Many people who watch or read the Game of Thrones series debate over whether Cersei Lannister is an evil character or not. While some believe she is after all the horrible things she has done to keep her high position in Westeros, others will look at her as a survivor. That is the way actress Lena Headey views her while portraying her on-screen.
It is worth remembering the world that the book series by George R.R. Martin is set in, and just how quickly lives end. It does not matter what position a person has, there is a chance they will die terribly. They are knocked from their pedestals quickly for the slightest things. Just look at the Starks and Prince Oberyn who all held titles of one type or another and all died gruesome deaths, which in some cases were unexpected (especially for the non-book fans).
The world for Cersei in Game of Thrones is very similar to that of the Middle Ages. Women never did have much power, and were controlled by their fathers and later their husbands. The queen consort and queen regent had an even more rocky position. Cersei has had every right in thinking she was going to lose her position and authority, and also her children. It was a position that former queen consorts have found themselves in, such as many of Henry VIII’s wives and Elizabeth Woodville, grandmother of Henry VIII.
Cersei Lannister is not quite an evil character on Game of Thrones when looking at it objectively. She is just trying to survive, and knows how to play the game; as she pointed out as early as season one before Ned Stark’s fall from grace. That does not mean she is a nice person, but she certainly does not do things because she enjoys hurting people. She feared her son Joffrey’s actions, and did not agree with everything he did. However, she had to keep the pretence that she did agree with him in fear of her own life. Joffrey could have turned on his mother at any point, and she knew that.
There were also signs that she was simply acting out of survival for her family, and by family that meant her children. At the Battle of Blackwater she almost gave her younger son poison so that he would not have to suffer the pain and torture that would have likely have happened had the gates been breached. She knew how the Targaryen children and women had been treated before being killed, and would not have wanted that for her own children.
Some will argue she was evil for the way she treated Tyrion Lannister, her youngest brother. However, Headey points out that she believed Tyrion had killed the one person who could have made Cersei’s life better; her mother. Her grief for her mother and hatred for the way she died overpowered any love she could have had for her little brother, and it certainly did not help that he was not “normal.” Being deformed and disfigured in the Middle Ages meant something evil, and that idea has appeared in the world of the books and show. With all that in mind, Cersei Lannister is not quite an evil character in Game of Thrones, but is more of a survivor.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham