We are obsessed with loving and being loved but have we paused to think of what it asks from us? We will do anything to win the favour of our beloved, to protect them and care for them and make sure they never leave our sides. And if they show the slightest interest in another person, we break into a hundred pieces and do not know how to deal with the anxiety and hopelessness we feel. Jaime Lannister is wise and his words sum up love beautifully.
When in the throes of love, life is delightful. We are not tormented with questions like what the purpose of life is or whether it is worth living or even who we are.
In loving or being loved, existential angst is firmly pushed to the irrelevant. But what happens when this all-consuming feeling is either not reciprocated or stands at loggerheads with our life trajectory or our own wellbeing? What when love plays havoc in our lives…
Let’s take a look at what Jaime Lannister and the other heroes and heroines of Game of Thrones do, when they are madly in love…
Jaime Lannister and Cersei
“The things we do for love,” Jaime Lannister says this, as he pushes Bran down the tower window. Bran accidentally sees the incestuous brother-sister wrapped in passionate love-making. Cersei, in panic after being caught, implores her brother to do something and the ‘loving’ Jaime pushes the ten-year-old to his death to protect his love. Bran survives and in the subsequent seasons we see Jaime harbouring deep regret at his terrible act. Yet when the time again comes for Jaime Lannister to pick between the right side and his lover’s, who he knows to be in the wrong, he rushes to King’s Landing to be by her side. He chooses to die with her over being on the winning side with the noble Brienne of Tarth, who loves him dearly.
The call of love trumps wisdom and goodness, even survival. The scene where he envelopes his sister/lover Cersei as they wait under the crumbling rubble, though sad, is immensely moving and beautiful. In that moment, the incestuous nature of their relationship fades into the background and instead a raw glimpse of what love can do is highlighted.
Jaime Lannister is a good person, we see that through the seasons, yet he commits dreadful crimes. It is not that he understands his actions only in retrospect, he knows of his wrongdoings as he commits them. Despite this, he cannot help but follow Cersei’s bidding even as she leads him to their death. His love for Cersei compels him to do whatever she commands.
And so, he bids adieu to Brienne to join Cersei in what they both know to be a losing battle. As Brienne implores him to stay, reminding him that he is a good man, Jaime Lannister simply responds, “Cersei is hateful and so am I”.
Robb Stark And Talisa
And then there is Robb Stark, a good, wise man who unfortunately falls in love with the beautiful and kind battlefield healer Talisa. She loves him too with equal fervour but their love is in the way of his duty both as the Lord of Winterfell and as the son of Ned Stark. His mission is to rescue his father and later avenge what has been done to him. Robb is betrothed to a Frey daughter and the alliance was important for him to honour his vows.
Yet, against the wise counsel of his mother he ends up marrying Talisa in secret, leading to the Red Wedding. In the massacre the love-struck Robb loses not just his own life but he loses his wife, mother, countless soldiers and the entire cause.
His mother tells him he must marry the Frey daughter and can have Talisa at his side too, but Robb Stark wanted to do good by his love. Doing good by his love cost him his life…and that of many innocent others. The otherwise mature and responsible leader is somehow unable to fathom the consequences of this doomed love. Did his love for Talisa blind him to everything else?
Tormund and Brienneof Tarth
“I want to make babies with her [Brienne of Tarth]. Think of them… great big monsters. They’d conquer the world,” Tormund tells his friend the Hound.
Tormund’s idolatry love for Brienne, which he communicates, only through love-struck gazes is extremely sweet and refreshing. Though a little rough and dishevelled, we love the blue-eyed Tormund, we love his courage, his sense of righteousness and his adoration of the tall and otherwise not-so-feminine Brienne. And we love the Tormund brand of innocent love. As he arrives at Winterfell to fight the deadly White Walkers and everyone is gravely discussing the death that was eminent, he asks, “The big woman still here?” Even after fighting valiantly and playing his part in the defeat of the undefeatable, he does not confess his love but simply follows her around with his lovesick eyes.
We want Brienne to return Tormund’s love. She doesn’t. In the celebratory dinner, after the White Walker’s defeat, Brienne opens her room door to Jaime. Heartbroken, Tormund leaves Winterfell because he says that Winterfell has nothing for him anymore.
Tormund, the brave chieftain of the Free Folk, the happy, smiling Wildling ever ready to fight for a cause is seen broken and sad because his heart was set upon a woman he could not get.
Ironically Brienne who loves Jaime with all her heart is left alone too as Jaime rushes to his sister and lover Cersei and prefers death with her than life with Brienne. The scene ends with the strong, noble and upright Brienne sobbing for her love Jaime as he rides away to protect his love.
The line, the things we do for love fascinates me but what intrigues me even more is what love does to us.