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[TWOW SPOILERS] March 2014 Preview Chapter Part IV

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It's true that Margaery and her family were in the clear because of Cersei's insistence that Tyrion and Sansa must have done it. But what if Margaery were to find someone already dead, to pin it on? She could simply declare that Tyrion was one of the dwarves already brought in, and that mad Cersei didn't recognize her own brother. I do think that she might feel bad for all these innocent dead guys, and want to do something. And she probably also feels guilty about Tyrion and Sansa.



She could "determine" that Joffrey was actually poisoned by Ser Dontos, or Shae, or Tywin Lannister. There are quite a few dead people who could suddenly be discovered to have been the real assassin. I admit I want to see the Tyrells off the hook for it. I want them to get away with it. But I also want Tyrion to be able to eventually just come home to Casterly Rock, and I want Sansa to be able to come out of hiding.


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She would not have a clear political reason to, you're right. Not that Margaery wants Tyrion's head - for trial, yes, but the whole trade-a-lordship-for-the-dwarf's-head thing was 100% Cersei.

That being said, I think the men referring to "the Queen" mean Cersei. Remember these are Lannister men, and even if they do not know of Cersei's release, in any power struggle, who do they think is really the one to follow?

I do agree the queen they refer to is more likely to be Cersei. But it could be a slight of hand. If Cersei, Tywin, Kevan are dead, Tyrion is most wanted and Jaime is in the KG, whilst their king (Tommen Lannister) is married to Marge, why wouldn't they be loyal to Tommen and Marge? (and thus indirectly, to the Tyrells)

That's a really good point! Can you expand a little what you mean by 'Why would Marge cancel the bounty on Tyrion when this means that the Tyrells are off the hook?'

Yes, that it would be suspicious to call off that bounty once all the important Lannisters including Joff are dead, and the Tyrells are comfortably in charge. She has absolutely zero reason to do it.

Plus,she would be openly disagreeing with the Queen Mother's opinion that it was Tyrion, while Tyrion is on the loose, Sansa is gone, and pretty much everyone is on a hunt for the dwarf to get a lordship. Absolutely unnecessary move that can do zero gain and can only be disadvantegeous.

Yes, I also agree. If Marge is Queen, Cersei is toast. The only person in the world who would care if Tyrion was found would be Jaime and he likely doesn't want Tyrion dead or maybe even care if he is found. So, Marge seems more likely to call off the bounty because all its doing is getting a lot of dwarves killed.

I don't think that there is place for compassion when it comes to attracting unnecessary suspicion to yourself (about the murder of the king, that is), while there is a very clear suspect. Tyrion pretty much sealed it when he escaped. He also killed his father, you know.

It's true that Margaery and her family were in the clear because of Cersei's insistence that Tyrion and Sansa must have done it. But what if Margaery were to find someone already dead, to pin it on? She could simply declare that Tyrion was one of the dwarves already brought in, and that mad Cersei didn't recognize her own brother. I do think that she might feel bad for all these innocent dead guys, and want to do something. And she probably also feels guilty about Tyrion and Sansa.

She could "determine" that Joffrey was actually poisoned by Ser Dontos, or Shae, or Tywin Lannister. There are quite a few dead people who could suddenly be discovered to have been the real assassin. I admit I want to see the Tyrells off the hook for it. I want them to get away with it. But I also want Tyrion to be able to eventually just come home to Casterly Rock, and I want Sansa to be able to come out of hiding.

The whole point was that Cersei might not be the queen in charge, but the bounty on Tyrion could still be on. I don't think the Tyrells are a compassionate bunch, for one, and I don't see them that stupid to declare the single most wanted person, who is a very clear suspect for the murder THEY actually committed, innocent.

Plus, by not doing so, they have another huge advantage - someone might actually kill Tyrion, thus eradicating the Lannisters pretty much for good.

Edited by FittleLinger

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I don't think that there is place for compassion when it comes to attracting unnecessary suspicion to yourself (about the murder of the king, that is), while there is a very clear suspect. Tyrion pretty much sealed it when he escaped. He also killed his father, you know.

There is a new High Septon and dead dwarves showing up won't endear the Tyrells to him, and they had better make friends even after everything because he is the head of the rabble that is growing and I don't think even the Tyrells can have the PR to hold them off, especially with all their armies needed for the Ironborn, a PR disaster in the making, a replay of the loss of Winterfell. A rabid dwarf hunt won't help them, and remember, we have had dwarven holy men so far in the books, at least one, and I think he was killed. They need the High Septon in a bloody good mood to call a crusade on the Ironborn.

I don't disagree, I would toss a coin, it's just as savvy as Marge seems, the first dwarven head plopped down in front of her...well, I just like the believe she is nicer than that, and so is Tommen who likely has very pleasant memories of his uncle, while having horrible memories of Joffrey and likely little to no fond memories of Tywin. Hell, in a couple of years Tommen may just pardon Tyrion, I would if I was him (I personally thing Tyrion is evil, I've explained why in other posts).

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Or they could declare him dead, solving their problem AND his. The murderer is dead, therefore no more need to keep slaughtering innocent dwarves. Kills two birds at once--he's guilty, he's dead, the Tyrells can call off the manhunt and go on with their lives. I don't think Margaery is interested in seeing an endless parade of dwarf heads, nor does she fear Tyrion's return per se. If she declares him dead, that is actually better than a manhunt, because even if Tyrion shows up, he'll have to prove who he is, and he won't be able to.


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There is a new High Septon and dead dwarves showing up won't endear the Tyrells to him, and they had better make friends even after everything because he is the head of the rabble that is growing and I don't think even the Tyrells can have the PR to hold them off, especially with all their armies needed for the Ironborn, a PR disaster in the making, a replay of the loss of Winterfell. A rabid dwarf hunt won't help them, and remember, we have had dwarven holy men so far in the books, at least one, and I think he was killed. They need the High Septon in a bloody good mood to call a crusade on the Ironborn.

