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Annalee

The Myth of the Self-made Person

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18 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

 

The OP argued that Gendry doesn't qualify at being an archetypal self-made man because he started apprenticing, because a rich man paid for it. But somehow thugs are?

How is Gendry a self-made man in their world? Even if he was not a royal bastard, his position, as apprentice blacksmith, is something that many commoners are going to hold.

Gendry does not qualify because, as yet, he's not become anything of consequence in their world.

I don't know why you are so hung up on this idea that having thuggish behaviour is some kind of barrier of entry to being regarded as self-made.

2 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Well, it thus is about which definition you use for self-made. For you

I'm going by the definitions of the word from Henry Clay and (more importantly) Frederick Douglass as well as how it is commonly used in Western culture.

I'd argue that out of the two us, my understanding of the phrase is the one most accepted and used by other people in the world.

2 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

 

it just means acquiring a status in a system that doesn't favour you, and it doesn't matter to you how someone got there. Others define it as 'not getting any help'. Etc.  The OP stipulated the context.

Maybe it is for OP to disagree with me, rather than you speak on their behalf.

OP gave 5 examples, all of them have had as much help, if not more so, that Janos. You did not have a problem with any of OP's picks, you just had a problem with a character you clearly don't like.

 

OP listed these 5

  • Dunk
  • Daenerys
  • Missandei
  • Jon
  • Bron 

Are you really arguing that none of these characters have not had any help?

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52 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

How is Gendry a self-made man in their world? Even if he was not a royal bastard, his position, as apprentice blacksmith, is something that many commoners are going to hold.

Gendry does not qualify because, as yet, he's not become anything of consequence in their world.

He's not a recognized royal bastard.

Ah so just anybody can become an armorer then? And not many commoners that are armorers get knighted either.

If we use the definition you're using, then yup he's becoming a self-made man: an unrecognized royal bastard who was supposed to become an armorer who ends up being knigthed, in a world where unrecognized royal bastards fare no better than driving mules, or a whorehouse.

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I don't know why you are so hung up on this idea that having thuggish behaviour is some kind of barrier of entry to being regarded as self-made.

I explained why in my prior post as I have done so before.

52 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

I'm going by the definitions of the word from Henry Clay and (more importantly) Frederick Douglass as well as how it is commonly used in Western culture.

I'd argue that out of the two us, my understanding of the phrase is the one most accepted and used by other people in the world. 

Good for you.

I don't bother in real life with whether someone's self-made or not-self-made. So, it is indeed not a phrase I use in daily life, let alone measure people by. For me this thread and the OP's definition of it is an exercise.

52 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Maybe it is for OP to disagree with me, rather than you speak on their behalf.

You're reframing my point. My point is not to speak on the behalf of the OP. My point is that OP started this thread and in the OP set out the pickets of the topic to discuss and what to measure characters by. My point is that I'm posting from within the OP's perimeter. My point is that if you wish to alter the perimeter, then that's your right, but instead of taking that up with me, you ought to take it up with the OP.

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You did not have a problem with any of OP's picks, you just had a problem with a character you clearly don't like.

Well that's where you're wrong. If you go back to my very first post on this thread, which I posted well ahead of your proposal of Slynt, you will discover that I disagree with certain characters that the OP disqualified (or rather the argument to disqualify them, certainly in comparison to some on the OP's list) and that I also disagree with at least one certain character on the OPs list: namely Dany. That in fact I did argue that Dany fails their own standard, and saying "she deserves her dragons" doesn't alter the fact that she got magical help. So, I absolute agree with you that several on the OPs list do not fit the OPs own definition.

Furthermore, you've tried to use this argument before and mentioned Bronn, and I said that I have an issue with Bronn being on that list. So, actually, I do have problems with the OP's picks. Just repeating that I haven't opposed the OPs picks doesn't make it so.

And sure, I do dislike characters that I don't like. I dislike Slynt, because he's a thug, an extortionist and corrupt and within the context of this thread and the OP, extortion equals getting help. But I'm not hung up over Slynt. I'd argue the same for any other extortionist, corrupt man. You're the one who's hung up on him that you find it a flaw in a poster that they dislike the man.

