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RandomWanderer

Why do people like Stannis.. I don't get it?

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First let me say that I'm glad to be a part of this forum now. I've been reading the debates on this forum a few days now and I love it here. I started reading the series about a year and a half ago and I decided I would not go on any fan sites until I caught up with the newest book.

Now for my first post.. please tell me WHY you actually LIKE Stannis? I mean I don't hate the guy but I just cannot see any interest in him at all. Both he and his wife are uselessly entitled and just cannot back it up. Davos has been the one saving grace for me in terms of getting through Chapters with Stannis and his crew in it.. and I do have to admit in book 4 and 5 my interest has grown in the red priestess(and the other red priest as well).

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I don't like Stannis - in fact, I find him quite despicable, in some ways more so than even Melisandre herself - but as a character he is intriguing. A walking contradiction, even.

Here is a man who puts up a façade of unbending honor yet is plainly a hypocrite, who values strength yet lacks it. The poor guy couldn't be more conflicted if he aimed to be. Yet he has a humble streak as well, much as he attempts to deny it. Deep down he realizes that he will never be as wise as Davos and ends up hearing him up whenever he can. It is a fascinating trait that may well help in redeeming him still.

But what I find most fascinating about him is how desperately he wants acceptance and approval. Yet he is quite afraid of saying so. Ultimately, he is a very realistic person, the kind we find easily among our acquaintances.

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He's hilarious.

I agree with this. His deadpan delivery kills me every time.

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His flaws notwithstanding, I can't help but like any character who recognizes Davos's worth. For me, that's why.

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Reasons for liking Stannis, off the top of my head:

1. Unintentional Hilariousness. Perhaps more so than I've ever seen, in any other form of literature. ("I am not without mercy," thundered he who was notoriously without mercy;" "Laws should be made out of Iron, not out of pudding." "Lord Gunther said it was brilliant. I could show the man the contents of my chamber pot, and he would say the same thing." "I would have more milk from her, and less talking. She was hired for her teats, not her tongue." (Heh. This last one especially sounds pretty fucking hilarious out of context.) "Robert could piss in a glass, and they would call it wine..." "The father is the girl's own father? We are glad to be rid of the whore, then. I will not tolerate such abomninations here, for this is not King's Landing!") And many, many only slightly lesser lines.

Good stuff.

We need to start a thread of "Stannisisms", seriously.

2. Pathos. Nobody loves him. Nobody has ever really loves him. He knows it. He's never really gotten over it, and never really will. It is especially painful to read what he later does in light of Cressen's intro of him, and his lonely, isolated childhood.

3. Interesting Interactions with other characters. No matter who they are and what they want, Stannis has some issues that are going to come bubbling to the surface.

4. Mystery-- the fact is that, despite the huge role that he plays, we just don't see in his mind. This is the case with a few other characters, but often said characters are either fairly straigtfoward/ open books (Robert Baratheon); not enormously complex (Robb Stark); or explain (to an extent) why they do what they do through explanations to others/emotional outbursts (Doran Martell or Sandor Clegane.)

With Stannis, this isn't really the case. Oh, he tells Davos why he's doing what he's doing all right, but due to his innate complexity and capacity for self-delusion, how far can we really trust him? 150 percent, according to many Stannis fans (who are, imo, actually doing him a disservice in making him such a bloody boring pillar of righteousness.) The greatest possible comparison I can make is Stannis/ Tywin. However, there are some major differences-- IMO, though I cannot agree with those who say that a righteous desiere for justice is the only thing (or even the number one thing) that is driving Stannis, IMO, he is far more than the straight foward, self and family serving hypocrite that Tywin is. Justice is one of the things that Stannis is working for, and he himself genuinely believes (and, imo, puts some energy into convincing himself) that he is right and does what he does for the greater good,) which seperates him from Tywin.

5. Interesting History: The loss of his parents at age 13. Growing up in his brothers shadow. The role he played in the War of the Usurper. His continued relationship with Robert, easily the most fascinating and, imo, the only truly believable sibling relationship in these books. These are all fascinating in theselves, and, furthermore, one can see how they shaped Stannis. And, unlike with some other characters, there is little idealization or romanticization of his feelings for any of his family members. (I'm-- and I know I may well be alone on this one-- thinking of all of the starks, here.)

6. Authorial Distance: No favortism or unequivical hatred to mar GRRM's view of this guy; Stannis is presented with sympathy and honesty, but without favortism or indulgence. IMO, I wish GRRM could be capable of treating all of his characters with such justice and moral clarity and artistic distance.

7. Complexity. Stannis is kind of a douche on a lot of issues. And yet, he is far, far more interesting than many better, nicer, more admirable characters. In my heart of heart I know that Dany and Jon Snow are both better people (and would probably make better rulers) than Stannis Baratheon. But I have simply never felt for either of these two as I have for Stannis at times, simply because they do not feel as real.

