Game of Thrones

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George R.R. Martin says ‘Game of Thrones’ rape sequence was “intended to be disturbing”

April 21, 2014

The scene on last night’s (season 4 episode 3) Game of Thrones between Cersei and Jaime sparked a huge debate online, since in the books Cersei says “yes,” however in the show she did not. This means it was rape, especially since she was yelling her dissent.

However, the author himself George R.R. Martin responded to these complaints in the comments section of his blog, saying that the scene was always intended to be disturbing, and that the circumstances on the show are different so the scene needed to be altered. Thanks to Hypable for the tip.

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: I think the “butterfly effect” that I have spoken of so often was at work here. In the novels, Jaime is not present at Joffrey’s death, and indeed, Cersei has been fearful that he is dead himself, that she has lost both the son and the father/ lover/ brother. And then suddenly Jaime is there before her. Maimed and changed, but Jaime nonetheless. Though the time and place is wildly inappropriate and Cersei is fearful of discovery, she is as hungry for him as he is for her.

The whole dynamic is different in the show, where Jaime has been back for weeks at the least, maybe longer, and he and Cersei have been in each other’s company on numerous occasions, often quarreling. The setting is the same, but neither character is in the same place as in the books, which may be why Dan & David played the sept out differently. But that’s just my surmise; we never discussed this scene, to the best of my recollection.

Also, I was writing the scene from Jaime’s POV, so the reader is inside his head, hearing his thoughts. On the TV show, the camera is necessarily external. You don’t know what anyone is thinking or feeling, just what they are saying and doing.

If the show had retained some of Cersei’s dialogue from the books, it might have left a somewhat different impression — but that dialogue was very much shaped by the circumstances of the books, delivered by a woman who is seeing her lover again for the first time after a long while apart during which she feared he was dead. I am not sure it would have worked with the new timeline.

That’s really all I can say on this issue. The scene was always intended to be disturbing… but I do regret if it has disturbed people for the wrong reasons.

What is your opinion of the scene?

Kimmy is a 22 year old nerdfighter and artist who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Page to Premiere. When she's not writing about books and movies here or on her Hunger Games site called, she loves creating original content at her magazine and production company JØLVIE, manically Tumblr-ing, eating sushi, drinking Thai iced tea, and being lazy with her cat Rue! She hopes to be a published author one day. You can follow her on Twitter at @kimmymary.

  • Cécilia Lpn

    The scene in the book is far from being unequivocal :

    “She pounded on his chest with feeble fists, murmuring about the risk,
    the danger, about their father, about the septons, about the wrath of
    gods. He never heard her.”

    For most of the extract, Cercei shows consent but this bit here? Makes it morally ambiguous and Martin doesn’t touch on that.Yielding is not consenting, God knows how many women are not taken seriously when they denounce their rape because they admit that they eventually yielded to the pressure of their partner. Martin says : ” […] she is as hungry for him as he is for her.” Why is she struggling in his arms, then? This extract seems to be inscribed in the logic of “she says no, but she wants to”, which is so often used to justify rape. Martin here doesn’t seem to recognize any moral ambiguity in the behaviour of his characters, so my guess is, there is a huge flaw in the writing and thought process. So, to me, it is rape in both the book and the show.

    (The entire extract can be read here:

  • Tim Koupe

    Did you not read that up there? She pounded on his chest about the danger of getting caught, about her father, and the septons…nothing about not wanting him. She is worried about external consequences. She is not resisting lust and desire for him, only the place and time. You need to absorb what he’s writing. It’s not hard.

  • Cécilia Lpn

    I don’t care why she pounds on his chest, if her thoughts are confused, if she feels all tingly down there. Her words and body language are screaming no. That is still not consent. Jaime literally “never heard her”. It is HIGHLY problematic. Stop making excuses for rapists. You’re feeding the rape culture.

  • Tim Koupe

    It doesn’t sound like you have the depth for morally ambiguous characters. Why are you reading this series? To still like one of these characters is to measure, judge and forgive immoral acts based on the details of intentions and specific human motives. You are applying a black and white legal judgment, discarding any of that detail as ‘nonsense’ – which is useful only for law.

    This is a story, in which people can break laws while still earning forgiveness from the reader due to our understanding of their specific situation, and the choices available to their notice. Such as Arya committing murder now in season 4.

    We sympathize with her because of our detailed knowledge of her situation, even though your black and white analysis technique would condemn her a murderer and our sympathy as murder culture.

    I think you’re just so offended by rape violence that you have no patience for moral ambiguity as you do in any other context of violence on the show.

  • Cécilia Lpn

    First of all, I could do without your analysis of my psyche. It is rude for you to
    try and decipher me with only two posts, and more than that, a pathetic
    attempt at dismissing my argument. Let’s not get personal. You have
    absolutely no idea who I am and you don’t get to presume how I
    emotionnally and intellectually work. Don’t go and play shrink with me. I make no assumptions about your personality, don’t you dare make assumptions about mine.

    Have you actually read my post? I acknowledged that there was moral ambiguity. I’m not reading the books, by the way, I just read that extract following Martin’s comment on the change they made in the tv series. My problem is specifically that Martin didn’t acknowledge the ambiguous behaviour of Cersei and the brutality of Jaime pushing it.

    Jaime rapes her much less ambiguously in the tv series and no, I don’t actually hate him for it. I agree that we need to take into account the “specific situation” of rapists but not before we take care of the victim. And Cersei’s rape, in the tv show, remains outrageously unaddressed. And this is what happens too often in real life. Look at the gang rape in Steubenville : people deplored that the life of “two rising star” football players were now ruined. People sympathize with the perpetrator before they symphasize with the victim. And it’s wrong. Don’t forget that books and tv shows make up stories that mirror our Western societies.

    I’ve been enjoying this show for a long time specifically because it proposes an interesting set of complex characters in a complex political setting. But sometimes, I believe that they fuck up with how they address certain issues. I actually read a fantasy series in which the second book is focused on a boy who attempted rape. The author was clever enough not to have him actually forgiven by his victim, who has become his Queen, but who gives him a chance at leading an honest life. That boy has himself been abused but the author does not make it an excuse. There are many layers to it, I won’t ramble on and on about it but I do love that character and its development, so nope, I’m not that black and white moralistic good Samaritan you think I am.

    As for Arya, that is not comparable at all. The writers have her kill men who are outright evil. Men who show no sympathy for the loss of her family, men who rape women. So, do you really think anyone could NOT sympathize with her, when they give her so many bad men to get rid of? Who’s being black and white now? Killing is bad but killing bad men… Well, of course people won’t have a problem with that. Does that look morally ambiguous to you? I feel no sympathy for the men killed but I do worry about Arya’s lust for blood and how it can damage her. Still, I root for that girl.