Jaime, pre loss of hand (misogynist)
‘Jaime’s blood was singing. This is what he was meant for; he never felt so alive as when he was fighting, with death balanced on every stroke.’
We are introduced to Jaime, the funny, charming charismatic twit. The misogynist, the epitome of toxic masculinity who has never felt the need for self-development because he is a Lannister, he is rich, beautiful, strong, brave; he feels immortal. From the outset, there is foreshadowing that Jaime is likely to die, however, in earlier chapters, he does not fear death because it genuinely hasn’t occurred to him as a possibility: ‘’The best we can hope for is to die with swords in our hands.’ He was perfectly sincere. Jaime Lannister had never been afraid of death.’ This shifts, however, after Jaime is captured and he gains some home truths: ‘He does not fear me, Jaime realised, with a chill’. ‘Jaime was not ready to die yet, and certainly not for the likes of Brienne of Tarth’. I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, that GRRM Martin loves to break his characters down, shift their reality, and let them build themselves back with what’s left. Jaime is one of the most prominent examples of this, and it creates such a rewarding, rich, interesting reading experience. I cannot deny the power of a redemption arc.
‘Jaime had decided that he would return Sansa, and the younger girl as well if she could be found.’ It was not like to win him back his lost honour, but the notion of keeping faith when they all expected betrayal amused him more than he could say.’
Honour is a huge theme in Jaime’s arc- honestly, who isn’t honour obsessed in this world- and Jaime is fuelled by pure hatred for being misunderstood. He has such a guard up, that even his inner monologue is jokey and sarcastic, a lack of self-esteem juxtaposed with him literally being in love with himself. I say that, but it’s less so low self-esteem, and more anger that nobody else believes he’s as amazing as he deems himself to be. Jaime hides what he truly wants from everyone, including himself, and it’s because he thinks it’s lost to him- a chance for honour, respect, thanks or at least understanding.
Jaime, post loss of hand and family dynamics
‘The hand that made me Kingslayer. The goat had robbed him of his glory and his shame, both at once. Leaving what? Who am I now?’
This is a family in need of a therapy session. Honestly, a Freudian dream. We have a classic case of abusive, toxic father with ideals that the children can never live up to yet will die trying to despite hating the man. This combined with the loss of the mother who was the only one who could calm this man and provide a loving, nurturing upbringing. Some deep attachment issues and a co-dependent family system. Throw into that, some fantasy, fictional incest and a prophecy proclaiming one child to be murdered by the hands of a sibling, and we have a charming, loving dynamic.
Jaime clearly loves Tyrion and had a lot of admiration for him and the ways in which he uses his intelligence and resources. This is particularly important to Jaime post hand incident, as he is learning who he is and how to navigate the world without the only skills he believed himself to hold:
‘Tyrion could think of something clever now, but all that occurs to me is to go at them with a sword.’
Jaime has no independence from his family and all of his experiences *side eye* have been with his family or in service to them. His relationship with Tyrion- before the death of Joffrey- is probably the least toxic and complex one he has, despite the horror of the Tysha incident (I’ll wait for Tyrion’s POV for that). Her relationship with Tywin is another matter altogether. He is driven to almost despair trying to please him and live up to his needs, whilst simultaneously defying him. Tywin’s treatment of Tyrion is horrifying, and Jaime has to fill in the gaps as the ‘perfect son’. He is the lesser of two disappointments in Tywin’s eyes, until the loss of Jaime’s hand and the accompanying stress and identity crisis leads him to break any bridges they had:
‘And now you have a cripple for a son as well as a dwarf, my lord. How you will hate that.’
Jaime finally stands up to Tywin, refusing to marry, refusing to return to Casterly Rock. ‘You are not my son.’ Lord Tywin turned his face away.’ This last interaction before Tywin’s death is essential for Jaimes’ development, yet greatly impacts his self-worth: ‘I am a stranger in my own House. His son was dead, his father had disowned him, and his sister… she had not allowed him to be alone with her once’. Jaime internalises this dismissal and shows imposter syndrome in his role as lord commander: ‘How could the Kingslayer belong in such exalted company?’ ‘They feared the man I was; the man I am, they’d pity’.