I don't disagree, I would toss a coin, it's just as savvy as Marge seems, the first dwarven head plopped down in front of her...well, I just like the believe she is nicer than that, and so is Tommen who likely has very pleasant memories of his uncle, while having horrible memories of Joffrey and likely little to no fond memories of Tywin. Hell, in a couple of years Tommen may just pardon Tyrion, I would if I was him (I personally thing Tyrion is evil, I've explained why in other posts).

They kill quite a few birds with zero stones by not taking action against the Tyrion hunt, I think. First, they don't suddenly catch the killer whom eluded Cersei (the murdered King's mother) and her men and pretty much everyone by simply saying that the next dwarf was him. That would be suspicious.

Second, everyone is on a wild goose chase for the murderer, while they are actually the murderers - why change this so fortunate and beneficious status quo?

Third, someone might actually kill Tyrion after all, which again is only profit for them - the only two remaining Lannisters will be their puppet Tommen and the crippled KG Jaime.

Fourth, byt not canceling the hunt, the new Queen would be showing that she holds respect for the former king Joff and she has not forgotten and she wants the murderer punished. Again, good PR and suspicion - off.

Or they could declare him dead, solving their problem AND his. The murderer is dead, therefore no more need to keep slaughtering innocent dwarves. Kills two birds at once--he's guilty, he's dead, the Tyrells can call off the manhunt and go on with their lives. I don't think Margaery is interested in seeing an endless parade of dwarf heads, nor does she fear Tyrion's return per se. If she declares him dead, that is actually better than a manhunt, because even if Tyrion shows up, he'll have to prove who he is, and he won't be able to.

Yes, but if the actual Tyrion shows up? To which the chances get boosted when everyone thinks he's dead.

How could Tyrion not prove who he is? First, many in court know and have seen him.Second, the nose thing? Mismatched eyes? And easiest of all, say some stuff that only Tyrion could know. Jaime, of course and Tommen will recognize him.

And in such a scenario comes the question - why did they lie about Tyrion being captured and killed, and why is he returning?

The answer - "Because I did not do it and they know it".

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Why would he show up? Cersei wants him dead. In fact, now that there's a play (or several) depicting him exactly as Cersei imagined him to be, probably most people want him dead. Tyrion is very unlikely to return to Westeros under any circumstances that would raise questions the Tyrells couldn't answer.



I wasn't suggesting that the Tyrells lie and say that they had Tyrion, but rather, that they spread the word that Tyrion was killed. They could say he was hiding in the Tower of the Hand when it burned, or that he was fleeing on a ship that sank.



If he then showed up, they could say, "well, we thought he was dead. But we can execute him now, so no harm done."


Agreed that the nose and eyes would give him away to anyone who had ever seen him.


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Why would he show up? Cersei wants him dead. In fact, now that there's a play (or several) depicting him exactly as Cersei imagined him to be, probably most people want him dead. Tyrion is very unlikely to return to Westeros under any circumstances that would raise questions the Tyrells couldn't answer.

I wasn't suggesting that the Tyrells lie and say that they had Tyrion, but rather, that they spread the word that Tyrion was killed. They could say he was hiding in the Tower of the Hand when it burned, or that he was fleeing on a ship that sank.

If he then showed up, they could say, "well, we thought he was dead. But we can execute him now, so no harm done."

Agreed that the nose and eyes would give him away to anyone who had ever seen him.

Ok, but the question remains - why? Why mend something that's not broken? Tyrion being wanted by the law suits them perfectly. Why complicate things with unnecessary lies?

The argument that they really feel for the random dwarves around the world doesn't hold water, I think.

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[mod]



The discussion should be about the Mercy chapter. Please try to avoid thread 'drift'.



[/mod]


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[mod]

The discussion should be about the Mercy chapter. Please try to avoid thread 'drift'.

[/mod]

It's about whether the bounty ot Tyrion (that the Lannister guards talk about in the Mercy chapter) strictly means that Cersei is still in charge? I think that it's generally on topic, but if you disagree, I'll stop.

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They kill quite a few birds with zero stones by not taking action against the Tyrion hunt, I think. First, they don't suddenly catch the killer whom eluded Cersei (the murdered King's mother) and her men and pretty much everyone by simply saying that the next dwarf was him. That would be suspicious.

Second, everyone is on a wild goose chase for the murderer, while they are actually the murderers - why change this so fortunate and beneficious status quo?

Third, someone might actually kill Tyrion after all, which again is only profit for them - the only two remaining Lannisters will be their puppet Tommen and the crippled KG Jaime.

Fourth, byt not canceling the hunt, the new Queen would be showing that she holds respect for the former king Joff and she has not forgotten and she wants the murderer punished. Again, good PR and suspicion - off.

Yes, but if the actual Tyrion shows up? To which the chances get boosted when everyone thinks he's dead.

How could Tyrion not prove who he is? First, many in court know and have seen him.Second, the nose thing? Mismatched eyes? And easiest of all, say some stuff that only Tyrion could know. Jaime, of course and Tommen will recognize him.

And in such a scenario comes the question - why did they lie about Tyrion being captured and killed, and why is he returning?

The answer - "Because I did not do it and they know it".

The Tyrells did play it quite well, I will give them that.

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But I also want Tyrion to be able to eventually just come home to Casterly Rock, and I want Sansa to be able to come out of hiding.

