Emily Parise


George R.R Martin’s fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, and William Shakespeare’s play Richard III both utilize a fictionalized medieval setting, thus creating an act of medievalism. Both texts utilize the setting of the War of the Roses to recreate a violent medieval past for popular consumption. By using the Middle Ages as a backdrop for these fictions, Shakespeare and Martin are able to utilize a medieval past to explore medieval and modern anxieties surrounding politics, society, and monstrosity. This paper examines the three major monsters present in these texts: Cersei and Tyrion Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire and Richard III in Richard III. These narratives, however, only condemns the internal monstrosity of Cersei and Richard, while it embraces and uplifts the outward monstrosity of Tyrion. These texts only condemn monstrosity that produces further monstrosity though murder and incest. The narratives condemn this kind of monstrosity because it encapsulates the cultural fears and anxieties surrounding the instability of power at the time they were written. While Tyrion may be condemned by Westeros for his physical deformity, these texts ultimately condemn Cersei and Richard for their constant attempts at destabilizing the monarchies and other social hierarchies in their quests for sole political power. Therefore, these texts reject monstrosity that produces evil and destabilizes social norms, leading to the condemnation of Cersei and Richard, but not Tyrion.