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Let’s talk about Melisandre 

With season two rapidly approaching, and plenty of new footage of Carice van Houten as Mel being revealed through character featurettes, I think that now might be a good time to discuss her. This post contains spoilers, obviously, so proceed with caution… but really, think about this if you hate Melisandre.

This might sound bizarre, perhaps even heartless, but when I first read the books, I didn’t hate Melisandre as many fans are apt to. When I later discovered that she was deeply unpopular, it made sense… especially prior to ADwD. After all, for the first four books Melisandre seems, in the most basic sense of the word, kind of evil. She burns humans alive as a sacrifice to her god, she births shadows that kill people, and she tries converting everyone to her faith. Those are qualities we shouldn’t exactly like, right? Despite this, though, I still saw people questioning “Is Melisandre good or bad?” Although trying to determine flat-out whether she is “evil or not evil” is oversimplifying her character (as is trying to determine the same of any character in this series, really), the fact that people were unsure made me glad. Because I certainly never assumed Melisandre’s malevolence, and quite frankly, nor should you.

From the first, I read Melisandre as what she is… a religious zealot. Now, zealot has negative connotations, but in reality it simply means someone who is uncompromising and fanatical in their beliefs. Obviously, open-mindedness is a virtue, but let us consider Melisandre’s past, which we learn of in ADwD. In ADwD we actually learn quite a bit about the faith of R’hllor and its followers in general. We learn that the greatest temple of R’hllor is in Volantis, and it is there that children are sometimes sold as slaves into the faith, either as priests, temple prostitutes, or warriors. It’s unclear whether or not there are any people who simply volunteer, but we do know that Melisandre was one of the children sold to the temple. 

Consider what this means. Melisandre was torn from her family at a young age. We can assume that when she recalls a woman’s voice calling out “Melony” that it was her mother or another close relative calling to her, considering that Melisandre and Melony share a first syllable and Melisandre states repeatedly that she has been a servant of R’hllor for “a very long time”. Away from her home, away from her true family, the religion she was raised into became her new home, became her new family. It became, in short, her entire life. 

So, for basically as long as she can remember Melisandre has been taught that the faith of R’hllor is the absolute truth; she has been taught that Azor Ahai, a servant of R’hllor, is the only one who can save the world from destruction; she has been taught that R’hllor will protect her, preserve her, and guide her. And really… what reason does she have to believe any differently? Out of all the religions we’ve encountered in ASOIAF, R’hllor is the only one we’ve ever seen demonstrate any actual power (apart from the Old Gods, but lbr that’s because the Old Gods=the Great Other so they’re all part of the same celestial league of gods but that’s a meta for another day). R’hllor protects Melisandre from Cressen’s poison. R’hllor repeatedly revives Beric Dondarrion and later Catelyn Stark. R’hllor allows Melisandre to look into the future. R’hllor allows Melisandre to birth shadows to kill the enemies of his purported servant (Renly, Cortnay Penrose, etc.) 

Admittedly, I understand why Melisandre’s methods of working for her religion make her unpopular. She wants to burn children, the shadows are mad shady (pun kind-of-intended), et cetera. But all of this Melisandre does for Stannis, whom she believes to be Azor Ahai. In Melisandre’s mind, she is working for the greater good of the human race. If Stannis is indeed Azor Ahai come again, he must survive, must emerge victorious, in order to save the entire world. Melisandre doesn’t act for Stannis because she wants power in Westeros. If she did, she would choose a more popular candidate for king. She is his most loyal ally because above all she is a servant of R’hllor. And we see this when she insists they must go to the Wall- because that’s where the Others, the true threat to Westeros, are most imminent. She. Is. Trying. To. Protect. People. Is Melisandre sitting in front of her fire cackling “HEHEHEHE BURN THOSE BABIES!”? No. Of course not. But she views it as a necessary sacrifice. It’s an impossible choice, but she makes it. And if we choose to believe that the “side of light” is the “good” side, that’s kind of admirable. 

If you believe your religion is going to save the world, you’re probably not going to be very interested in a seven-faced deity, or any other god for that matter, that hasn’t demonstrated a fraction of the power- of the veritable magic- that your god has. You just don’t have the time for it, for R’hllor’s sake. Winter has arrived, the dragons have been born in the east, and the war that was fought in the Age of Heroes has arrived again. Melisandre is a shadowbinding, future-gazing, red-clad warrior. And if you want your faves sitting cozily in the south, ignorant of the threat beyond the Wall, to survive-think twice before condemning her. 

posted 2 years ago with 48 notes
  1. formerlywulfhalls reblogged this from formerlymyladymother
  2. sandmanda reblogged this from formerlymyladymother
  3. restless-renegade reblogged this from formerlymyladymother and added:
    I am sorry, Melisandre, I do not CARE what horrors you’ve been through; DO NOT shove your religious ideology DOWN MY...
  4. joulupuuro reblogged this from formerlymyladymother
  5. derusaert reblogged this from kimberleesi and added:
    I really love the background exploration of Mel’s character here. It’s heartbreaking to think of her as a child in that...
  6. benegesseritwitch reblogged this from kimberleesi
  7. misterandry reblogged this from kimberleesi
  8. semisweet-rubix reblogged this from kimberleesi
  9. rasmalaiwin reblogged this from ellenfanshaw and added:
    this is good. very good :D
  10. ellenfanshaw reblogged this from kimberleesi
  11. kimberleesi reblogged this from formerlymyladymother
  12. baratheon reblogged this from formerlymyladymother and added:
    Excellent meta, but I wouldn’t say Mel’s particularly loyal to Stannis so much as she’s loyal to the idea he’s the...
  13. icarusfalls reblogged this from formerlymyladymother and added:
    Spoilers, but this post is GOSPEL!
  14. formerlymyladymother posted this