Legacy and Loyalty: An Application of Machiavellian Politics to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire

Date
2019
Authors
McCormack, Gordon
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Abstract

This thesis analyzes George R.R. Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire through the lens of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince, relating the treatise's amoral political philosophy to the kings and queens of fictional Westeros. I particularly argue that, while Martin's cynical series advocates many of The Prince's practical and pragmatic tenets, the author disagrees with the famous assertion that a ruler is safer feared rather than loved. Martin applies the politics espoused within The Prince to a multigenerational view and reveals the instability of rulership built upon fear, showcasing conversely the strength of a subordinate's loyalty when garnered by love. I provide a brief historical background of both The Prince and A Song of Ice and Fire and showcase the similar contexts in which the works were written, before analyzing in-depth the politics and ideologies of several of Martin's fictional rulers and exploring his theme of political legacy.

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Keywords
Machiavelli., A Song of Ice and Fire., George R.R. Martin., Game of Thrones., Machiavellian politics., Fantasy., Political philosophy., Real politik., Political legacy., Political theory., Tywin Lannister., Eddard Stark.
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