But sure, if the OP allows for the definition you use, then yes, I agree to Slynt being a self-made man, as is Bronn, and LF, and Illyrio, and Dany, and Lann the Clever, and any of the men who ended up calling themselves lord or petty king, and Walder Frey, and the Spicers, etc... thereby perfectly illustrating why in real life I do not measure people whatsoever by being self-made or not. In real life, I measure people by their values, empathy, selflesness and solidatarity, even if they were born to the 1% rich and got a lot of help.

Edited by sweetsunray

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On 1/24/2020 at 11:25 PM, Annalee said:

The idea of successful people in the story being self-made is a myth.  Rulers, lords, and leaders pretty much arrived at their lofty stations by virtue of birth.  Kings and lords are obvious but even seemingly elected people are greatly helped by the privileges of noble birth or the the patronage of a noble person.  Gendry would have rotted in Flea Bottom if not for the timely aid of a nobleman.  Luck and birth gave him the step towards his apprenticeship.  The Beggar King would have starved long ago if it were not for the respect carried by his storied family name.  Jon Snow would not have gotten the preferential treatment at the wall if he had not been the bastard son of a lord.  Are there people who have truly risen due to their own hard work and skills?  Some of you might list Mance Rayder.  I would argue because he had the fortune to have been raised at the wall around people who gave him training.  This knowledge gave him an advantage with the unsophisticated simpletons that are the wildlings.  Dunk got lucky because Ser Arlen needed a squire at the right time.  Dunk was in the right place at the right time.  Littlefinger comes from an impoverished noble family but that still puts him above most commoners.  It may be more important to look at what the success stories did with the opportunities that came their way.  That little bit of daylight was enough to give them the break they needed to rise.  To me, the people who made the best of their opportunities are:

  1. Dunk
  2. Daenerys
  3. Missandei
  4. Jon
  5. Bron

Dunk was rescued from the streets by the hedge knight and he saw an opening and took it.  I do not necessarily approve of what he did but that is another matter for discussion at another time.  Being tall helped. Daenerys found a way out of an awful marriage and deserves her dragons.  She was blessed with the useful qualities of keen intelligence and courage.  Missandei, the passive little girl taken by slavers, learns languages and increased her marketability.  She became valuable to Kraznys.  Jon won the friendships of the other boys at the wall.  Bron is the opportunists who attached himself to the rich.

There are others who have squandered away opportunities.  Here they are:

  1. Tyrion
  2. Theon
  3. Robert
  4. Renly
  5. Jorah

Tyrion is the classic underachiever.  

The only self-made success story is Varys.  But maybe we did not get the real story.  Who knows with him.  

Has the importance or even the idea of the "self-made person" ever come up in the books? No.

It is not an existing myth, so how is it worth discussing?

No one exists in isolation, so no one is self-made.

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58 minutes ago, Ser Leftwich said:

Has the importance or even the idea of the "self-made person" ever come up in the books? No.

It is not an existing myth, so how is it worth discussing?

No one exists in isolation, so no one is self-made.

Is the phrase figurative, not literal perhaps?

I get that some people might not want to discuss the topic, but the phrase exists and in my experience, most people know what it means.

 

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

He's not a recognized royal bastard.

He's not. I never claimed he was.

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Ah so just anybody can become an armorer then?

The majority of common born males in their society can become apprentices armourers in their world.

Is this a controversial point for you?

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

And not many commoners that are armorers get knighted either.

Who knows? How many people had the undead Beric knighted in the Riverlands? How many commoners and how many nobles?

There is little barrier of entry to being knighted by the undead outlaw Beric other than him thinking that they are brave.

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

If we use the definition you're using, then yup he's becoming a self-made man:

No, not really, or at least not to the extent that Davos, Janos, Bronn and Littlefinger are.

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

an unrecognized royal bastard who was supposed to become an armorer who ends up being knigthed, in a world where unrecognized royal bastards fare no better than driving mules, or a whorehouse.

