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(spoilers AGOT) Why do we think that Ned is honorable when he is clearly not?

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I've been re-reading ASOIAF and got to Ned II on AGOT, when Ned and Robert talk about Lyanna, Robert's Rebellion and the mother of Jon Snow. And it got me thinking. Basically, Ned has forsaken so many vows when he lied about Jon Snow's heritage - betrayed his king and his wife and the north. Ned is so strict when it comes to honor (see: Jaime) and laws (see: Jorah), but he seems to be fine with promising his sister to be dishonorable. His 16 year old sister eloped with a Rhaegar even though she was betrothed to someone else, Robert. Her Father, Lord of Winterfell, made that decision, and that decision is binding. But she didn't want to marry Robert. She wanted to marry someone else. Let's remember that this is a medieval world with feudal rules. We do not judge the characters according to contemporary values, because if we did then Ned should be vilified for not giving Will of the Night's Watch a fair trial and for his sword-happy use of capital punishment, when Will was telling the truth about the Others. But in Lyanna's case, we forgive Ned because he had personal reasons to promise her to lie. Were these reasons more valid than Jaime's reasons to kill the Mad King? Or more valid than Will's reasons to desert? If every lord in the realm would put personal emotions before the law - then there would be chaos. Yet, we overlook that.
 
The result of Lyanna's decision to betray her Father and family and house was an all-out civil war that caused thousands of deaths, untold emotional, physical and monetary suffering. But Ned doesn't seem to judge her for it in his internal monologues. Is he lying to himself? Or doesn't he see his hypocrisy?knowing Ned, would he have been so forgiving if another young daughter of a different big house - say, the Lannsiters - have done the same and descended the realm into chaos and then covered it up?
 
What do you think? I'm genuinely interested in hearing more views about this, because I don't remember hearing or reading anyone talk about Ned's dishonor. Not "cheating" on his wife (Catelyn doesn't care that he slept with someone else), but covering for his baby sister's grievous offense of putting herself before her Father, house, the north and the realm.
 
I talk more about that chapter, Ned II, in my re-reading ASOIAF video series on my YouTube channel, Got Academy.

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11 hours ago, GoT_Academy said:
I've been re-reading ASOIAF and got to Ned II on AGOT, when Ned and Robert talk about Lyanna, Robert's Rebellion and the mother of Jon Snow. And it got me thinking. Basically, Ned has forsaken so many vows when he lied about Jon Snow's heritage - betrayed his king and his wife and the north. Ned is so strict when it comes to honor (see: Jaime) and laws (see: Jorah), but he seems to be fine with promising his sister to be dishonorable. His 16 year old sister eloped with a Rhaegar even though she was betrothed to someone else, Robert. Her Father, Lord of Winterfell, made that decision, and that decision is binding. But she didn't want to marry Robert. She wanted to marry someone else. Let's remember that this is a medieval world with feudal rules. We do not judge the characters according to contemporary values, because if we did then Ned should be vilified for not giving Will of the Night's Watch a fair trial and for his sword-happy use of capital punishment, when Will was telling the truth about the Others. But in Lyanna's case, we forgive Ned because he had personal reasons to promise her to lie. Were these reasons more valid than Jaime's reasons to kill the Mad King? Or more valid than Will's reasons to desert? If every lord in the realm would put personal emotions before the law - then there would be chaos. Yet, we overlook that.
 
The result of Lyanna's decision to betray her Father and family and house was an all-out civil war that caused thousands of deaths, untold emotional, physical and monetary suffering. But Ned doesn't seem to judge her for it in his internal monologues. Is he lying to himself? Or doesn't he see his hypocrisy?knowing Ned, would he have been so forgiving if another young daughter of a different big house - say, the Lannsiters - have done the same and descended the realm into chaos and then covered it up?
 
What do you think? I'm genuinely interested in hearing more views about this, because I don't remember hearing or reading anyone talk about Ned's dishonor. Not "cheating" on his wife (Catelyn doesn't care that he slept with someone else), but covering for his baby sister's grievous offense of putting herself before her Father, house, the north and the realm.
 
