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Daenerys: Analysis of psychology and foreshadowing

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5 minutes ago, tallTale said:

She knows they are already afraid of her. She really didn’t need it to burn them, its completely outside her character otherwise. 

I agree. She could have just destroyed the Red Keep instead and killed Cersei. That might even be understandable. 

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3 minutes ago, Hodor's Dragon said:

Still waiting for actual examples of this foreshadowing. What foreshadowed Daenerys killing large numbers of completely innocent people for no reason?

The House of the Undying in Season 2. It is not snow on the Iron Throne. It's ash. 

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3 hours ago, Kajjo said:

Of course this is show-only.

We heard the aphorism "When a Targaryen is born the Gods throw a dice" before. We were warned. We also know the incestuous ancestry in the show. We know her father snapped and wanted to "burn them all".

These three points are enough to make it believable, clearly foreshadowed and a reasonable storyline.

Really, this is all you've got? 

Daenerys is Daenerys. She is not Aerys. Statistically, the chance of a daughter inheriting her parent's mental illness is about 15%.

We watched her for 8 seasons, 5 books. There was never any hint she would slaughter large numbers of people for no reason.

You started off this thread talking about all the "foreshadowing" and asking for examples. I'm working my way through the thread now - on page 3 - haven't seen an example yet.

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2 minutes ago, a girl knows nothing said:

Why do you think she did it then? Because she snapped and went crazy? 

If so, I agree that is a plausible explanation, but I can see it the way I described too - that she made a conscious decision to inspire the maximum amount of terror, demonstrate the extent of her power, and solidify her rule.

Exactly. Danny knows Jon is the true king and she can only rule by fear.

Dany needed to make a show of force. 

This is exactly what Rumsfeld did during the invasion of Iraq. Baghdad was bombed for several days in an operation he described as 'shock and awe'. There are many legal authorities who believe it amounted to a war crime.

I am not sure if that is GRRM's point but he certainly set up the dragons as weapons of mass destruction.

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47 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

The signs were her responses that coincided with Viserys' responses a lot from the start of the season. It is the first time she actually meets smallfolk, whereas on Dragonstone it was just her, with her advizors and armies. Rationally she knew that Viserys' tales of the smallfolk wishing for the return of Targs and secretly toasting was a fantasy of Viserys, but in her mind she felt she deserves to expect this of the "people" because she did all she could to be a benevolent rightful ruler: be strong, hatch dragons, get an army that won't pillage or rape, free all slaves as Westerosi are anti-slavery, attempt peace in Mereen, etc. She wanted to be welcomed as their savior with open arms and be toasted. Desires aren't rational.

The first smallfolk she encounters are those of Wintertown and they only look at her with fear and mistrust, despite the fact she brought her dragons and armies to defend them against an army of the dead. Well, at least she might expect a heartfelt welcome by Jon's own sister? But she doesn't. And during that welcome she is reminded of the loss of Viserion and how he was turned into an enemy. She "named" him after Viserys. Now a part of her had come to despise Viserys, but he was also her sole caretaker for many of her formative years. Chronic abuse of a parent-figure on who you are dependent might make you fear them, maybe even hate them, but also love them in a twisted way. For years, she needed to try and empathize with Viserys, think and feel like him, to anticipate his moods, to anticipate how to please him so he wouldn't hurt her. It creates a twisted bond. And Viserion represented the ideal Viserys in a way - finally a dragon, white and pure, she can love and who loves her back. Viserion is her way to round up that strange love for an abusive parent figure and project it onto something else, so she doesn't need to confront her conflicting feelings for Viserys himself. When she loses Viserion, she now must deal with the complete bag of feelings for Viserys, including the inexpicable feelings that she loved him, even though he abused her. How is this externalized? She expects Jon to make his sister behave better to her, just by word of command alone. This is what Viserys did to Dany, and in fact, when amongst people who had no respect for him, Viserys demanded her to make the Dothraki and Khal Drogo respect him. So, she expects Jon and Sansa to have a similar boss-servant relation. Meanhile, the less instant love she gets from everyone else, the more she seeks and desires it from Jon, and so she takes him on the dragon flight.

