Purpose finding in Game of Thrones
GoT characters don’t dangle around thinking what do they want in life — they have defined paths. It’s normal in a TV show, but not the case in real life. Theon’s confession scene in the last episode shows a contrasting and relatable story: a life purpose being lost and then found.
From a Theon’s point of view, people of his social level are becoming the saviors of the world, while he flushes his life down the loo. He is the wrong guy among the right guys, one bothered with questions like “Who I am?”, “What am I for?”, when everyone seems to have it figured out. And that’s damn resonating.
So how do they all know what is The Right Thing To Do?
The characters’ goals look like you could attach them to the fridge:
- “I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and I will”
- “I want to establish control over the whole continent and every person on it”
- “Me on the Iron Throne and you by my side”
But they didn’t come as an epiphany nor as a result of a life-coaching session. They emerge from vague dreams as characters get more (and very) confident in their journey.
Goals are rooted in what characters believe they are and what they deserve. To understand it, they use family brands and role models (Daenerys, Cersei) or rely on personal ambitions just as huge (Littlefinger).
Victor Frankl wrote that human beings are transcendent by their nature. That we are born to strive for something greater than our own selves. We are the arrows to be fired, cups to be filled, armor to protect, and we are whole only when we do so.
As goals are directed internally, always have “me” inside, values are something that you want for others. You rule the Seven Kingdoms, what then? Some have an agenda — end the slavery, save the children, make the world a better place. Some don’t. Values and goals can get in a conflict, as a Jon Snow’s battle between honor and his mission objective.
Values emerge out of suffering, deep emotional experiences, profound relationships. Characters don’t consciously choose what to stand for, they choose if they stand for it or not. Choices differ:
3. Something else
This category of purpose means being possessed by something bigger than you, makes you unable to walk out. In the show it’s magic, gods, miracles, oaths, and prophecies. In real life, these are addictions, inspiration, passions, duties.
We see characters growing into their purposes gradually. Theon was the only one who needed a life-coaching session. His storyline was so spoiled, full of trauma, disgrace, and regret that it begged for an end. I couldn’t imagine there was a way to make it beautiful.
Looks like finding something to live for makes literally every story beautiful. That’s good to know, isn’t it?