To start off this week celebrating Rose Tyler, I thought we should start by understanding where she comes from because in order to understand who she becomes, we have to first understand the person she used to be. A lot of this information comes from supplementary sources such as the 2005 Storybook or Doctor Who Magazine, but I consider it to be canon, so I’m going to use it to help provide some background.
Rose’s father died when she was just a baby, so she was raised by a single mother, living on a council estate. At the age of 16, after sitting her GSCEs instead of continuing her education and getting A-Levels, she left school and moved in with a 20 year old musician named Jimmy Stone. As one might expect, this didn’t end well and a few months later she moved back in with her mother, hundreds of pounds in debt. She gets a job working in a shop, and it’s at this point that we first meet Rose.
It seems like Rose is trapped in this mundane life. After the store she works at is blown up by the Doctor, she mentions to Mickey the possibility of going back and getting some A-levels, but she doesn’t really seem to have any purpose or direction in her life.
Rose: Do you think I should try the hospital? Suki said they had a few jobs going in the canteen. That's it then... dishing out chips... I could do A Levels...
That’s all that Rose sees for her future. She could maybe do A Levels, but realistically, she thinks she’s looking at a life of working low paying and unrewarding jobs. This is where Rose is when the Doctor offers her all of time and space.
I related to Rose so much when I first watched the show. We came from completely different backgrounds. I was firmly middle class, having grown with both of my parents in the suburbs in a house that they owned. I was attending a top university and had my entire future ahead of me with all of the advantages that Rose didn’t have. And yet, I still related to Rose so much. Even though I had all these advantages, I still felt completely directionless. I think this is part of what makes Rose so wonderful. You don’t have to come from the same place she did in order to understand her. Her emotions and experiences are just human nature. They’re universal. That feeling of purposelessness happens to people from all walks of life.
This is just the beginning of Rose Tyler’s story. The rest of the week I hope to demonstrate how Rose transforms from this shop girl without a shop to work at into a woman can save the world.
I feel like the best way to start my meta series on Catelyn is to come right out and address one of the criticisms that is most commonly lobbed at her- that being, of course, her treatment of Jon. I’m not going to defend her actions because clearly she is in the wrong here. She’s being unfair and petty in taking her resentment out on Jon instead of Ned. However, I am hoping to examine the context of the society she is in, as well as her own personal history, in an effort to understand her actions.
To begin with, Westeros is a patriarchal society. It is loosely based on medieval Europe, and as a noble woman, Catelyn’s main value to society at large is her value in terms of being married off for political alliances and her ability to produce heirs. I say this to set the backdrop for Ned and Cat’s marriage and to underscore why Cat’s own children are so important to her. While they do grow to love each other, Ned and Cat are strangers when they marry. Catelyn was supposed to marry Brandon, Ned’s older brother, until he died at which point she was promptly handed off to his younger brother in order to maintain the alliance. They are together for two short weeks before Ned rides off to war with Robert Baratheon. The next time she sees him is when she joins him at Winterfell where he greets her with his son by another woman.
"Many men fathered bastards. Catelyn had grown up with that knowledge. It came as no surprise to her, in the first year of her marriage, to learn that Ned had fathered a child on some girl chance met on campaign. He had a man’s needs, after all, and they had spent that year apart, Ned off at war in the south while she remained safe in her father’s castle at Riverrun. Her thoughts were more of Robb, the infant at her breast, than of the husband she scarcely knew. He was welcome to whatever solace he might find between battles. And if his seed quickened, she expected he would see to the child’s needs.
He did more than that. The Starks were not like other men. Ned brought his bastard home with him, and called him ‘son’ for all the north to see. When the wars were over, and Catelyn rode to Winterfell, Jon and his wet nurse had already taken up residence."
-Game of Thrones, Catelyn II
It’s pretty clear that Catelyn does not object to Jon’s existence, but rather the fact that he is being raised at Winterfell. The portrayal of other bastards in the series shows that this is atypical. Robert’s bastards are all raised with their mothers, away from the court. Roose Bolton’s bastard, Ramsay, is also sent off to be raised by his mother. Even Walder Frey, who has scores of bastards and their offspring does not house them in the same castle as his trueborn children. The bastards are in a castle on one side of the crossing while Walder and his trueborn children live in a castle on the other side. Therefore the fact that Ned is raising Jon alongside of his trueborn children is extremely unusual, and perhaps, from Cat’s point of view, says a lot about how Ned felt about Jon’s mother.
"the shadow of his dead brother still lay between them, as did the other, the shadow of the woman he would not name, the woman who had borne him his bastard son."
-Game of Thrones, Catelyn II
From this, it seems to me that part of Catelyn’s resentment stems from feeling insecure about Ned’s feelings for her. After all, Ned and Catelyn were still practically strangers when they married, and then he left for the war. From Cat’s point of view it’s not inconceivable that Ned has loved someone before his duty-bound marriage to Cat and even after he left for war. Perhaps Catelyn wonders if Ned truly loved Jon’s mother and still carries a torch for her. She certainly sees Jon’s mother as a ghost in their marriage.
