husband, Jon Arryn.
  7. Bran gets thrown off the wall of Winterfell while climbing. He gets paralyzed forever.
  8. Maester Luwin tells Ned and Catelyn of Jon’s willingness to join the Night’s Watch, and they let him go. He gifts Arya a thin sword, and she names it Needle.
  9. Daenerys gets married to Khal Drogo and gets three dragon eggs, three maids, and a horse as her bridal gift.
  10. Robert finds out about Daenerys’s wedding and vows to kill her.
  11. Tyrion leaves for the Night’s Watch to see the wall.
  12. Ned leaves for King’s Landing with Arya and Sansa.
  13. Before Ned leaves Winterfell, Sansa and Joffrey go for a ride. They meet Arya practicing how to fight with Mycah, her friend. Joffrey confronts Mycah and gets injured by Arya’s wolf. When brought before Robert Baratheon, she tells her side of the story and stands her ground about Joffrey lying.
  14. An assassin tries to kill Bran after causing a fire in Winterfell’s library.
  15. After an attempt on Bran’s life, Catelyn decides to go to King’s Landing to uncover the truth about the knife the assassin tried to use.
  16. Jon starts training after arriving at Castle Black. He notices that some boys dislike him and becomes their friends by teaching them how to fight.
  17. Ned reaches King’s Landing and meets with the small council. He meets Catelyn and learns of the assassination attempt on Bran.
  18. Bran has a dream about a three-eyed raven and wakes up. Tyrion leaves Castle Black and returns to Winterfell, where he helps Bran create a special saddle to learn how to ride. In King’s Landing, Arya starts training how to fight with Syrio Forel.
  19. Daenerys punishes her brother after he tries to hurt her. She gets pregnant with Khal Drogo.
  20. Ned begins an investigation into Jon Arryn’s death.
  21. Jon meets Samwell Tarly of Horn and helps him against getting bullied. Neds’s investigation leads him to meet one of Robert’s bastard children.
  22. Catelyn returns to Winterfell, but on the way back, she encounters Tyrion and has him detained.
  23. While learning to catch cats as per her training, Arya enters a place with dragon skulls and overhears two men talking about how they killed Jon Arryn. She also hears them talk about killing her father.
  24. Robert learns of Daenerys’s pregnancy and places a bounty on her. Ned steps down as Hand of the King.
  25. Catelyn visits her sister in the Eyrie with Tyrion. 
  26. Bran rides a horse but almost gets kidnapped by wildlings. However, he gets rescued by his brother, and they capture Osha, a wildling woman.
  27. Tyrion gets imprisoned in the Eyrie but requests a trial by combat. His Champion wins, and he gets set free.
  28. Jon becomes a man of the Night’s Watch. He begs maester Aemon to take in Samwell Tarly. He becomes an apprentice to Lord Mormont, the commander of the Night’s Watch.
  29. Ned gets injured after Jaime attacks him when he collects information about Robert’s children.
  30. Robert asks Ned to come back as the Hand of the King. He goes on a hunt, leaving Ned to govern the kingdom.
  31. Ned discovers that Cersei’s children belonged to her brother Jaime. He meets her and asks her to leave King’s Landing before Robert returns.
  32. Viserys, Daenerys brother, gets killed by Khal Drogo with molten gold.
  33. Robert gets involved in an accident and dies. Ned tries to rule the kingdom as Robert asked, but he gets betrayed by Petyr and arrested.
  34. With Ned’s arrest, Robb decides to gather some men for war. He leaves Bran in charge.
  35. Khal Drogo promises Daenerys the seven kingdoms after a plan to poison her gets foiled by Jorah Mormont.
  36. Tyrion reunites with his father, Tywin, who has an army marching against the Starks.
  37. The Night’s Watch discovers the bodies of Benjen Stark’s men who had gone missing. After bringing the bodies back, they try to kill Jon.
  38. Khal Drogo conquers his enemy, Khal Ogo, and after the battle, Daenerys rescues some of the women getting raped.
  39. The Starks attack Tyrion’s men by surprise, but they lose. Tyrion later learns that his father knew about the attacks and put him at the forefront. He also learns that Robb outsmarted them and captured Jaime.
  40. Drogo falls sick and falls from his horse. In a desperate attempt to heal him, Daenerys asks one of the slave women for help. The woman uses dark magic, and Daenerys feels a sharp pain in her belly and passes out.
  41. After Ned’s arrest, Arya escapes the Lannisters, and her father gets summoned by the new king, Joffrey. He gets killed, and a man takes Arya away before she causes a scene.
  42. Jon tries to leave the Night’s Watch after his father’s death. Samwell Tarly and the rest of his friends stop him.
  43. Catelyn and Robb meet Hoster Tully, Catelyn’s grandfather. Robb gets crowned King of the North.
  44. Khal Drogo dies, and Daenerys plans a funeral. With most of the Khalasar gone, she makes a pyre for Drogo and burns the witch with him. She also puts her three dragon eggs and steps into the flames. The eggs crack, and she emerges from the flames, unhurt and with three dragons.


Style and Tone of A Game of Thrones

‘A Game of Thrones’ uses a limited third-person perspective to introduce its reader to its world. With the story focusing on a single character’s point of view at a time, it expands its world by introducing subtle details embedded in the relationship between its characters and their immediate environment. 

The story utilizes history to make the present as realistic as possible. Though the history portrayed is limited to the knowledge of its narrator, it compensates by making each narrator of history a maester or someone versatile in history.

‘A Game of Thrones’ also employs many tones throughout its plot. In the beginning, it utilizes one of fear and agitation when the men of the Night’s Watch encounter monsters. From there, the tone becomes one of looming danger when Ned decides to go to King’s Landing. Gradually, it changes into one of agitation as Ned gets arrested. Finally, a tone of fright and violence comes into play as a war begins between the Starks and Lannisters. For characters like Jon Snow and Daenerys, Agitation and looming danger encompassed their story.

