As I see her through the lens of Anne Lamott’s emotional acre.
With the finale of season six, and the premiere of season seven, the ladies of Westeros are now running the show, and they all have one thing in common.
Cersei herself has taken the Iron Throne, a move I’ve been waiting for since season one.
Sansa Stark is advising the new King in the North, and her area of expertise? Cersei Lannister.
Ayra Stark is on her way to King’s Landing. Why? To kill Cersei Lannister.
Daenerys Targaryen has returned to her birthplace. Her first stop on her way to take the Iron Throne from Cersei Lannister.
Ellaria Sand now rules Dorne, and has every intention of ridding the world of Cersei Lannister, and making it hurt.
Lady Olenna has every intention of doing whatever it takes to destroy Cersei and wipe the Lannisters from existence once and for all, as vengeance for the loss of her family.
Cersei fucking Lannister.
One of the most complex characters on Game of Thrones, and one of my favourites. I may not be rooting for her in the long run, but I adore her.
Cersei Lannister truly is the product of her environment. She’s been shaped and moulded by the people around her and was never given the chance to truly live her own life. That anger, that rage, that brutality was all poured into her by every person of significance that came through her life, and she’s stewed in it for years.
Looking through Anne Lamott’s vision of an emotional acre, Cersei’s is a complex and peculiar one.
In season one, I imagined her acre to be a vast area of grassland. The land surrounding her acre is flat and open, allowing her to see miles in every direction. At the centre of her grassland sit three little lion cubs: Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen. Cersei herself is a lioness who stalks the perimeter of her acre. She maws and devours any threat that wanders too close. She tears weeds from the ground as they inch their way towards her cubs. Her only purpose there is to protect them. Every thought, every action, every move she has ever made since before their birth has been to safeguard them.
Her emotional acre is not truly her own, it is a safe haven for her dearest loves. A predicament gravely influenced by the prophecy of a witch she met in her early years, and so the progression of outside influences truly began, and as the seasons progress, great gnarly trees sprout from the ground in the far distance, obstructing her view. Time continues to tick by, and more twisted growths burst from the ground, closer and closer to her acre until they are invading it, defiling it, destroying it, and yet she continues to leap from tree to tree, from enemy to enemy, doing everything in her power to protect those cubs even as it becomes too much for anyone lioness to handle alone. Nevertheless, she continues on, resilient and angry and proud.
As a child, Tywin Lannister instilled in her the need to preserve the family legacy, the need to destroy any and every enemy that crept too close, and an arrogance that carried these needs far above anything else. The witch warned her that her brother would kill her, all of her children would die, and that she would be replaced by someone younger and more beautiful, leading her to seduce her twin and despise her youngest sibling, plotting his demise countless times throughout their lives. Robert reciprocated her early love and adoration with disinterest and neglect, leading to their hatred of one another and her ever-growing hatred of everything overall. Joffrey became a monster that made her question her decisions and her actions. Myrcella, one of the brightest spots in her life, was sent away to their enemies by Tyrion. Joffrey was stolen from her, murdered in an act she didn’t foresee. Tywin, a man she respected and craved respect from in return was killed by Tyrion. Margaery Tyrell seduced her last son and enticed him away, along with her crown. Tommen allowed her to be imprisoned, tortured and degraded by the religious fanatics that she herself empowered. Myrcella was stolen from her, murdered in an act she foresaw but failed to stop. Tommen barred her from her own daughter’s funeral, sided with the Sparrows that defiled her, and then threw himself from the Red Keep following the death of his wife. All betrayals in her eyes.
Cersei Lannister’s journey from season one to episode one of season seven is treacherous, bloody, disastrous, manipulative, pain-filled and shrouded in darkness and secrets. The polaroid of her emotional acre doesn’t fully develop and become solely her own until the finale of season six and in every moment leading up to that final episode that Polaroid is passed from one hand to another. It is manhandled, it is torn, it is stomped on, disregarded, thrown in the mud and covered in shit only to be picked up and disgraced again. No mercy is shown. No kindness offered. No reprieve granted.
As the polaroid reaches its utmost moment of clarity, there not stands a lioness, but Cersei Lannister herself, alone. She now exists only for herself, and her emotional acre is hers alone. The ground around her is scorched, blackened and bare. Cracks in the earth glow with the red embers that reflect her pain and torment and promise unquestioned destruction to any who step foot upon that ground again. At her feet, the shadows of her cubs, nothing more than bare whispers now.
I believe Cersei was never necessarily cruel for the sake of being cruel, except that one time she had a servant girl beaten for stealing a necklace, and all the times she tormented her little brother, but even those can be accredited to her father’s teachings and her fear of Tyrion. She did what she did because she felt she must in order to protect her cubs and herself. I believe she demonstrated this when she admitted to Tyrion that her late husband never enjoyed cruelty, whilst they spoke of the Joffrey’s actions.
I always hoped he’d be like Jaimie. He looks like him, in a certain light. Robert was a drunken fool but he didn’t enjoy cruelty. Sometimes I wonder if this is the price for what we’ve done, for our sins. — Lannister, Cersei. “A Man Without Honor” Game of Thrones
She demonstrated this again whilst speaking to Margaery about what her life would have been like had Joffrey not been killed.
He would have been your nightmare. You knew exactly what he was, I did too. You never love anything in the world the way you love your first child. Doesn’t matter what they do. And what he did, it shocked me. Do you think i’m easily shocked? The things he did shocked me. — Lannister, Cersei. “First of His Name” Game of Thrones
Cersei was a determined mother and thought little of herself until the moment she lost her final child.
After the loss of her first cub, she became more fierce in the protection of the other two. After the death of her second cub, she held onto hope for a time. She continued to wear her lioness necklace that matched her daughter’s until the moment her last cub walked out of her acre and took the side of her enemies.
The moment Tommen stepped away, her emotional acre became her own. She became cruel for the sake of being cruel and took on the influence of her eldest son.
As she watched the Sept of Baelor erupt into a mountain of green flames, she no longer wore the colours of the lioness, and she no longer wore the necklace of her daughter. She is not standing beside her last son.
She is standing alone, wearing the ring of her firstborn as she chooses power for herself.