Now that we understand where Cat’s anger and bitterness comes from, we have to ask why she directs it at Jon instead of Ned. Ned is certainly the one at fault here. He’s the one who is disrespecting Cat by raising Jon at Winterfell. He is the one who refuses to discuss Jon’s parentage. Ned is the person that Cat should be angry at. Instead, she projects her resentment onto Jon and is cold towards him. I think that this comes down to the fact that on some subconscious level Cat really wants her marriage to work out. The Tully house words are “Family. Duty. Honor.” Ned is part of her family now. Jon is not. Her responsibility is to Ned, and I think she wants to find happiness in her marriage, and she does. She does eventually come to love her husband, and he loves her. In the end, I think that Cat made an unconscious decision to project her feelings onto Jon so that her marriage could work. It’s not right, but it is very human. It’s easier to dislike a baby or a child that you can distance yourself from than it is to hold a grudge against your husband, and so we get Catelyn’s coldness towards Jon.
Catelyn’s outburst at Bran’s bedside was not a good moment for her, but again, it is understandable. She had been at Bran’s bedside for weeks. She was exhausted and half-mad with grief. The brain to mouth filter that usually exists was just not there. And so she says something that she would never actually say under normal circumstances. She wishes that Jon had fallen from the tower instead of Bran. It is important to note that in a correspondence with a fan GRRM confirms that Catelyn’s behavior at Bran’s bedside was not the norm.
Thus, the question I have is if Catelyn went out of her way to mistreat Jon in the past -- and which form this might have taken -- or if she rather tried to avoid and ignore him?
GRRM: "Mistreatment" is a loaded word. Did Catelyn beat Jon bloody? No. Did she distance herself from him? Yes. Did she verbally abuse and attack him? No. (The instance in Bran's bedroom was obviously a very special case). But I am sure she was very protective of the rights of her own children, and in that sense always drew the line sharply between bastard and trueborn where issues like seating on the high table for the king's visit were at issue.
And Jon surely knew that she would have preferred to have him elsewhere.
In conclusion, would it have been admirable if Catelyn had treated like Jon as one of her own? Of course! Was it expected from her by society? Nope. She didn’t owe him anything. Did Jon deserve the way that Cat treated him? Of course not, but the fact that Catelyn projects her feelings of resentment onto Jon instead of Ned is an understandably human response to the situation she finds herself in. Catelyn is an intensely real character. She has very real human emotions and responses to things. She’s not perfect, but she is still good. Over the next six days, I hope to share with you all just why I love this character so much.
As a preface to my week of celebrating Cordelia Chase, this meta series is going to be a bit different than my series of metas on Rose Tyler. With Rose I am going (somewhat) chronologically though her character journey and exploring her growth, but since eleusis_walks wrote an epic and thorough meta about the journey of Cordelia Chase that is pretty much the final word on the subject, I’m not going to try to top that. Instead, I am going to take individual moments from across Buffy and Angel and use them as a window into her character.
Today’s scene is going to be a moment from season 2 of Buffy.
Buffy: Maybe it wasn't death. Maybe it was something else.
Cordelia: So this isn't about you being afraid of hospitals 'cause your friend died and you wanna conjure up a monster that you can fight so you can save everybody and not feel so helpless?
Giles: Cordelia, have you actually ever heard of tact?
Cordelia: Tact is just not saying true stuff. I'll pass.
(from 2x18 “Killed by Death”)
Firstly this scene has a classic Cordelia line. "Tact is just not saying true stuff. I’ll pass." Cordelia is brutally honest- sometimes to a fault, to be sure. But Cordelia doesn’t believe in filtering her opinions. As she later says in an episode of Angel (1x07 “The Bachelor Party”), "I think it; I say it. It's my way." While this can definitely be difficult for the people around her (and there are times when she should probably have censored herself), if you’re her friend, you can be sure she isn’t going to bullshit you. Buffy-era Cordelia might flatter a guy she is flirting with and early Angel-era Cordelia might turn on the charm and butter up a client in hopes of getting paid, but if Cordelia is your friend she is going to tell you what she thinks. We don’t really get to see her be a friend in Buffy (she was always a definite outsider with the Scoobies and her relationship with Harmony and Cordettes was more of a leader-minion relationship), but in Angel we see that Cordy is really a good friend who doesn’t mince words. She’s always up-front and direct with Angel or Wesley or anyone who will listen to what she has to say, and I love her for it.
Another aspect of Cordelia’s character that the aforementioned scene brings out is her ability to read people. Sure, in this case she’s wrong and there is actually a monster, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that this could all be in Buffy’s head. Cordelia really can see through people and says some really astute things sometimes in spite of the flippant exterior she presents to the world.