Anyone can become a knight in their world.

Dunc is not an excellent example of being a self mademan because he was knighted, but because he rose to become the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and trusted advisor to the King.

There is a huge difference between why the two are different. Now Gendry is still young, perhaps his birth will remain a secret and he will rise to a similar level of prominence, but as of now he does not really fit the criteria.

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

I explained why in my prior post as I have done so before.

You added another point and I added to it.

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Good for you.

?

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

I don't bother in real life with whether someone's self-made or not-self-made. So, it is indeed not a phrase I use in daily life, let alone measure people by. For me this thread and the OP's definition of it is an exercise.

An exercise in what?

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

You're reframing my point. My point is not to speak on the behalf of the OP. My point is that OP started this thread and in the OP set out the pickets of the topic to discuss and what to measure characters by.

The OP made a post about self made men.

If I made a thread about the most honourable men of Westeros, but misdescribed what that phrase meant and the listed the likes of Bronn, Walder and Twyin as my examples people would be correct to point out how I was wrong.

I sincerely doubt you'd be posting my picks on the basis that 'Op gets to decide what the phrase means'.

Not to be rude, but you are coming across as a little disingenuous in this discussion.

2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

 

My point is that I'm posting from within the OP's perimeter. My point is that if you wish to alter the perimeter, then that's your right, but instead of taking that up with me, you ought to take it up with the OP.

You responded to me first.

OP listed Bronn as one of his five examples, so clearly he has no problem with self made men being corrupt.

He was also very clear that Gedry did not fit his criteria, but here you are arguing with other people that he does.

Which is it? OP's criteria or your own?

 

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He's not. I never claimed he was.

And I never claimed that you claimed he was recognized. I mention it, because you and Lord Varys stress on the "royal bastard", as if every "royal bastard" has privileges. But an unrecognized royal bastard is just a commoner who has to start at the same level as any other commoner.

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The majority of common born males in their society can become apprentices armourers in their world.

Is this a controversial point for you?

Do you have any evidence for this claim that a majority of common men can become apprentice armourers? Seems to me that armorers and even their apprentices are hard to come by, and only a few get to apprentice for it and work at it, and that in a society where warring parties and knights going on tourneys depend on such skilled men. If the majority can become apprentice armorers, then why aren't the majority of men apprentice armorers? After all, even if you served the enemy, this skill is so desirable to a conquering lord that he's prone to let an armorer live.

So, yes, I consider your claim a controversial point.

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No, not really, or at least not to the extent that Davos, Janos, Bronn and Littlefinger are.

So, when Davos was Ser Davos at introduction he wasn't a self-made man then in your eyes?

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Anyone can become a knight in their world.

Yet another blanket statement: the majority of men can become apprentice armorers and everyone can become a knight. Please inform Brienne of this. She would like to know where she can sign up for that.

Bullshit. Not anyone can become a knight in their world. You're twisting the statement that "any knight can dub someone a knight" into "anyone can become a knight". But the first statement does not mean the last. The first phrase implies that it's not up to a lord or king alone who can be a knight.

A boy of 15 being a dubbed knight compares to Slynt being a captain at a KL gate in the evolution of becoming self-made. Earlier you argued that was enough to be called a self-made man.

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Dunc is not an excellent example of being a self mademan because he was knighted, but because he rose to become the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and trusted advisor to the King.

Well in truth, Dunc as far as we know was never actually knighted. He lies that he was knighted, and he manages to convince the world of this through his actions and skill. But I agree that Dunc becoming LC of the KG is why he's up there.

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Now Gendry is still young, perhaps his birth will remain a secret and he will rise to a similar level of prominence, but as of now he does not really fit the criteria. 

I agree with that. My point about Gendry in relation to the OP's dismissal of him was never that he is a self-made man at present. He's not even a "man" yet, but a boy who is about to be a man. But he could become one. And my point to the OP was that dismissing Gendry from (ever becoming one from) the get go because someone paid the fee for him to train with Tobho Mott is a questionable argument.

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Who knows? How many people had the undead Beric knighted in the Riverlands? How many commoners and how many nobles?