But whatever the justification, Tyrion also killed his father. That's why I think he'll need some sort of self sacrificing absolution like joining the Night's Watch. Jon and Bran will both warg into Dragons. Rickon becomes Lord Stark. And Tyrion becomes Lord Commander of the Watch. That's my predicition anyway.

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MEANING IN MARTIN’S “MERCY”

PART I: THE THEATRE ARTS MOTIF:

ALLUSIONS to SHAKESPEARE’S POETIC PLAYS

The generous George R. R. Martin has once again blessed his loyal fans with a sneak peek from The Winds of Winter: “Mercy” is the fourth POV in his highly anticipated fifth novel of the series The Song of Ice and Fire, currently unfinished and unpublished.

I have now spent a year in a close reading of AGoT that focuses on the significant motifs Martin introduces at the onset of the series ASoIaF. As I inched past the halfway point of the first novel, my initial list of ten topics had grown exponentially, even though I had narrowed my scope before ever beginning my copious documentation of evidences.

Even more frustrating was my own impatience to hurry the process of organization and sanity in order to trace the reappearances of Martin’s motifs in the novels that follow AGoT. The temptations to establish connections and to advance my literary assumptions with analytical commentary proved too great for me to resist, and I am ignoring the voice of reason that cautioned me against working out-of-order from the texts.

I am plunging willy-nilly into the “connections” between and among the novels in the series and what literary assumptions are appealing to me after studying “Mercy” specifically. [Actually, through careful analysis and following Martin’s language patterns throughout the novels, I was able to predict Arya’s internship with the mummers, the identity of Izembaro, the value of theatrical training, and Arya’s death scene on stage in 2012, which I published in several Arya-related threads.]

Martin’s “Mercy” POV dramatizes the complexity of a child who has been devastated as the result of man’s inhumanity to man. Mercy’s journey parallels aspects of those set on by her siblings and others featured in the series, albeit at different times; hence, as an early chapter in The Winds of Winter, readers may look to “Mercy” for hints of what may come.

Arya’s “crooked stitches” introduce her to readers for the first time in the first sentence of her first POV in AGoT. Now, “crooked” is a modifier Martin employs to describe Arya’s environment in The Winds of Winter:

Braavos was a crooked city. The streets were crooked, the alleys were crookeder, and the canals were crookedest of all.”

Martin’s word choices are deliberate and emphasize the dark path “No One” has found herself taking. Arya Horse Face’s “stitches” are a metaphor symbolizing a “path”, but the predicate adjective “crooked” defining “stitches” foretells a twisted and corrupt passage that leads to the city of “masks and whispers” with its “crooked” terrain. She walks “crooked” streets and alleys, and she disposes of her kills in “canals”, “crookedest of all”.

The comparative and superlative forms of “crooked” - crookeder and crookedest, respectively – are, to a purist grammarian, “ill-done”, and in the name of fluidity – it is more correct to use “More” crooked and “most” crooked rather than encumbering the root word with a heavy suffix. BUT – that is Martin’s genius. He wants his language to “sing” discord with awkward pronunciations because Arya/No One is not in a good place. She is becoming more “crooked” and soon she may prove the most “crooked” when she kills someone else without mercy – and the act will be unforgiveable and perhaps beyond redemption.

Contemplating the futures of the heroes whom readers initially find appealing and sympathetic is painful, and Martin excels in exposing each layer of grey corruption in his faltering personalities who are as vulnerable to the forces of evil as are his villains. Characters who readers loved and celebrated metamorphose into the very monsters Martin encourages his readers to despise.

Martin’s brilliance extends to realizing the contrary as well when he exposes an antagonist’s view in such a way as to evocate his readers’ sympathy. The Stark ward Theon Greyjoy is as complex as Arya, yet Martin guides readers to distrust Theon, and later despise him for his taking Winterfell and betraying his foster brothers.

Theon is but one of several Martin characters who do despicable, hateful acts that somehow Martin coaxes some readers to forgive, like me – at least, I have deemed Theon worthy of forgiveness because Bran forgives him.

After Theon’s mystical communication with Bran in the heart tree of Winterfell’s godswood during ADwD, Bran expresses his forgiveness by saying Theon’s name – and in this last event Bran has moved past using the wind and the leaves to speak. Now, there is no wind when Bran voices “Theon”.

The bloody, hand-shaped leaf from the weirwood falls from the tree to brush against Theon’s forehead. [No wind, remember.] This is Bran flexing his muscles as a greenseer through his WF network. So, if Bran can forgive Theon, I determined I could as well.

Sadly, “No One” is becoming a “monster” herself, and her behavior foreshadows how the new greenseer Bran may use and abuse his powers and his training to deliver vengeance in the name of “justice”.

THE THEATRE ARTS MOTIF

One motif Martin enlists early on in AGoT is the theatre arts motif wherein he engages language that evokes elements associated with drama and performance. For example, Bran narrates that his father changes his face when he takes upon duties related to Winterfell: Bran calls it “his lord’s face”, and he later notices Robb wears a mask as well when he takes on the duties of a lord in his father’s absence. Likewise, the weirwood in the godswood wears a face – a mask – carved by the Children of the Forest so that their greenseers can look through the trees.

In Arya’s first POV, Martin describes her twice as making a face: “Arya made a face and hugged her wolfling tight” and “Arya made a face at him [Jon] (AGoT 71). Arya’s making faces foreshadows her daily “face” exercises performed in front of her Myrish mirror during her training at the HoB&W. The Kindly Man advises her to learn to control her facial muscles in order to lie with great success and to command her smile. When she and Jon Snow watch the sword play in the yard from a window, Martin calls the sparring area a “scene”, and Jon announces “The show is done” (75). These are “small” ways in which Martin calls upon language related to the theatre to tell his story from the onset of his novel A Game of Thrones.

