Machiavellian Power in Westeros

In the first part of my Western Civilization course, I explored the influence of Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince” on the “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy series by George R. R. Martin.

“It would be obvious to Machiavelli that the system of governance in Westeros is ripe for betrayal and misfortune. … Most alliances between houses are cemented by marriages, and kinslaying is one of the highest crimes in Westeros, but not every powerful ruler is necessarily good.”

Jimmy McNulty, Tragic Hero of ‘The Wire’

During the first part of my Western Civilization course, I looked for connections between the protagonists of Sophocles’ “Antigone,” Virgil’s “Aeneid” and the HBO series “The Wire.”

“McNulty is just one of hundreds of essential characters in the show, a single political animal within a vast American polis. The epic scope of the show prompts viewers to pay as much if not more attention to the polis, the show’s social and political structures, as the individual inhabitants of Baltimore. Just as Venus and Juno affect the events surrounding Aeneas, the city’s government, police department and criminal organizations bear down on McNulty.”

Relinquishing the Self

In my American Literature class, I analyzed John Woolman’s abolitionist efforts prior to the Civil War.

“His experience as a public speaker and teacher allowed him to develop a method of dialog with slave owners that was constructive rather than accusatory and that contained a logic that was easy to understand.”

Corruption of Popular Sentiment

During my Modern Middle East history class, I analyzed the 1979 Iranian Revolution as told by Marjane Satrapi in her graphic novel “Persepolis.”

“The regime of Muhammad Reza Shah became a symbol of Western intervention and method of government. In reaction to this a reformist movement within the country appealed to the unique Islamic cultural heritage of the Iranian people in order to establish a republic alongside the existing monarchy.”