manchester_babe

Villains and heroes in game of thrones.

34 posts in this topic

12 minutes ago, Tygett Greenshield said:

No.

What do you mean by that?

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3 minutes ago, manchester_babe said:

What do you mean by that?

That they don't exist.

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57 minutes ago, Tygett Greenshield said:

No.

Ramsay , Euron , Joffrey and the Mountain. 

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13 minutes ago, LordImp said:

Ramsay , Euron , Joffrey and the Mountain. 

Joffrey and the Mountain clearly suffer from medical issues.

Ramsay isn't evil. He only takes fingers or toes people ask for.

Euron is a democratically elected king who seeks to make sure his family is supported for and cared after.

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10 minutes ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Joffrey and the Mountain clearly suffer from medical issues.

Ramsay isn't evil. He only takes fingers or toes people ask for.

Euron is a democratically elected king who seeks to make sure his family is supported for and cared after.

True. :-)

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The idea that there are no "villains" is going a little too far. While GRRM is very much a follower of "we are all the heroes of our own story" there are some characters who I would say are irredeemably "evil", or at least hideously horrible, people.

Euron Greyjoy is probably the worst so far and has the potential to be one of the biggest threats to the realm at the moment if even a few of his plans get off the ground. If TWoW preview chapter is anything to go by, his revolting actions against his family and followers is only going to be the top of the iceberg.

Ramsay Bolton isn't truly the most conniving or even compelling villain though I don't think anyone could really make an argument that he is anything other than a wretched human being for his torture of people who are helpless and weak. I cannot think of a single thing he has done that could be viewed as redeemable - he is just an ugly human being, inside and out. One could argue that his father, Roose Bolton, is not much better either. While not quite as revolting as Ramsay, acknowledging that his son is a horrible and dreadful person, his apathy towards everything makes him a more sophisticated villain. The way he coldly plotted against Robb, manipulated him and then aided in his assassination makes him hard to see the good in either.

Joffrey Baratheon was only thirteen when he was killed but I think we can all agree that he would only have got worse once he'd come of age. Much like Ramsey, he gets pleasure out of harming others with virtually no softer side to him. He was also something of a product of his upbringing, being conceived in spite as his mother Cersei Lannister wished to give her husband horns as revenge for his own whoring. Cersei could be argued to be a little too self-destructive to be a full-blooded villain but, again, that is part of what makes her so compelling to be in the head of. Not only is she paranoid but she is also narcissistic. Yet, she commits acts of cruelty without a second thought and, as Littlefinger correctly assesses, she wants power just for the sake of it - having no idea what she wants to do with it and is willing to do awful things to do it.

We could go on but I'll leave it there for now. The point is that even when we get inside their heads, like Cersei, doesn't make them a heroic figure - if anything it makes you realise how warped and pathetic the emperor is without his clothes, if you know what I mean. If you want to have the straightforward villains who clearly just get pleasure from the cruelty they can enact on others - Euron, Ramsay and Joffrey are good places to start alone.

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2 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Joffrey and the Mountain clearly suffer from medical issues.

Ramsay isn't evil. He only takes fingers or toes people ask for.

Euron is a democratically elected king who seeks to make sure his family is supported for and cared after.

Medical issues is not a excuse for killing a baby and then raping the mother . Joffrey is just a spoiled saddistic little shit.

Ramsay is pure evil.

Killing your brothers , raping and sacrificing your pregnant mistress are acts of pure evil. Being selected democratically dosen't justify such evil acts. 

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1 hour ago, Faera said:

The idea that there are no "villains" is going a little too far. While GRRM is very much a follower of "we are all the heroes of our own story" there are some characters who I would say are irredeemably "evil", or at least hideously horrible, people.

Euron Greyjoy is probably the worst so far and has the potential to be one of the biggest threats to the realm at the moment if even a few of his plans get off the ground. If TWoW preview chapter is anything to go by, his revolting actions against his family and followers is only going to be the top of the iceberg.