I talk more about that chapter, Ned II, in my re-reading ASOIAF video series on my YouTube channel, Got Academy.

Well, in the first place, we don't know that Lyanna eloped with Rhaegar. She may very well have been kidnapped -- perhaps by Rhaegar, perhaps by someone else.

Lyanna's promise was one of those moments that Aemon tried to explain to Jon: where you have to choose between honor and convenience. Sure, he could have handed Jon over to Robert, only to see him killed for the sins of his mother. Where is the honor in that?

Few of us can withstand a thorough examination of our every action, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that Ned has done some very dishonorable things in his life. But his honor as a lord comes from reputation, as does Jaime's dishonor as a knight of the Kings Guard. It's what Martin is referring to when he talks about grey characters, not black and white. It's also what makes his writing far more interesting than most authors.

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1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

It's what Martin is referring to when he talks about grey characters, not black and white. It's also what makes his writing far more interesting than most authors.

And then some of his characters are completely black, such as Joffrey, The Mountain and Ramsay Snow. So I think his analogy falls flat.

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18 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

And then some of his characters are completely black, such as Joffrey, The Mountain and Ramsay Snow. So I think his analogy falls flat.

Disagree. There is some greyness to all of these characters, and to the Others as well. We just don't have their POVs to fully understand their motivations.

Martin says it best:

Quote

“You don't just have people who wake up in the morning and say, "What evil things can I do today, because I'm Mr. Evil?" People do things for what they think are justified reasons. Everybody is the hero of their own story, and you have to keep that in mind. If you read a lot of history, as I do, even the worst and most monstrous people thought they were the good guys. We're all very tangled knots.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/701568-you-don-t-just-have-people-who-wake-up-in-the

Pure Evil is one of the fantasy tropes that Martin wants to dispense with. The other is Pure Good. Neither makes for a truly believable character.

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15 minutes ago, John Suburbs said:

Disagree. There is some greyness to all of these characters, and to the Others as well. We just don't have their POVs to fully understand their motivations.

Martin says it best:

Pure Evil is one of the fantasy tropes that Martin wants to dispense with. The other is Pure Good. Neither makes for a truly believable character.

My point is that he doesn’t dispense with the Pure Evil trope. There’s a whole page of people that are pure evil. Here, there’s a whole list, spanning a couple of continuities (books, show and Telltales).

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11 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

Well, in the first place, we don't know that Lyanna eloped with Rhaegar. She may very well have been kidnapped -- perhaps by Rhaegar, perhaps by someone else.

Lyanna's promise was one of those moments that Aemon tried to explain to Jon: where you have to choose between honor and convenience. Sure, he could have handed Jon over to Robert, only to see him killed for the sins of his mother. Where is the honor in that?

Few of us can withstand a thorough examination of our every action, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that Ned has done some very dishonorable things in his life. But his honor as a lord comes from reputation, as does Jaime's dishonor as a knight of the Kings Guard. It's what Martin is referring to when he talks about grey characters, not black and white. It's also what makes his writing far more interesting than most authors.

 

I see her being kidnapped as cannon

There is much honor in obeying your king. That's how it goes in feudalism. Ned has to obey Robert, northerners have to obey Ned, etc.

I agree with your last point. It's just that Ned is very judgy towards everybody else, and hence he should be able to take it if he wants to dish it out.

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22 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

My point is that he doesn’t dispense with the Pure Evil trope. There’s a whole page of people that are pure evil. Here, there’s a whole list, spanning a couple of continuities (books, show and Telltales).

Sorry, no. These people are not "pure evil." Sauron was pure evil, Voldemort, Satan. There is nobody like that in aSoIaF, not even the Others, I suspect. Some characters are darker grey than others, but I take Martin it his word when he says that everybody is the hero of their own story. Ramsey still had dogs who wagged their tails when he came near, and the Mountain's horse didn't try to throw him at every chance.

Sure, these people did some brutal, horrific things, but nobody in the story has completely clean hands; not Ned, not Arya, not Sansa... Is the Mountain pure evil because he murdered children? If so, then is Theon more evil than Ramsey, who hasn't killed any children as far as we know? Each of these characters no doubt felt they were doing what needed to be done for their own well-being and that of their house, just like Ned did when he executed Gared. The only difference between your "evil" characters and "good" characters are that we have the POVs of the good ones revealing their inner thoughts. I'll bet a POV with either the Mountain or Ramsay or Joffrey reflecting on their lives would be quite eye-opening.