JULIUS CAESAR

A bigger way Martin enlists theatre involves his many allusions to Shakespeare’s plays, most obviously Julius Caesar. The assassination of Robb Stark at the Red Wedding and the attempted assassination of Jon Snow in the Ides of Marsh debacle are among the stronger associations Martin draws from the bard’s tragedy. However, Martin alludes to Julius Caesar in Arya’s Braavos as well: The Titan of Braavos mirrors the Colossus of Rhodes, a huge statue of a Titan that straddled the Harbor of Rhodes with room enough for ships to travel through his legs. It is this “wonder of the ancient world” that Cassius uses to demonstrate for Brutus Caesar’s growing power.

Cassius says of Caesar:

Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves. (Julius Caesar. 1, 2. 136–38).

On her passage to Braavos, Arya travels beneath the legs of the Titan, and the formidable entrance to Braavos is mentioned again in “Mercy”:

“What hour?” Mercy called down to the man who stood by the snake’s uplifted tail, pushing her onward with his pole.

The waterman gazed up, searching for the voice. “Four, by the Titan’s roar” (IV TWoW).

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

Now, in “Mercy”, the play The Merchant’s Lusty Lady is one of several that Izembarro’s mumming troupe have performed in the past, which echoes the title of a Shakespearean comedy The Merchant of Venice, and within the title is the location of “Venice”, which Westeros.org scholars have asserted is the model for Martin’s Braavos.

Not only do the titles of the two “Merchant” plays share similarities, but the heroine Portia in the Shakespeare comedy pretends to be Balthazar, a male “doctor of law”, who delivers a moving speech about the “Quality of Mercy”, arguably one of the bard’s most famous speeches, as an appeal to the Merchant Shylock’s desire to take his “pound of flesh” as restitution for an unpaid loan. Even when Antonio offers to pay double what he owes Shylock, the merchant is determined to excise his pound of flesh as bound by contract.

Similarly, Arya, like Portia, pretends to play a male and she “performs” regularly when she takes a new face as a Faceless Men. Arya also shares Shylock’s determination to exact vengeance, although in Arya’s case, she owns a “prayer list” of victims who deserve no mercy.

“Mercy” is a quality that Arya has not often seen in people she has met along her journey. Moreover, Martin choosing “Mercy” as a new face for “No One” is ironic as she takes her “pound of flesh” when skewering Raff the Sweetling.

Now, Martin explores the theme of “mercy” in all the novels within his Series ASoIaF. Through characters displaying a lack of mercy Martin defines what it is to be “merciful”. For instance, Arya witnesses Joffrey’s “mercy” when her father is beheaded [during a “live” performance for the masses] even after he confesses his treason. But this is but one of many “mercy-related” examples specific to Arya in the novels. “Mercy, mercy, mercy” is a mantra Reek is quite fond of saying as well in ADwD.

Below is Portia’s “Quality of Mercy” speech from The Merchant of Venice. I believe Martin has already and will continue to “play on” some of the logic in Portia’s appeal through his characters and conflicts in TWoW and beyond.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's

When mercy seasons justice. . .

Though justice be thy plea, consider this,

That, in the course of justice, none of us

Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;

And that same prayer doth teach us all to render

The deeds of mercy.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

But back to Shakespeare and further possible allusions I have noted that reappear in “Mercy”, such as The Bloody Hand, the name of the evening performance in honor of Westerosi visitors. Of course, the title echoes many themes throughout the series thus far, but in the tragedy of Titus Andronacus, Titus has his own hand hacked off and delivered as payment for the “safe” return of his sons taken prisoner by his enemy.

Titus mutilates himself on behalf of his sons, who he never sees alive again. Instead, the two heads of his children are delivered to Titus, along with his bloody hand.

Titus’ sorrow is replaced with a black rage that leads him to vow vengeance. The revenge of Titus is not unlike Arya’s sense of vengeance, yes?

The severed hand relates to the Kingslayer as well as Tyrion’s time as hand to the king. The “bloody hand” also symbolizes the blood on Arya’s hands as she continues to dispense her brand of “justice” to those on her hit list, to those she deems worthy of receiving death, and to those victims assigned to her as a Faceless Assassin.

Now – I am simplifying the complex tragedy – but aside from sharing themes, the revenge Titus delivers speaks to events Martin narrates through his POV characters. Titus prepares for his enemy their children baked inside a pie, which he serves to the unsuspecting diners, waiting until the queen has taken a bite before revealing the horrific truth. This “pie” is reminiscent of the cautionary story Bran tells of the Rat Cook and of the literary assumption that Manderly delivers a Frey Pie to Red Wedding participants at table.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Martin’s delightful descriptions in “Mercy” of the mummer’s troupe and their antics reminds me of an acting troupe that appears in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; they are a motley crew Shakespeare calls “Mechanicals”, and their names, professions, and “parts” speak to their characters and are meant to be funny. For example, Snout the tinker plays “the Wall” and Nick Bottom the weaver volunteers to play every role, but ends up as the hero.

The Mechanicals aspire to impress their honorary guests in the audience, the Fairy King Oberon and the Fairy Queen Titania. Likewise, the mummers hope to win the approval of Westerosi’s in the house.

The Mechanicals rehearse their play Pyramus and Thisbe in the woods, and the troubles they have are laughable –[ I often used this little play within a play with teen actors intimidated by Shakespeare’s language and austerity. It is fun to “play” any of the actors, and the skit is hilarious and a crowd pleaser for an audience not whetted on Shakespeare’s work.]

