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Areisius

The character assassination of Daenerys

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Dokivi said:

The Jorah scene though, we all know how the Yunkai issue ended. With Dany burning the masters anyway, because they used her mercy against her and it almost cost her a city. So that was an ill advise also.

The key advice I took from that conversation was basically warning her about becoming like the masters which is exactly what happened when she turned brutal herself in King’s Landing.  Dany pointed out to Jorah all the horrors the masters enacted on slaves like they were  beasts. Jorah then told her that herding the masters into pens and slaughtering them was also treating people like beasts. He told her the slaves she freed had always suffered from brutality and she needed to show them something else........something better. Not just more of the same.  He reminded her that it was tempting to see evil in all men but there is good and evil in all men in every war that had been fought. He reminded her that he had once sold men into slavery and how he was here helping her to show them to freedom.  

I agree with you that a good ruler knows when to use which approach and I feel the purpose of Daenery’s  stay in Slaver’s Bay was to present her with situations where she had to make these kind of moral choices. For the most part she did a good job but it was evident that she was struggling with the side of her that wanted to correct moral injustices with fairness and compromise versus the part of her who wanted to react with brutality, fire, and blood.  Unfortunately, she decided to make the wrong choice in KL when she was unable to control her worst impulses and slaughtered innocents which ironically was the very thing she had always been against.  

Edited by TheFirstofHerName

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On 6/5/2019 at 2:06 AM, Areisius said:

Man, what a brutal pun that is. SMH. 

 

This video really puts in perspective Dany's abrupt character change from a graceful leader to a tyrant.

 

S02E05: The Ghost of Harrenhal
Jorah - You have a good claim. A title. A birthright. But you have something more than that. You may cover it up and deny it, but you have a gentle heart.
You would not only be respected and feared, you would be loved. Someone who can rule and should rule.


S03E03 - Walk of Punishment.
JORAH: If you want to sit on the throne your ancestors built you must win it, that will mean blood on your hands before the thing is done.
DAENERYS: The blood of my enemies, not the blood of innocents.


S05E01 - The Wars to Come
DAARIO: You're not the Mother of Unsullied. You're the Mother of Dragons.
DAENERYS: I don't want another child's bones dropped at my feet.


S03E07 - The Bear and the Maiden Fair
DAENERYS: How many slaves are there in Yunkai?
JORAH: 200,000. If not more.
DAENERYS: Then we have 200,000 reasons to take the city.


S07E02 - Stormborn
YARA: If you want the Iron Throne, take it. We have an army, a fleet, and three dragons.We should hit King's Landing now, hard, with everything we have. The city will fall within a day.
TYRION: If we turn the dragons loose, tens of thousands will die in the firestorms.
ELLARIA: It's called war. You don't have the stomach for it, scurry back into hiding.
TYRION: I know how you wage war. We don't poison little girls here. Myrcella was innocent.
ELLARIA: She was a Lannister. There are no innocent Lannisters. My greatest regret is that Oberyn died fighting for you.
DAENERYS: That's enough. Lord Tyrion is Hand of the Queen. You will treat him with respect. I am not here to be queen of the ashes.
OLENNA: That's very nice to hear. Of course, I can't remember a queen who was better loved than my granddaughter. The common people loved her. The nobles loved her. And what is left of her now? Ashes.


S07E05 - Eastwatch
DAENERYS: I know what Cersei has told you. That I've come to destroy your cities, burn down your homes, murder you, and orphan your children. That's Cersei Lannister, not me.
I'm not here to murder, and all I want to destroy is the wheel that has rolled over rich and poor to the benefit of no one but the Cersei Lannisters of the world.


S07E06 - Beyond the Wall
TYRION: Nobody trusts my sister less than I do, believe me. But if we go to the capital, we'll go with two armies, we'll go with three dragons, and anyone touches you, King's Landing burns down to the foundation stone.
DAENERYS: And right now she's thinking of how to set a trap. 
TYRION: Of cours she is. And she's wondering what trap you're laying for her.
DAENERYS: Are we? Laying any traps?
TYRION: If we want to create a new and better world, I'm not sure deceit and mass murder is the best way to start.
DAENERYS: Which war was won without deceit and mass murder? 
TYRION: Yes, you'll need to be ruthless if you're going to win the throne. You need to inspire a degree of fear. But fear is all Cersei has. It's all my father had And Joffrey. It makes their power brittle.
Because everyone beneath them longs to see them dead.