I'd say he knighted the fighters, active members of his band, that requested it. I doubt he knighted Harwin. As a northerner he wouldn't care about that. The Tyroshi Greenbeard wouldn't care about it either. Lem likely was a knight already. More than usual, but all in all a relative few compared to the population residing even beneath Hollow Hill.

As for nobles: he may or he may not have knighted Edric Dayne. Edric was his squire and stood valiantly across his fallen body to defend it against the ambushers. Such an act would easily earn him knighthood. But Edric's also a lord already, so him being a knight or not won't alter his social status.

If you were to ask did Gendry ever do something as far as Beric knew to earn that knighthood, I'd say not as far as Beric knows no. Does he deserve it in the eyes of the readers? Some will consider him fighting during the attack of Lorch, keeping Arya's secret and trying to keep a bunch of kids safe at least puts him in a category of "under consideration", which he then long afterwards confirms by killing Biter. But does that matter, when a Gold Cloak being captain of a gate is enough for you to claim that makes Slynt a self-made man?

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There is little barrier of entry to being knighted by the undead outlaw Beric other than him thinking that they are brave.

True. It's no different than being accepted as a Gold Cloak because you can wield a stick.

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?

Can't handle an acknowledgement?

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An exercise in what?

Personal. Once in a while I come across something that may not be an angle at which I perceive or measure characters, or have little opinion about, and by engaging in it, I form or discover my opinion. It's an exercise in self-discovery.

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If I made a thread about the most honourable men of Westeros, but misdescribed what that phrase meant and the listed the likes of Bronn, Walder and Twyin as my examples people would be correct to point out how I was wrong.

Sure. And so as I said, you are perfectly in your right to point out the OPs definition is wrong.

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I sincerely doubt you'd be posting my picks on the basis that 'Op gets to decide what the phrase means'.

I hope you'd post your picks yourself.

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Not to be rude, but you are coming across as a little disingenuous in this discussion.

Ok, so, "disingenuous" means "not sincere, typically by pretending to know less than they do." A post earlier you thumped your chest that you understood the meaning of self-made man better than I do. Now, both cannot be true at the same time.

The truth of the matter is as I already said, I do not go about the world classifying people in self-made or non self-made. The concept has little to no personal value to me. And the OP's question is very novel to me. I have heard the term used, and it has some vague connotations for me, and I'm simply exploring what those are. Using someone else's definition, whether the OPs or yours is just a helpful way to figure out for myself whether I will incorporate being self-made or not into my world view or not. I must say that my conclusion has become I find it a pretty meaningless and useless concept. One definition is so restrictive that people on the OPs list shouldn't be there at all, while the other has little to do with actually being literally self-made. Social climber would cover the latter definition just as well, and without forcing the association to the mythical archetype.

So, basically you're discussing with someone who's "learning" their own mind on the subject. I "learned" what the experts definition is, and I also learned that such a broad classification holds no furhter interest to me.

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OP listed Bronn as one of his five examples, so clearly he has no problem with self made men being corrupt.

He was also very clear that Gedry did not fit his criteria, but here you are arguing with other people that he does.

Which is it? OP's criteria or your own?

Well, many of the people on OP's list don't fit his or her own criteria.

Bronn gets help beyond what was originally agreed on by Tyrion, then later Cersei, etc.

Dany gets help from Illyrio, is given 3 dragon eggs, was lucky enough to have a khal for a husband who wants to please her, etc gets magical dragons, etc...

And within the OP's criteria of "not getting help", I regard corruption a form of "getting help", one that is imo worse than a someone paying an apprentice fee, and is as much a disqualifier as someone using their birth name. So, my issue with the OP is their interpretation of "help". And I sure hope I have the freedom on this forum to determine for myself what that is.

Edited by sweetsunray

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13 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

And I never claimed that you claimed he was recognized. I mention it, because you and Lord Varys stress on the "royal bastard", but an unrecognized royal bastard is just a commoner who has to start at the same level as any other commoner.

