Jaime Lannister: From Byronic to Ironic Hero

Michael Adams went from long-time Game of Thrones fan to researching Jaime Lannister’s transition from Kingslayer to Oathkeeper.  

From noon to 5 p.m. last Wednesday, the Swanson Center was stocked full of students presenting for the Lion’s Pride research day. There were different categories including health sciences, business relations and literature. Michael Adams, a non-traditional student, presented his research project titled “Jaime Lannister: From Byronic to Ironic Hero” during the first session from 1:45 p.m. to 2 p.m.  

“Mike attended the Popular Culture Association of the South conference last year but didn’t present,” said Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Department of Humanities, Hugh Davis. “He expressed an interest in doing a Game of Thrones panel this year, so I encouraged him to use Pride Day as a test run.” 

Adams began his presentation warning the audience about gore and spoilers, followed by a video that showed the entire character arc for Jaime Lannister. From getting caught having sexual relations with his twin sister and pushing young Bran Stark out the window, saying “The things I do for love,” in season one to charging on Daenarys in season seven, one would not expect Jaime to be considered a hero.  

“A Byronic hero is a hero that stands out as an anti-hero,” Adams said. “He is not a normal hero.” 

Adams presented his “Hand theory” – given to him by his sponsor, Professor Davis – claiming that Tyrion Lannister, Hand to the Queen Daenarys Targaryen and Jaime’s younger brother, and handless Jaime Lannister complete each other as a whole person.  

“The Hand theory was interesting because they complete each other with Jamie being the brawn and Tyrion the brains,” Ian Bourret, Game of Thrones fan, said. “They were each other’s only true friends and trusted each other the most.” 

Adams also presented the use of Mimetic Desire to characterize Tyrion and Cersei Lannister where “two people desire the same thing, they being to mirror each other as they compete to possess it,” said Professor Davis in an email. Cersei and Tyrion are both after the power they believe Jaime has behind Casterly Rock. They are clever, conniving and ruthless. 

“Tyrion and Cersei both escaped their trial – Cersei blew them up and Tyrion escaped like a snake,” Ian Bourret said. “They have quick come backs and are always seen with a glass of wine.”  

 Jaime suffers through his “symbolic castration” during his hero’s journey. Jaime was the finest swordsman in all the Seven Kingdoms, where he “whoops some serious booty” then lost his sword hand. Jaime turns his desire from Cersei to Brienne the Beauty on his journey, leaving his vicious past behind. Brienne expresses what it means to be a true knight. Brienne is gifted with Jaime’s sword Oathbreaker and renames it Oathkeeper. 

“Jamie has been through the biggest journey in a literary sense, outside the norms of being a hero and fulfilling his duty as a knight,” Adams said.  

Having read the Game of Thrones books three times, watched the television series twice, and been a fan since high school, Adams claims Jaime to be one of his favorite characters. Adams ended his presentation with a few predictions for the final season, giving Jaime a 30 percent chance of surviving until the end of story, a 20 percent chance to end up sitting on the Iron Throne and a whopping 80 percent chance that no one gets the Throne.  

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