|World of Westeros - People|
|Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:35|
3rd Level (Noble 3) - Deceased
Lord Renly stifled his laughter ... He bowed to Joffrey. “Perchance later you can tell me how a nine-year-old girl the size of a wet rat managed to disarm you with a broom handle and throw your sword in the river.” As the door swung shut behind him, Ned heard him say, “Lion’s Tooth,” and guffaw once more.
Master of the pouty lip and petulant squeal, Joffrey is a magnificent example of why close relatives shouldn’t marry. Prince Joffrey Baratheon, heir to the throne of Westeros, has the dubious honour of being the most lied-about child in the Seven Kingdoms. All accept that Joffrey is the son of King Robert Baratheon, when in fact, he is the child of Cersei and Jaime Lannister. Joffrey is always decked in the finest regalia, and his tall figure, tumbling yellow curls, and cat-green eyes create a dazzling display of princely perfection. An acute observer might notice the blubbery, over-sensual lips, the sneering expression, and the deeply infantile observations even Cersei can’t prevent. Ten minutes of Joffrey’s posturing is generally enough to convince anyone that something has gone sadly amiss with his tuition or his bloodline.
It is ironic that incest, the abomination thought to have ruined House Targaryen, also threatens the House of their usurper, but inbreeding alone cannot quite explain Joffrey’s excessive cruelty and hysterical despotism. A weak mind can be disciplined, but his uncle Tyrion is the only one to make the attempt, earning the boy’s enmity for his pains. Everyone else just ignores Joffrey’s obvious weaknesses, leaving him to Cersei’s training.
Joffrey has always been Cersei’s passport to power, and her thoughts bend solely towards putting him on the throne. A strong-minded, well-disciplined son would ensure House of Lannister’s ascendancy, but a strong-minded, well-disciplined son would not need her. Cersei may be blind to her son’s faults, but presumably expects him to be a good ruler because she will always be at his side, guiding him to all the right decisions. Sadly, Cersei cannot see her own faults, and does not realise she has little clue how to rule; to that end, Joffrey is taught nothing beyond the seeming of royalty.
Joffrey has a taste for power plays, however, provided he can abuse others with no fear of retaliation. The matter of “Lion’s Tooth” and the butcher’s boy is a case in point. On the day of his picnic with Sansa Stark, Joffrey wants to show off his fine new sword, “Lion’s Tooth.” He spots Mycah the butcher’s boy armed with a wooden stick and decides that the peasant will make an easy opponent. Mycah runs while Arya and her wolf convert Joffrey from lion into loser. Huddled on the ground and whimpering with terror, Joffrey’s humiliation is abject and complete.
At this point, Joffrey is revealed as the creature he really is: cruel, cowardly, and utterly unstable. Facing a nine-year-old girl, Joffrey spits obscenities and demonstrates neither the courage to fight his equals nor the skill to defeat his inferiors. His fury at Sansa is based not only on her relation to Arya but also on her inadvertent glimpse of the truth behind his princely facade. He hates her for having seen the truth of him. Some might think that Sansa’s puppydog devotion and readiness to hedge around reality for Joffrey might make him feel affection for her. In truth, however, their relationship develops in an even less healthy direction.
By making herself complicit in the maintenance of Joffrey’s false persona, Sansa becomes the one person he can reveal himself to without restraint. After her father’s downfall, she becomes the perfect victim for his need to bully. His feelings for her are a strange hotchpotch of ill-defined lust, sadism, and the demand for love. Joffrey describes Cersei and all women as “weak,” even as he knows it is not true. Faced with danger, his mother is the most powerful threat he can offer the world. He needs the idea of someone less than himself, though, whose job is to love him, come what may. Over-riding all this is the realisation that somewhere in Sansa’s pretty head lies the memory of his humiliation, and their relationship becomes a permanent reiteration of one point. He was not powerful enough to hurt her sister, but he is powerful enough to hurt her over and over again.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Joffrey never does it himself. His deep desire to inflict pain runs counter to his fear of getting hurt in return. After his ascent to the throne, knights who take their vows seriously are removed, such as Ser Barristan Selmy — whose dismissal comes ostensibly because he failed to save Robert’s life. The real reason is that Joffrey wants the kind of Kingsguard who will punch an 11-year-old girl for his stimulation. The new men around him fit the bill. They even do what the Hound never does: they flatter Joffrey.
Joffrey is not hard to manipulate, if flattered and given the chance to enjoy bloodshed from a safe vantage point. He is surrounded by those who know how to use him, and is completely dependent on others to do his thinking. He has no real understanding of the game of thrones. All that matters to Joffrey is that he wins, whatever the cost.
|Last Updated on Friday, 15 April 2011 20:42|