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LanMandragoran

GRRM struggling how to show Daenerys' mental instability

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During both the TV show and books, my impression of Daenerys is that of a good character faced with hard dilemmas. Yes, sometimes she is brutal, like with the slavers and enemies in war. Other times she is fierce and threatening, like with Qarth and  Cersei, but at no times does she hate innocent  civilians so much she puts them on fire. The books are currently struggling with the Meereenese knot and GRRM can't seem to get past that; and I am wondering if it is because he is going to have to start turning Daenerys more unstable from that moment. He can't wait until the final chapters of the book series for her to start making maniacal decisions. It has to come with the Winds of Winter, and if he had published the books already, her change into the Mad Queen would not have been so surprising.

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I'm not convinced that Dany will go mad. Cersei, on the other hand, already is, as demonstrated in the scene where she burns down the Tower of the Hand. If Dany was to go mad I'm sure GRRM wouldn't have a problem showing it.

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5 minutes ago, Loge said:

I'm not convinced that Dany will go mad. Cersei, on the other hand, already is, as demonstrated in the scene where she burns down the Tower of the Hand. If Dany was to go mad I'm sure GRRM wouldn't have a problem showing it.

I hope she doesn't as it doesn't fit her character, but if GRRM has told DD the ending and they have kept fairly true to it, it seems likely that he will. And if so, it has to start in Essos. She can't be a benign liberator there, in a moral effort to distance herself from her mad father, and then turn herself into what she always hated (her brother mostly, but her father in memory).

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8 minutes ago, LanMandragoran said:

I hope she doesn't as it doesn't fit her character, but if GRRM has told DD the ending and they have kept fairly true to it, it seems likely that he will. And if so, it has to start in Essos. She can't be a benign liberator there, in a moral effort to distance herself from her mad father, and then turn herself into what she always hated (her brother mostly, but her father in memory).

That's a big if. First, GRRM doesn't really know how the story plays out, or it wouldn't take him so long to write it. Second, I don't think D&D care about the books anymore. They have been telling a completely different story for some time now. I wouldn't expect the ending to be the same anymore either. Probably wouldn't even make sense.

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I recently reread Dance.  Dance, specifically her last three chapters, are her descent into madness, IMO.  She is becoming more and more suspicious, paranoid, and then she starts having the hallucinations from the berries.  It is, for lack of a better word, easier to mask it because it is from her point of view.  She seems reasonable, justified in her anger and paranoia.  We are meant to "get it".  I didn't catch it the first time through, but upon rereading, Dance is her descent. 

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I mean, her going mad is definitely happening in the books. Or at least, it is implied heavily that it is going to go down in the books. Maybe she comes back at the last minute, who knows. But I doubt he is struggling with her madness or showing madness, it is already happening.

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49 minutes ago, Lady Rhodes said:

I recently reread Dance.  Dance, specifically her last three chapters, are her descent into madness, IMO.  She is becoming more and more suspicious, paranoid, and then she starts having the hallucinations from the berries.  It is, for lack of a better word, easier to mask it because it is from her point of view.  She seems reasonable, justified in her anger and paranoia.  We are meant to "get it".  I didn't catch it the first time through, but upon rereading, Dance is her descent. 

Uh of course she's suspicious and paranoid in her last three chapters. Catelyn is suspicious and paranoid in her last two or three chapters. Is she mad? If only Robb would have been going mad in Catelyn's last two or three chapters...he wouldn't of separated himself from Grey Wind and then locked him away. I mean, who knows: Robb might have lived.

There was an active assassination plot against her unfurling. They tried to poison her at Draznak's Pits; she's lucky Drogon showed up. Drogon showing up out of the blue in a compromising situation made her leap into action.

Belwas ate the food meant for Daenerys 

 

How is Dance her descent? She's trying to do things that are contrary to who she is, to her beliefs? She's subverting her own rule. She tries to play the game of thrones, deal with insurgent terrorists and compromises in an attempt to bring and maintain peace. And it almost kills her.

The fact that she constantly has to tell herself I have to trust Hizdahr means that she doesn't trust him. Nor should she given to how things progress in Meereen after she leaves.

