Skyrim Player Shares Interesting Theory About Jarl Elisif

While the Civil War in Skyrim may not be the game's primary plot, it is deeply connected to the main quests in a way the other major storylines aren't. More importantly, it provides the political and social backdrop of the Nord province of Tamriel, as well as offers players a chance to resolve and evolve it in a way that befits their character or the story they want to tell. Jarl Elisif is one of its major players, and while at first glance she appears to be a player of circumstance and little more than a figurehead, there is more to her than meets the eye.

At the start of the game, Jarl Elisif is the widow of the slain King Torygg – who had left no heirs in his wake. She is the appointed Jarl of Haafingar and the ruler of Solitude, though she leaves most of the administration in the hands of steward, Falk Firebeard. She is an important ally of the Empire in Skyrim, and yet many Nord traditionalists worry that her influence is minor and that she is nothing more than an Imperial puppet. A young and inexperienced political player would be anyone's initial assessment of Elisif the Fair, but her inexperience may serve to belie Elisif's natural cunning and cleverness.

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Such is the claim of FreshwaterOctopus on Reddit, and the theory he has put forward regarding Elisif's political savvy matches with the events of Skyrim in a surprisingly plausible way. The public opinion of Elisif is that she's a young woman too dependent on the Empire, with no real power on her own. The theory introduces the idea that Elisif uses this opinion to her benefit, playing the role of an inexperienced and absent-minded monarch while orchestrating events from this unassuming position to get the outcome that she wants.

The two main examples of her exhibiting political intellect lie in the way she handles the resurrection of the Wolf Queen Potema and the way she plays General Tullius and Ulfric Stormcloak during the peace talks in the "Season Unending" quest. In the former example, she is the only one to recognize the threat lurking in the Wolfskull Cave and intentionally overreacts so that her advisors come up with the reasonable solution she wanted from the start. In the latter example, she leverages General Tullius to trade the Reach in favor of Riften and Dawnstar – lucrative mercantile ports and thus getting Ulfric to simultaneously overvalue the landlocked Reach and its silver mines.

Elisif knows that she is not taken seriously, neither by her own courtiers nor by the leaders of the two Civil War factions in Skyrim – and she prefers it that way. Characters underestimate Elisif at their own expense.

The overarching themes of the civil war between the Empire and the Stormcloaks represent more than just freedom versus oppression – they also present the fading regional culture and traditions under the banners of imperialism versus the underlying dangerous connotations of Nordic supremacy. And yet one player survives this clash of ideas and visions for the future of Skyrim no matter the outcome: Elisif the Fair.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is available for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS3, PS4, PS5, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.

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