By the start of epi 2 we learn that now Dany starts to identify with Viserys. At the trial she mentions him - how he and her would fantasise together what they would do to Jaime Lannister if they ever caught him. Viserys isn't her abuser anymore, but the brother who had been shortchanged by the rebellion and Jaime, her caretaker, the one who put her to bed, and told her bedtime stories, albeit very twisted ones. Does she have reasons to identify with him? Yes, she is experiencing culture shock, the way Viserys experienced it amongst the Dothraki. This seems strange, when she adapted to the Dothraki and so many other cities. But as long as a world is exotic, being different feels "logical". There might be a cultural difference, but you expect it. Dany does NOT expect to experience culture shock in Westeros, which she mentally considers her home and wants to make her home. The differences from the outside may not seem that big, but on the inside she is. She flourished amongst Dothraki, where a Khal and a Khaleesi's word is a command to follow, and the khalasar love and respect their khal and khaleesi for it. The only thing they respond to is being powerful and never show weakness. She may not look Dothraki, may not have been born amongst them, but their view and response to power is more like her own. In the North, lesser lords speak up, disagree, protest, etc to their liege lord, and make up their own mind. The trial brings that to the forefront. Here is Jaime Lannister, not just an enemy of hers, but also of Jon and Sansa, who tried to kill their own father too, and yet they want to let him live.

Jorah steps in and she tries to create a bridge between Sansa and herself directly, and despite a moment of connection, it fails, and then she witnesses a vassal of hers who had sought her in Mereen. In Mereen Theon came to her, not because he believer her to be his rightful queen, but tit-for-that ally, whereas Theon comes to fight in Winterfell for the love he bears the Starks. The sole person that Dany has who does this for her is Jorah, and she would hope and expect Jon to do the same, but he's avoiding her. She seeks Jon out and learns he's a) family (so was Viserys) b) has a bigger claim to the throne than her (so did Viserys) c) he calls her Dany (so did Viserys). And in epi 3, Jorah dies.

By the start of epi 4 she starts to feel as isolated as Viserys was amongst the Dothraki. Nobody toasts her, despite actually fighting with them, the same way Jon did, and sacrificing so much. She did the same thing Jon did, ride a dragon, and nobody rallies around her like they do to Jon. And clearly it's not just because she's a woman, since everybody cheers Arya. And it's not just Viserys' isolation she experiences. She now also experiences his envy and distrust towards a close relative. Viserys started to distrust Dany, began to believe she might decide to use the Dothraki to steal the crown for herself instead. And she feels this distrust towards Jon as well. Nor can she believe Jon's assertions that she is his queen and he would remain loyal to her, for she swore the same things to Viserys, and still sort of allowed Viserys to be crowned with a pot of molten gold, and afterwards felt that he deserved his self-sought demise and that it was all for the best, for she would make a better queen than he would be a king. Jon has everything she desires: sisters who love him, a home, Westerosi who look up to him, who chose him as their king, would love him as their king. She had people too once who wanted to make her queen, but half of the Dothraki are gone, Jorah is dead, Selmy also long gone, and then she loses her last friend - Missandei, and a dragon that Jon rode, the dragon named after Rhaegar and Jon was his son. Rhaegal's death crystallizes the expectation that Jon will turn against her, that she will lose his love.

So, by the start of epi 5, we have circumstantial depression, complete isolation, certainty (and not just fear anymore) of betrayal coming from Jon, culture shock. And she looked almost like Viserys during the first part on Dragonstone: unkept hair, no eating. If only Jon would love her like a lover, like Drogo loved her once, and he can't. And her paranoia becomes more and more justified with Varys betraying her for Jon, with Sansa having tell Tyrion, with Jaime trying to get back to Cersei. And she is angry, raging against fate stealing what she believed to be her destiny, Westeros and the people denying her what she believes she has a right to (their love, their cheers, their toasts). Instead they feel to seek shelter behind the walls of the city that her forebear Aegon the Conquerer built, of the keep that he built. It was all stolen of her and Viserys around the time she was born, and stolen by Rhaegar by begetting a son on Lyanna Stark. And she is raging over all that she tried in Essos to earn that love upon her arrival and all that she lost to earn it on Westerosi soil. She has blood lust and she has fire. And the people don't get to just surrender. They have to pay for not loving her. And no other conspiritor gets to have the spoils of her family's legacy. It's even in part a rage to Jon as well, whose real name is Aegon, like the ancestor who built the keep and the city. The only way to make it hers and hers alone is by destroying everything and then build her own city and keep in its stead. 

It's not madness. It aren't the bells. She doesn't even snap. She makes a very deliberate and conscious choice that everything and everyone in it needs to be destroyed, and that her rage deserves to be sated.

Great post.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I'll add that Viserys finally snaps when he realizes that Dany has won over the love of her people during the horse heart eating ceremony.  Sure, he had always been a dick, but I believe this is basically the last straw for him.  The realization that she is loved, and he is nothing.  The love of the people (or lack-there-of) pushes him over the edge.

