As we prepare for the eighth and final season of the fantasy epic Game of Thrones, we explore how important the theme of motherhood is to some of the show’s most important and recognisable female characters. Whilst the show may now be filled with ice zombies and gigantic flying dragons, it has always been the show’s representations of common personal themes that have driven the motives of some of its key characters.
This now stone-faced alcoholic Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) was once warmer in the presence of her teenage children. It was even said by younger brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) that the love she had for her children was one of her few redeeming qualities (that and her impressive cheek bones). Cersei has always been a character occupied by the preservation of her family, their well-being and their power. Whilst often bitter and rude to many others, Cersei was often her warmest and perhaps most relatable when in the presence of her children or attempting to protect them. With the subsequent horrific deaths and murders of her father and all three of her children over the last seven seasons, it comes as no surprise that a now pregnant Cersei’s main objective in the final season is to hold onto the throne not only for herself but her future child.
Motherhood is a complex theme when associated with one Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). From her supposed infertility to the birth of her three dragons, Dany’s relationship with both her living and deceased offspring, as well as being seen as a mother-figure by many have been important driving forces in her journey. She didn’t receive the titles of ‘Mother of Dragons’ or ‘Mhysa’ for nothing after all. However, motherhood has a more important influence over Daenerys’ character, such as the formation of her incredibly strong bond with her dragons. This sees her deliberately placing herself in dangerous situations, such as walking into rescue them from the House of the Undying, and opening herself up to emotionally devastating consequences, as she later mourns the death of one of them. This theme may also place her in more complicated situations next season as she may have to handle her heavily-implied pregnancy, and the reincarnated corpse of her dragon child Viserion being used as a weapon against her.
Probably one of the most notable characters associated with motherhood is none other than Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). The mother-of-five openly expressed her love and devotion to all of her children over the course of her three seasons in the show. From weeping over Bran’s comatose state to sending Brienne to protect her daughters. It is undisputed that Catelyn loved her children, and that emotion came across perhaps more overtly than from any other mother on the show. However, it was this love for her children which ultimately led to a downfall, arranging a marriage alliance with one of Walder Frey’s daughters, which led to the infamous Red Wedding and the brutal murder of herself and her eldest child Robb (Richard Madden).
As a young wildling girl who was raped by her own father, Gilly (Hannah Murray) has always been determined to protect her young son, Little Sam. From escaping the dire fate of Craster’s sons being handed over to the white walkers as offerings, Gilly has always fiercely protected her boy, now ensuring he is safe from the upcoming Battle of Winterfell by hiding in the castle’s crypts.
Whilst often brutally honest and sharp-tongued, the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) adored her grandchildren Margery and Loras. From defending them against both Tywin and Cersei Lannister’s cruel words and insinuations, Olenna often showed great concern and care of her adult grandchildren. Unfortunately, this was not enough for her to save them from captivity by the Faith militant or prevent their untimely deaths when Cersei blew up the Sept.
The world of Game of Thrones is one that is undeniably difficult for women. That’s why Ellaria (Indira Varma) decided to train her own and Oberyn’s three bastard daughters to defend themselves with combat skills. Whilst the show was criticised for the use of the Sandsnakes, credit must be given where credit is due. Ellaria understood the hardships women faced and intended to prepare her girls for violent circumstances. She now however faces the horrific torment of her daughter Tyene slowly perishing due to poisoning by Cersei Lannister.
Once shrouded in mystery Lyanna’s (Aisling Franciosi) death was co-opted by Robert Baratheon to lead a campaign against the Targaryens. Of course viewers know the truth that the young Stark sister died bringing none other than Jon Snow (Kit Harington) into the world. Whilst she may have shortly died as a result of childbirth, Lyanna ensured that her son would be protected by his uncle and that the heir to the Iron Throne survived his infancy.