It’s the absolute bear minimum that should be expected, but Jaime has grown reflective, and finally considers past acts: ‘I’m not ashamed of loving you, only of the things I’ve done to hide it. That boy at Wintefell…’ This is the first time that he has really taken responsibility for his own actions, rather than dismissing them as necessary for Cersei. I also greatly enjoyed Margaery and Loras giving Jaime and Cersei a simultaneous identity crisis, a mirror image of what they used to be, and a reminder of their aging and losses. We are yet to gain Cersei’s POV, but the Tyrells serve to show is Jaime’s self-awareness: ‘This is too absurd. Tyrion would mock me unmercifully if he could hear me now, comparing c***s with this green boy’. ‘He’s me, Jaime realised suddenly. I am speaking to myself as I was, all cocksure arrogance and empty chivalry. This is what it does to you, to be too good too young’. Self-awareness and Cersei’s lack of is what separates the pair, accounting for Jaime’s character development and Cersei’s downfall.
Jaime’s relationship with Cersei
He tries to deny it, or avoid thinking about it, but it is clear from the offset that Jaime doubts that Cersei loves him as much as he does her. Jaime sees them as almost a traditional married couple and is very loyal to Cersei (for the sake of this paragraph, I basically have to ignore the incest. It’s too creepy and gets in the way of what I’m trying to say, as I am writing from his POV after all. Please just know that they give me the creeps):
‘Cersei was the only women he had ever wanted.’ ‘He could never long bear to be apart from this twin.’
Rather horrifyingly, Jaime doesn’t stray from referring to Cersei as his sibling when he is talking about her as a lover. The fact that they are twins are so similar to one another is almost ingrained in their sexual relationship and appears to be what they like about each other. It’s fair to say being brought up around Targaryen’s, in a family as dysfunctional as the Lannister’s has given Jaime some curious (dodgy) values. He has no shame surrounding their incest and no concern or fear regarding the prospect of others finding out: ‘Why shouldn’t I marry Cersei openly and share her bed every night? The dragons always married their sisters.’
Cersei is absolutely everything to Jaime, and he is consistently thinking about her during captivity and his journey to Kings landing. This fact is the first downfall of their relationship- he is devoted to Cersei to an insane level, whilst she loves her children above all else. In fact, he sees the children- his children- only as a burden, a barrier to Cersei (Freud would love this man). When Jaime hears of Joffrey’s death, he is objective in that Joffrey was a bad person. He considered Joffrey to be Robert’s concern and responsibility, reflecting that Cersei kept them separate. He has no grief for the loss of Joffrey (who does, honestly):
‘Men were supposed to go mad with grief when their children died, he knew. So why was it that he felt so little?’ ‘Perhaps he was the monster they claimed. If the Father above came down to offer him back his son or hand, Jaime knew which he would choose’.
Joffrey’s murder, and Jaime’s hand are the catalyst for an irreparable rift between Jaime and Cersei. Jaime knows that Cersei’s love is transactional and manipulative, and it makes him deeply sad. He does, however, accept it and allow himself to be manipulated. When he returns to Kingslanding and observes her reaction, he can’t deny it: ‘She has never come to me, he thought. She has always waited, letting me come to her. She gives, but I must ask’. Cersei immediately wants something from Jaime, and it is something that even he will not give- to kill Tyrion. He refuses her for the first time: ‘He is still my brother’. I’ll save my valonqar theories for part two (basically because I haven’t read Cersei’s POV and have forgotten most of it haha), but this refusal marks Jaime as finished for Cersei. She realised she can’t manipulate him as well as she has, and she realises that he can’t or won’t save her from her Tyrion. instead, she goads him: ‘Oh, an angry cripple, how terrifying.’ She laughed. ‘A pity Lord Tywin Lannister never had a son. I could have been the heir he wanted, but I lacked the c**k.’
