Trigger warning; discussions of rape ahead.
Game of Thrones has been a roller coaster that has been discussed not only for the narrative of the different characters involved in the overall story, but also for the themes used to tell the story. With any property, there’s good and there’s bad. One could go into the various knocks on the lack of use of people of colour in the series, but I’m focusing on one thing in this write up.
Whenever we write, we are often tempted to use tropes as a plot device. We can’t help it, really. What’s a trope? Well, a literary trope is the use of figurative language – via word, phrase, or even an image – for artistic effect such as using a figure of speech. The word trope has also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices, motifs or clichés in creative works. Sometimes the use of tropes can be done to great effect, other times they are just over used and boring. Too often, the latter is the case.
In the case of Game of Thrones, and as suggested by the image above, Sansa Stark, the writers of the show have opted to use rape as a narrative device. I won’t argue that rape can’t be used for a narrative device, but the way in which this particular device was use was actually handled really poorly. Sansa Stark’s rape was used to progress the story of Theon. To show his pain as he was forced to watch Sansa’s rape. We don’t get any reaction from Sansa or any aftermath as to how it affects her or how it progresses her story.
Based on the narrative created, the most important person in the room was Theon. That’s what was conveyed at the time. The most important person in the room should have been Sansa, and how this act was going to progress her story.
I’ll pause here because it needs to be said that if anyone really wishes to defend the scene, be careful. Because you may end up looking like you’re defending rape.
It seems that the use of rape was merely used because the writers of the show were running out of ideas. Which is very interesting if you look at the source material, which is George R. R. Martin’s books.
You know who is raped in the show? Sansa Stark. You know who isn’t raped in the books? Sansa Stark. Changing the narrative of the source material often has good results. Look at the Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Hobbit movies. Peter Jackson made all sorts of changes and made just as good a product on screen as Tolkien did in the books.
And amazingly, Peter Jackson did it without adding a rape scene.