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Cullen: A fan girl's cautious defence

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It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read my fiction before that I’m a fairly dedicated Cullen fan. Of course I could be whimsical and say that all the Dragon Age characters, from Origins and DA2 and all the DLCs, are very dear to me, but Cullen holds a special place in my heart. So when someone recently called Cullen an ‘abusive rapist’ on another site, going so far as to say they wanted to see him as a companion in DA3 so they could kill him, I pulled up rather fast at that one. Of all the reasons to hate Cullen, of all the things he does to find abhorrent or disappointing, where in the Void did that come from?

It was too much for me to leave alone, so I sat down and started hammering away at his character, trying to understand the enigma that is Cullen. I know I run with a rather pro-mage crowd, so I hope you’ll all indulge me in filling your dash with a little Templar perving for five minutes. I’m not here to start a flame war, or convert you to Cullen worship; I just want to make people stop and think a little, and perhaps start a discourse on him. He’s a complex character, and he deserves just as much attention because of what he represents to us: faith and duty versus hope and humanity. If there is one word that sums up Cullen’s character in a nutshell, it is conflicted.

Warning for immense rambling. Slightly triggerish for discussions of psychological torture and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And I will apologise in advance to anyone with actual training in psychology or psychiatry if I get my facts completely wrong- I did discuss my notes with my psychiatrist and she gave me the thumbs up, but she didn’t read the finished product. So! Onwards.

I like Cullen. I like Cullen a lot. Maybe it’s the hair, maybe it’s the voice (Greg Ellis, you could read me a drive through burger menu and still make it sound sexy), maybe it’s that tiny half smile he gives, maybe there’s something about him being so very broken and my fingers just itch to fix him… whatever it is, I adore that Templar. And I have no trouble reconciling my adoration for Cullen with my deep and abiding love for Anders and Justice (yes, they come as a two-for-one in my head, let’s just move on). I can be pro-mage and still like him. So when I saw such hateful, poisonous words directed at him, I had to stop and go ‘really? Is this really how he’s viewed by the fandom? Are there really people who can’t differentiate between Cullen and Alrik and Karras? Am I really looking at him through rose coloured glasses?’ Needless to say, I started to think… and then my thinking got a little carried away.


His Origin

For the purpose of this discussion, when I talk about the origin story I will be referring to either of the mage origins with a preference for female protagonist. We learn the most about the way Cullen’s mind works when dealing with a female mage.

In the origin story, we are first introduced to a bumbling, shy young Templar who seems to have no problem in befriending and being friendly to mages. Or at least, not the normal objections that one would expect to see from a Templar. It should in fact be old history to everyone who has played the game that it’s common gossip in the tower that Cullen seems to have a crush on the female protagonist. To him, it doesn’t seem to contradict his duties at all to be friendly with the people he’s protecting, although he “… would have felt terrible about it”[1] which I always find amusingly macabre. And at that point, that’s what he’s doing- he’s protecting mages, not imprisoning them, and he doesn’t feel particularly good about it. Rather naïve on his part, but there you have it. All of his dialogue is nervous and stuttering and far too inexperienced; this is not a trained killer, a ruthless Templar the likes of which we are all too familiar with in DA2. He is simply a young man trying to find his feet in his vocation, with the added complication of feeling a slight infatuation for the very woman he was tasked with felling.

Here’s the first problem that people have with his character. Some people consider this behaviour to be unacceptable, to be tantamount to obsession or stalking. Although I’d like to say people are entitled to such an opinion, I find it a little short sighted. As Alistair explains to the Warden, Templars and recruits are not particularly encouraged to partake in all the normal activities that occupy young men and women (and older men and women for that matter!). That’s not to say they are forbidden from sex or marriage or relationships, but it’s certainly discouraged[2]; and as Anders so eagerly tells us in Awakening and then again in DA2, Kinloch Hold was somewhat infamous for the sexual freedom and promiscuity of the mages incarcerated there. For a young man to be locked away from any major settlements where he might find ‘safer’ options for a bedmate, to be told to watch these uninhibited young women and men day after day after day, to be told to look but never touch, constantly reminded that they are evil but yet to see evidence of it… it would confuse the Void out of anyone.