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1 hour ago, Lady Rhodes said:

I recently reread Dance.  Dance, specifically her last three chapters, are her descent into madness, IMO.  She is becoming more and more suspicious, paranoid, and then she starts having the hallucinations from the berries.  It is, for lack of a better word, easier to mask it because it is from her point of view.  She seems reasonable, justified in her anger and paranoia.  We are meant to "get it".  I didn't catch it the first time through, but upon rereading, Dance is her descent. 

I agree. The real alarm bells for me came from when she started to listen to her inner Viserys. That can't be good. It also points to a tremendous amount of repression on Dany's part and I wonder if a dam of really negative feelings isn't about to burst. 

The show also stripped Dany down to no one so to speak with all of her losses and we saw that Dany didn't have an internal center to be able to absorb the losses. The foundation of her identity is built on sand, or the Game/IT. She doesn't know who she is without it. Book Dany goes through the same strip down in her last chapter. She talks about what she personally wants: rest, planting trees, watching them grow. But she gets stripped down to the IT, and the Targ words Fire & Blood and Dragons plant no trees, and basically not Dany the person, the girl, but Daenerys the last Targaryen, Queen of the the [insert endless list of titles here]. It's an incredibly warped version of kill the boy, let the man be born. 

 

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Uh of course she's suspicious and paranoid in her last three chapters. Catelyn is suspicious and paranoid in her last two or three chapters. Is she mad? If only Robb would have been going mad in Catelyn's last two or three chapters...he wouldn't of separated himself from Grey Wind and then locked him away. I mean, who knows: Robb might have lived.

There was an active assassination plot against her unfurling. They tried to poison her at Draznak's Pits; she's lucky Drogon showed up. Drogon showing up out of the blue in a compromising situation made her leap into action.

Belwas ate the food meant for Daenerys 

 

How is Dance her descent? She's trying to do things that are contrary to who she is, to her beliefs? She's subverting her own rule. She tries to play the game of thrones, deal with insurgent terrorists and compromises in an attempt to bring and maintain peace. And it almost kills her.

The fact that she constantly has to tell herself I have to trust Hizdahr means that she doesn't trust him. Nor should she given to how things progress in Meereen after she leaves.

In a fashion, yes. GRRM is very heavy-handed about madness and mothers who lose their children. We see this very prominently with Catelyn, Cersei and Dany. 

ASOS Catelyn I

"The news must have driven you mad," Ser Desmond broke in, "a madness of grief, a mother's madness, men will understand. You did not know . . ."

Catelyn could not say if Lord Hoster knew that she was there, or if her presence brought him any comfort, but it gave her solace to be with him. What would you say if you knew my crime, Father? she wondered. Would you have done as I did, if it were Lysa and me in the hands of our enemies? Or would you condemn me too, and call it mother's madness

ASOS Catelyn IV

She clutched tight at his hand. "Nothing will happen to you. Nothing. I could not stand it. They took Ned, and your sweet brothers. Sansa is married, Arya is lost, my father's dead . . . if anything befell you, I would go mad, Robb. You are all I have left. You are all the north has left." 

ASOS Catelyn VII

It hurts so much, she thought. Our children, Ned, all our sweet babes. Rickon, Bran, Arya, Sansa, Robb . . . Robb . . . please, Ned, please, make it stop, make it stop hurting . . . The white tears and the red ones ran together until her face was torn and tattered, the face that Ned had loved. Catelyn Stark raised her hands and watched the blood run down her long fingers, over her wrists, beneath the sleeves of her gown. Slow red worms crawled along her arms and under her clothes. It tickles. That made her laugh until she screamed. "Mad," someone said, "she's lost her wits," and someone else said, "Make an end," and a hand grabbed her scalp just as she'd done with Jinglebell, and she thought, No, don't, don't cut my hair, Ned loves my hair. Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold.

 

 It's probably worthwhile to compare Cersei and Dany to Lady Stoneheart. 

Edited by Lollygag

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I don't think that she'll necessarily go mad in the books. However, time and time again, despite Dany's good intentions, she serves as an agent of chaos throughout Essos. I imagine that we'll see her come to Westeros with good intentions of liberating the land and taking the throne, without having the self awareness to know that her war dramatically decreases the quality of life throughout Westeros.

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1 minute ago, Lollygag said:

In a fashion, yes. GRRM is very heavy-handed about madness and mothers who lose their children. We see this very prominently with Catelyn, Cersei and Dany. 

