The fall of chivalry: an analysis of the representation of knighthood in George R. R. Martin´s “A Song of Ice and Fire"
Ciriza Martín, Laura
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Traditional ideas of knighthood and chivalry are often related to the knight’s duty to his overlord—be it a lord or a king—his devotion to his beliefs and to courtly virtues—especially in the courtly love literature. According to previous research, these three elements are found in Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, making it the groundwork upon which every subsequent work of literature including any kind of representation of knights is based. This dissertation considers an analysis of knighthood in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in opposition to those ideals found in Malory. To do so, I examine how knighthood is defined across the five currently published books of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and focus on how it applies to the knights that are considered to be without equal in the Seven Kingdoms, both for their skills and their virtue; that is, the knights of the Kingsguard. I contend that while the foundation upon which the vows of every Westerosi knight are built is one of pure virtue and unquestionable honour, the practice of those vows—and thus, the representation of knighthood across the series—is, at the same time, deeply flawed. This dissertation shows that this flaw in the very code of knighthood in A Song of Ice and Fire is predominantly found in the figure of the members of the Kingsguard. By doing this, Martin ironically appears to turn around an institution that is supposed to be the culmination of everything a knight should aspire to be. Therefore, the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms, tasked with the protection of the royal family, turn into a representation of the ultimate corruption of both the ideals of knighthood and knighthood in itself.