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Tyrion1991

I don’t get the “Love is the Death of Duty”

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Posted (edited)

This is a major theme in Ice and Fire. You have countless examples of people who destroy themselves because of love. Ranging from Rhaegar destroying his house by loving Lyanna to Jorah getting exiled because he loved Lynesse.

However Iam not sure I buy this argument that George makes. Rhaegar doomed his house because he was an idiot (something he passed on to his son) and didn’t tell people what he was doing. As well as the issue with a society where you have arranged marriages. Lyanna can’t elope from her commitment to Robert but to call that “duty” is outrageous. Outside of these very specific circumstances George creates Iam not convinced that love is a destructive emotion. Like one of the Targaryens lets his children choose out of love and it causes a century of civil war. Really? That’s dependent on other factors that are within the authors control. It’s not a serious problem in the real world. So the author is simply creating setups which validate this view.

Plus, duty is a far more destructive state of mind than love. How many Nazis said they were just following orders and just doing their soldiers duty? This does come up occasionally, especially with regard to Jamie and Barristan. But far, far less than love as the destructive force in the narrative. 

I think George is setting emotional stoicism as a virtue. That violence is caused by people being irrational and passionate. So if people are just rational and do their duty instead then we can all get along and their won’t be any problems. I don’t agree, Charlie Chapman called the Nazis machine men with machine minds for a reason. 

I get that it’s tied to the heroes journey and giving up something selfish “love” for your obligation to others “duty”. Which is why Jon in particular is beaten over the head with this. But I think George goes further than that by implying it’s the source of everything wrong with the world. Which is ridiculous.

Edited by Tyrion1991

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Jon hesitated. He wanted to say that Lord Eddard would never dishonor himself, not even for love, yet inside a small sly voice whispered, He fathered a bastard, where was the honor in that? And your mother, what of his duty to her, he will not even say her name. "He would do whatever was right," he said … ringingly, to make up for his hesitation. "No matter what."
"Then Lord Eddard is a man in ten thousand. Most of us are not so strong. What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms … or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.

Jon VIII AGOT

 

Love and Duty is not as simple as black and white ... its very gray

And I would not call Love the opposite of Duty too ... Love is your own personal duty to your family & friends

"Love is the Death of Duty"

"Personal Duty to love ones is the End of Duty to others you swore"

 

Everyone is different. Since you brought up WWII, lets compare the soldiers of Germany and Japan.

Towards the end of the war, most German soldiers abandoned their Duty to Hitler so they have a chance to go back home to their wives & children & family.

During the entire war, most Japanese soldiers stayed true to their Duty and fought until their deaths, giving up their chances to re-unite with their families.

Some may argue that the Japanese kept fighting because they were brainwashed that the Americans will kill their families if they lose. If so, those brainwashed Japanese soldiers that fought to their deaths thinking about their families is all about Love again. Ironically, because of the Japanese Duty to fight to the death, it was the sole reason for the Atomic Bombs in Hiroshima & Nagasaki ... killing many innocent family members.

Anyways everyone is different, but if the Personal Duty to Love Ones (Love) was in conflicted with your job (Duty) ... Love would usually win. 

Jon Snow has been flirting with the thin line between Love & Duty. He's probably going to flirt with it a lot more in the future books.

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If they care about only the cause, they're totally loyal and committed, the soldier which bosses hope to employ.   Once the worker has other people in their life whom they care about as much or more than the cause, any cult leader (employer) is going to feel a tiny bit uneasy about that.  Leadership figures are usually crooks at heart, which is why they're running the show, so they know better than to trust anybody, since trust is for the kinds of fools they took advantage of to get in charge.  So, when you love somebody, the boss has to suddenly trust you to put the cause first over this potentially competing interest of yours.  And sharing you isn't something they're good at.  Trouble often ensues, because of course the boss' suspicions will often be right.  That's the gist of the saying. 

I agree that this doesn't cover what Rhaegar did.  I mean, it does, but Rheagar looks like one of those teens who run away from home to be with their 16 year old star-crossed love (who knows how to get beer), and then when the distraught parents find em their defense is, "We're in love!"      Well, that may or may not be true, but at this point it's kinda irrelevant.

For the next decade, this (Rhaegar / Lyanna) play will be under review, but the call on the field is Rhaegar's an idiot.   Whether that call will stand when we see the flashback scene, who knows.

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Maestor Aemon is being very melodramatic. Not everyone will implode spectacularly if they fall in love. That only applies in a world where you have oaths of celibacy in a penal colony (because reasons) and aristocratic families where bloodlines matter. Pull away those pillars and it’s not really that important. I doubt the peasants are all dying in the fields.

