The morality of Game of Thrones can be difficult to suss out at times. We have a spectrum that ranges from “irredeemably evil” (see Bolton, Ramsay), to “indisputably heroic” (all hail the new King in the North, Jon Snow). Somewhere in the middle, we get characters like Jaime Lannister, who started the series pushing children out of windows, but later gained depth and nuance. The moral compass of many other characters seems fairly simple.
Brienne nobly stays true to her oaths, and objectively on the side of high-ended morality. Walder Frey has no qualms about murdering his allies in cold blood, placing him firmly in the “villain” category. Cersei Lannister though is an intriguing case. On one hand, she’s easy to hate, and she’s consistently stood in the way of the “good guys.” Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the bad guy. In fact, it’s actually quite easy to see where she’s coming from.
1. Cersei is a victim of her own gender
The world Game of Thrones shows us is not at all friendly to the idea of equal gender roles, keeping in line with the medieval standards the show generally adheres to. Unfortunately for Cersei, she was born a woman in that world, and has suffered accordingly. Despite her lofty ambitions, she’s been painted into a corner by her father throughout her life. First, she was married off to Robert Baratheon, a husband that made his hatred for his wife no secret. After Cersei did away with him, it wasn’t long before her father tried to arrange another marriage against her will. Her whole life has been a long series of powerful men trying to turn her into arm-candy. The fact that she’s constantly fought against this with her own ambitions doesn’t make her evil: It makes her just like every other man in King’s Landing.