There are the obvious parallels with Dany.  She had lost a lot recently, but I think what pushes her over the edge is this feeling of not being loved, when she came to Westeros and fully expected the love of the people.  And not only does she not have it, Jon has it instead.

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Just now, Ice Queen said:

I agree. She could have just destroyed the Red Keep instead and killed Cersei. That might even be understandable. 

Sure. She also could have just not burnt anything. But that's not really the point of the scene -- obviously it makes no sense to critique the outcome based on what Dany should have done based on reason. Clearly we're not led to believe she chose to do what she did out of strategy. I totally understand criticism that she wouldn't have snapped like she did, but I don't really get critiquing the strategy because it obviously wasn't a strategic decision.

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Just now, Ice Queen said:

The House of the Undying in Season 2. It is not snow on the Iron Throne. It's ash. 

That’s not character foreshadowing. We would see a dragon melt humans or something. 

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Just now, Ice Queen said:

The House of the Undying in Season 2. It is not snow on the Iron Throne. It's ash. 

That's not a foreshadowing that Daenerys will kill innocent people. That ash could've been from a girl scout weenie roast for all we know.

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There was always evidence of daenerys possibly being like her father, as much as I didn't want it to happen, I knew it was a possibility. In S1, she watched her brother, the only family she had left, get his head melted off and she didn't care. At the end of that season she burned a witch who followed her orders to death just because she didn't get exactly what she wanted.  

The idea that she could go full "Mad Queen" faded in the middle of the series Bc she had what she wanted for the moment. In Meereen she was a Queen, she was loved by the people at the start, they welcomed her because she liberated them. Daenerys loved feeling like that, she loved the power. She had a naive view that when she returned to Westeros that the people would welcome her just like the people of Meereen did. But she didn't realize that Westerosi are different. They all still remember what her father did, did she seriously think they would just accept a complete, foreign stranger as Queen just because she declared it? She can't turn up in Westeros and declare herself Queen and expect everyone to just accept that, she realized that soon enough. Then, when she found out that Jon was a direct threat to her throne, things got way worse, she became obsessed with trying to keep it a secret, she was jealous of him because he was already loved by the people of Westeros. She knew if people found out who he really was they would prefer him to her. 

Then of course, there is her loosing all her allies, first Jorah dies and then Cersei executes Missendei, all her enemies were still alive but her friends were getting smaller and smaller, that was the final straw. It became more about avenging Missendei death than conquering Westeros. She had the city, they surrendered, but she carried on burning all those innocent people anyway Bc she no longer cared about them. She even said as much to Jon, they don't love her, so why should she love them. 

She became everything she always triednto avoid, its very sad but its not unforeseen. She destroyed the city she wanted to live in, she destroyed the castle her ancestors built, she destroyed the throne she wanted so badly for so long, and she definitely gave up being Queen, because there is no way that will happen now. 

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3 hours ago, Kajjo said:

<snip>People snapping in times of utter frustration, hopelessness, goals in life breaking away, multiple betrayals, unreciprocated affections of Jon and so on is so believable. I wonder why not everyone sees that. <snip>

Yes, people snap unpredictably in real life.

Having the protagonist of a massive epic work of fiction snap suddenly at the very end of the story, with absolutely no foreshadowing she would ever do anything even remotely like what she actually did--again, at the very end of the story--is horrible horrible writing. It destroyed this story.

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11 minutes ago, tallTale said:

She knows they are already afraid of her. She really didn’t need it to burn them, its completely outside her character otherwise. 

Hmmm, she embraced the Dothraki culture pretty fast and was like a fish in water in that culture.

She does what a Dothraki Khal does in this episode: either you pay tribute before the battle to avoid it, or the city gets razed... there's no surrendering in between.

I'm not convinced it's out of character, and rather more convinced that her extending mercy prior to KL in Essos was something she did because she believed it was expected of her to earn the welcome, cup raising and love of the people in Westeros. When the bells ring, she fully accepts all that was for nothing, so she tosses the mercy out of the window and becomes Khal of khals.

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3 hours ago, Ras1983 said:

Look at it from her perspective. She's been chasing the Iron Throne her whole life when all wanted to do was 'go home'. This pursuit cost her her family lineage and kingdom, her brotber, her husband and baby, her fertility, she's been betrayed countless times, has had assassination attempts on her life, lost two of her precious dragons, can't love men she likes, and she's been shunned by many of the people in the country she believed was her.

And never, ever hurt anybody for no reason.