ASOS Catelyn I

"The news must have driven you mad," Ser Desmond broke in, "a madness of grief, a mother's madness, men will understand. You did not know . . ."

Catelyn could not say if Lord Hoster knew that she was there, or if her presence brought him any comfort, but it gave her solace to be with him. What would you say if you knew my crime, Father? she wondered. Would you have done as I did, if it were Lysa and me in the hands of our enemies? Or would you condemn me too, and call it mother's madness

ASOS Catelyn IV

She clutched tight at his hand. "Nothing will happen to you. Nothing. I could not stand it. They took Ned, and your sweet brothers. Sansa is married, Arya is lost, my father's dead . . . if anything befell you, I would go mad, Robb. You are all I have left. You are all the north has left." 

ASOS Catelyn VII

It hurts so much, she thought. Our children, Ned, all our sweet babes. Rickon, Bran, Arya, Sansa, Robb . . . Robb . . . please, Ned, please, make it stop, make it stop hurting . . . The white tears and the red ones ran together until her face was torn and tattered, the face that Ned had loved. Catelyn Stark raised her hands and watched the blood run down her long fingers, over her wrists, beneath the sleeves of her gown. Slow red worms crawled along her arms and under her clothes. It tickles. That made her laugh until she screamed. "Mad," someone said, "she's lost her wits," and someone else said, "Make an end," and a hand grabbed her scalp just as she'd done with Jinglebell, and she thought, No, don't, don't cut my hair, Ned loves my hair. Then the steel was at her throat, and its bite was red and cold.

I'm sorry but you're missing the entire point of these passages.

People are calling Catelyn's concern for the welfare of her children and her desperation to see them be made well madness. That in and of itself is a really odd thing even in universe; much more odd for you to entertain that to be true.

If you had three siblings, would you call your mother mad if she took your siblings' tragic deaths and the fact that you were permanently separated from her hard? I hope not; that'd be pretty heartless. 

If someone experienced the trauma of witnessing the murders of dozens of people at what was supposed to be a wedding reception and experienced a nervous breakdown, would you call them mad? What about someone who has been tortured? Are they mad for being a weepy mess after the fact...?

It seems like people in Planetos use the term "she/he has gone mad" interchangeably. They use it to refer to legitimate cases of insanity and they use it whenever they personally find someone's emotional/psychological response to extreme stress unfathomable.

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Uh of course she's suspicious and paranoid in her last three chapters. Catelyn is suspicious and paranoid in her last two or three chapters. Is she mad? If only Robb would have been going mad in Catelyn's last two or three chapters...he wouldn't of separated himself from Grey Wind and then locked him away. I mean, who knows: Robb might have lived.

There was an active assassination plot against her unfurling. They tried to poison her at Draznak's Pits; she's lucky Drogon showed up. Drogon showing up out of the blue in a compromising situation made her leap into action.

Belwas ate the food meant for Daenerys 

 

How is Dance her descent? She's trying to do things that are contrary to who she is, to her beliefs? She's subverting her own rule. She tries to play the game of thrones, deal with insurgent terrorists and compromises in an attempt to bring and maintain peace. And it almost kills her.

The fact that she constantly has to tell herself I have to trust Hizdahr means that she doesn't trust him. Nor should she given to how things progress in Meereen after she leaves.

I am not saying that she did not have reason to be paranoid.  What I am saying is that paranoia is driving her toward madness. I

16 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

The show also stripped Dany down to no one so to speak with all of her losses and we saw that Dany didn't have an internal center to be able to absorb the losses. The foundation of her identity is built on sand, or the Game/IT. She doesn't know who she is without it. Book Dany goes through the same strip down in her last chapter. She talks about what she personally wants: rest, planting trees, watching them grow. But she gets stripped down to the IT, and the Targ words Fire & Blood and Dragons plant no trees, and basically not Dany the person, the girl, but Daenerys the last Targaryen, Queen of the the [insert endless list of titles here]. It's an incredibly warped version of kill the boy, let the man be born. 

Yes, agree.  I told a coworker of mine that I felt if the show had included the "three treasons" in season 2 during the HotU sequence, and then had her ruminate (with Barristan, Missandei, etc) throughout the seasons, slowly becoming more suspicious and paranoid, things would have been more believable. 