The Templars of Kinloch Hold lead a very different life to their compatriots across the sea in Kirkwall; in Kirkwall we see the Templars able to come and go, still in contact with their families, able to indulge themselves in the services available at the Blooming Rose, able to immerse themselves in the civilization of the city should they need to escape the darkness that is the Gallows. Kinloch Hold, by comparison, is in the middle of nowhere, an island literally and metaphorically. The Templars have very little recourse should they need a diversion from their duties—a tiny settlement, little more than a rustic inn and a few fishing shacks. Instead they are locked in the tower along with the mages, their only escape if they’re ‘lucky enough’ to be sent out hunting for apostates and mage children.

So Cullen is a young man, mid-twenties, who by his nervous demeanour appears to have never been seriously involved with a girl before, who is ordered to stand and watch pretty, promiscuous girls day after day after day… and we wonder why he might be mildly infatuated? He’s simply a product of his environment, a situation that constantly seats temptation directly in front of him and tells him to be strong and ignore it. He is essentially taught that feeling sexual attraction is a sin. And the accusations that he’s creepy? It’s just a crush- have you ever had an unreciprocated crush before? No one ever said he watched the Warden while she was sleeping, or bathing; he never made inappropriate moves and he never touched her and he never took advantage when or if the Warden makes a move against him. True, he’s one of her jailors, and that will never make it wholly right, but is his behaviour at this point really that abhorrent? I’d be inclined to say no. Cullen is just a sexually frustrated young man with middling social skills, following his faith to the best of his abilities, trying to come to terms with the fact that his duties require him to kill the mage with the cute smile if she turns into something from his darkest nightmares. That he’s not messed up before Uldred attacks is fairly outstanding on his part.

Now on to the heartbreaking scene at the top of the Tower during the Broken Circle quest. If you haven’t actually seen the interaction between Cullen and a female mage Warden, I think it’s worth just stopping to go and have a look[3]. The Warden returns to what was essentially her home to find it overrun with demons and on the brink of being annulled entirely. When she left, it was under a cloud of suspicion after helping a blood mage escape from the Tower; when she reappears, rumours follow her of betrayal and high treason, accused of being responsible for the massacre at Ostagar and the death of the king. And she walks into the midst of such a vastly indiscriminate slaughter, with these stories nipping at her heels… if you were a Templar, with the expected prejudices burned into your skull from an early age, how much trust would you place in such a woman? Allegedly the uprising is a result of Uldred trying to sway the Templars and the mages to support Loghain in the brewing civil war, and his arguments being shot down when news arrives of his treachery at Ostagar, but even then it becomes a game of hearsay and conjecture. The Warden hardly presents as trustworthy either, so her reappearance is not exactly reassuring.

Cullen and his brethren have fought against Uldred’s uprising, a losing battle, and by the time the Warden makes it to the top of the tower he is the only one left alive. He has seen men cut down by monstrosities the likes of which he has never seen before, creatures that hunger for his mind and his emotions, and the worst thing is that some of these creatures were once the mages that confused him so much. His superiors warned him that this could happen, that mages were not to be trusted, and yet he allowed himself to slip. Because they looked so normal, so human, and up until that point he honestly believed there was no obvious harm in mages. As David Gaider said, he is someone who has had his faith broken twice, once by mages and once by Templars [4] (more about the Templars when I discuss DA2) which implies that once upon a time he actually had faith in mages. Which is more than we can say about most Templars, and it makes me wonder why that sort of attitude has preserved so late into his training; granted, Greagoir seems like an almost indulgent sort of Commander at times (not all the time, and certainly not always towards mages, but more about that in a moment), but what we know and understand about the Templar Order doesn’t really seem to encourage Cullen’s initial attitude.

His belief in the basic goodness of humanity is stripped from him, in the most brutal fashion possible. His faith in mages- and most likely his faith in people if one looks closely enough at his behaviour in DA2- is utterly shattered, and the naivety and innocence that still lurk in his character in the mage origin are ripped from him. Because as if fighting for his life wasn’t bad enough, as if seeing mages burst outwards into abominations, their flesh rippling and corrupting, as if seeing his fellows cut down around him wasn’t the worst thing that could happen, standing there and expecting to die… then the demons got permission to play with him.