Character assassination means you are saying untrue things about someone in order to hurt their reputation. It's not possible for a writer to engage in character assassination, they can only characterize. Try to understand that character assassination doesn't mean a character does something you didn't expect them to do - that's just an example of, well, a character doing something you didn't expect them to do.

The main problem with your post is the attempt to use things that were said in order to somehow demonstrate that actions which are in conflict with what has been said, cannot be taken by a character. But this isn't any more true than it is in the real world. We may have a story about an extreme pacifist and he remarks "I would never hurt a fly" and other characters randomly remark that he is a peaceful pacifist who would never hurt another living soul. But then, we have a love interest enter the story, and at the end of the story the villain is about to kill her when BLAM! BLAM! the villain falls dead and we cut to a shot of the pacifist now holding a smoldering gun in his hand. This is not "character assassination" this is called "characterization." It shows us that his character of "pacifist" can be challenged when put into such an extreme situation. We now know more about the character.

The same is true of Dany. It doesn't matter that people can quote back and forth the "good/bad" things said of Dany, what matters is what she did. In this episode, the audience is seeing Dany is a completely unprecedented situation and the past is irrelevant - people who say "That character would never do that" are wrong, they are in fact seeing exactly what that character would/will do (this applies to all characterization in all stories). Was it shocking to you? Great. Was it expected? Great. The fact is, her change was not abrupt because there was, in fact, no "change" at all since the audience had never once seen her in this specific situation. Dany did what Dany would do in that situation. The narrative is informing the audience of that.

Anyone claiming things like "she would never do that" or "that is a change of her character" are wrong and don't understand stories and characterization. Like most criticisms I've seen, the problem here is not with the writing but with a segment of the audience's ability to understand a story.

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27 minutes ago, John Meta said:

This is not "character assassination" this is called "characterization." It shows us that his character of "pacifist" can be challenged when put into such an extreme situation. We now know more about the character.

So according to you the the writer/author is always right, he can't make mistakes, he can't botch his work, he can't make concessions to the people who pay him? Characterization is sacred, it can't be at fault?

Season 8 starts with Tyrion making dick jokes (Varys no cock!!!), then the Northerners are depicted as hillbillies ready to hang these strangers who came to save their asses from the worst danger Westeros has ever known. Then Sansa (the smartest person Arya knows) behaves like a bitch towards a woman who has just arrived with xx000 fighters and 3 dragons…

And you're telling us "We now know more about the character"? I guess you work for Hollywood…

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6 hours ago, John Meta said:

Like most criticisms I've seen, the problem here is not with the writing but with a segment of the audience's ability to understand a story.

I think we all understand stories.  The problem is that some stories make sense and some don't.  

Some stories are carefully told with attention to detail and character development - although you may be shocked or surprised at certain turns, you can still see the logical progression of why what happened in the story happened.  A character may make a decision you hoped they wouldn't make, but you understand why they made it, why they are who they are.  The first 6 seasons of Game of Thrones are full of examples of this.  Let's go with the very first season and Ned Stark's story.  You completely understand why he took the honorable steps he took in the aftermath of the death of Robert Baratheon.  When you re-watch Season 1, you see that conversation between him and Littlefinger where Littlefinger urges him to support Renly's claim- a part of you wishes he would do it because you know the consequences of him taking the honorable route.  But, because his character arc and story was properly developed, you understand why he can't do this.  Similarly, you understand and it makes sense that Littlefinger betrays him, he is thrown in prison, and Joffrey ends up executing.  You wish it didn't happen, but you ultimately understand why he did what he did and why that ultimately resulted in his death.

Some stories are rushed and more concerned with the outcome than they are with attention to detail and believability.  There is an endpoint to the story and the story-teller is willing to take whatever steps it takes to get there, regardless of whether it makes sense.  Little children often tell these sorts of stories because they don't have a very good sense of story - they might tell a story about how someone did such and such and then suddenly they did this and then they did this and then this, and then they died - they don't quite understand that each step in a story has to make sense - it has to have a logical progression. Sure, surprises and shocks can be a significant part of a story, but it has to be believable based on the what came before.