The issue is about how you define duty. For example he says that Rob is a brother. Well how is that not familial duty for Jon to run off rather than the NW? That’s juggling two duties and has nothing to do with lust as Aemons earlier examples imply. 

Another case is in Clash where Daenerys questions if Jorah really sees her as his Queen (Duty) or as his “cub”  (love). Which is kind of splitting hairs. They are two sides of the same coin. Does this really matter? It only matters if the author places greater value on duty.

I think the Old Bear says something along the lines of love eventually destroying you. Which is kind of morbid and wrong.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

Maestor Aemon is being very melodramatic

He is. And the thing is, people take what some characters say as gospel. Like maester Aemon, and Old Nan, for instance. And I’m not sure why. Both are old and have lots of life experience, but that doesn’t mean they are always right. And in this specific case, I think Aemon is dead wrong. 

And all this worshipping of duty, duty above all else, feels very wrong to me too. Duty can be the the death of honour, for instance. If you decide to stick to your duty, vows, whatever, even when you know the right thing would be the opposite, well, there you go. 

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4 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

For example he says that Rob is a brother. Well how is that not familial duty for Jon to run off rather than the NW?

To judge someone, you need to analyze the culture in which they were born. It is a feudal society, where duty is the pillar of the entire system.

In Westeros, the duties of the NW clearly trumps any duty to your family. There would be no NW if their oaths meant nothing.

1 hour ago, kissdbyfire said:

Duty can be the the death of honour, for instance. If you decide to stick to your duty, vows, whatever, even when you know the right thing would be the opposite, well, there you go. 

Honour is doing your duty. What's else would "honour" be?

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18 minutes ago, The Hoare said:

To judge someone, you need to analyze the culture in which they were born. It is a feudal society, where duty is the pillar of the entire system.

:bs:

And it’s not about judging anyone or anything. Each one has a moral compass, for lack of a better term, and each one has to act in a manner that is true to their own moral compass. 

18 minutes ago, The Hoare said:

In Westeros, the duties of the NW clearly trumps any duty to your family. There would be no NW if their oaths meant nothing.

Honour is doing your duty. What's else would "honour" be?

Acting honourably is doing the right thing, even if it goes against whatever vows you swore. There is a difference.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

I think George is setting emotional stoicism as a virtue. That violence is caused by people being irrational and passionate. So if people are just rational and do their duty instead then we can all get along and their won’t be any problems. I don’t agree, Charlie Chapman called the Nazis machine men with machine minds for a reason. 

I get that it’s tied to the heroes journey and giving up something selfish “love” for your obligation to others “duty”. Which is why Jon in particular is beaten over the head with this. But I think George goes further than that by implying it’s the source of everything wrong with the world. Which is ridiculous.

George has written a lot of stories (and a novel, actually) about the destructive potential of love long before he wrote so much a page of ASoIaF. Read Dying of the Light. Read many of his earlier stories about depressive men suffering from/because of (unrequited) love, doing foolish things because they are/were in love, etc.

It is hardly a surprise that George does not paint love - especially not romantic love - in a rosy colors in this series. He doesn't condemn love but love isn't going to save people, make them happy or good or successful in life, etc.

I mean, how ambivalent love is you can see what George made with the Littlefinger character - a youth truly loving a girl in a romantic way turns into a monster in no small part because he was/still is in love. Or think how George fucks with Lyanna - he has preach about the sweetness of love to Ned, and that it is not enough to make Robert into a faithful husband (and she is quite right there) and then (possibly at least) abandoning all reason and sanity and running away with a guy who really gets into her head.

But the Maester Aemon quote is just about love as an emotion you feel, something that comes natural to you vs. a commitment you make because you it does not (necessarily) come naturally to you. A commitment that involves you giving up things, you not doing what your heart, your cock, your purse, etc. compel you to do. It is a rule for that dichotomy.

Under normal circumstances marriage comes as a duty to you in this world, if you are a nobleman, not as something you do out of desire or love - because your parents do pick your bride for you, and not necessarily because you know, desire, or love her.

And in this medieval world of honor and knightly chivalry, etc. the truly virtuous thing is not the thing you want to do - i.e. the thing desire, lust, or even love compels you to do - but the thing you (only) do because you do know deep down in your heart that it is the right thing to do. A thing you do not profit from, a thing that does not lead to you winning fame, honor, or woman's kiss, etc.

That is the lecture Qhorin Halfhand tries to teach Jon. The lesson that doing the right thing does not come with a reward of any kind, and that true heroes are the people who do the right thing anyway.