Ramsay Bolton isn't truly the most conniving or even compelling villain though I don't think anyone could really make an argument that he is anything other than a wretched human being for his torture of people who are helpless and weak. I cannot think of a single thing he has done that could be viewed as redeemable - he is just an ugly human being, inside and out. One could argue that his father, Roose Bolton, is not much better either. While not quite as revolting as Ramsay, acknowledging that his son is a horrible and dreadful person, his apathy towards everything makes him a more sophisticated villain. The way he coldly plotted against Robb, manipulated him and then aided in his assassination makes him hard to see the good in either.

Joffrey Baratheon was only thirteen when he was killed but I think we can all agree that he would only have got worse once he'd come of age. Much like Ramsey, he gets pleasure out of harming others with virtually no softer side to him. He was also something of a product of his upbringing, being conceived in spite as his mother Cersei Lannister wished to give her husband horns as revenge for his own whoring. Cersei could be argued to be a little too self-destructive to be a full-blooded villain but, again, that is part of what makes her so compelling to be in the head of. Not only is she paranoid but she is also narcissistic. Yet, she commits acts of cruelty without a second thought and, as Littlefinger correctly assesses, she wants power just for the sake of it - having no idea what she wants to do with it and is willing to do awful things to do it.

We could go on but I'll leave it there for now. The point is that even when we get inside their heads, like Cersei, doesn't make them a heroic figure - if anything it makes you realise how warped and pathetic the emperor is without his clothes, if you know what I mean. If you want to have the straightforward villains who clearly just get pleasure from the cruelty they can enact on others - Euron, Ramsay and Joffrey are good places to start alone.

Agree.

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I do not have much time,

so I just drop two things that Martin has said on the matter of  -

Villains

Quote

From the Rolling Stone interview.

 

One of the things I wanted to explore with Jaime, and with so many of the characters, is the whole issue of redemption. When can we be redeemed? Is redemption even possible? I don't have an answer.

But when do we forgive people? You see it all around in our society, in constant debates. Should we forgive Michael Vick? I have friends who are dog-lovers who will never forgive Michael Vick.

Michael Vick has served years in prison; he's apologized. Has he apologized sufficiently? Woody Allen: Is Woody Allen someone that we should laud, or someone that we should despise? Or Roman Polanski, Paula Deen.

Our society is full of people who have fallen in one way or another, and what do we do with these people? How many good acts make up for a bad act? If you're a Nazi war criminal and then spend the next 40 years doing good deeds and feeding the hungry, does that make up for being a concentration-camp guard?

I don't know the answer, but these are questions worth thinking about. I want there to be a possibility of redemption for us, because we all do terrible things. We should be able to be forgiven.

Because if there is no possibility of redemption, what's the answer then? [Martin pauses for a moment.] You've read the books?

and -

Heroes

Quote

ok, the excerpt from the July 10, 2014 video (44:38):

 

 

 

So I'm not really interested in heroes. I don't think heroes per se exist in the way that science fiction sometimes depicts them. But I am interested in heroism. And I think in an audience like this [gestures to audience], all of you have the potential to be heroes, like on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday you may be shits. Uh, because that's the way all real human beings are. We all have the capacity to do great good inside us, we all have the capacity to be selfish, or greedy or petty. We've all done things, I hope, that we're proud of. And if we can admit it to ourselves, we've all done things that we're ashamed of. I know I certainly have done both.

 

 

 

And, uh, that's the kind of human being that interests me. Boy, what amazing, fascinating creatures human beings are, with all these contradictions inside ourselves. That's the sort of characters I want to explore, not the guy who's just "I'm Joe Hero," or his ultimate, "I'm the dark lord. I'm here to bring darkness over the earth." Uh, what a job description.

 

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1 hour ago, LordImp said:

Medical issues is not a excuse for killing a baby and then raping the mother . Joffrey is just a spoiled saddistic little shit.

Ramsay is pure evil.

