Welcome back Night’s Watchmen!
I’m here with another exciting long-form Thoughts on Thrones post for you all! This time I have prepared a piece on the psychology of Joffrey Baratheon.
I’m going to post a short exerpt from the piece here, and you can find the rest on the Thoughts on Thrones page above!
Joffrey Baratheon, King of the Andals and the first men, first of his name, protector of the seven realms, blah blah blah. Spoiler alert – if you have not read through the end of the written Song of Ice and Fire, turn back now; as this post will contain spoilers of these books, and will spoil a good amount of season four of the HBO A Game of Thrones television program.
Everyone agrees about one thing when it comes to this young man, he is a monster; a child with a singular purpose – to make the lives of those around him miserable. The question, however, is how he got that way. He is a singularly callous individual; it is not a huge stretch to say that not one other character in the series comes even close to the evil nature of the king… but how did this come to be?
Before we can go forward and operate under the assumption that Joffrey is a psychopath, we should do some due diligence and seek to demonstrate the specific ways that the king shows us his true self. There are a number of examples merely in the first book of the series, but I won’t limit this discussion simply to Game of Thrones, but will try and include notes from Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords as well. I want to demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that Joffrey suffers from a psychopathic personality disorder – this is not simply one aspect of his personality, but rather it is the dimension of the character that overwhelms all others except in the most extreme situations.
A twelve year old Joffrey Baratheon (born 286) arrived at Winterfell castle with his family during the long Summer in the year 298 accompanying his father, King Robert Baratheon, on his trip north in order to make Eddard Stark the Hand of the King. During his stay in the north, Joffrey barely interacted with the Starks, whom he felt were beneath him; being the crown prince has its perks, after all. Even when he is informed of his engagement to Sansa Stark, he did not seek her out until after they leave Winterfell castle. He had no emotional attachment to this young girl whom his father would make him marry – but as we would learn not much later on, he had no emotional attachment to anyone but his mother.
As we saw in the HBO television program, the after effects of Bran Stark falling from the tower rippled through the Castle; both within the Stark household as well as among the royal guests with one notable exception. Joffrey had no interest in paying his respects to (Old) Lady Stark, and it wasn’t until he was beaten by his Uncle Tyrion that he finally relented. He stated specifically that “The Stark boy means nothing to me” and “I hate the wailing of women”, which described his completely emotionless response to the tragedy that had befallen the Starks – a young, much beloved boy was on death’s door and it would behoove a guest to demonstrate their sorrow for the loss to the family, even if it was only for appearances.
Joffrey had no ability to separate his emotionless interior from his outward behaviour. He hadn’t learned how to pretend to care, and it was especially notable during this incident where he couldn’t recognize the need to put on a show for the Starks, no matter how shallow his performance might end up being. This is the first indication of the monster that had yet to be fully revealed, the first hint of who Joffrey would evolve into as time progresses.