To illustrate, the actor playing the Wall has a fun costume wherein he wears paper mache bricks and mortar on either shoulder similar to shoulder-pads worn by football players. I usually had the Wall wear a construction worker’s hat topped with additional brick work, Carhardt’s, and work boots. But the Wall has no dialogue and just stands on stage with his hand outstretched, his fingers making a “peace sign”. This “signal” represents the “chink” in the Wall through which the young lovers speak secretly to one another.

The Moon actor stands on a ladder holding a flashlight over the couple at the Wall, and his costume features white Christmas lights wrapped around him; needless to say, the Moon does not have a good sense of balance on his ladder, which adds to the fiascos in rehearsal and during the actual performance for the King and Queen of the Fairies.

Aside from the “spirit” of the actors in AMSND and the mummers of “Mercy”, I have no hard evidence that Martin bases his mummers on the Mechanicals. However, if Mercy continues her internship with the mummers, or if she reflects upon her time with the mummers in a POV that occurs later in the text, maybe Martin will be more direct in purposing comparisons to AMSND. [The appearance of a Wall, a Moon, and a Lion are characters featured in Pyramus and Thisbe that align themselves in content to elements in Martin’s ASoIaF Series.]

HAMLET

Shakespeare’s “melancholic” Prince Hamlet from a tragedy that bears his name advises a traveling troupe of actors who visit Elsinore on the fundamentals of good acting. Shakespeare scholars tend to believe this oft-quoted speech contains Shakespeare’s personal views on the acting process and performance. Relatedly, Izembaro advises his troupe of mummers prior to their show.

Even though the views Hamlet and Izembaro share are more different than similar, Hamlet’s sharp criticisms of scene stealing and over-emoting to curry favor with the audience are not Izembaro’s concerns for his troupe. As a matter of fact, Izembaro appears to be guilty of melodramatic performances himself, and the dwarf as a clown wears a costume meant to exaggerate his phallus, which is probably a crowd-pleaser for those in the pit and other bawdy theatre fans in attendance.

Hamlet says to the players:

“Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it” (3.2).

Mercy and Bobono reveal Izembaro’s “wisdoms”:

“I always give Wendeyne’s titties a nice squeeze when I rape her in The Anguish of the Archon,” the dwarf complained. “She likes it, and the pit does too. You have to please the pit.”

That was one of Izembaro’s “wisdoms,” as he liked to call them. You have to please the pit. “I bet it would please the pit if I ripped off the dwarf’s cock and beat him about the head with it,” Mercy replied. “That’s something they won’t have seen before.” Always give them something they haven’t seen before was another of Izembaro’s “wisdoms” (IV. TWoW).

Now, “wisdoms” of Hamlet and Izembaro are different yet share a core belief in performing, which has to do with pleasing the audience . Shakespeare, through Hamlet, warns actors against overplaying a part, or chewing up the scenery. Even though the “groundlings”, those who pay the least and are the most vocal in Elizabethan Theatre, may adore spit flying, wild gesturing, and an air of the melodramatic, good actors exercised self-control and focused on their craft, not on winning the most laughs or the loudest applause.

Izembaro is an actor Shakespeare would have faulted for embodying the “HAM”. To illustrate, in “Mercy”, Izembaro gives the pit-attendants lots of overacting, and he stages popular themes starring a “king”. Elizabethan audiences enjoyed nothing better than to see one so great and powerful as a “king” fall in favor and die in a blood bath, often taking innocent victims with him.

Izembaro satisfies his acting ego by casting himself as the king in the plays he chooses. Murder and rape are two events apparently enjoyed by The Gate lower-class regulars. The necessity of a dwarf is very much like one or a combination of Shakespeare’s many clowns. [i am writing a separate post that compares The Gate, the mummers, and the audience with the Elizabethan Theatre].

THE TEMPEST

Tyrion Lannister, and now Bobono, remind me of a sympathetic character named Caliban who appears in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. [i have written elsewhere on The Tempest, comparing Ariel to Arya, so I am trying to be brief in this post – alas, I am never brief!]

Caliban is “littered”, NOT BORN, of a witch and a devil, and his island home is overtaken by magician Prospero when his ship crashes upon the shore in a “tempest”, a storm at sea.

Prospero treats the ugly creature Caliban well until Caliban attempts to rape Prospero’s daughter Miranda, an unforgiveable act for which the magician banishes Caliban from his home and continues to torment him, even enslaving him.

Here are a few choice descriptions of Caliban from The Tempest:

"Hag-born" "whelp," not "honoured with human shape."

"Demi-devil."

"Poor credulous monster."

"Hag-seed."

"Strange fish."

These unkind epithets and phrases are but a few from the play, and they in word and content mirror words Martin has used to describe Tyrion – and in “Mercy”, Bobono’s speeches from The Bloody Hand bring to mind what I remembered of Shakespeare’s Caliban.

“Bobono lowered his voice to a sinister croak. “The seven-faced god has cheated me,” he said. “My noble sire he made of purest gold, and gold he made my siblings, boy and girl. But I am formed of darker stuff, of bones and blood and clay, twisted into this rude shape you see before you.”

AND

On stage, Bobono was bargaining with Marro’s sinister Stranger. . . “Give me the cup,” he told the Stranger, “for I shall drink deep. And if it tastes of gold and lion’s blood, so much the better. As I cannot be the hero, let me be the monster, and lesson them in fear in place of love.”

Commonalities from “Mercy” and The Tempest are the references to “rape” and the words that describe the misunderstood monster Caliban, misshapen and parented by demons. Like words have been used to describe Tyrion and now Bobono’s role as Tyrion. Not unlike Caliban, Tyrion has been persecuted and maligned – the comparisons are more than I am crediting, and I apologize for not doing justice by expanding thoughts on this premise. But I am trying to end somewhere – and this post is already too long-winded. [but I am sure I will revisit Caliban and Tyrion, especially after recalling Caliban’s poetic language that makes him more human than a beast].