For Stannis, I have felt everything from love to heartbreaking pity to real sympathy to outrage to occaisional hatred. For Dany and Jon, it's mostly just admiration, occasional sympathy for their pain and suffering, and empathy for their difficult situations and choices. However, neither of them have ever hit me on a visceral level as Stannis does. No accounting for that, but there it is.

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He's basically Inspector Javert IN SPACE on Westeros.

He hold Davos in higher esteem than highborn lords.

He prefers to hear the truth, even if it's unpleasant.

He has sarcasm.

He can sire shadow assassins.

He is the rightful king.

He's Genre Savvy enough to know how screwed they all are just because they're on Westeros. Besides him, only Sandor seems to be this realistic.

He defends the realm while other kings are busy backstabbing each other.

He endured Selyse for 12+ years. He slept with Selyse and is still alive.

He survived on rats.

He will never give up.

But as to nobody loves him?

Davos definitely does, and his deep loyalty and love and respect is what Stannis never got from other people.

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Reasons for liking Stannis, off the top of my head:

1. Unintentional Hilariousness. Perhaps more so than I've ever seen, in any other form of literature. ("I am not without mercy," thundered he who was notoriously without mercy;" "Laws should be made out of Iron, not out of pudding." "Lord Gunther said it was brilliant. I could show the man the contents of my chamber pot, and he would say the same thing." "I would have more milk from her, and less talking. She was hired for her teats, not her tongue." (Heh. This last one especially sounds pretty fucking hilarious out of context.) "Robert could piss in a glass, and they would call it wine..." "The father is the girl's own father? We are glad to be rid of the whore, then. I will not tolerate such abomninations here, for this is not King's Landing!") And many, many only slightly lesser lines.

Good stuff.

We need to start a thread of "Stannisisms", seriously.

2. Pathos. Nobody loves him. Nobody has ever really loves him. He knows it. He's never really gotten over it, and never really will. It is especially painful to read what he later does in light of Cressen's intro of him, and his lonely, isolated childhood.

3. Interesting Interactions with other characters. No matter who they are and what they want, Stannis has some issues that are going to come bubbling to the surface.

4. Mystery-- the fact is that, despite the huge role that he plays, we just don't see in his mind. This is the case with a few other characters, but often said characters are either fairly straigtfoward/ open books (Robert Baratheon); not enormously complex (Robb Stark); or explain (to an extent) why they do what they do through explanations to others/emotional outbursts (Doran Martell or Sandor Clegane.)

With Stannis, this isn't really the case. Oh, he tells Davos why he's doing what he's doing all right, but due to his innate complexity and capacity for self-delusion, how far can we really trust him? 150 percent, according to many Stannis fans (who are, imo, actually doing him a disservice in making him such a bloody boring pillar of righteousness.) The greatest possible comparison I can make is Stannis/ Tywin. However, there are some major differences-- IMO, though I cannot agree with those who say that a righteous desiere for justice is the only thing (or even the number one thing) that is driving Stannis, IMO, he is far more than the straight foward, self and family serving hypocrite that Tywin is. Justice is one of the things that Stannis is working for, and he himself genuinely believes (and, imo, puts some energy into convincing himself) that he is right and does what he does for the greater good,) which seperates him from Tywin.

5. Interesting History: The loss of his parents at age 13. Growing up in his brothers shadow. The role he played in the War of the Usurper. His continued relationship with Robert, easily the most fascinating and, imo, the only truly believable sibling relationship in these books. These are all fascinating in theselves, and, furthermore, one can see how they shaped Stannis. And, unlike with some other characters, there is little idealization or romanticization of his feelings for any of his family members. (I'm-- and I know I may well be alone on this one-- thinking of all of the starks, here.)

6. Authorial Distance: No favortism or unequivical hatred to mar GRRM's view of this guy; Stannis is presented with sympathy and honesty, but without favortism or indulgence. IMO, I wish GRRM could be capable of treating all of his characters with such justice and moral clarity and artistic distance.

7. Complexity. Stannis is kind of a douche on a lot of issues. And yet, he is far, far more interesting than many better, nicer, more admirable characters. In my heart of heart I know that Dany and Jon Snow are both better people (and would probably make better rulers) than Stannis Baratheon. But I have simply never felt for either of these two as I have for Stannis at times, simply because they do not feel as real.

For Stannis, I have felt everything from love to heartbreaking pity to real sympathy to outrage to occaisional hatred. For Dany and Jon, it's mostly just admiration, occasional sympathy for their pain and suffering, and empathy for their difficult situations and choices. However, neither of them have ever hit me on a visceral level as Stannis does. No accounting for that, but there it is.

nicely said! :thumbsup:

i especially liked the part about the mystery around him. I never thought about it that way. we really don't know that much about Stannis's mind.