Killing your brothers , raping and sacrificing your pregnant mistress are acts of pure evil. Being selected democratically dosen't justify such evil acts. 

Cultural relativism and applying modern moralistic values to Westeros. Anachronism, the lot of it!

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Planetos isn't really a world without heroes and villains, they just aren't the interesting part of the story, and only exist as background for the actual characters (who, presumably for the reasons @Lykos gives, are not heroes and villains) to react to.

For example, the Mountain is a villain. But we don't get any real insight into Gregor, beyond the bare minimum needed to understand Sandor's story. So he's not even really a secondary character like Sandor, he's more a non-character plot device.

If GRRM were to decide to explore Gregor a bit, to make a character out of him, I'll bet he'd do his best to turn him into something that's not a pure villain anymore.

I think that's what GRRM means when he says there are no heroes and villains in his story—even if there are some in his world, even if we see a few of them, they're not characters in his story.

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Sure there are "heros" and "villains." Only sometimes they're the same people. Nearly every character has some heroic parts; even the shiniest has some bad parts. Moreover, most of the main characters will change with time. Arya, for example, seems to be on a bad arc at the moment, but we shouldn't give up hope for her yet. And so on.

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Your meta argument and even Martin's quotes above both feel a little reductive for me. In your meta you said "There are no villains. It's people trying to survive." That might work in some cases, but it's too broad a statement, and may be more rarely "true" than at first it seems.

How was the Mountain "trying to survive" when he raped the innkeeper's daughter because her father insisted she wasn't a whore, insulted the family with coin for their presumption to refuse him the gratification of her "services" and assert her personhood, and then insult them again by demanding change because she wasn't even "worth" the coin he gave, and forcing the father to "thank [him] for [his] custom?" How was he trying to survive when he murdered a man--one of his own soldiers--for snoring too loud (lots of folks have migraines, but no one gets to murder someone for making their head hurt), or when he raped and battered Pia for talking too much? Was Roose Bolton "trying to survive" when he had the serving women who bedded Lannister soldiers at Harrenhal (including, again, poor Pia) stripped naked and pilloried so any man who wished could rape them to his satisfaction (despite the fact they were likely willing to "provide" the same "services" to the Stark and Frey men who occupied their castle and home as to the Lannister men)? Was oh-so-pious Bonnifer Hasty "trying to survive" when he expelled Pia (again, poor girl) from Harrenhal, the only home she'd ever known, during his occupation purely because he deemed her a whore for bedding--and being raped by--the soldiers who occupied her home (against her will and against the will of the rightful mistress, Lady Whent)? What ever happened to "the Mother's mercy?" 

Martin too is being reductive in those quotes, but I do see some denial as well, in his refusal to admit that an archetypal "hero" or "villain" can be interesting, nuanced, and complex. Heroism and villainy are rarely things people turn off and on with a switch--hero today, villain tomorrow--like he presented (conflating the concept or moral judgment of a person at whole with various "acts" committed).

Nor is redemption something that can "account for" mistakes made, like there's a running tally or we're trying to balance a literal scale; redemption requires a lot of introspection and examination of one's own motives, mistakes, missed opportunities, moral values, and more beside, and inherently requires, amidst that introspection and examination, understanding one's choices, why one made them, why one didn't make other choices, one's potential and personal tendencies to be heroic or villainous, and acceptance of one's faults and failings and limitations, as well as recognizing one's talents, skills, successes, and positive traits (like moral values) that one can tap into. It requires changing your thinking as well as your doing, and choosing to make more positive choices than negative. That's an incredibly difficult process to accomplish, and those who dare to undertake it are to be lauded for it... but redeeming yourself also requires the understanding that you are not entitled to forgiveness for your bad deeds. Redemption cannot be an imposition on someone else. Redemption is a conscious choice to improve not only yourself but also the world, in the hopes that fewer people will suffer as you suffered or brought suffering, and that fewer people will make the mistakes you've made.

