Stannis Baratheon: Macbeth Revisited

Shakespeare of Thrones

It’s no surprise to find Macbeth‘s influence in A Song of Ice and Fire; both stories are steeped in political desire, fringed with the supernatural, and pulsating with an undercurrent of psychological torment.  But why present Stannis Baratheon, the most just and duty-driven of all characters, as a parallel to the greedy and ambitious Macbeth?

If for no other reason, to do what George R. R. Martin does best–smash up the literary tropes and make them his own. With a “justice” tweak in the Macbeth narrative, Martin has a conversation with Shakespeare and his readers, challenging them to a new question: if horrible deeds are committed in the name of duty and justice, does that relieve the heart and conscience?  In this essay we’ll compare the narratives and motifs of Macbeth and the Stannis storyline, and explore what the common metanarrative foreshadows for our One True King of Westeros.

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