For may of us, the way in which Dany turned in the final few episodes of GoT came across as the latter sort of story-telling.  It wasn't that we didn't believe that Dany was capable of evil acts or bad decision-making, it was that she had such a sudden break in the face of victory that it didn't really make sense.  There wasn't anything in her character development that gave her actions this season a logical arc.  It seemed more like a toddler telling me a story where, they knew the person they were telling me about had to die, so they just kept telling me things that happened until they got to the end.  It didn't make sense, it wasn't properly developed, it was just told because the story-tellers wanted to get to the end.  It was a story, it was just a very bad story that didn't make much sense.      

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On 6/7/2019 at 10:05 PM, Lord Stackspear said:

I think we all understand stories.  The problem is that some stories make sense and some don't.  

Some stories are carefully told with attention to detail and character development - although you may be shocked or surprised at certain turns, you can still see the logical progression of why what happened in the story happened.  A character may make a decision you hoped they wouldn't make, but you understand why they made it, why they are who they are.  The first 6 seasons of Game of Thrones are full of examples of this.  Let's go with the very first season and Ned Stark's story.  You completely understand why he took the honorable steps he took in the aftermath of the death of Robert Baratheon.  When you re-watch Season 1, you see that conversation between him and Littlefinger where Littlefinger urges him to support Renly's claim- a part of you wishes he would do it because you know the consequences of him taking the honorable route.  But, because his character arc and story was properly developed, you understand why he can't do this.  Similarly, you understand and it makes sense that Littlefinger betrays him, he is thrown in prison, and Joffrey ends up executing.  You wish it didn't happen, but you ultimately understand why he did what he did and why that ultimately resulted in his death.

Some stories are rushed and more concerned with the outcome than they are with attention to detail and believability.  There is an endpoint to the story and the story-teller is willing to take whatever steps it takes to get there, regardless of whether it makes sense.  Little children often tell these sorts of stories because they don't have a very good sense of story - they might tell a story about how someone did such and such and then suddenly they did this and then they did this and then this, and then they died - they don't quite understand that each step in a story has to make sense - it has to have a logical progression. Sure, surprises and shocks can be a significant part of a story, but it has to be believable based on the what came before.

For may of us, the way in which Dany turned in the final few episodes of GoT came across as the latter sort of story-telling.  It wasn't that we didn't believe that Dany was capable of evil acts or bad decision-making, it was that she had such a sudden break in the face of victory that it didn't really make sense.  There wasn't anything in her character development that gave her actions this season a logical arc.  It seemed more like a toddler telling me a story where, they knew the person they were telling me about had to die, so they just kept telling me things that happened until they got to the end.  It didn't make sense, it wasn't properly developed, it was just told because the story-tellers wanted to get to the end.  It was a story, it was just a very bad story that didn't make much sense.      

I'd have to disagree with your proposition that "I think we all know stories" based on what I'm seeing in the criticism. For instance, the use of the phrase "character assassination" in this very thread is a positive indicator that there's a lack of understanding of characterization. Character assassination cannot even exist in a fictional story in relation to a writer's characterization. Anything a character does is characterization which informs us of the nature of the character. 

When you talk about the "logic" of Dany's behavior and the audience being able to "follow" the logic, then I would propose (and think you would agree, correct me if that thought is wrong) that this can be regarded as symptomatic of the audience, and not really of the story. What I mean is that a story may be very complex, but that the complexity of the story's narrative makes it difficult for a certain segment of the audience to follow. We might say the story was "too smart" for that segment to follow (meaning no offense). Now, you may not think GoT is such a story, but my point is that the inability of a segment of the audience to follow a story doesn't necessarily indicate a problem with the narrative flow of the story, true? I could be a "problem" with that segment of the audience. I find this to often be the case; rarely is the problem with the actual narrative (though sometimes perhaps it is).

I'd further propose that the narrative informs us pretty bluntly and directly as to Dany's final reasoning to become the kind of ruler she became. From her dialogue "then it's fear" to the direct visual cue of the dragon wings sprouting from her back in the episode following, I'm not sure how anyone in the audience is confused as to why she chose the final path which she chose.

