Bioethics Blogs

Is the Lannister’s incest immoral?

Isn’t it weird that no one is really talking about the incest on Game of Thrones? I mean, yes, among the fellow inhabitants of Westeros, sure, there are the insinuations and the snickers, the threats from the faithful, and the apparent manifestation of its awfulness in Joffrey. And sure, incest has been mentioned in articles about the show and it’s a core driver of several plot points and emotional arcs for our protagonists. It’s not completely glossed over.

But incest is supposed to be awful. Like as bad as rape. Even most anti-abortionists make two exceptions beyond sparing the mother’s life: rape and incest. A lot of pixels have been spent on the nature, narrative use (or misuse), impact, and meaning of rape in Game of Thrones. Yet there just isn’t a lot out there on the incestuous relationship between Jamie and Cercei that so central to the show. Moreover, none of the normal tropes we associate with incest are present in their relationship (contrast that with the tropes surrounding rape which are seemingly ever-present). This treatment of the Lannisters’ incest by the show, in and of itself, is fascinating. It takes on a further layer of curiosity as we move into the trials of Cercei for incest (this time with Lancel) and the Tyrells for engaging in (and then lying about) homosexuality, not to mention the associated attitudes towards homosexual behavior (both critiquing and condoning it) among those in Westeros. There is something curious about how the show is paralleling the two issues. What I’m getting at is there are some good reasons to write about the incest in Game of Thrones, yet very few folks are doing it.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.