I am closing Part I with the lyrics to a Broadway song that plays in my head whenever I read and write about Arya performing her many, many roles. Fading silent-film star Norma Desmond sings of her glory days when she was loved and admired by those near and far. The fickle audiences welcomed talking films, and Norma did not transition well from silent to talking movies. But she remembers how good she was, reminding Miss Desmond boasts that she could/can “play any role”.

In every line of verse, I see Arya Stark. But that’s just me. Maybe others will see Arya too.

With One Look

NORMA/ARYA


With one look I can break your heart
With one look I play every part
I can make your sad heart sing
With one look you'll know all you need to know

With one smile I'm the girl next door
Or the love that you've hungered for
When I speak it's with my soul
I can play any role

No words can tell the stories my eyes tell
Watch me when I frown, you can't write that down
You know I'm right, it's there in black and white
When I look your way, you'll hear what I say

Yes, with one look I put words to shame
Just one look sets the screen [sTAGE] aflame
Silent music starts to play
One tear in my eye makes the whole world cry

With one look they'll forgive the past
They'll rejoice I've returned at last
To my people in the dark
Still out there in the dark...

Silent music starts to play
With one look you'll know all you need to know

With one look I'll ignite a blaze
I'll return to my glory days
They'll say, "Norma's [Arya’s] back at last!"

This time I am staying, I'm staying for good
I'll be back to where I was born to be
With one look I'll be me!

With One Look from the musical Sunset Boulevard [Norma Desmond] [http://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/sunsetboulevard/withonelook.htm]

TO COME:

PART 2: THE ELIZABETHAN THEATRE IN “MERCY”

PART 3: THE RECURRING “GREY” MISTS / FOGS as STAGING ELEMENTS and as INDICATORS of BRAN’S PRESENCE

PART 4: THE WINDOW/DOOR MOTIFS and their RECURRENCE in “MERCY”

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MEANING IN MARTIN’S “MERCY”

PART I: THE THEATRE ARTS MOTIF:

ALLUSIONS to SHAKESPEARE’S POETIC PLAYS

This is gonna take some time to process.... but so far i like :cheers:

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MERCY’S SMILE



Martin SHOWS, he does not TELL, the progress of an internship embarked upon by an acolyte, a native of Westeros, who trains as a faceless assassin.



Arya’s last POV in ADwD promises further education for Arya when the kindly man assesses that “No One” is ready for an internship with Izembaro, whose identity was much discussed on the forums. Predictably, the “Mercy” POV places Arya in the “role” of Mercy who seemingly functions as a stage manager with the King of the Mummers, Izembaro himself.



It appears that Martin is familiar with various aspects of theatre arts and with styles of acting methodology; furthermore, Martin’s training for Arya is based upon a real approach to “becoming” a character.



“Method actors are often characterized as immersing themselves in their characters, to the extent that they stay in character offstage or off-camera for the duration of a project” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_acting].



Arya’s face-changing and attire are only disguises. Now she must “become” a different person, and to accomplish this, Arya spends time with a theatre troupe.



As an actress-in-training, Mercy proudly dons a mummer’s cloak when out-of-doors, a way to keep warm and to advertise the show. More importantly, the cloak is part of Arya Stark’s acting methodology as she “becomes” her character [and some serious actors do this for the run of a show or for the filming of a movie]. All the clothing she wears belong to “Mercy” – only Needle belongs to Arya Stark.



On location at Izembaro’s theatre the Gate, the girl once called Arya Stark wears the face of “Mercy”, and while disguised, she absorbs the ins-and-outs of theatre. As a quick study with acute training in observation, Arya soon makes herself indispensable to the others in the mummers’ troupe.



Arya humbly admits through Mercy’s dialogue, actions, and reactions that she IS “a pretty little empty head”. After some time with the Gate mummers, The Bloody Hand is the first show in which she has a few words; perhaps interns “work up to” being assigned a speaking part in a play. Or more likely, females expostulating on stage are unpopular fare and are tolerable only when they are being raped and murdered. Nevertheless, Arya proves a regular factotum backstage, behind the scenes.



Arya is so convincing in her role that no one in the troupe suspects her identity is a lie. Because of her pleasing smile and cheerful nature, Mercy engages people only to disarm them when they are least prepared. Smiles and lies are on Arya’s agenda, and her time at THoB&W is spent practicing her craft.



Martin’s language in “Mercy” is key: Mercy’s captivating smile and her lying expertise should sound familiar because they hark back to earlier “Arya” POV’s in the novels, and they echo the teachings of the kindly man and even Syrio Forel.





Arya presses the kindly man to tell her how she can change her face with magic just like Jaqen H’ghar changed his face.



The kindly man says, “’All sorcery comes at a cost, child. Years of prayer and sacrifice and study are required to work a proper glamor.”



Not pleased, Arya asks with dismay, ‘Years?’



Even more frustrating is the kindly man’s insistence that she is a LIAR.



“Who are you?”



“No one.”



“You lie” (AFfC 738)].



Arya asks the kindly man how he knows that she is lying:



“Is it magic?”



A man does not need to be a wizard to know truth from falsehood, not if he has eyes. You need only learn to read a face. Look at the eyes. The mouth. The muscles . . . A false smile and a true one may look alike, but they are as different as dusk from dawn. Can you tell dusk from dawn? . . . Then you can learn to see a lie . . . and once you do, no secret will be safe from you” (AFfC 459).



Arya responds, “Teach me.”



Arya is “hungry” for the secrets of controlling magic, and her eagerness to move on the fast-track of her studies is part of the reason for her advancement.



Even though Arya admits that she does not know any mummer’s tricks to help her LIE with skill and conviction, the kindly man offers specific pointers that involve lots of practice in front of a mirror, which is still a performance building theatre exercise for actors.