We also had seven previous seasons showing her ability and willingness to show both the face of the peaceful liberator and the face of the fearsome destroyer - as evidenced partly in the back-and-forth quotes as quoted in this thread. When she came to Westeros, Westeros took everything from her that mattered - her friends, her advisors, her love, her identity as true heir, her destiny, her food and her sleep. This puts the character into an unprecedented situation - adding that the goal of her entire life's work is now in plain sight. In this unprecedented moment there is no possible way for anyone to predict her actions since we have no frame of reference for an unprecedented moment. This is the point of characterization: to inform. It is a fact of the character, not open to belief/disbelief anymore than any fact is open to such.

Like I said in the previous post, there is no "logic" through which to draw a reasonable conclusion as to what Dany should or shouldn't do in an unprecedented situation. We can only accept what she chooses to do as characterization - now we know what that character will do in that situation. It's actually bad logic for anyone to attempt to make a reasonable conclusion in an unprecedented situation - thus the final outcome of Tyrion's character, for example.

By way of another analogue, think of Frodo Baggins at the end of the Return of the King. Were you surprised that when it came time to do the right thing, Frodo said "No" to destroying the ring? Was it "character assassination"? Why did Frodo suddenly turn into a "bad" guy? Was it believable? It's the same thing with Dany, only her characterization was far more fleshed out, and far more complex than that of Frodo.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/7/2019 at 4:23 PM, Nowy Tends said:

So according to you the the writer/author is always right, he can't make mistakes, he can't botch his work, he can't make concessions to the people who pay him? Characterization is sacred, it can't be at fault?

Season 8 starts with Tyrion making dick jokes (Varys no cock!!!), then the Northerners are depicted as hillbillies ready to hang these strangers who came to save their asses from the worst danger Westeros has ever known. Then Sansa (the smartest person Arya knows) behaves like a bitch towards a woman who has just arrived with xx000 fighters and 3 dragons…

And you're telling us "We now know more about the character"? I guess you work for Hollywood…

In the case of characterization, yes, the author is "always right" in a sense because characterization is narrative information: it is a fact of the character. Writers can arguably make mistakes, but not in an area such as characterization.

About season 8, yes, these things are somewhat true. Though I'd propose you're casting them in a heavily skewed perspective - that is actually an example of true character assassination. I'm not sure I see the issue with any of these other than someone trying to impossibly find fault in characterization through the use of character assassination. It's an interesting irony, at any rate, given the title of the thread.

Yes, characterization is the process through which we learn more about the nature of a given character. I don't work for Hollywood. The reason I do and say these things is to help people who are intellectually honest to further appreciate something through possible insights and understandings previously not considered.

I also do feel that it isn't right when people put a lot of effort into a work only to have to contend with people who are willing to defame, ridicule and yes, even make use of actual character assassination by passing very poor judgment based on very poor reasoning/understanding. I suppose it's just my nature to defend the innocent from an angry and ill-informed mob. I'd do the same for anyone who I felt was being unfairly accused and unjustly condemned.

Edited by John Meta

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, John Meta said:

When she came to Westeros, Westeros took everything from her that mattered - her friends, her advisors, her love, her identity as true heir, her destiny, her food and her sleep.

Her food? They even took her food? I don't remember that part at all!

What happened, did the Westerosi customs officials confiscate her lifetime supply of Meereenese honey spiced locusts? :-)

Edited by CrypticWeirwood

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3 hours ago, John Meta said:

What I mean is that a story may be very complex, but that the complexity of the story's narrative makes it difficult for a certain segment of the audience to follow. We might say the story was "too smart" for that segment to follow (meaning no offense). Now, you may not think GoT is such a story, but my point is that the inability of a segment of the audience to follow a story doesn't necessarily indicate a problem with the narrative flow of the story, true? I could be a "problem" with that segment of the audience. I find this to often be the case; rarely is the problem with the actual narrative (though sometimes perhaps it is).

I could spend a lot of time addressing all of your response to my post but I'll just focus here because I think this is the crux of the debate.  With respect to GoT Seasons 1-6, I would agree that the story was complex.  There were a lot of moving pieces that were finally starting to converge into a single narrative story line.  It was going to be a difficult task for the show runners to bring the disparate story lines into focus and deliver a satisfying and logical end to the such a complex show with complex characters whose stories had been intricately told over 6 incredible seasons of story telling.   

