Game of Thrones is a TV series on HBO that started back in 2011. It is designed to have you sitting on the edge of your seat every weekend: I find myself waiting to find out who the next big character to die on the next episode will be. It is designed as a fantasy, something to enjoy in your free time. Many people can relate to Game of Thrones but I feel as a group of people the Americans can relate to Jon Snow, he is a representation of the American dream.
What is the American dream? Why is Jon Snow the American dream? The background story on Jon Snow is he is one of the main characters in Game of Thrones and he grew up in a family as a “bastard”. Ultimately, he wasn’t a bastard but that is not the point Game of Thrones is trying to teach us. They give us the idea of the American dream through Jon Snow. He comes from humble origins. His family, friends everyone in the kingdom treated him awfully and he was known as the bastard but this did not put him down. He started from the bottom.
Nothing was giving to him. We can easily compare this to the American dream. When America started people had to start with no entitlement. They were known as the “outsiders”. Jon also shows us his hard work which is needed to get somewhere, same as in America. One of the most important things Jon has is belief in himself. Just as any American wants to make their dreams come true they need to believe in themselves and throughout the show we see this. We also see Jon having a driving purpose. To achieve any goal, one must have a driving purpose to achieve this.
First, we see Jon have a driving purpose to be a part of the Knight’s Watch, (The knights Watch is a group of men that protect the 7 kingdoms, where Game of Thrones is taken place, from the white walkers, basically a group of zombies that are hard to kill, who could cross the wall the knights watch is defending. In a way, the Knights watch is the first defense of the white walkers) then has a driving purpose to be the King. Finally, the American way and the way Jon is starting to go is the reward. Right now, where the show left off Jon is known as the King of the North.
I want to first discuss what the American Dream is in a definition. According to the news article “A reflection on the American Dream, and what it means” they define it as “it teaches us that any success we achieve is a result of our own talent, work ethic, determination and level of education.” They also have a formula for The American Dream to success. The formula goes “Success = work ethic + determination + education + talent” (An reflection on the American Dream). Now I don’t fully agree with this formula because of the word “talent”. I believe talent comes from practice.
Here is another definition of the American Dream. “The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work, not by chance” (Frontinelle). In This definition, the first person that comes to my mind is Jon Snow. He comes from being born as a bastard, he always had his mind set on success, he made sacrifices, took risks, and put in the work to do so.
From the start of Game of Thrones, we see Jon Snows humble beginnings. From the start, we know he’s a bastard and gets treated poorly. In episode 1 of season 1 The Stark house hold men come across a group of 5 Dire wolfs who just recently had their mother killed. House Stark decides to keep the Dire wolfs, one for each start kid. They then found a 6th Dire wolf. They gave this one to Jon because he is the bastard of the family. “Theon: A runt of the litter, that one’s yours Snow” (Game of Thrones). As we see from a very young age Jon had it tough but this relates to the American dream. Tough beginnings will happen not everyone starts in the best situation. We have to work our way up, that is how our country started, from the bottom. Jon starts out with no entitlement whatsoever then he is going on his way to becoming king, just as someone starts a small enterprise. Add example of an Actual American that went from Rags to riches.
All Throughout Game of Thrones we see Jon Snow practicing with his sword trying to become a better fighter. If you want people to have your attention you need to be good at what you are doing. Since in this show it’s all about being a good fighter, Jon has to be a good fighter to gain respect. Going back to our formula, we need a good work ethic to be successful and that’s exactly what John has. When we see Jon head to Castle Black to join the Knights Watch we get to witness some of Jon’s training. “Alister Throne: Pypar do you think Ned Starks bastard bleeds like the rest of us?” (Game of Thrones season 1). During this scene we see Jon going against all the new recruits in Castle Black. He totally dominates every single one and this is from him working hard and his dedication. People around him are starting to notice him more and how he could be a threat or someone not to be messed with because he’s a bastard.
When Jon starts realizing he’s a good warrior and he has friends backing him up he gains a lot of confidence. He was always down because he was thrown around being a bastard and his parents did not care for him, but with help of others noticing his talents he starts to believe in himself. So, when Jon becomes Lord Commander of the Nights Watch (voted by some of his piers because they saw the goodness inside of him) some of the fighters in the Night Watch did not take him seriously, so he had to send a message. Janos Slynt, a warrior in the Nights Watch would not listen to Jon’s commands. “Jon: Take Lord Janos outside. Alli bring me my sword. Janos: You cannot do this, get your hands off me. Stop, all of you! If the boy thinks he can frighten me his mistaken, very mistaken. Jon: If you have any last words, now’s the time” (Game of Thrones Season 5 episode 3).
Right after Jon gives Janos a last word, Janos begs for mercy. It looks like Jon is about to give some then next thing Jon cuts off his head. Jon is showing confidence here that he is Lord Commander and you cannot disrespect him and run all over him. People in the Nights Watch were doubting Jon could be a good leader. This was more of setting an example for everyone else that he believes in himself and he can do this. This is the same as growing up and trying to be successful in America. To get somewhere you must have confidence in yourself or others around you will treat you with disrespect and not trust you. Sometimes it’s hard having confidence to do this but you have to stand tall just like Jon did.
From an academic article, two professors set out to find the meaning behind the American dream. They had over 75 in depth interviews also using national interviews. “These findings confirm that the American Dream means three things: (a) freedom to pursue individual life goals; (b) confidence that hard work will lead to economic security; and (c) the expectation that things will be better in the future for oneself and one’s children.” (Kindle). Peter Kindle wrote a book review on Professor Rank and Hirschl book called Chasing the American Dream. Of the Three steps, they came up with the last one really stood out to me.
Jon Snow always felt that he had a better future for himself, an according to a survey that is the third step to the American dream. The main reason Jon went to Castle Black was because he wanted to have a better future for himself and he thought this was his best choice. As we can tell this was the best choice he ever made. This is what gave himself a driving purpose what we see in most of Americans today. People go to College because they believe they will get a better job and that gives Americans a driving purpose to get through college to get better job. This is the same with Jon and going through Castle black he knew he could make a name for himself there.