In turn, Jaime realises that he has never had Cersei as unconditionally as he hoped. He proposes to her ‘I’m sick of being careful. The Targaryen’s wed brother to sister, why shouldn’t we do the same? Marry me, Cersei. We’ll have our own wedding feast, and make another son in place of Joffrey’, and her response shows him what’s he’s feared- while she is his world, he is second or third in hers to her children and her desire to rule. She won’t sacrifice for him or their relationship. ‘Cersei recoiled from his stump. ‘You’re scaring me, Jaime. Don’t be stupid. One wrong word and you’ll cost us everything. What did they do to you?’ ‘No, it’s more, you’re changed’.
This shatters Jaime yet he has done what he feared and stood up to her. He has lost her but gained independence, a freedom from his family and the beginnings of a future. He begins to consider the impact that she has had on him and his image, and acknowledges her impulsive nature:
‘The goat’s evened the trade, though I doubt Lady Catelyn will thank him when Cersei returns her whelps in like condition. The thought made him grimace. I will get the blame for that as well, I’ll wager.’
Jaime is now left with fewer ties, and is struggling with his identity, but it beginning to gain a purpose and moral compass, changes in which I believe Brienne has played a significant role.
Jaime’s relationship with Brienne
‘Guards’, he heard the wench shout, ‘The Kingslayer!’. ‘Jaime, he thought. My name is Jaime’.
A name is very significant thing in ASOIAF and is used as a device to show us what Jaime and Brienne are to each other. Brienne begins her story with Jaime where we do, lovely toxic, immortal Jaime. Their first interaction signifies the lack of respect from each party: ‘You will call me Brienne, not wench.’ ‘My name is Ser Jaime, not Kingslayer.’
Brienne is so incredibly necessary for Jaime’s ego. She is not his family and will not pander to him. She has no respect for him, apart from a secret begrudging regard for his talents as a warrior. She is another subversion in ASOIAF to the white knight trope and has such honour that even Jaime cannot maintain his façade, as he starts to break down his own horrendous misogynistic thinking (slowly). His act to protect her by lying about his sapphire fortune is one that should come naturally, but is for Jaime, one of the first selfless acts, or at least one of the only acts that he makes for another with no personal gain:
‘That’s a pig-stubborn b***h, he thought. But brave, yes. He could not take that from her.’
He is truly horrendous at first, and cannot resist goading and bullying, cannot get passed his own misconceptions of gender. He does, however, concede over time.
‘No wonder Renly died, with you guarding him.’ ‘That was unworthy’, he murmured. I’m a maimed man, and bitter. Forgive me, wench. You protected me as well as any man could have, and better than most.’
I want to mention here, that when I first read these books aged 16/17, this ‘ship’ got me, I cannot deny. It’s unfair that the most loathsome of characters attract such love from readers just for a redemption arc, but, so long as it’s a FICTIONAL trope, it gets me. I do love a charismatic, trauma troubled villain with a redemption arc *cough* Jaime and the hound *cough*. As long as it’s fiction, I think we need a lil bit of fun in our reading, and the dynamic that an opposite pairing begrudgingly coming to respect one another gives us it. I think Jaime genuinely believes that everyone is like his family, and has not met someone as decent, kind-hearted and gentle as Brienne. His inner thoughts often indicate his shock at how innocent and honourable Brienne really is. This affects him to the extent that he returns white knight style to save her from the bear.
‘Have we come to late? His stomach did a lurch’. ‘You want her? Go get her.’ So he did’.
Again, Jaime is not a hero. This is the bear (sorry) MINIMUM that a person should do for another person in a situation like this. I do, however, LOVE this scene, especially the way GRRM plays up and subverts tropes and stories, particularly that of a ‘true knight’ and a prince charming. Beauty and the beast is his most frequent parallel, with Snow White thrown in there for Cersei.
‘Her name is Brienne’, Jaime said. ‘Brienne , the made of Tarth. You are still maiden, I hope?’ Her broad homely face turned red. ‘Yes’. ‘Oh, good’, Jaime said. ‘I only rescue maidens’ ‘Ser Jaime…I am grateful, but you were well away. Why come back?’ A dozen quips came to mind, each crueller than the one before, but Jaime only shrugged. ‘I dreamed of you’, he said.’