For the men of the Watch - who do a shitty job at the end of the world alongside men whose families may have fought vendettas and blood feuds for thousands and thousands of years - it is important that they put the duty they have committed themselves to - protecting the whole, the realms of men, rather than their own petty interests or the interests of their families and friends and kin - before everything else.

Commitments grown out of love - i.e. wives, children, parents, other family members - are a distraction in that regard.

This is not really a question, it is an obvious fact. Maester Aemon tells us that in AGoT when he talks about his own temptations, and Jon's entire arc so far is continuously dealing with this conundrum. There is no solution for this.

And this does not only go for black brothers or KG but also for pretty much every character. It is just more visible for men like Maester Aemon and Jon because they swore vows which basically force them to always decide in favor of the common good rather than their own heart's desires.

But Ned also faces such a decision in AGoT. Should he do what honor and duty demand of him - rat out Cersei and Jaime to Robert - or should he do what he can to protect Cersei's innocent children by telling her what he found out first and thus allow her to flee? Ned made his choice and he chose to try to protect the children.

And later: Should he do what honor and duty to his friend and king demand and tell him what he found out about his wife and brother-in-law or should he spare his dying friend the grief? Ned chose pity.

And later still: Should Ned do what honor and duty and the truth demanded and continue to publicly declare Cersei's children are not Robert's seed and that Stannis is the rightful king or should he lie and shame himself in front of gods and men to protect his own innocent daughter(s)? Ned made his choice there, too.

But those decisions are never easy. And there is never a clear-cut path to 'the right thing' there.

They make it clear, though, that people who don't have as many conflicted loyalties (and other emotional baggage) as Ned has in AGoT may have made better decisions. But this is certainly not a miracle solution - after all, it is quite clear that the men at the Wall cannot overcome their own loyalties all that easily or completely, nor can they stop being human beings just because they said some words.

Edited by Lord Varys

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It's so much more nuanced and complex.  You have to decide each case of romance on its own.  George Martin is going out of his way so that we can't make blanket statements to cover every romantic situation.  We have to evaluate each situation on its own.  

The "love is the death of duty" theme applies to the Night's Watch because that is certainly what those men are giving up.  But it's more than that.  Attachment to family can only harm the cause of a neutral entity like the NW.  It isn't easy to act neutral if the men of the watch are still attached to their family.  The men come from all across Westeros and they are asked to serve with boys from a family whom theirs could have feuded with in the past.  The only way this brotherhood can bond together is to first forget about their families and be born again as a brother of the Night's Watch.  The requirements are logical.  

It's not healthy love between Jorah and Lynesse.  It's a man of lower means being unable to make his woman happy.  We all do this for our wives.  We work hard to give her a home as fine as we can afford.  But Jorah went over his head and lived beyond his means.  Lynesse is a spoiled daughter of a rich man.  Jorah and her father are to blame for this marriage.  A reasonable time for courtship to allow them to get to know one another would have prevented the heartache.  

It's too early to judge Rhaegar.  There is little we can say for sure.  A defense lawyer can say he was only helping a troubled girl hide from her family.  It's a bad decision but it is not romance.  Selmy might say it's chivalry.  Varys would say it was folly to risk war over one girl.  

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2 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

Acting honourably is doing the right thing, even if it goes against whatever vows you swore. There is a difference.

Then Ramsay must be a honourable man, because in his own mind he does what is right.

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It is a very rare (and psychologically messed up) man who would choose duty or honour over the wellbeing of his wife or children. Might as well extend that to his siblings and parents too.

Ser Rodrik is probably one of the few that come to mind, and you’ve got to ask, what type of person picks his employer over his own beloved daughter?

Anyway, I think choosing love (not lust, mind you) over duty is a virtue, not a weakness. 

But there is a big difference between love and lust (or infatuation). And many seem to confuse the two in this series.

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15 hours ago, Tyrion1991 said:

This is a major theme in Ice and Fire. You have countless examples of people who destroy themselves because of love. Ranging from Rhaegar destroying his house by loving Lyanna to Jorah getting exiled because he loved Lynesse.

However Iam not sure I buy this argument that George makes. Rhaegar doomed his house because he was an idiot (something he passed on to his son) and didn’t tell people what he was doing. As well as the issue with a society where you have arranged marriages. Lyanna can’t elope from her commitment to Robert but to call that “duty” is outrageous. Outside of these very specific circumstances George creates Iam not convinced that love is a destructive emotion. Like one of the Targaryens lets his children choose out of love and it causes a century of civil war. Really? That’s dependent on other factors that are within the authors control. It’s not a serious problem in the real world. So the author is simply creating setups which validate this view.