Then practice making faces. Beneath your skin are muscles. Learn to use them. It is your face. Your cheeks, your lips, your ears. Smiles and scowls should not come upon you like summer squalls. A smile should be a servant, and come only when you call it. Learn to rule your face.”



“Show me how” (AFfC 463).



The kindly man tells Arya to train before a Myrish mirror one hour every day.



Eyes, nostrils, cheeks, ears, lips, learn to rule them all.”



So every morning and every night Arya sits before the mirror with a candle on each side of her, making faces.



“Rule your face, she told herself, and you can lie” (FFC 463).



The tasks the kindly man assigns for Arya demand daily drills. Since Arya is highly motivated, she applies herself completely, mastering her facial muscles, controlling her expressions, and building her skill-level.



In her first POV in The Winds of Winter, Arya manipulates Mercy’s face by calling forth her SERVANT, her “sweet smile”, and with her always improving talents, Arya uses Mercy to lie convincingly.



Mercy’s training as Stage Manager, the job that most fits Mercy’s discernable duties in her POV, has polished Arya’s rough edges. She does not chew her lip, she sings when she walks, and she has become graceful. As an SM, Mercy would have her hands in every job, including acting. She would “run the show” on and off stage and know about costumes, properties, staging, lighting, and much and more. As Martin illustrates, Mercy is at the cast members’ beck and call.



No matter the pressure and challenges, Mercy keeps her cool, she treats other mummers with respect, and no job is too difficult or impossible for her.



Obviously, Arya fools the troupe with her fine performance as giggly, good-hearted Mercy. No one suspects she is nobly born. They all genuinely like her. Arya creates an amiable, reliable, responsible, cheerful, and helpful character who is the polar opposite of Arya in many ways.



Mercy frets about arriving tardy for Izembaro’s pre-performance lecture, and she implies that her winning smile usually appeases an angry Izembaro:



“The envoy from Westeros was expected at the Gate this evening, and Izembaro would be in no mood to hear excuses, even if she served them up with a sweet smile” (TWoW). IV).



Whereas Mercy can subdue Izembaro’s anger with a smile, on show night with dignitaries from Westeros attending, Mercy knows her winning smile will not suffice. Arya can “read” Izembaro, evident when she contemplates her fate should she arrive late to the Gate.



Martin informs the readers that Mercy gets her room rental on the cheap in part because of her smile:



“The handrail was splintery, the steps steep, and there were five flights, but that was why she’d gotten the room so cheap. That, and Mercy’s smile. She might be bald and skinny, but Mercy had a pretty smile, and a certain grace” (TWoW. IV).



Mercy’s daily exercises pay off, and she deploys her smile to influence others. Moreover, Mercy can master her facial expressions so that others do not detect when she tells a “lie”, and Mercy can easily recognize when others are being untruthful.



Mercy’s dissembling is as keen as her smile. She flirts with sailors at the docks while having no intentions of hooking up with any of them:



Sometimes she would smile back and tell them they could find her at the Gate if they had the coin”.



Mercy lies to Daena when she pretends not to know what a siggle is. Mercy pretends that she finds the Westerosi guard standing behind the Black Pearl an attractive figure, although Daena says he is too old at around 30. Pretending that she does not recognize the Westerosi in Lannister garb, she shows no hesitation when she approaches him: Arya is confident in her disguise, in her target, and in her convictions. The memory of merciless Raff the Sweetling slaying Lommy Greenhands is etched in blood and fire on Arya’s brain.



The actress playing Mercy woos Raff with her polarizing smile and her convincing lies. She acts helpless, feigning a language barrier.



“I know your tongue, a little,” she lied, with Mercy’s sweetest smile. “You are lords of Westeros, my friend said.”



Mercy flashes her “sweetest” smile [for the “sweetling”] and the actress wearing Mercy’s face flatters the guards by calling them “lords of Westeros”, even though Arya knows these men are no lords.



She demonstrates her talent through using her feminine charms to arouse Lord Raff. Beneath her brown shift is the body of Arya Stark. Only Arya’s “face” is altered.



Mercy entices her “mark”with a promise of sexual gratification. The Sweetling takes the bait, eager to take her against a wall or in the street; but Mercy persuades him to come to her lodgings, Arya’s staging area for murder.



With deadly charm, Mercy informs Lord Raff that she could make a mummer of him. She says assuredly, “I could teach you to say a line. I could.”



Lord Raff does not allow a girl to school him, and he replies, “Not me, girl” and “I’ll do the teaching”.





“Mercy,” she said. “My name is Mercy. Can you say it?”



“Mercy,” he said.



Arya extracts from her victim the word that sweetens her intentions of an execution-style murder. As she draws Lord Raff’s blood, she delivers justice to a murderer of children.



Arya possesses a wolf spirit. Arya’s remedy for dispensing justice with a “karmic” twist shows forethought. Arya executes Raff for the senseless murder of Lommy.



Ned Stark punishes lawbreakers who commit crimes against the realm. In Bran I of AGoT, Ned Stark bestows the “King’s justice” on 20 lawbreakers, one a deserter from the NW, a fact not lost on Arya. She behaves as if she is qualified to pass judgment and execute the criminals.



Arya dismisses Raff’s pleas for help as hot blood stains his leg and crotch. “Help me,” he pleaded, as the crotch of his breeches reddened. “Mother have mercy, girl. A healer… run and find a healer, quick now”.



A man is bleeding to death, but Arya is spot on when she “reads his face”:



“He doesn’t look so comely now, she thought. He just looks white and frightened”.



