A Game of Thrones Literary Elements

A Game of Thrones Literary Elements


Epic fantasy

Setting and Context

The story takes place in the Land of Westeros and Essos and the story begins in 289 AC (Years after Aegon’s Conquest)

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator is omnipresent and presents the story from nine different point of views.

Tone and Mood

Frightening, violent, tragic.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Because there are many conflicts in the book that develop at the same time, the antagonists and protagonists are not universal to the whole story but they are relevant to the conflict they take part in. Such a pair is Eddard Stark (protagonist) and Cersei Lannister (antagonist).

Major Conflict

The war that started in the Seven Kingdoms after Robert died. Different characters claimed the Throne based on different reasons and thus a civil war started between the parties involved.


The initial storyline reaches its climax when five different characters self-declare themselves kings. From that point on, the battles between the five kings start.


Eddard’s death is foreshadowed in the first chapter when he discovered the dead direwolf, killed by a stag. The direwolf is the symbol of house Stark while the stag is used by House Baratheon. Eddard dies after Robert’s wife convinces him to sign a declaration of treason.


A paradox can be found in the character of Tyrion Lannister. He is the youngest son of house Lannister and he is hated by his family because of his appearance and because his mother died while giving birth to him. He is not considered worthy of anything by his father and he sometimes acts according to his father’s expectations, whoring and causing troubles.

All this changes, however, when he is put on the front lines of the battle. He manages to win the battle of Green Fork and then is sent to King’s Landing to act as Hand of the King, a position that entitled him to take decisions and act on the King’s behalf.


It is clear that some elements that appear in Game of Thrones are taken from real historical events or that some characters and places are inspired by real ones.

The plot is said to be based on the real events that took place in England in the period 1455 and 1487, military conflicts that are knows as The Wars of the Roses. The wars were between two Houses that claimed the Throne of England, namely House York and House Lancaster. The war was the result of financial problems that were caused by the Hundred Year’s War and the mental instability of the present king, Henry V.

The resemblance between House York and House Stark, and House Lannister and House Lancaster is given by the conflicts between them. Cersei Lannister is compared to Margeret de Anjou, Henry the V’s wife, because of her ambition and ability to manipulate the king. Another character that bears a close resemblance to a real life historic person is Eddard Stark. Just as Eddard served King Robert, the Duke of York held several important positions in the England ruled by the Lancaster family. The Duke of York was killed by Lancaster loyalists just as Eddard was. Another similarity between the two characters is their heirs that ended up taking their fathers claim to the Throne and fight against the family ruling over the country.

Another parallel can be drawn between the places described in the book and real Countries and areas of the world. The North could be a version of the Slavic Eastern Europe and with it’s cold climate, vast and sparse population.
Another parallel can be drawn between the places described in the book and real Countries and areas of the world. The North could be a version of the Slavic Eastern Europe and with its cold climate, vast and sparse population.
Similarities between the people inhabiting Westeros and Essos and real communities can also be found. For example, The Dothraki could be an allusion to the Mongols and Huns because of the similar life styles and customs.


Images and symbols play an important part in the Game of Thrones universe. The major Houses have symbols that make them more easily to recognize. The image of the direwolves, representing House Stark materializes in the person of Robb Stark after his father dies. He gathers an army and manages to fight off the army led by the Lannisters, capturing Jammie Lannister in the process. Robb’s direwolf takes part in the battle and Robb is given the name The Young Wolf after it.


The way Eddard Stark is killed is a paradox considering his reputation. Eddard is known for his high values and loyalty that he puts above all and eventually that proves to be his downfall. Eddard fails to realize that while he has high values and thinks about the greater good, those surrounding him are only interested in their own well-being and benefit. Despite his reputation and just nature, he is sentenced to death after he is accused of being a traitor. Despite living his life in the most honorable way, Eddard dies as a traitor, shunned by the people he once helped.


There are many parallels between real historical figures and characters that appear in Game of Thrones. One such character is Joffrey, who could be EDWARD OF LANCASTER, the son of King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. Just like Joffrey, Edward’ illegitimacy was questioned and he too had an unstable personality, prone to bouts of anger and cruelty.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The characters use the symbol of the Iron Throne as a representation for power. When Daenerys speaks to Drogo about wanting to see her unborn son on the Throne, she doesn’t necessarily mean that the throne in itself is an important thing but rather the thing that it signifies.

In the Game of Thrones universe, the symbol is understood by every character. In the beginning of the book, Ned Stark remembers that when he reached King’s Landing during Robert’s Rebellion, he found Jamie Lannister sitting on the Throne. Eddard interpreted that as Jamie’s intentions on taking the Throne for himself and even told Robert so.
It is clear that in the Game of Thrones universe, the Iron Throne is more than the King’s seat and that it represents the power that the King has.


In chapter 2, when Catelyn describes the heart tree : ''. The weirwood's bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself. They had seen Brandon the Builder set the first stone, if the tales were true; they had watched the castle's granite walls rise around them.''

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