I’m going to talk about torture for a second, and specifically the effects that physical and psychological torture leaves on an individual. So consider that a trigger warning. We don’t know in any great detail what Cullen had to go through in the Tower. There are allusions to what happened, and we assume it wasn’t nice by any stretch of the imagination. There is fairly strong evidence that his torture wasn’t physical, more psychological as the demons sought to tempt him and taunt him and break him mentally. But that doesn’t make his experience any less horrifying. They got inside his mind, made him watch the deaths of his friends, locked him within hearing range of the Harrowing Chamber where he was forced to witness the screams and the sickening sounds of bodies being warped and reformed as the demons surged through into the reluctant host. In the case of a female protagonist, he believes that his sins are being dragged before his eyes, his shame and his secret hung tauntingly before him. Every secret darkness within him is dredged up by the demons, who delight in his anguish and his horror and hound him for what could have been hours, days, weeks… the Blight takes place for a year, and though the state of the Tower suggests that the uprising has only recently taken place when you arrive, that doesn’t rule out that perhaps the Templars have been fighting a losing battle for some time now.

So for an undetermined amount of time, Cullen has been held prisoner by creatures who do not know compassion, or pity, or remorse, creatures who only hunger for him to feel more, hurt more, so that they can feed upon him. We do a good enough job of beating ourselves up for the strange and often horrid things that can cross our minds unexpectedly. And we don’t live a militaristic, quasi-religious life that constantly hounds us to be suspicious, be cautious, be merciless, be judgemental, be righteous, be unforgiving. Imagine having all those dark secrets and macabre thoughts dragged into the open and forced upon you repeatedly for hours upon hours, until you were ready to believe that your saviour was just another mocking apparition. Imagine what it would be like to confuse the appearance of someone you are attracted to with just another sadistic attack by demons, and to think it was further proof of your perverted nature. How far would you have to fall to reach that point? How far would you have to fall to beg for death?

CULLEN: This trick again? I know what you are. It won't work. I will stay strong...
F!MAGE WARDEN: Cullen! Don't you recognize me?
CULLEN: Only too well... how far they must have delved into my thoughts...
WYNNE: The boy is exhausted. And this cage... I've never seen anything like it. Rest easy... help is here.
CULLEN: Enough visions. If anything in you is human... kill me now and stop this game.
LELIANA: He's delirious. He's been tortured... and has probably been denied food and water. I can tell. Here, I have a skin of--
CULLEN: Don't touch me! Stay away! Sifting through my thoughts... tempting me with the one thing I always wanted but could never have... Using my shame against me... my ill-advised infatuation with her... a mage, of all things. I am so tired of these cruel jokes... these tricks... these...

Doctor Allen Keller is the director and cofounder of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture [5]; he has given evidence at senate enquiries into the instances of torture in military operations, and is considered a world expert on torture recovery. Some of his interviews are fantastic, and it’s so easy to see not just Cullen in his words, but also Anders and his year in solitary confinement, or Fenris and his intimately abusive relationship with Danarius, or what any mage in Thedas is at risk of at every moment of their lives. If you have time, I highly recommend having a look at the work he does- there’s actually a documentary coming out in about a week’s time called Doctors of the Dark Side that I am definitely keeping an eye on and crossing my fingers that I can see it at the cinemas over here at some point. But he has some fantastic things to say about psychological torment, and how the scars can linger just as long as any physical scar.

“It's often difficult to tease out the physical and the psychological abuse because it's quite common that they're happening simultaneously. But for many individuals, the psychological forms of abuse including even the anticipation, the waiting, the uncertainty and the terror, as well as being subjected to forms of humiliation where they may not be physically injured or for example, if someone is subjected to a mock execution. If a gun is held to someone's head and the trigger is pulled in a mock execution, there may be no physical marks, but the nightmares, the terrors can go on for months and likely for years, if not a lifetime, after what the individual has suffered… That fear of being killed, of course, naturally is one of the most terrifying things that one can experience and can result in profound anxiety. And then in years to come anything that might remind the individual of that terror, of that fear, can result in just an overflow of terrifying memories and nightmares.” [6]

I won’t go into excessive detail, although I’d highly recommend taking a look at the rest of the interview. He does go into some specifics about waterboarding, so if you’re squeamish or triggered easily, I’d avoid it. There was also some research done in London (Torture vs Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment, 2007[7]) about survivors of the Yugoslavian conflict in the 1990s, where “…those techniques that did not involve physical pain were just as distressing, or even slightly more so, than those that directly inflicted pain.”[8] That same article has some interesting points from a Harvard study into solitary confinement (can’t stay away from Anders, can I?). Another great resource for this topic is The Centre for Victims of Torture, where they summarise psychological torture so very succinctly: Torture is the deliberate and systematic dismantling of a person’s identity and humanity.[9]