Sansa’s journey with the hound and other knight figures also plays into the subversion of this trope, as she is currently breaking down her own ideals and the stereotype of a ‘gentle lady’. Cersei has altered Sansa’s perception of a queen, and Jaime a beautiful, strong warrior who just happens to be involved in some incest and have thrown her brother out a window. It will be so interesting to hopefully see a Jaime/Brienne/Sansa dynamic in some capacity, particularly as the Starks are often part of Jaime’s thoughts. Jaime has never forgiven Ned for his judgment, for looking down on him and being a better, more honourable person than he is. For Sansa to play a part in Jaime’s own redemption and quest for honour would be beautiful storytelling.
Can’t lie, I didn’t take took much of Jaime’s dreams in and can’t be bothered to now- there will be sooo many amazing analyses of them online already- but what I did take, is that Jaime’s subconscious is telling him that Cersei can’t help him become who he wants to, and Brienne is the one who can. She represents future and light (in whatever capacity). From this point, Jaime begins to unwittingly compare Cersei to Brienne. Their bond becomes deeper, and it is to Brienne that Jaime finally confesses the weight of his trauma, anger and resentment regarding killing Aerys (albeit triggered by extreme pain, fever and rage):
‘Why is it that no one names Robert oath breaker? He tore the realm apart, yet I am the one with s**t for honour.’ (Jaime) ‘Robert did all he did for love.’ (Brienne).
‘The man who has cooked Lord Rickard Stark in his own armour. And all the time, I stood by the foot of the iron throne in my white plate, still as a corpse, guarding my liege and all his sweet secrets.’ ‘Bring me your father’s head, if you are no traitor’.
From this point, whether they meant it or not, whether they’re conscious of it, Jaime and Brienne have become important to each other, and their relationship has shifted to one of respect, even if they still judge one other before listening. Jaime is very hurt in later instances where Brienne jumps to conclusions and misunderstands him, as is she. When they reach Kingslanding, for example, Jaime has Brienne arrested to save her for potential death at the hands of Loras Tyrell.
‘Brienne’s big eyes were full of hurt as Balon Swann and a dozen gold cloaks sent her away. You ought to be blowing me kisses, wench. Why must they misunderstand every bloody thing he did? Aerys. It all grows from Aerys.’
He continues to think of Brienne after he is free and around Cersei, wanting to confide in her and hear her opinions. He has accidently come to depend on her to be around. He manages to use his knowledge and understanding of Loras’ character to convince him to free Brienne- a move more characteristic of Tyrion, and one that marks the shift in Jaime. Following his dismissal from Tywin and Cersei, Jaime feels free to act and gives Brienne her quest. They are awkward and both uncomfortable in friendships, but they are trying:
‘Blue is a good colour on you, my lady’, Jaime observed. ‘It goes well with your eyes.’ She does have astonishing eyes’.
Brienne glanced down at herself, flustered (she’s in looooove. Or infatuation.) ‘The white cloak…’ ‘is new, but I’m sure I’ll soil it soon enough.’ ‘That wasn’t…I was about to say that it becomes you.’
We finally have names. And Jaime focusing on Brienne’s eyes, which has become a metaphor of his shift from misogyny to respect. After all, GRRM can be cheesy, and would definitely subscribe to the eyes as the window to the soul. We also have an incredible shift from Jaime. He betrays Tywin and his house spectacularly by telling Brienne that Ramsey is marrying fake Arya. He is committed to his desire to aid the Starks- for his own honour and in defiance of his father. They characteristically misunderstand one another and bicker, but leave one another in an exciting alliance:
‘Both of us swore oaths concerning Sansa Stark. Cersei means to see that the girl is found and killed, wherever she has gone to ground…’ (Jaime)
‘If you ever believe that I would harm my lady’s daughter for a sword, you-‘ (Brienne)
‘Just listen’ he snapped, angered by her assumption. ‘I want you to find Sansa first and get her somewhere safe’. He gives Brienne what remains of ice, in the form of Oathkeeper. ‘So, you’ll be defending Ned Stark’s daughter with Ned Stark’s own steel, if that makes any difference to you’.
Jaime has managed to achieve Brienne’s respect, something greatly important to him (not that he’d necessarily admit it) and has managed to do something he wanted to do, independent of the wants, needs or expectations of his family. He is growing…