IMO, the show runners failed.  Seasons 7 and 8 weren't too complex and complicated for people to understand.  They weren't "too smart" such that significant parts of the audience just weren't able to follow and make sense of what happened.  The seasons were rushed.  The story lines were rushed.  Things happened that simply did not make sense.  The rich, complicated, fascinating, intriguing story that was GoT became a series of dots that needed to be connected no matter how ugly the final shape appeared to viewers.  The result was a problem with the narrative story, not the audience.  People like me aren't mere casual viewers.  I've read the books twice, I watched most of the episodes in the series more times than I can count.  I've invested countless hours of my life in this story.  I'm not just upset because I'm some Dany-loving fanatic - I've never seen her as a purely "good" character.  I'm disappointed because the the narrative story the show runners decided to tell had serious flaws that did not make sense. 

More power to you if you think the last two seasons were a satisfying end to this complex story that made narrative sense and provided a satisfying ending.  I wish I were you.   

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What was a cheat was that in Season 7, Varys and Tyrion suddenly started judging Daenerys by the standards of a Western European human rights lawyer in 2019, rather than by the standards of medieval royalty.  By the standards of the former, Daenerys was certainly a war criminal, throughout Seasons 1 to 7.  By the standards of the latter, she was rather more restrained than the average.  But, up till the middle of Season 7, we've been led to believe that the standards of a medieval world are those that should apply.  By modern standards, absolutely no one in the story emerges with clean hands, but to my mind, it's ludicrous to apply the standards of a comfortable and prosperous world to a world where war and poverty are the norm.

No one, other than a pacifist monk, would have thought that Daenerys was committing a crime by killing the Tarlys, in a medieval world.  On the contrary, they would have thought she had made them a very generous offer which they threw back in her face.  Yet, this is treated as a great atrocity, in order to provide an excuse for Varys (who was promising Fire and Blood to Lady Tyrell at the end of Season 6) to plot to murder her.  Likewise, no one in a medieval world would have been concerned if several hundred civilians had died during the course of Daenerys torching the Red Keep at the beginning.  Yet, Varys and Tyrion are appalled for some reason (I'm pretty sure that many modern commanders would have few qualms about this kind of collateral damage). So, instead of finishing the war in half a day, Daenerys is persuaded to dissipate her army in fruitless  activities.

 

 

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13 hours ago, John Meta said:

In the case of characterization, yes, the author is "always right" in a sense because characterization is narrative information: it is a fact of the character. Writers can arguably make mistakes, but not in an area such as characterization.

About season 8, yes, these things are somewhat true. Though I'd propose you're casting them in a heavily skewed perspective - that is actually an example of true character assassination. I'm not sure I see the issue with any of these other than someone trying to impossibly find fault in characterization through the use of character assassination. It's an interesting irony, at any rate, given the title of the thread.

Yes, characterization is the process through which we learn more about the nature of a given character. I don't work for Hollywood. The reason I do and say these things is to help people who are intellectually honest to further appreciate something through possible insights and understandings previously not considered.

I also do feel that it isn't right when people put a lot of effort into a work only to have to contend with people who are willing to defame, ridicule and yes, even make use of actual character assassination by passing very poor judgment based on very poor reasoning/understanding. I suppose it's just my nature to defend the innocent from an angry and ill-informed mob. I'd do the same for anyone who I felt was being unfairly accused and unjustly condemned.

1) Actually, it is very easy for writer to make a mistake in characterization. Of course, that doesn't lead to incorrect characterization (writer cannot, by definition, be incorrect in characterizing his own character), but it does lead to bad one. You see, characterization should be consistent; if you have established person's character as being such-and-such, it should remain that way unless there is significant external influence for change.

2) D&D have put no effort in their work. It became quite clear that they never had understood the character or the motivations of the characters they were writing. Although at least in some cases it might be ambigious, but even there they eventually screwed up (for a long time you could say that Jon was using Daenerys to help his people survive, and was not actually in love with her, but they completely threw that possibility of the boat in the last season). They went out of their way to make it possible for Stannis to burn Shireen, and in fact f***ed up his characterization ever since he killed Renly, they completely cut out Young Griff and as a result screwed over Cersei and Daenerys both...