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13 hours ago, GoT_Academy said:

I see her being kidnapped as cannon

There is much honor in obeying your king. That's how it goes in feudalism. Ned has to obey Robert, northerners have to obey Ned, etc.

I agree with your last point. It's just that Ned is very judgy towards everybody else, and hence he should be able to take it if he wants to dish it out.

Oh, well then how do you square her being kidnapped with "Lyanna's decision to betray her Father and family and house" leading to "an all-out civil war that caused thousands of deaths, untold emotional, physical and monetary suffering"? It seems to me that if she was kidnapped, she didn't betray anyone or cause any wars. She is the victim here, not the culprit, no?

And if I may be allowed to split a few hairs, Ned never actually disobeyed Robert, he just wasn't completely forthcoming about all that happened at the Tower. The irony is that in many ways Ned and Jaime are a lot alike: they both found themselves in situations where there was no completely honorable way out, so they did what they felt was right at the time -- Ned to save the life of an innocent child and Jaime to save the lives of half-a-million innocent people. We can also see this with Theon, Dany, Jon, and a host of others. It's kind of a running theme in the series.

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16 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

If so, then is Theon more evil than Ramsey, who hasn't killed any children as far as we know?

It was Ramsey's idea to kill the Miller's boys. I don't think it's ever said who did the actual deed, but it's implied it was Reek, and we know it was Reek who flayed the corpses. 

16 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

The only difference between your "evil" characters and "good" characters are that we have the POVs of the good ones revealing their inner thoughts. I'll bet a POV with either the Mountain...

Oh yeah, I'd love to see how he justifies the rape of the innkeep's daughter. Or the rape of Elia. 

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Apparently for a character to be something, he must embody that trait fanatically, insanely and unreallistictally. It is an essential strawman and quite disingenous.

The only character who is that is Stannis and he is almost an argument that there is something wrong with that. 

As to why he is not passing judgement on his sixteen year old dead sister, I don't know. Because he is written to be an actual human being with emotions like compassion and common sense and not a walking, talking penis?

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7 hours ago, Unacosamedarisa said:

It was Ramsey's idea to kill the Miller's boys. I don't think it's ever said who did the actual deed, but it's implied it was Reek, and we know it was Reek who flayed the corpses. 

Oh yeah, I'd love to see how he justifies the rape of the innkeep's daughter. Or the rape of Elia. 

True, it might have been Rams, but it was Theon who gave the order. Still, does this make Ramsay "pure evil" while Theon is only "partly evil." Is Tywin any less evil for ordering the murder of children while Clegane and Lorch are more evil for actually doing it?

It's not a question of justifying anything. It's a question of discerning a given character's motivations, and Martin has been perfectly clear that he does not create implicitly evil characters who just run around all day doing evil things because they are so thoroughly evil. Clegane is a monster, no doubt, but the guy obviously has all sorts of demons running lose in his head, and he was most certainly not born with them but they were imprinted there through years of physical and emotional abuse.

So, hate the bad guys all you want, but recognize that each one of them thinks that what they are doing is right, even as Ned thinks it is right to kill a man who is simply in fear for his life.

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On 7/19/2018 at 1:30 AM, John Suburbs said:

Is Tywin any less evil for ordering the murder of children while Clegane and Lorch are more evil for actually doing it?

There seems to be more to it than it seems.  Did Tywin really order such brutal murders and rape? 

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1 hour ago, Chisa said:

There seems to be more to it than it seems.  Did Tywin really order such brutal murders and rape? 

The murders, yes, but not in such horrific ways. The rape, most likely no.

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On July 26, 2018 at 6:36 AM, John Suburbs said:

The murders, yes, but not in such horrific ways. The rape, most likely no.

 

He admits as much but he still brought both Amory Lorch and the Mountain with him. It's like how he unleashed them and the Brave Companions on the Riverlands you know what's going to happen, maybe not the details but you know it won't be good. 

