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Traces of Hope in Game of Thrones

The world of Game of Thrones is a bleak, cold, dark arena. Most likeable characters are killed off too quickly and the ones that have cruelty in their veins seem to keep death at arm’s length. As a fan of this series, I do wonder why this world is so compelling to watch.

Elizabeth Oldfield in her BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day, remarks on Game of Thrones:

“One of the reviews this week identified the source of my discomfort. It asked, not whether viewers can cope with the levels of sex and violence (they clearly can) but “will fifty hours in a world without hope prove too much for many to bear?””

The world of Game of Thrones can often feel hopeless. There are no Disney style endings to satisfy us. After most episodes its easy to feel discomfort and sadness.

But yet we are compelled to watch it.

And I think the reason why is because the world it is set in, is far from the stories that we are used to. Being surrounded by Disney, Lord of the Rings and super hero stories, we have been spoilt with worlds of redemption, hope, justice and good winning in the end. That is not so in Game of Thrones.

Instead the writers leave us with mere traces of the story we desire. I don’t believe it’s a world completely without hope. There are crumbs of hope, resolution and justice – but it feels thin in places. And so we keep searching, maybe in vain, unable to imagine a world with so little hope.

gameofthronesThis bleakness offered to us, doesn’t and shouldn’t, sit right in our hearts. It doesn’t quite reflect our world or our personal stories. And so we cling to the thin thread of hope that is there, we cling to the goodness of Jon Snow and Hodor. We yearn for justice to be taken out on Ramsay and feel satisfied when Joffrey starts choking…

But in the end, I fear we will be left wanting. Our hearts hope for a resolution, an ending where wrongs will be righted, justice will be served and love will win out.

However the trajectory of Game of Thrones makes me wonder whether it would be foolish to believe this will ever happen, that actually when the last book is written and the last episode is aired we will be left alone with a heavy heart, feeling unsatisfied and cold. I don’t think we will feel much resolution at all but instead, bitter disappointment. Not because it’s a bad story but because it’s set in a world that makes our hearts ache and there is no hero to fix it.

I think Elizabeth Oldfield sums it up by saying we want:

“An ending in which, if we want it, what is broken can be made new and what is wounded can be healed.”

Our hearts desire brokenness to be mended, justice to be served rightly. We want those who are hurting to be healed and comforted. We don’t want to live in a world of darkness, hate and brokenness without any hope of redemption. Our hearts desire healing.

We want a hero, a saviour, a rescuer but each time one rises, they fall down pretty quickly. Maybe Daenerys Targaryen will be the one? Or Jon Snow? But I fear, we are being led up a path that will not satisfy us.

Yet despite knowing this, I will continue to watch the series and pursue the thin thread of hope that is weaved into the story. I rejoice when justice is done and someone is rescued. I will weep when hope is dashed and they kill off another character I like! 

But overall, I am reminded that the real world I live in is not without hope or a hero and that in the end brokenness will be mended and wounds will be healed. What a relief to know!

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