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1 hour ago, SeanF said:

... By modern standards, absolutely no one in the story emerges with clean hands, but to my mind, it's ludicrous to apply the standards of a comfortable and prosperous world to a world where war and poverty are the norm.

Exactly. The change from an in-universe ethical standard to a present-day, reality-based ethical standard was very jarring. This change in point of view from "in that fictional world" to "modern times" was evident in other ways as well. Depictions of sex acts and nudity were cut back in later seasons. By memory, the language was cleaned up considerably. No court life and no personal attendants or common folk with speaking roles. Travel times so brisk as to suggest jet planes, autobahns and fast cars. No wonder former fans were coming up with nicknames like Larry "The Lunkhead" Lannister, Cheryl/Carol, and Sandra - the characters as we'd known them had ceased to exist!

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2 hours ago, SeanF said:

What was a cheat was that in Season 7, Varys and Tyrion suddenly started judging Daenerys by the standards of a Western European human rights lawyer in 2019, rather than by the standards of medieval royalty.  By the standards of the former, Daenerys was certainly a war criminal, throughout Seasons 1 to 7.  By the standards of the latter, she was rather more restrained than the average.  But, up till the middle of Season 7, we've been led to believe that the standards of a medieval world are those that should apply.  By modern standards, absolutely no one in the story emerges with clean hands, but to my mind, it's ludicrous to apply the standards of a comfortable and prosperous world to a world where war and poverty are the norm.

No one, other than a pacifist monk, would have thought that Daenerys was committing a crime by killing the Tarlys, in a medieval world.  On the contrary, they would have thought she had made them a very generous offer which they threw back in her face.  Yet, this is treated as a great atrocity, in order to provide an excuse for Varys (who was promising Fire and Blood to Lady Tyrell at the end of Season 6) to plot to murder her.  Likewise, no one in a medieval world would have been concerned if several hundred civilians had died during the course of Daenerys torching the Red Keep at the beginning.  Yet, Varys and Tyrion are appalled for some reason (I'm pretty sure that many modern commanders would have few qualms about this kind of collateral damage). So, instead of finishing the war in half a day, Daenerys is persuaded to dissipate her army in fruitless  activities.

I hate defending D&D, but at least when it comes to killing Tarlys, I always interpreted it as manner of execution being more of an issue than the fact that they were executed to begin with. She didn't cut their heads off - which was portrayed as a humane and honourable manner of execution - she had her dragon burn them alive. That was always seen as a cruel way of execution - remember that in Europe such execution was reserved for witches? You know, women whom peasants claimed for hunger, draught and pestilence (specifically, plague)? Yet she did it for lords who had fought for the Iron Throne (which at the time she had not claimed yet, even if she was a rightful ruler)?

Remember this guy:

That being said, research I did so far indicates that the amount of atrocities in Middle Ages etc. is often overstated. There were quite strict rules of warfare back then, and "rape, pillage and burn" often involved lot of pillage, little rape and almost no burning.

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1 minute ago, Aldarion said:

I hate defending D&D, but at least when it comes to killing Tarlys, I always interpreted it as manner of execution being more of an issue than the fact that they were executed to begin with. She didn't cut their heads off - which was portrayed as a humane and honourable manner of execution - she had her dragon burn them alive. That was always seen as a cruel way of execution - remember that in Europe such execution was reserved for witches? You know, women whom peasants claimed for hunger, draught and pestilence (specifically, plague)? Yet she did it for lords who had fought for the Iron Throne (which at the time she had not claimed yet, even if she was a rightful ruler)?

Remember this guy:

That being said, research I did so far indicates that the amount of atrocities in Middle Ages etc. is often overstated. There were quite strict rules of warfare back then, and "rape, pillage and burn" often involved lot of pillage, little rape and almost no burning.

Burning at the stake (of the type practised by Stannis and Aerys) would have been very cruel.  This was much quicker, and in keeping with the practice of Aegon and his sisters.  I agree that beheading would have been a more honourable death,  but IMHO, it's the fact of the deaths, not the manner, that is shown as being problematic. Tyrion and Varys discuss imprisonment as an alternative, not beheading.