Cullen was tortured, plain and simple. There’s no real need to elaborate any more than I already have, but to summarise this is a young man in his twenties, hardly confident in himself and only averagely competent in his abilities, who fought for his life and saw all of his friends and colleagues slaughtered around him, who saw children and women cut down mercilessly, who saw mages turn into creatures from his worst nightmares, and then when he thought he was going to die, those same creatures kept him to play with at the blessing of the few mages who had yet to turn into abominations. I think the fact that he’s even coherent at all when you find him at the top of the Tower is indicative of the strength of his character.

But of course, in some ways it’s already too late for him- the naivety is gone, and he begs the Warden to kill the rest of the mages. He’s lost the ability to trust, and he cannot believe that there are mages who would not turn upon them if given the chance. It’s a complete 180°, from trusting too much to being unable to trust at all. His faith in humanity is gone, and all he has left is his faith in his duty; the balance has shifted and he is on his way to becoming the Knight Captain we know and love (or hate) in DA2. People may have betrayed him, but his duty gives him something to cling to, something to justify and explain the world, something to explain away what he has suffered and give him a reason to not just curl up in a ball and die. Duty gives him a reason to fight, but more than that it gives him purpose. So he latches onto it with all his might, and insists the mages must be killed [10]. He yells at you, rails at you, screams that there is no other option- it’s all or nothing. If you don’t, he implies, you’re no better than them. And he does this again in front of Greagoir and Irving later on, when the two men are asking your opinion on Annulment. It’s eerie, actually, how calm and civil that conversation is considering what they are discussing- should we kill the remaining men, women and children in this Tower without question? Cullen has more to say, surprisingly coherent despite what he has just been rescued from. And if you side with the Templars? “Do not worry ser, we no longer have to fear their dark powers.”[11]

That’s not to say he has no right to be coherent; people respond to torture and stress differently, the same way that different people respond to pain differently. Given what the epilogue can tell us about his fate, I think it’s obvious that Cullen has seized hold of ‘I am a Templar, this is my duty’ with complete fanaticism; if you side with the Templars and kill Irving and the mages, he is nothing but completely and utterly relieved. It’s his way of surviving, his way of getting out of bed each morning, and the anger and bitterness with which he reacts in Origins and at least the first Act of DA2 suggest he’s carrying some fairly serious self-loathing for not recognising the importance of his duties before now. There are two possible endings that explain Cullen’s fate, and neither of them is pretty. They both paint a picture of someone driven by unbending belief in the suspicious nature of mages, and potentially driven to the brink of madness by it. Again, hardly surprising: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can have terrible effects on a person’s mental stability.

Consider the language the epilogue uses to describe Cullen. Suspend your disbelief for a moment and remember that the epilogue slides are not necessarily correlated with what happens in DA2. If you side with the mages and shoot down his attempts to have the Circle annulled, “…he endures festering mental scars from his experience in the Tower. This leads to an eventual mental breakdown during which he kills a number of Mage Apprentices before fleeing.” Festering mental scars. Not just mental scars, but ones that fester and rankle and worsen as the months go by. Is anyone surprised that he suffered from PTSD after his experience? I’m actually more surprised that he was left in a position of power over the same people who did this to him (I’m making a generalisation here- of course they aren’t Uldred and his minions, but from a Templar mindset one mage is as good as another). Why was someone so traumatised and so paranoid left around mages who possess even more freedom than before? As far as he’s concerned, freedom is the absolute worst thing you can give to a mage. So he’s back in that same environment, surrounded by temptation again, and he’s expected to just get on with his job and deal with it. I imagine that the Templar Order doesn’t have a great health care plan (), and counselling is probably almost non-existent in Thedas. And before long, it all becomes too much for him and the inevitable happens- he snaps. He lashes out at the source of his pain, the reason for his paranoia- mages- and then flees, presumably without being found again by the wording of the epilogue. Not a happy ending at all.