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5 hours ago, TyrionFan82 said:

He admits as much but he still brought both Amory Lorch and the Mountain with him. It's like how he unleashed them and the Brave Companions on the Riverlands you know what's going to happen, maybe not the details but you know it won't be good. 

Tywin, at least, says he didn't know what he had in Gregor Clegane at the time, and the same probably goes for Lorch as well. Sure, these are not nice guys, but there was no reason to think Tywin should expect them to go so over the top with Elia and the children. All he wanted was the children killed.

Tywin most certainly did not know that unleashing the BC would cost Jaime his hand, otherwise he never would have sent them. But he did know they were going to burn and terrorize the riverlands. That was their job.

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7 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

Tywin, at least, says he didn't know what he had in Gregor Clegane at the time, and the same probably goes for Lorch as well. Sure, these are not nice guys, but there was no reason to think Tywin should expect them to go so over the top with Elia and the children. All he wanted was the children killed.

Tywin knew for Lorch. Lorch threw one of the Tarbeck kids, a boy of three, down a well.

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11 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

Tywin knew for Lorch. Lorch threw one of the Tarbeck kids, a boy of three, down a well.

Yeah, EXACTLY! Tywin's not a dumb man so this saying well I didn't know what I had is total bunk.

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On ‎8‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 3:03 PM, John Suburbs said:

Tywin, at least, says he didn't know what he had in Gregor Clegane at the time, and the same probably goes for Lorch as well. Sure, these are not nice guys, but there was no reason to think Tywin should expect them to go so over the top with Elia and the children. All he wanted was the children killed.

 

On ‎8‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 10:04 PM, Angel Eyes said:

Tywin knew for Lorch. Lorch threw one of the Tarbeck kids, a boy of three, down a well.

 

On ‎8‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 10:26 PM, TyrionFan82 said:

Yeah, EXACTLY! Tywin's not a dumb man so this saying well I didn't know what I had is total bunk.

He likely didn’t give the order to rape Elia, but he makes it clear that he didn’t particularly care about her, or the manner of how the children died. He just gave the order, and let the nutters work out the details.

That’s the point about Tywin, he has his pet monsters, and values them. He unleashes them when necessary. He may not have known exactly what he had in the Mountain, but after the Sack, he did, and saw value in it.

I’m not particularly bothered about the Good vs Evil debate, but Tywin is a stone cold pragmatist. When confronted with the fact that one of his employees is a princess raping, baby-bashing psychopath, rather than recoiling in horror, he thinks “Ah, this man might come in handy”.

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4 hours ago, Shouldve Taken The Black said:

 

 

He likely didn’t give the order to rape Elia, but he makes it clear that he didn’t particularly care about her, or the manner of how the children died. He just gave the order, and let the nutters work out the details.

That’s the point about Tywin, he has his pet monsters, and values them. He unleashes them when necessary. He may not have known exactly what he had in the Mountain, but after the Sack, he did, and saw value in it.

I’m not particularly bothered about the Good vs Evil debate, but Tywin is a stone cold pragmatist. When confronted with the fact that one of his employees is a princess raping, baby-bashing psychopath, rather than recoiling in horror, he thinks “Ah, this man might come in handy”.

For this job, he also has to pick men who he knows will not flinch at the prospect of murdering a child. I think the only thing he was surprised about is how vicious the attack was.

But I also question his supposed ignorance that he didn't expect Elia to be killed. Where else would he expect her to be at this time but with her children, and how could he expect them to spare her and leave her as a witness to their crime?

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14 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

For this job, he also has to pick men who he knows will not flinch at the prospect of murdering a child. I think the only thing he was surprised about is how vicious the attack was.

Agreed. And it was probably the one eye brow cocked sort of surprise rather than anything more.

14 hours ago, John Suburbs said:

But I also question his supposed ignorance that he didn't expect Elia to be killed. Where else would he expect her to be at this time but with her children, and how could he expect them to spare her and leave her as a witness to their crime?

I think he simply didn't care. Maybe he suspected she would end up dead, but didn't feel the need to spare her.

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