 

For what it is worth, my hope is that it is a pendulum - she swings very far in one direction, is horrified, and comes to the middle.

 

Edited by Lady Rhodes
to add clarification

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1 hour ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

Uh of course she's suspicious and paranoid in her last three chapters. Catelyn is suspicious and paranoid in her last two or three chapters. Is she mad? If only Robb would have been going mad in Catelyn's last two or three chapters...he wouldn't of separated himself from Grey Wind and then locked him away. I mean, who knows: Robb might have lived.

There was an active assassination plot against her unfurling. They tried to poison her at Draznak's Pits; she's lucky Drogon showed up. Drogon showing up out of the blue in a compromising situation made her leap into action.

Belwas ate the food meant for Daenerys 

 

How is Dance her descent? She's trying to do things that are contrary to who she is, to her beliefs? She's subverting her own rule. She tries to play the game of thrones, deal with insurgent terrorists and compromises in an attempt to bring and maintain peace. And it almost kills her.

The fact that she constantly has to tell herself I have to trust Hizdahr means that she doesn't trust him. Nor should she given to how things progress in Meereen after she leaves.

Agreed! 

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7 minutes ago, Aurane said:

I don't think that she'll necessarily go mad in the books. However, time and time again, despite Dany's good intentions, she serves as an agent of chaos throughout Essos. I imagine that we'll see her come to Westeros with good intentions of liberating the land and taking the throne, without having the self awareness to know that her war dramatically decreases the quality of life throughout Westeros.

I think she will have the self-awareness to know that her war dramatically decreases the quality of life in Westeros. She's getting ready to go on a abolitionist, wheel-breaking rampage in Essos in The Winds of Winter.

I just think Daenerys will think that it will be worth it and it must be done. After all, it's not like the Others, Euron Greyjoy, Jon Connington's greyscale, the Faith Militant or even Varys (we still don't know his true nature or his true intentions) are going to let the Westerosi live happily ever after.

Perhaps, she is not just coming for the throne; there's a very good chance, she is coming to fight all these things. To slay lies, to break chains. And everything else is collateral damage.

By the time we get to the end of The Winds of Winter and the beginning of A Dream of Spring comes along, Daenerys is going to look more like Magneto, Inspector Javert from Les Misérables or the Bride from Kill Bill.

She's going to be scary. She has to be if she's ever to get out of the Dothraki Sea alive. Her enemies in Essos (aka the entire socioeconomic system of slavery) are going to make it mandatory.

That much is clear.

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24 minutes ago, Lady Rhodes said:

I am not saying that she did not have reason to be paranoid.  What I am saying is that paranoia is driving her toward madness.

I completely disagree.

Her paranoia in Meereen saved her life. She was right to be paranoid. You think that if Victarion showed up when Daenerys was still in Meereen that he was just going to ask her nicely? Hell, was Quentyn satisfied with just asking nicely? He tried to take one of her dragons. What would have happened if the dragons didn't defend themselves? Daenerys would have lost a dragon. Or if he had tried it when Daenerys was still in the city and he was killed anyways, Daenerys would have had to deal with two rampaging dragons destroying her city.

In either case, she would have been up a creek.

A healthy dose of paranoia is always good. Daenerys has yet to shown herself to go overboard in paranoia.

Ned Stark's mercy didn't kill him. It was his lack of paranoia and suspicion.

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3 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

I completely disagree.

Her paranoia in Meereen saved her life. She was right to be paranoid. You think that if Victarion showed up when Daenerys was still in Meereen that he was just going to ask her nicely? Hell, was Quentyn satisfied with just asking nicely? He tried to take one of her dragons. What would have happened if the dragons didn't defend themselves? Daenerys would have lost a dragon. Or if he had tried it when Daenerys was still in the city and he was killed anyways, Daenerys would have had to deal with two rampaging dragons destroying her city.

In either case, she would have been up a creek.

A healthy dose of paranoia is always good. Daenerys has yet to shown herself to go overboard in paranoia.

Ned Stark's mercy didn't kill him. It was his lack of paranoia and suspicion.

That is fair.  I don't want this to be true. I love the character and I truly believe she wants to do good.  But I think she is heading in this path, and I think textually there is a lot to back me up.  My thoughts are that she is going to do something horrendous (this or something else) and be horrified at the innocents lost in what she felt was justified. The Iron Throne is a macguffin for her anyway - what she really wants is the house with the red door.