Figurative Language Used in A Game of Thrones

‘A Game of Thrones’ utilizes figures of speech in its story to portray intensity and give an imaginative picture of the characters’ interaction with the story. Here are some of the figures of speech used in the story.

Metaphor

Throughout ‘A Game of Thrones’, there is a rich use of metaphors to define the characters’ emotions and events. The story uses direct comparisons to portray a mental picture of its characters and a mental image of an event that has come or is to come. An instance of the use of metaphor is Ser Gregor Clegane. The story compares him to a mountain, immovable and unstoppable. In the story, winter is a beast that comes for everyone regardless of their status or class; this adds anticipation and makes the reader understand the intensity of winter in the story.

Simile

From comparing death to a slow poison that makes one sink into the darkness to describing characters’ voices, there is a rich use of simile throughout ‘A Game of Thrones.’ In the novel, simile was the most predominant figurative language used. Instances of simile use throughout the story include when Gared compared the coldness of fire to the heat of flames and when he compares death to sinking. Also, when Ned kisses Cersei’s ring, it is compared to the embrace of a long-lost sister.

Irony

To better describe the intensity of inanimate objects, ‘A Game of Thrones’ uses irony. An example is how the cold gets compared to burning flames.

Personification 

‘A Game of Thrones’ uses inanimate elements by attaching humanity to them. The weirwood has the shape of a human hand, and the winter is a living beast that devours anyone not ready for it.

Hyperbole

Throughout the story, there is a rich use of hyperbole in adding flair to events and objects. The Dothraki hated the sea and referred to it as poison water; this made it appear as pure death to anyone who tried to travel across it.

Analysis of Symbols in A Game of Thrones

Ice

Ice is the name of Ned Stark’s sword. It got described as a blade with the width of a human head and sharpness like no other. The sword symbolizes judgment. When Gared deserts the Night’s Watch, Ned uses the sword to cut off his head, delivering justice in the name of his king, Robert Baratheon.

Direwolves

After beheading Gared, Ned and his sons were returning to Winterfell when they came across direwolves, a special breed of wolves that grew incredibly huge. The rarity of finding direwolves was so high that their appearance signified a bad omen.

Dragon Eggs

When Daenerys married Khal Drogo, she was gifted three dragon eggs by Magister Illyrio. Soon, Daenerys began noticing that the dragon eggs gave her power when she needed it, and when Khal Drogo dies, the eggs crack, and three dragons emerge. The dragon eggs represent a powerful force hibernating and waiting for the right moment to get unleashed.

Winter

Throughout the novel, a phrase dominates the lips of every northerner, ‘winter is coming.’ For Westeros, winter symbolizes suffering as it brings intense hardship to everyone, the rich and poor.

Longclaw

When Lord Mormont, commander of the Night’s Watch, takes in Jon Snow, he gives him Longclaw, a blade forged from Valyrian steel. Longclaw was a blade passed throughout Lord Mormont’s generation. It symbolizes family heritage and pride.

Horse

To the Dothraki, horses were sacred creatures that everyman needed. From their food to travel, the Dothraki used horses. They even worshipped the horse God and had rules that made a horse sacred to its owner.

Needle

Needle is the name Arya gives the thin sword Jon gifts her. The sword represents Arya in every way, thin as her stature and swift as her speed. When Jon gives her the sword, she immediately realizes it is perfect for her. She loved the blade and made it become a part of her.

Iron Throne

The Iron Throne is the throne on which the king of the seven kingdoms sits. It got created by Aegon the Conqueror, the first Targaryen king. Though it is uncomfortable to sit on, it is a seat that propagates power to anyone that sits on it.

Houses Sigil

Every ruling house of Westeros had a sigil they used. The House of Lannister used the lion, the House of Stark used the direwolf, and the Targaryens the dragon. Sigils described the characteristics of the houses of Westeros. It was a symbol of power and pride.

Silver

Silver is the name Daenerys gives to her horse after Khal Drogo gifts it to her. To Daenerys, Silver was an extension of her personality.

Trident River

The trident is an extensive network of rivers in Westeros. For the people, it is a crucial part of history because it was at the river that Robert Baratheon defeated Rhaegar Targaryen.

FAQs

Why does Robert Baratheon hate the Targaryens?

Robert Baratheon hates the Targaryens because he believes that the woman he loved, Lyanna, got raped by Rhaegar Targaryen, son of Aerys II. After Lyanna got kidnapped by Rhaegar, Robert led a rebellion against the Mad King, Aerys II. He successfully defeated the crowned prince and became King after Aerys II fell.

Are Jorah Mormont and Lord Mormont of the Night’s Watch related?

Jorah Mormont is the son of Lord Mormont of the Night’s Watch. Jorah abandoned Bear Island after dishonoring the House of Stark by trying to sell some poachers to a Tyroshi slaver. Though Jorah ran away, he left Longclaw, his family’s sword.

Is what happens at the end of Game of Thrones season 1 the same as the novel?

The last episode of Game of Thrones ended on a cliffhanger. Ned gets killed, and Robb gets declared the King of the North. Across the Narrow seas, Daenerys loses her husband Khal Drogo and walks into a fire with her dragon eggs. From the fire emerges three dragons.

Is A Game of Thrones better than Dune?

While George R. R. Martin used a streamlined limited prescient approach to disseminate his story, Frank Herbert used rich detailing to show the reader his intricately vast universe. ‘Dune’ and ‘A Game of Thrones’ are both marvelous works of literature, but Frank Herbert’s masterpiece edges out a bit against A Song of Ice and Fire.

A Game of Throne Themes and Analysis 📖
Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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