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He endured Selyse for 12+ years. He slept with Selyse and is still alive.

Because we all know there's nothing worse than having sex with an ugly woman :rolleyes:.

But yeah, I also like Stannis. Queen Cersei's post above does a better job of explaining why than I could.

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Because we all know there's nothing worse than having sex with an ugly woman :rolleyes:.

but...but she has a moustache!

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He endured Selyse for 12+ years. He slept with Selyse and is still alive.

Dickish comment.

Hey, this just in-- sleeping with an ugly woman, while unpleasant, is not DEADLY. Love the sensitivity you show here, though. Almost measures up to that of the text itself, whose repeated, gratuitous descriptions of Selyse's mustache do indeed reach the level of poetry. :rolleyes:

Seriously, Stannis treats Selyse like shit-- I know this may be hard for you and 99.999 percent of others on the board to appreciate, since Selyse has a stash and is therefore inhuman, and deserves to be treated like a hamster or something. But some people might consider a guy frequently ignoring his wife, leaving her on a cold, isolated island where she has no friends all year, never writing or visiting her, screwing her once a year with a horrified, disgusted look on his face, refusing to touch her and shuddering with blatant, palpable disgust when she casusally touches his hand, flaunting his gorgeous young mistress in front of her, and being so blatant with his gorgeous young mistress that people hundreds of thousands of miles out of the way, in the middle of nowhere, know about the relationship, to be pretty shitty behavior.

But never mind. Sleeping with Selyse is DEADLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :rolleyes:

P.S.-- and, by the by, I do not blame Stannis (or any other guy) for not wanting to sleep with (or being disgusted sexually by) Selyse. What makes his behavior so shitty is the way he won't even make the slightest accomadations to save her suffering or humiliation. Yeah, if you are in an arranged marriage and your wife is ugly, feel free to have a mistress. But for the love of god, man, show just a slight bit of sensitivity to your wife's reputation and try to be somewhat discreet so everyone-- from the wall to the riverlands-- isn't mocking her and talking about how your hot young mistress is your "true queen," and she's just some fug you keep in the middle of nowhere. Also, kind of cruel to spend weeks and weeks after a battle underground screwing your mistress and looking at her visions in fires while refusing to see your wife.

Also, it is possible to maintain some friendliness/ politeness, even the most basic courtesy, without wanting to sleep with someone. In every scene he's in with Selyse, Stannis is described as shrugging away from her (oftentimes casual and platonic) touch and looking at her with a horrified look on his face; imo, this is pretty cruel and not at all necessary.

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He's simply a very magnetic character (which is kind of ironic, considering he's supposed to be the least charismatic of the Baratheon brothers):

The rightful heir, a perpetual underdog, shows unflinching determination against impossible odds and has had a pretty shitty life (for a highborne noble). He's viewed positively by mostly sympathetic guys (Davos, Cressen, Jon sort of). Davos in particular has a strangely heartwarming relationship with him, but is counterweighted by his relationship with Melissandre, as such, he's capable of both great and despicable things, and the conflict in him is pretty evident. He's also really damn eloquent, all his lines are solid gold, and his speeches pretty regal (one wonders what'd happen if he realized he can talk to everyone like he does to Davos). As Queen Cercei said (among other, largely correct things), few characters make you feel as strongly as him.

As for Selyse, it's a pity people (in the books and the fandom) are so fixated with her looks when she's pretty unpleasant regardless of them.

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Stannis is the only king to take the threat of the things beyond the wall seriously, even Tyrion foolishly dismisses them. Also, Stannis is the rightful king by law, and there is nothing wrong with asserting one's rights. He might not be the best king ever, but he would do a good job with the right council. The funny thing about the Baratheon brothers is that if they were all three merged, the result would be some kind of SUPER-KING lol.

As far as Selyse goes, I don't care that she is ugly or has a mustache, she is just a nasty person all around.

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Because we all know there's nothing worse than having sex with an ugly woman :rolleyes:.

But yeah, I also like Stannis. Queen Cersei's post above does a better job of explaining why than I could.

But...the mustache!!

:cool4:

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but...but she has a moustache!

The Moustache of DOOM. Only the true Azor Ahai could survive its touch.

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Thanks for reminding me, Queen Cersei. Stannis' speech patterns are indeed hilarious. He has some refreshingly blunt lines in his last few speechs in ASOS, for instance.

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But...the mustache!!

:cool4:

Kay, you're right. Take back everything I said about Selyse's loneliness, her mistreatment, the mockery of all of Westeros, etc. Her stache is clearly the outer manifestation of her inner corruption. Or something. :rolleyes:

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Selyse deserves more sympathy than she gets, both from readers and from characters in the series.

I am mostly indifferent to her myself, but if she got more character development that may change. I don't see that happening though, as she's just not that important to the overall narrative.

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