The villain doesn't think they are a villain - they feel justified. Because we have grown with Daenerys, we can understand why she thinks the way she does.  But I venture if we had a story of Cersei starting from before her mother died, we would feel differently about her, too.

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30 minutes ago, Jabar of House Titan said:

I'm sorry but you're missing the entire point of these passages.

People are calling Catelyn's concern for the welfare of her children and her desperation to see them be made well madness. That in and of itself is a really odd thing even in universe; much more odd for you to entertain that to be true.

If you had three siblings, would you call your mother mad if she took your siblings' tragic deaths and the fact that you were permanently separated from her hard? I hope not; that'd be pretty heartless.  

If someone experienced the trauma of witnessing the murders of dozens of people at what was supposed to be a wedding reception and experienced a nervous breakdown, would you call them mad? What about someone who has been tortured? Are they mad for being a weepy mess after the fact...?

It seems like people in Planetos use the term "she/he has gone mad" interchangeably. They use it to refer to legitimate cases of insanity and they use it whenever they personally find someone's emotional/psychological response to extreme stress unfathomable.

If you have a problem with the use of madness, take it up with GRRM and now D&D. I didn't write it. 

The bold is a huge part of the problem, but it's rl problem, too. The English language has very confusing and contradictory word usage on madness and insanity using the same words for extreme clinical cases like schizophrenia or Aerys, to those who have completely normal responses to a trauma, to those who are just stressed/tired/hungry, and also to things which are just outside the norm and are unexpected. Having a discussion on the subject is a huge pain for that. 

 

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44 minutes ago, Lady Rhodes said:

 

Yes, agree.  I told a coworker of mine that I felt if the show had included the "three treasons" in season 2 during the HotU sequence, and then had her ruminate (with Barristan, Missandei, etc) throughout the seasons, slowly becoming more suspicious and paranoid, things would have been more believable. 

 

For what it is worth, my hope is that it is a pendulum - she swings very far in one direction, is horrified, and comes to the middle.

 

This is what I expected all along. This is the first time it even occurred to me that she may end up as a true villain, albeit a tragic one. 

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3 minutes ago, Lady Rhodes said:

That is fair.  I don't want this to be true. I love the character and I truly believe she wants to do good.  But I think she is heading in this path, and I think textually there is a lot to back me up.  My thoughts are that she is going to do something horrendous (this or something else) and be horrified at the innocents lost in what she felt was justified. The Iron Throne is a macguffin for her anyway - what she really wants is the house with the red door.

The villain doesn't think they are a villain - they feel justified. Because we have grown with Daenerys, we can understand why she thinks the way she does.  But I venture if we had a story of Cersei starting from before her mother died, we would feel differently about her, too.

No the Cersei thing is not a good comparison. Because Cersei impulsively does things that don't even make sense to her. Why? Because they give her pleasure.

Cersei is about greed, lust for power and personal satisfaction. Always has been.

And her plans have always backfired on her, even when she wasn't a POV character. Half-baked schemes that are poorly thought out, poorly executed and that ultimately backfire or fail is her M.O.

  • Although Cersei prattles on to Sansa about how there are no loyal sellswords, she hires sellswords to protect herself only for Tyrion secretly pays off the sellswords Cersei has hired...and the sellswords in question (the Kettleblacks) are still employed by Littlefinger.
  • She puts a crown on Joffrey's head and lets him give a public speech before thousands of people...but then she acts shocked when he makes a declaration that cannot be easily undone or dismissed because it was made before thousands of people. And who is she to undermine her own son and king
  • She helps Littlefinger rat out the Tyrells to Tywin and barely has time to gloat because Tywin has then betrothed her to Willas Tyrell.
  • She carries on a 15 year long affair with her twin brother (one of the king's elite bodyguard) in the capital in the king's castle with the king's own brothers not far...and thinks no one will find out. That all she needs to do is stack the city with Lannister soldiers so that there's no way that the blowback can hurt her, Jaime or their children...all the while allowing the City Watch to become corrupt.

Hell, if Sansa hadn't been so childishly clueless, Cersei would have been a sitting duck. Against Ned friggin' Stark.

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