Atrocities in medieval Europe were generally ordered from the top, and usually had a strategic purpose ie you burn one city to induce the next half dozen cities to surrender without a fight, or you devastate the lands of enemy to destroy his tax base.  That's what makes the burning of Kings Landing stupid, as much as anything.  There is no strategic purpose to it.

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, SeanF said:

Burning at the stake (of the type practised by Stannis and Aerys) would have been very cruel.  This was much quicker, and in keeping with the practice of Aegon and his sisters.  I agree that beheading would have been a more honourable death,  but IMHO, it's the fact of the deaths, not the manner, that is shown as being problematic. Tyrion and Varys discuss imprisonment as an alternative, not beheading.

Atrocities in medieval Europe were generally ordered from the top, and usually had a strategic purpose ie you burn one city to induce the next half dozen cities to surrender without a fight, or you devastate the lands of enemy to destroy his tax base.  That's what makes the burning of Kings Landing stupid, as much as anything.  There is no strategic purpose to it.

Agreed. And "devastating lands" was often not done by burning, but rather by pillaging, as medieval armies lived off the land; armies with proper logistical support (e.g. Roman Empire) were an exception, rather than rule. Although sometimes devastation was an end in itself, especially where there was constant border warfare; you basically forced the enemies to live the land by making conditions unbearable, and then you moved in and occupied the land (Ottomans did that a lot).

Edited by Aldarion

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The story isnt about medieval realities as much as we might think. If Dany has a dragon the fantasy elements are going to take over and make things larger than life. 

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4 hours ago, Aldarion said:

1) Actually, it is very easy for writer to make a mistake in characterization. Of course, that doesn't lead to incorrect characterization (writer cannot, by definition, be incorrect in characterizing his own character), but it does lead to bad one. You see, characterization should be consistent; if you have established person's character as being such-and-such, it should remain that way unless there is significant external influence for change.

Yea but Dany was consistently an entitled idealist in both books and show, which was always portrayed as a bad mix. It is dangerous to have a head full of ridiculous, vaguely workable ideals that don't take the real world into account and both the sense of entitlement and power to enact violence (via her dragons) to force those ideals on others  - that was the entire point of of her character. She was basically set up as a troll character to something like a champagne warrior mindset, which is a point I discussed with others years ago in the book forums. That was always blatantly obvious to anyone who viewed her without a biased lens.

She was a great character for exactly those reasons - because she can make the modern self righteous Westerner look at their own bullshit and re-asses their position.

4 hours ago, Aldarion said:

2) D&D have put no effort in their work. It became quite clear that they never had understood the character or the motivations of the characters they were writing. Although at least in some cases it might be ambigious, but even there they eventually screwed up (for a long time you could say that Jon was using Daenerys to help his people survive, and was not actually in love with her, but they completely threw that possibility of the boat in the last season). They went out of their way to make it possible for Stannis to burn Shireen, and in fact f***ed up his characterization ever since he killed Renly, they completely cut out Young Griff and as a result screwed over Cersei and Daenerys both...

D&D are shit writers. They obviously had the major plot points but were absolutely crap at writing the connective tissue. You can blame them or GRRM for not finishing it in time, take your pick. 

None of this changes that Dany was a spectacularly important character for our current times - but she would have been so much better if delivered properly, you get no disagreement from me on that.

Edited by ummester

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17 hours ago, John Meta said:

I'd have to disagree with your proposition that "I think we all know stories" based on what I'm seeing in the criticism. For instance, the use of the phrase "character assassination" in this very thread is a positive indicator that there's a lack of understanding of characterization. Character assassination cannot even exist in a fictional story in relation to a writer's characterization. Anything a character does is characterization which informs us of the nature of the character. 

When you talk about the "logic" of Dany's behavior and the audience being able to "follow" the logic, then I would propose (and think you would agree, correct me if that thought is wrong) that this can be regarded as symptomatic of the audience, and not really of the story. What I mean is that a story may be very complex, but that the complexity of the story's narrative makes it difficult for a certain segment of the audience to follow. We might say the story was "too smart" for that segment to follow (meaning no offense). Now, you may not think GoT is such a story, but my point is that the inability of a segment of the audience to follow a story doesn't necessarily indicate a problem with the narrative flow of the story, true? I could be a "problem" with that segment of the audience. I find this to often be the case; rarely is the problem with the actual narrative (though sometimes perhaps it is).

