Catelyn Stark

Lady of Winterfell

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info_outline  Full Explanation

The image above is a spiritual portrait, or Groja.[1] It depicts the personality of Catelyn Stark, wife of Lord Eddard Stark, on the show Game of Thrones.

Catelyn has five children, Robb, Sansa, Brandon, Arya, and Rickon. Her husband is frequently gone, leaving her in charge of raising their children and ultimately running their castle at Winterfell.

Catelyn the Chameleon

Catelyn Stark's spiritual portrait is quite colorful, reflecting her fairly mild preferences. The personalities of people with colorful images have a chameleon-like quality, in that they can adapt to the people around them more easily than people with strong preferences.

Being able to get along well with a variety of people is one advantage of having moderate preferences. The downside is the flexibility concomitant with slight preferences can lead to indecisiveness — which can be a distinct disadvantage.

Other chameleons — people with very slight preferences and hence very colorful spiritual portraits — include Ulysses S. Grant, Star Wars' Princess Leia Organa, Game of Thrones' Jon Snow, and Fidel Castro.

A Passionate and Realistic Mom

The Red in Catelyn's spiritual portrait represents her passion. Catelyn demonstrates her passion for her children early on, in the second episode of the series, The Kingsroad. 

While watching over her recently-injured, bedridden son Bran. an assassin breaks into the room and tries to kill him. Catelyn surprises the intruder, immediately gets between him and her son, ultimately saving her son's life.

The Yellow in this spiritual portrait represents Catelyn's realism. An example of her pragmatism comes in the seventh episode of season 2, A Man Without Honor.  Her love for her children prompts her to commit treason by releasing an infamous prisoner, reviled by soldiers in her son Robb's army — hoping to trade him for her daughters, Sansa and Arya.

It was not just her passion but also Catelyn's realism that fueled her decision to betray her son and his soldiers. She could see the vengeful soldiers were going to kill the prisoner anyway, so she decided to help her daughters rather than allow them to have their revenge.

An Anguished Mom

Happiness is in short supply in the Game of Thrones universe. Like the other characters, Catelyn Stark experiences her fair share of frustration and loss.

Catelyn's moderate preferences sometimes make matters worse. While under stress, she commits to doing something, then finds it impossible to keep her promise.

In the second episode of season 3, Dark Wings, Dark Words,  Catelyn confesses to her daugher-in-law that she feels responsible for all the misery her family has been experiencing.

Catelyn: [O]ne of the boys came down with the pox. Maester Luwin said if he made it through the night, he'd live. But it would be a very long night. So I sat with him all through the darkness. Listened to his ragged little breaths, his coughing, his whimpering.
Talisa: Which boy?
Catelyn: Jon Snow. When my husband brought that baby home from the war, I couldn't bear to look at him. I didn't want to see those brown stranger's eyes staring up at me. So I prayed to the gods, take him away. Make him die. He got the pox. And I knew I was the worst woman who ever lived. A murderer. I'd condemned this poor, innocent child to a horrible death all because I was jealous of his mother. A woman he didn't even know. So I prayed to all seven gods, let the boy live. Let him live and I'll love him. I'll be a mother to him. I'll beg my husband to give him a true name, to call him Stark and be done with it, to make him one of us.
Talisa: And he lived.
Catelyn: And he lived. And I couldn't keep my promise. And everything that's happened since then all this horror that's come to my family it's all because I couldn't love a motherless child.
 — Season 3, Episode 2, Dark Wings, Dark Words, 2013, 21:26.

Catelyn strongly feels she is guilty for all of the misfortune that has befallen her family, even though that is totally illogical. As John Adams famously observed, facts are stubborn things.

A Remarkable Revelation

This is a truly remarkable revelation. Catelyn Stark feels the gods are punishing her and her family because she promised the gods she would love her husband's bastard son Jon Snow, then found she was unable to.

The Green in Catelyn's image shows she has the objectivity needed to know Jon did not choose to have another woman as his mother. The Blue in her image shows she also has the insight needed to see Jon will need her love if he is to survive the harsh environment of George R. R. Martin's Westeros. So in a time of stress she makes a promise.

When Jon survives his illness, Catelyn discovers that her emotions, represented by the Red in her image, overrule her objectivity. Also her pragmatism, represented by the Yellow in her image, overrides her insight — and she is unable to keep the promise she made.

Catelyn knows Jon needs a mother's love. She knows it is not Jon's fault his father committed adultery — and she can embrace the idea that she can love him regardless of Ned's infidelity.
But she cannot escape the rage she feels about Ned's adultery — and she cannot ignore the fact that Jon is a constant reminder of it.

The people of Westeros experience all sorts of agony, and many openly admit they would prefer a quick death rather than a slow one. Catelyn experiences an incredible amount of grief, but ultimately it is entirely — and subconsciously — self-inflicted.

The Starks: Peas in a Pod

Catelyn Stark's spiritual portrait and the image of her husband Ned's personality are strikingly similar. Catelyn is more outgoing than her husband, but otherwise they are nearly identical.

Both images are colorful, indicating they are chameleons, yet both also exude a powerful warmth.

Like Catelyn, Ned has a soft spot for children. For example, before the series starts he agrees to adopt rather than murder the traitorous Baylon Greyjoy's son Theon. Then while serving as Hand, he has a falling out with his good friend King Robert Baratheon for refusing to participate in an assassination attempt against the young Daenerys Stormborn.

Catelyn Stark
Ned Stark

Like Catelyn, Ned learns the hard way that having compassion for others can be a serious liability in Westeros.


I like to think of myself as being a compassionate person, and find it easy to relate to Catelyn and Ned. And I am certainly glad to live in modern-day America rather than in George R. R. Martin's brutal Westeros!

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To see full-size images of the personalities of Catelyn Stark, Ned Stark, and other characters on Game of Thrones, see the Game of Thrones galleries at

Resources and Recommendations

Remastered DVD

This portrait is based on Game of Thrones. The show is popular for a good reason: it is excellent! However, I would hesitate before recommending it to children.

I highly recommend Game of Thrones  to all adults!

Tom W. Hartung

 Buy It Now! 


  • 1  A spiritual portrait or Groja — for Graphical Representation of Jungian Archetypes — is an image representing the personality of a person. Find essential information about these images on the About page at