If you sided with the Templars and did not grant the Tower autonomy, it is just as heartbreaking, with shades of Meredith shining through. “If the Warden sided with Cullen, or was of Mage Origin and did not grant the Tower autonomy, then Cullen will eventually become Knight-Commander of the Circle Tower after Greagoir retires, watching over the Magi with a much more strict and cruel regime than even Greagoir had.” Now the wording can seem a little off here regarding Greagoir; the rapport he had with Irving is very misleading as to the nature of the environment in the Tower. After recruiting Anders in Awakening, we learn a lot more about what goes on behind closed doors that we are not necessarily exposed to even as a Mage origin- beatings, suicide, rape, solitary confinement as a means of behavioral reprogramming and Maker knows what else. Greagoir, for all that he seems gruffly endearing in some of his conversations with the Warden, and has a weary sort of camaraderie with Irving, is still the master of this little world, and has a duty of care to the mages as much as the Templars under his command. So if Greagoir, who can come across as a potentially decent human being, is considered to be both strict and cruel by the tomes of history and is already responsible for a Tower that condones rape and violent beatings and every kind of abuse in between, we can only imagine what that means for Cullen’s reign as Commander.

The end of the Blight rolls around, and Cullen’s life has changed drastically in such a short time. He has been utterly traumatized, and given that he’s an NPC whom we see very little of in comparison to the companions, there is so much about his recovery that I can only offer as conjecture. So let’s consider what happens next. From Kinloch Hold… to Kirkwall.


His Awakening

We have no idea how Cullen came to be the Knight Captain in Kirkwall in such a short amount of time. The wiki and his codex entry offer no explanation as to his sudden promotion- which I’ll point out appears to have skipped several stations, as the rank of Corporal and then Lieutenant is usually the next two steps in the chain of command. In a short space of time, and at a relatively young age, he’s gone from a simple Templar to the second most powerful position within a branch of the Order. And not just at any location, either, but at the centre of Templar power in the East[12]; the young man with the stutter has come a long a way in a very short amount of time.

Let’s talk timelines for a moment. [13][14] The Blight in Ferelden took place over the space of a year, and Hawke and family fled from Lothering near to the very start of that year. The codex states that the entirety of events in Origins, including the initial awakening of Urthemiel, took place in 9:30 and the events of Act I take place in 9:31. It’s hard to tie down events in either game to a month by month breakdown, so I’m going on supposition for a small portion of this. I’ve researched it all fairly extensively, so I hope that I will be forgiven by anyone who objects to my theorised timeline.

When we launch into Act I, the Blight has ended very recently, possibly as little as a month or two by the chatter you hear around Kirkwall, and yet Cullen is already ensconced in his new position. Given that the Broken Circle quest could have taken place at any time during Origins except for perhaps the last two, maybe three months (if we assume that the Broken Circle was the very last of the main quests performed before Denerim and the Landsmeet), Cullen has potentially only had a recovery period of maybe five or six months when Hawke first meets him in Enemies Among Us. If we assume that it was the first quest undertaken by the Warden, he may have had as long as twelve to fourteen months to recover. Lucky him- a whole twelve months to pull himself together, to get over the horrifying event that has defined his life, his character and his world views. Would you tell a rape victim that twelve months is plenty of time for she or he to have recovered emotionally? Would you assume that someone who survived a terrorist bombing is going to be balanced and well-adjusted in a year’s time? Of course not. That’s not to say he couldn’t, necessarily, but we can’t presume a victim of trauma is going to just dust themselves off and get on with their life.

Cullen was a victim, and his mind was violated, and we can’t expect him to have recovered in such a short space of time. Although it is easy for us to say that, given our medical superiority and greater understanding of the human psyche; we know that human beings can be fragile creatures, and we know that sometimes it takes a lot of effort to keep us in working order. There are a significant number of options for victims of torture: we have cognitive behavioural therapy, risk intervention, stress inoculation therapy, eye movement desensitization, pharmacotherapy, group psychotherapy, dedicated facilities around the globe that exist simply to nurse victims of torture away from “…the sense of unpredictable danger to reliable safety, from dissociated trauma to acknowledged memory, and from stigmatized isolation to restored social connection.” [15] Thedas has no such resources, and in a medieval style society one can imagine there would be very little support offered. At times, it’s easy to imagine that the better part of Kirkwall is staggering around with PTSD.