Plus, duty is a far more destructive state of mind than love. How many Nazis said they were just following orders and just doing their soldiers duty? This does come up occasionally, especially with regard to Jamie and Barristan. But far, far less than love as the destructive force in the narrative. 

I think George is setting emotional stoicism as a virtue. That violence is caused by people being irrational and passionate. So if people are just rational and do their duty instead then we can all get along and their won’t be any problems. I don’t agree, Charlie Chapman called the Nazis machine men with machine minds for a reason. 

I get that it’s tied to the heroes journey and giving up something selfish “love” for your obligation to others “duty”. Which is why Jon in particular is beaten over the head with this. But I think George goes further than that by implying it’s the source of everything wrong with the world. Which is ridiculous.

 

Actually I don’t find any virtue or feeling or value that is not lethal or doesn’t end up in death or doom in game of thrones, which for me is also ridiculous. As I wrote in another post there is nothing that can stand as a moral teaching.

Love kills you...

honor kills you...

Duty kills you...

revenge kills you...

innoncence kills you...

betrayal kills you...

royalty kills you...

whatever the motive it doesn’t matter. Everything ends up in nihilism. So for me it doesn’t matter what he tries to suggest. I dont take it seriously enough to analyze any of that stuff. 

 

 

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11 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

He is. And the thing is, people take what some characters say as gospel. Like maester Aemon, and Old Nan, for instance. And I’m not sure why. Both are old and have lots of life experience, but that doesn’t mean they are always right. And in this specific case, I think Aemon is dead wrong. 

And all this worshipping of duty, duty above all else, feels very wrong to me too. Duty can be the the death of honour, for instance. If you decide to stick to your duty, vows, whatever, even when you know the right thing would be the opposite, well, there you go. 

One of the things people lose sight of when using Maester Aemon's words as gospel is his position.  He is double-sworn to duty being a maester and in the NW.  If you frame it from his perspective than he is correct.  Love is the death of duty in the NW.  These are people that are supposed to be robots with no feelings toward anyone but their brothers and the protection of the realm.

Though I absolutely agree with your second point.  Which is why duty and honor do not go hand in hand.  There is also a lot of discussion with this with Stannis who believes in duty to a fault.

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Please stop talking about the show. Apart from everything else, it should be obvious that apart from the names and background it had little in common with the books, from a certain point onward. 

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@Br16 Could you please edit your post and put any reference to show events at the very least between spoiler tags. In this part of the forum (the books-section) we only discuss books. Even if certain events were to happen in as-of-yet-unpublished tWoW or aDoS, the characters are widely different or are an amalgam of various characters they did not include but do exist in the books, the road to that event would be completely different. It is completely pointless to use show examples in a book-focused discussion.

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13 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

He is. And the thing is, people take what some characters say as gospel. Like maester Aemon, and Old Nan, for instance. And I’m not sure why. Both are old and have lots of life experience, but that doesn’t mean they are always right. And in this specific case, I think Aemon is dead wrong. 

And all this worshipping of duty, duty above all else, feels very wrong to me too. Duty can be the the death of honour, for instance. If you decide to stick to your duty, vows, whatever, even when you know the right thing would be the opposite, well, there you go. 

See for you the example, the KG.

And Maester Aemon had to have something to hold on to, making a drastic decision such as joining the NW.  Which, imo, also had a lot to do with his loved ones. 

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I noticed Aemon primarily talks about honor in that speech. Not duty, so much. And family moreso than romantic love.

Honor is about your own personal integrity or reputation. One can also act for someone else's honor, like Robb did with Jeyne. Duty is like a public service position. 

I think there are moments when your public service position - "duty" - and the love for family align. Defeating the Others and crazy murderers like Ramsay would serve the realm and Jon's family. Aenon couldn't fathom that because the Targaryens were often threats to the realm just by themselves. 

Unfortunately I think GRRM is all about "choices" and he's going to force it somehow for Jon. 

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32 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

@Br16 Could you please edit your post and put any reference to show events at the very least between spoiler tags. In this part of the forum (the books-section) we only discuss books. Even if certain events were to happen in as-of-yet-unpublished tWoW or aDoS, the characters are widely different or are an amalgam of various characters they did not include but do exist in the books, the road to that event would be completely different. It is completely pointless to use show examples in a book-focused discussion.

Oops, I accessed this from the Activity Stream and didn't check if it was book or Tv, I'm moving my post to a New Topic on the Iron Throne Episode Thread. 

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