Monday, September 28, 2015

What Is the Nature of Prophecy in ASOIAF?

From Azor Ahai to the Valonqar, prophecy plays a mighty role in A Song of Ice and Fire. There are also many levels of prophecies in the series -- from ancient prophecies to "dream-like" states where characters envision the present, past, or future.
Maggy the Frog (Maggy the Witch). Image: HBO. I do not own this image.
For this post, I am going to focus on the concept of prophecy in ASOIAF in two specific ways: the nature of truth in relation to prophecy, and the fulfillment of prophecies.

1. The grand fulfillment of a prophecy is not equated to prophetic truth.

What does this mean? Basically, a literal fulfillment of a given prophecy does not have to take place to make the prophecy itself "true" or "accurate."

Prophecies can come true in many different ways, and the most common fulfillment of a prophecy is neither very flashy nor very literal. George R. R. Martin has stated many times that he wants to avoid literal prophetic fulfillments. So, the literal translations many characters give to the presence of the Red Comet (ushering in Azor Ahai) or Daenerys's dragons (she will regain the dragon throne and IS Azor Ahai) could be intentionally misleading or "red herrings."

2. Prophecy always seems to fulfill itself.

The mere presence of a prophecy seems to usher in its fulfillment in the ASOIAF world. Take Maggy the Frog's prophecy and its long-term effect on Cersei Lannister.

Because Cersei learns to fear "the valonqar" (which is High Valyrian for "little brother"), she is intentionally cruel and vile towards her younger sibling, Tyrion. However, her mistreatment of Tyrion is the actual reason he wants to kill her and all that she holds dear.

She is so hung up on mistreating/fearing Tyrion that she completely overlooks her other brother, Jaime. Though Jaime is Cersei's twin, he is also technically her "little brother" because Cersei was born first.

Everything Cersei does to destroy Tyrion only causes him to hate her all the more, thus propelling the likelihood that her "valonqar" will cause her death, i.e. her fear of the prophecy causes the prophecy to become self-fulfilled.

(Personally, I think the valonqar is going to be Arya with the FACE of Tyrion. Just a thought :) )

Want to a full list of all of the prophecies in A Song of Ice and Fire? Click here.

What are your thoughts on prophecy in A Song of Ice and Fire? Share them below :)

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