A man (like the Nazi guard) who stands by to witness as someone starves to death (and is active or passively aggressive in making it happen) who goes on to feed the hungry for the rest of his life, may be redeemed for (some of) his choices but not necessarily even forgiven for them--because no one is entitled to forgiveness from someone who is unwilling or unable or too hurt to forgive; forgiveness is a healing act, but it is something fore-given, not something taken and assumed/presumed. Redeeming oneself and being forgiven are two very different things (another conflation Martin made), and anyone on the path to redemption must come to accept that forgiveness may not be awaiting at their destination, but also revel in that the journey is itself worthy of the effort of the undertaking. Taking Michael Vick, for his example, what a lot of people see with him is the common instance of someone who says sorry and makes amends only because they were caught, scolded, and/or punished for their wrongs, as if the redemptive journey was forced upon him, which is why there are many people who are unwilling to forgive him. That said, we also need to learn to accept that lots of people do bad things until they're caught, whereupon only then do they start to examine the depth and impact of their own choices and behavior. I don't want to get into what I, personally, think of Michael Vick, but I do think there is some (positive) value in a willingness to listen when caught, scolded, and punished (whether this is his particular case or no), because that is one way people learn from their mistakes. 

That said, the other major denial I see in Martin's quotes is this: it's impossibly difficult to (strive to) be heroic where there is no one or nothing (such as a system) villainous that you are in contention with. It's impossibly difficult to (claim to) walk a middle ground when there are no extremes (heroism, villainy, in this instance) on either side of you. 

These concepts aren't merely social constructs and abstractions of real life. While it might be wrong to try to paint everyone as either utterly black or utterly white (as the saying goes), it's also wrong to deny that some people are more good/bad, more heroic/villainous, more moral/amoral than others, too. And in some special cases, these judgments are of something so extreme that we fall back upon the concept itself--evil, good/saintly--to label that person or thing. 

Martin writes about heroes and villains, whether he wants to admit to it or not. It's part of the storytelling tradition because it's part of real life (art imitating life). He might claim he does not write a specific subset of hero or villain (and I vehemently disagree with him there), but to suggest that they are not present at all is a very bizarre claim, indeed. How is anyone to ever be heroic if there is no person or system that is (being) villainous? What does "heroism" even entail in such a situation, I would like to ask him, because I don't understand? If Ned was being "heroic" to try to spare or save the lives of children in Game, then there had to be at least one person or system being "villainous" opposite him, to beg or require of him that "heroism" at all. As we cannot blame Ned for being heroic opposite someone or something villainous (to save or spare the lives of children who are endangered) as that is what "heroism" entails, even as it (might have) led to his death, and other destructions, we cannot deny that the persons or things he strove so heroically against were "villainous" and condemn them for it (by endangering the lives of children and establishing a need and space for an "heroic" answer at all). Martin likes the dynamism of the struggle between good and evil, but appears to dislike that it is a struggle between good and evil. 

Like Martin said, these are all complex topics, so when even he reduces them to the bare bones or makes inappropriate conflations we shouldn't be afraid to call him on it. That's my take, anyway. :-}

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17 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Cultural relativism and applying modern moralistic values to Westeros. Anachronism, the lot of it!

So killing babies and flaying people are not bad ? Those actions are considered wrong even in Westeros . 

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15 minutes ago, LordImp said:

So killing babies and flaying people are not bad ? Those actions are considered wrong even in Westeros . 

:rolleyes:

 

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22 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Joffrey and the Mountain clearly suffer from medical issues.

Ramsay isn't evil. He only takes fingers or toes people ask for.

Euron is a democratically elected king who seeks to make sure his family is supported for and cared after.

Never saw Joffrey suffering from medical issues. Being inbred can't explain everything. Ramsay: he takes fingers/toes/ other pieces because he forces those he tortures to ask him to cut them off. 

"Please, cut it off!"

"I win."

 

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I guess this is a problem I've had with the morality of A Song of Ice and Fire. 

 

Are there only villains and no heroes?

Edited by Angel Eyes

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