The problem of evil in A Song of Ice and Fire

340px-Codex_Gigas_devilThere has been extensive discussion online about the fact that the character of Ramsay Bolton on the HBO television show Game of Thrones was irredeemably psychopathic, cruel, and so ghoulishly sadistic as to be a cartoon of evil. But as a reader of the books I’ve generally shrugged off these complaints, because the character is even more perverse on the page than the screen. If you don’t believe me, this article in Vulture lays it out comparatively. It isn’t just that Ramsay kills people, most of the “nobility” in George. R. R. Martin’s world are butchers. It is who and how that is more shocking. For Ramsay killing is not simply a means, but an ends.

Screenshot 2016-06-20 20.31.42Not only is the book Ramsay even more inhumane than the television Ramsay, but he doesn’t exhibit an incongruity between his physical appearance and his behavior, as he does on the television show. That is, while the actor who plays Ramsay is handsome, in the books he described as not not physically attractive at all.

All this in and of itself doesn’t raise eyebrows. George R. R. Martin doesn’t write characters who are boy-scouts. He admits to preferring shades of gray. But Ramsay is no shade of gray. Who then is the equivalent to Ramsay? It seems that in this case Martin’s world is somehow unbalanced.

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