American Puritans & Game of Thrones

Are there Puritans in Game of Thrones?

Cersei Lannister’s Walk of Shame on HBO’s The Game of Thrones via ladygeekgirl

George R. R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire (1996-) has been adapted by HBO to the television series widely known as The Game of Thrones (2011-). Martin’s world-building in the series includes several competing religious groups that worship either “The Seven” in the Faith of the Seven, The Lord of Light, the Drowned God, the Many-Faced God, or the Gods of the Forest. When writing the series, Martin drew from The War of the Roses, but is there also a historical basis for these competing religions? Which resembles the Protestant faith that the Puritans descended from? Who displays a religious zeal or shares a similar fate in the series comparable to that of the Puritans? Your group will have to do some research and let us know in a collectively written and formatted blog post.

Melisandre, or “The Red Woman” (image via space)

Ask yourself some questions. If you’re choosing to compare a Puritan minister to someone like Melisandre, who serves the Lord of Light and publicly burns the Seven as well as Stannis Baratheon’s daughter in a ritual sacrifice, you might ask yourself if she is, in fact, a witch and if this complicates your comparison. If you’re choosing to compare the Puritans to the Greyjoy House, you might interrogate the meaning of “what is dead may never die” from their baptism ritual for the Drowned God. If you’re considering studying the Gods of the Forest, you might want to also consider whether the Puritans compare to the First Men and if Native Americans compare to the Children of the Forest.

The Children of the Forest (image via hdqwalls)

Whichever you choose, you must offer three points of comparison between the Puritans and the worshipers of your choice from The Game of Thrones, using evidence from our readings (Rowlandson, Mather, Winthrop, Wigglesworth, Bradstreet, Taylor, or Edwards) as well as evidence from Martin’s book series or the HBO television series The Game of Thrones (GoT). Remember that the Puritans were Calvinists and you may need to do outside research to fully understand where Calvinism came from, how it differed from Catholicism or Lutheranism, and what its common practices entailed. You may also need to do some research into The War of the Roses and Martin’s book series (remember to be clear whether you are referring to the books or the show because there are very important differences).

John Calvin (image via wikipedia)

For group work, I highly recommend you divvy up the research, the writing, the editing, and the posting responsibilities. Designate who will research what, who will write the introduction and hook for the blog post, who will write each example, and who will conclude the post (perhaps with a discussion question). Designate who will compile all the content, who will add hyperlinks, photos and tags, and who will edit the final draft. Think about how to divvy up commenting and twitter sharing responsibilities. Remember to check the blog post checklist before you publish!

Finally, consider what kind of tone you want your blog post to have and who your audience is–is this for just the class or for a modern, GoT-viewing audience?  Remember the photo at the top of this post (and this really great resource it came from). Ladygeekgirl writes for a modern audience, an audience that would interpret Cersei Lannister’s Walk of Shame as very clear, public, and brutal “slut-shaming.” As ladygeekgirl warns, parts of GoT can be triggering for rape culture and misogyny, so be aware of this as you yourself do research for your group and as you write for a modern audience. Sometimes not acknowledging how a modern audience will read or view the material can lead one into trouble. So if you get the sense that there’s an elephant in the room (many parts of the Puritan texts and GoT are extremely violent–think of how many times we read “knocked on the head” just in the first paragraph of Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative), ask yourself how you would read this in a present-day context and try to address it in your post.

Featured Photo via obsid


3 thoughts on “Are there Puritans in Game of Thrones?

  1. Reblogged this on Christina Katopodis and commented:

    This next week in my American Literature: Origins to the Civil War class will feature a group work project in which students (now formed into 7 groups) will compile research on the American Puritans and compare one religion from Game of Thrones to American Puritanism…


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