Arya refuses to carry him to a healer. Arya sees the color leave his complexion and the fear fill his eyes, but she is unmoved. “Mercy” avenges Lommy on behalf of Arya Stark.



In her rented room, Arya shortens her prayer list by one. Poetic justice is the theme of Arya’s melodramatic tragedy. With Needle in her bloody hand, Mercy bows to an audience lost and the dead.




I think Arya’s merciless actions foreshadow how Bran will wield his greenseeing powers when he “visits” past events to learn what has happened to his family. As a matter-of-fact, his teachers may encourage Bran to seek the truth in the hopes that it will arouse in him a rage for which bloody vengeance is the only remedy.

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MERCY’S SMILE

Martin SHOWS, he does not TELL, the progress of an internship embarked upon by an acolyte, a native of Westeros, who trains as a faceless assassin. [snip]

After reading most of some seventy pages of posts dealing with this chapter I never would have guessed that the very last would give me anything new.

Well done, evita mgfs. Yours was probably the best of them all :bowdown:

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ZACKER: Thank you very much. I have been working hard on my "Mercy" analyses.


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ZACKER: Thank you very much. I have been working hard on my "Mercy" analyses.

:bowdown:

Wonderful as always. I saw that you had posted and skipped straight to your Mercy analysis. Loved it!

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Thanks, FEATHERCRYSTAL. That means a lot coming from a writer of your caliber!


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MERCY’S SMILE

Martin SHOWS, he does not TELL, the progress of an internship embarked upon by an acolyte, a native of Westeros, who trains as a faceless assassin.

Arya’s last POV in ADwD promises further education for Arya when the kindly man assesses that “No One” is ready for an internship with Izembaro, whose identity was much discussed on the forums. Predictably, the “Mercy” POV places Arya in the “role” of Mercy who seemingly functions as a stage manager with the King of the Mummers, Izembaro himself.

It appears that Martin is familiar with various aspects of theatre arts and with styles of acting methodology; furthermore, Martin’s training for Arya is based upon a real approach to “becoming” a character.

“Method actors are often characterized as immersing themselves in their characters, to the extent that they stay in character offstage or off-camera for the duration of a project” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Method_acting].

*snip*

I think there is also the aspect of commentary here that in a sense, all social roles are in a sense, a falsehood, an act.

Acting is - as a profession - pretending to be someone who you are not (convincingly).

Method acting? Total immersion, to "feel" what your character should feel, react how they should react, speak as they would speak.

Being a Faceless Man, with the flesh-crafting magic they use, is an even deeper immersion - you take on someone else's face, their memories and personality flow into you

As well with Arya as with the other Starks, they are wargs, which is yet another sort of immersion - shared flesh, a blending of the mind and spirit. You take on the traits of the animals you warg, and to some degree they also take on yours.

With the leaders in ASOIAF, there is the recurring theme of having to play the role they inhabit - be it Eddard and his "Lord's Face", Dany and her having to wear the "floppy ears", or Melisandre commenting about Jon needing to employ the trappings of power. However, in all these cases, the subjects were still themselves.

In the case of Sansa / Alayne Stone, we have one of the other cases of a true false identity. Tellingly, Sansa is even instructed she must be Alayne "even in her heart". Yet, part of that is the fact that even as Littlefinger is telling her to be deceptive in one way (to keep her cover identity), there is the ironic effect that now that she is being "Alayne", she takes on a trait more fitting of Baelish's daughter and also starts deceiving him.

Sansa was already somewhat more inclined towards "putting on a performance" than her siblings. Many of her traits to begin with were about social performance - she could sing, play the high harp and the bells, and was the "star" of WInterfell as AGOT began. Her "role" then (in her own mind) expanded to being the Future Princess Of The Realm (before falling apart, of course).

I read the Mercy chapter as a sort of commentary on acting and falseness, as seen through Arya's eyes. The more I read it, the more I think the character "Mercy" is playing in the play has to be Sansa. Mercy is the character Arya is playing, and aside from the fact Arya is being affected by some girl named Mercedene's personality, I think she also is adding elements of what she thinks Sansa is: she smiles, she sings, she is graceful, she flounces, and does everything prettily. Combined with Arya's thoughts about what Mercy is like, there is a cynical undertone to it, an unkindness, that suggests (to me) it is a veiled criticism by Arya of her sister. Pretty, friendly, popular, always putting on an act for other people - but ultimately someone false.

The only time we see Arya underneath Mercy is when she's threatening Bobono or about to kill Raff - then she is Arya, the Night Wolf.

Edited by Pod The Impaler

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I read the Mercy chapter as a sort of commentary on acting and falseness, as seen through Arya's eyes. The more I read it, the more I think the character "Mercy" is playing in the play has to be Sansa. Mercy is the character Arya is playing, and aside from the fact Arya is being affected by some girl named Mercedene's personality, I think she also is adding elements of what she thinks Sansa is: she smiles, she sings, she is graceful, she flounces, and does everything prettily. Combined with Arya's thoughts about what Mercy is like, there is a cynical undertone to it, an unkindness, that suggests (to me) it is a veiled criticism by Arya of her sister. Pretty, friendly, popular, always putting on an act for other people - but ultimately someone false.

The only time we see Arya underneath Mercy is when she's threatening Bobono or about to kill Raff - then she is Arya, the Night Wolf.

That's funny because I saw the opposite. Although I'm not convinced that Mercy is playing anyone of significance in the play that hardly matters. Arya is using traits that Sansa had/has to achieve success. That is to me the opposite of criticism, it shows appreciation, perhaps an aquired or taught apreciation, but neverthless. There may be a cynical undertone in the writing but it may just as well be about others not seing trough the act, not seeing things for what they are. Maybe Arya suspects that part of Sansa's behaviour was an act, too.

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