So, Dany getting bloodlust at the end of the battle was cathartic for her on so many levels and was believable. Not following you here whatsoever. Looked like a complete 180 to me.<snip>

 

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And now she can add "queen of the ashes" to her tediously long list of titles... too bad Miss Sandy isn't there to introduce her anymore...

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I dont know why I saw this happening and others did not. If it was truly a failure of writing with no foreshadowing, we should have ALL been duped. 

One of the biggest signs for me that Dany is bad news is that she slapped her slave in the books. Slapping the help? Always a bad look. 

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3 hours ago, Kajjo said:

<snip> Yes, it might be a pity if someone favored Daenerys and didn't see all the foreshadowing,

Such as? Here we are on page 5 of this thread where you asked for examples of the foreshadowing at the beginning of the thread. Zero examples so far of anything that would foreshadow Dany killing people for no reason but "to be feared."

 

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3 hours ago, StoneColdJorahMormont said:

<snip>

As for her reasoning... amongst all the grief she had suffered recently I still believe the fire that fuelled her was due to her childhood... I don't think she saw the people of kingslanding as innocent but rather the people that stood by while her father was overthrown and they were torn from their home and sent to Essos.

<snip>

That thought process would be insane. When else did she see innocent people as guilty and harm them for no reason?

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1 hour ago, fairwarging said:

I think a lot of viewers feel cheated because many of her darker moments were treated as triumphant, or given a lot of excessive justification. Her enemies in the east were very black and white and it was very easy for her to earn the love of a massive amount of people. I don't think she was built up as 'mad' enough for this episode to work- they needed several episodes- but it was definitely there. 

Her season six arc worked (sort of) because the Dothraki were painted as evil. After they discovered who she was, they decided she would join the dosh khahleen, a respected institution in their culture. Obviously she didn't like this and needed to get out of it. She goes into a meeting with them and knowing full well Dothraki culture, mocks them and calls them unworthy. So they turn into these big bad guys and threaten to rape her, which justifies her burning them to death. And then everyone bows before her when she doesn't burn after she sets fire to a sacred building, even though the Dothraki HATE witches and magic. Cue the triumphant music. 

This isn't a great moment- this is her destroying a culture she once respected and considered herself a part of, a culture she should know intimately and be able to manipulate without bloodshed. But those guys were SO MEAN! 

Then she speaks, on her dragon, of 'killing her enemies in iron suits and burning down their stone houses' she is not specific, making them dangerous invaders and not allies. She seems to collect the aspects of each culture that she likes without considering them as a whole. She likes that she can easily conquer in the east and be righteous in a Western way, she likes that she can take advantage of the slave-minded unsullied and the brutality of the Dothraki, but heaven forbid they act that way towards her! She doesn't like that she has to the earn the Westerosis respect and it takes time. 

You may not have liked what she did with the Dothraki but there was certainly no hint of insanity. She acted in self-defense and to free herself. 

And by the way, the Dothraki had a horrible culture. She changed it for the better and they accepted the change.

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Just now, Hodor's Dragon said:

And by the way, the Dothraki had a horrible culture. She changed it for the better and they accepted the change.

Cue to the Dothraki riding through KL cutting down random women and children.

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1 hour ago, fairwarging said:

Then what could the Dothraki possibly gain? Are they going to settle down and become farmers? It makes no sense. 

It wasn't a contract. "The Dothraki respect strength." How many times did you hear that?

When she showed up on Drogon, that was the most strength they had ever seen. They did whatever she told them to.

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11 minutes ago, hallam said:

Exactly. Danny knows Jon is the true king and she can only rule by fear.

Dany needed to make a show of force. 

This is exactly what Rumsfeld did during the invasion of Iraq. Baghdad was bombed for several days in an operation he described as 'shock and awe'. There are many legal authorities who believe it amounted to a war crime.

I am not sure if that is GRRM's point but he certainly set up the dragons as weapons of mass destruction.

For the people saying where is the foreshadowing. I would ask, what constituency did she have in Westeros? She had none, and she was bringing a Dothraki horde with her, who were known for raping and pillaging. Why would anyone trust her? When she learned of Jon's true heritage, if she was a good person, she would have rallied behind him. Jon has the better claim to the throne. Jon is loved in the North, so he has a constituency. It was her own delusions of grandeur that did her in.

And the Iraq comparison is great. Either that or I thought it reminded me of what the bombing of Dresden must have been like. This all seems like it's a warning against Neoconservatism. The whole, bomb people into freedom idea. Cersei is a stand-in for Hussein here. Not a good ruler, but what do you replace him with and how much destruction do you put on the people to remove him?

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