“Recovery from the effects of torture can be a long and difficult process. Overcoming physical brutality can be hard enough, but even long after the actual events have occurred, victims of torture must deal with the trauma of psychological brutality as well. Long after the physical wounds heal, the psychological trauma persists. Even with professional help, recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can take decades and even after recovery seems to be in the past, relapses remain common.”

In the space of a year, and without any kind of acknowledged aid or assistance, Cullen has become one of the most powerful men in Kirkwall, potentially one of the most powerful men in the Free Marches. One might consider that a good thing, to see him leaving the past behind him, moving on in an attempt to put an ugly incident aside and just get on with advancing his career. But stop and consider it closely for a moment- why has a traumatized Templar from another country been made second in command in the most important outpost in eastern Thedas, with no apparent record of leadership skills and nothing to recommend him except his violent fear and hatred for mages? What happened that Cullen, out of all the Templars in Thedas, could be considered the best fit for the role of Knight Captain?

Well, what do we know about Kirkwall and the Gallows? Meredith came to power in 9:21 Dragon and has apparently ruled with an iron fist ever since. I’m not going to go into the details of that because much better writers than I have already analysed her character and her reign fairly thoroughly.[16] We know that it’s hard for them to keep their numbers up. We know that there is a big ‘problem’ with mage support in the city, and at the same time there is a higher than normal rate of blood mages and possessions (the reason for which is revealed to a particularly diligent Hawke by finding every Enigma of Kirkwall [17]). It’s a volatile environment and hardly the best place for a recovering victim of torture to find solace. Purpose, certainly- Cullen has his work cut out for him, but maybe he’s looking for just such a distraction. Perhaps he wants a fresh start, somewhere away from Ferelden; that might explain why he’s in Kirkwall in the first place, but it doesn’t explain why he’s gone from Templar, bypassed Corporal and Lieutenant and become Captain in such a short space of time. That also goes without making mention of the other more senior Templars (or just the older Templars) such as Thrask, Alrik, Emeric, Karras… they were all bypassed in favour of a much younger contender, although it remains to be seen whether any of them actually wanted the position in the first place.

Wilder conspiracy theories aside, it seems that Cullen brings several things to the role of Knight Captain that couldn’t be sourced from within Kirkwall. One, he’s fresh blood and he’s eager; he is not burdened yet by the ongoing chaos that Kirkwall seems to breed on a daily basis, and we know that the Gallows struggles to keep their numbers at sustainable levels, so importing Templars from overseas seems like a valid solution to that problem. Two, his trauma might potentially make him a more appealing candidate. Bear with me for a moment on this point: Cullen has become a fanatic, someone completely driven by the belief that mages are not human. In a place like Kirkwall, where every day seems to breed fresh disasters and new incidences of blood magic, the Templar Order does not want someone with a more moderate touch. As much as we can say that the situation in Kirkwall is worsened by Meredith tightening her grip, the Knight Vigilant in Orlais isn’t simply going to shrug and call for them to use more restrained measures; that’s just not the way things are done in the Templar Order. We are talking about an organisation that sees no problem in systematically slaughtering a building full of men, women and children twice a century [18], so they are not going to look for a moderate candidate.

Cullen is exactly what they are looking for in a Knight Captain- he’s not just ruthless; he has reasons for his ruthlessness. They can say ‘go and imprison these dangerous mages’ and point at a group of eight year olds and he will do it. Why? Because he has lived it, and recently too; the scars are still fresh, and some of them still appear to be open and bleeding if Hawke prods him too hard in Act I. He’s young enough to be influenced and intimidated by senior Templars- more on that in a moment- but he’s now harder and colder and more suspicious than ever before. He hates mages, pure and simple, because their burden has personally affected him now. I said earlier that Cullen’s journey is about the conflict between his faith and duty versus his ability to hope and trust, his humanity in a sense. The time in between Origins and DA2, a time that should have been his time to heal and come to terms with his torture and imprisonment, has instead gone almost immediately into being the Knight Captain, which requires unbending faith, and complete commitment to duty, and in a place like Kirkwall, it requires him to believe without a doubt that he is doing the right thing- that he is the unsung hero, that what he is doing is ordained by the Maker himself, that he is doing what no one else was strong enough to do.

Why is Cullen the Knight Captain?

Because he believes.