I'd further propose that the narrative informs us pretty bluntly and directly as to Dany's final reasoning to become the kind of ruler she became. From her dialogue "then it's fear" to the direct visual cue of the dragon wings sprouting from her back in the episode following, I'm not sure how anyone in the audience is confused as to why she chose the final path which she chose.

We also had seven previous seasons showing her ability and willingness to show both the face of the peaceful liberator and the face of the fearsome destroyer - as evidenced partly in the back-and-forth quotes as quoted in this thread. When she came to Westeros, Westeros took everything from her that mattered - her friends, her advisors, her love, her identity as true heir, her destiny, her food and her sleep. This puts the character into an unprecedented situation - adding that the goal of her entire life's work is now in plain sight. In this unprecedented moment there is no possible way for anyone to predict her actions since we have no frame of reference for an unprecedented moment. This is the point of characterization: to inform. It is a fact of the character, not open to belief/disbelief anymore than any fact is open to such.

Like I said in the previous post, there is no "logic" through which to draw a reasonable conclusion as to what Dany should or shouldn't do in an unprecedented situation. We can only accept what she chooses to do as characterization - now we know what that character will do in that situation. It's actually bad logic for anyone to attempt to make a reasonable conclusion in an unprecedented situation - thus the final outcome of Tyrion's character, for example.

By way of another analogue, think of Frodo Baggins at the end of the Return of the King. Were you surprised that when it came time to do the right thing, Frodo said "No" to destroying the ring? Was it "character assassination"? Why did Frodo suddenly turn into a "bad" guy? Was it believable? It's the same thing with Dany, only her characterization was far more fleshed out, and far more complex than that of Frodo.

You're playing with words. Yes, the author is the person who gets to decide what happens, but what happens needs to make sense based on what has happened before or it sucks, regardless of whether you hang the word "characterization" on it. And speaking of words, "character assassination" is a perfectly appropriate term to use when a character's actions changes wildly, without any appropriate set-up or segue, at the very end of a lengthy work. It may have been the author's right to do that, but that doesn't mean the author is immune to criticism for his/her acts or that the critics can't sharpen their pens for descriptive terms like "character assassination" that drive home the point of what kinds of mistakes were made.

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21 minutes ago, Hodor's Dragon said:

You're playing with words. Yes, the author is the person who gets to decide what happens, but what happens needs to make sense based on what has happened before or it sucks, regardless of whether you hang the word "characterization" on it. And speaking of words, "character assassination" is a perfectly appropriate term to use when a character's actions changes wildly, without any appropriate set-up or segue, at the very end of a lengthy work. It may have been the author's right to do that, but that doesn't mean the author is immune to criticism for his/her acts or that the critics can't sharpen their pens for descriptive terms like "character assassination" that drive home the point of what kinds of mistakes were made.

Frodo was built up as having been placed in position where he could not win., despite his best efforts.  Nobody, in the end, could resist the temptation to wear the Ring.  He was saved by an act of Divine Grace, due to the pity and mercy displayed by Bilbo to Gollum, 80 years previously.  It's a very rare example of Deus ex Machina working very well in a novel.

The last episodes of GOT were more as if Tolkien had revealed at the end that Frodo was in reality a back-stabbing coward, who never went to Mordor, and stole other peoples' credit.  The reader would feel cheated at that.

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40 minutes ago, ummester said:

 Yea but Dany was consistently an entitled idealist in both books and show, which was always portrayed as a bad mix. It is dangerous to have a head full of ridiculous, vaguely workable ideals that don't take the real world into account and both the sense of entitlement and power to enact violence (via her dragons) to force those ideals on others  - that was the entire point of of her character. She was basically set up as a troll character to something like a champagne warrior mindset, which is a point I discussed with others years ago in the book forums. That was always blatantly obvious to anyone who viewed her without a biased lens.

She was a great character for exactly those reasons - because she can make the modern self righteous Westerner look at their own bullshit and re-asses their position.

Problem is that while Dany's motivations were consistent, her actions were not. She was like a pendulum, shifting from one extreme to another. One moment she listens to reason, another one she does not. In books, at least, there is a farily consistent progression towards darker characterization, without much in the way of abrupt shifts.

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