Not if the eunuch of the king blows up money up his ass. Gendry was basically the fatherless son of a tavern wench/whore. On his own he would have never become the apprentice of one of the greatest armorers in the Seven Kingdoms. And without that ... he would be nothing at all.

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Do you have any evidence for this claim that a majority of common men can become apprentice armourers? Seems to me that armorers and even their apprentices are hard to come by, and only a few get to apprentice for it and work at it, and that in a society where warrning parties and knights going on tourneys depend on such skilled men. If the majority can become apprentice armorers, then why aren't the majority of men apprentice armorers? After all, even if you served the enemy, this skill is so desirable to a conquering lord that he's prone to let an armorer live.

Here I'd agree with you. @Bernie Mac is likely not correct that every Kingslander or other commoner has a shot to become an apprentice with Tobho Mott (only the rich ones). But they can likely apprentice themselves to lesser armorers and smiths. But of course Gendry didn't even have to try - money bought him his apprenticeship which he likely would have kept as long as the money from Varys came flowing regardless whether he had any real talent or not.

The pool of commoners being able to learn commoner jobs is going to be a lot higher than the pool of commoners who end up becoming squires or knights.

And Beric's so-called knights are not knights at all. They are the same kind of scum as Perkin the Flea's gutter knights - and they will go to the same place Perkin's followers went after Perkin himself was toppled at the end of the Dance - into obscurity. No proper knight is going to give this rabble the satisfaction of addressing them as 'Ser'.

The very existence of hedge knights makes it clear that a Ser in front of your name changes nothing if you don't have the connections and abilities to make something of yourself. And since the number of the profitable positions for knights are limited all the hedge knights essentially show by being hedge knights that they were not able to make something of themselves.

Dunk is likely a rather poor example for a self-made man - he is stupid. He would have never gotten anywhere without Egg and without the connections that come with him being a royal prince. Dunk certainly has some qualities, but he would never have been able to prove them to anyone without his royal connections. Baelor Breakspear wouldn't have championed Dunk's cause if his nephew hadn't befriended him.

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But does that matter, when a Gold Cloak being captain of a gate is enough for you to claim that makes Slynt a self-made man?

You tried to make a case that Slynt owed his rise to the position of the commander of the City Watch to Littlefinger and corruption - for which there is simply no evidence. There is also no evidence that (m)any men of common birth even became captains of the City Watch, much less rose to the position of Lord Commander. In fact, the latter is perhaps the most important office in KL after the Small Council, something the court is not going to bestow on people they don't trust. All captains we know by name already have a Ser and are either lordly bastards or have a proper family name of their own (Slynt got himself a name but he is still a butcher's son).

The very idea that Jon or Robert would rise a dude to the position of commander without knowing the man personally makes no sense. It is like assuming Cersei would have chosen Kettleblack and Swann without having interacted with them before.

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Bronn gets help beyond what was originally agreed on by Tyrion, then later Cersei, etc.

Bronn qualifies as a self-made man because he was able to make something out of the things he could take. And he only got offers because he was a man with many qualities - Cersei offered him Lollys because she knew he was good enough to possibly defeat the Mountain in a trial-by-combat.

This is all not that hard to understand - self-made men are people who rose from more or less nothing to a position of (unusual) prosperity and power.

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Dany gets help from Illyrio, is given 3 dragon eggs, was lucky enough to have a khal for a husband who wants to please her, etc gets magical dragons, etc...

Dany literally has nothing when she hatches those eggs - and hatching them was nothing anyone ever expected her to do. She is literally nobody when Drogo dies and his khalasar abandons her. She may still be the last scion of her royal house but if anybody else had pulled off what Dany did - and was smart enough to capitalize on the fame three living dragons gave them - then they could be at exactly the same point she is now. She owes nothing to her Targaryen name nor to Targaryen royalty or (nonexisting) Targaryen wealth.

And even before during her marriage - Dany's unique talents and willingness to seduce Drogo made him devoted to her.

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30 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Dany literally has nothing when she hatches those eggs - and hatching them was nothing anyone ever expected her to do. She is literally nobody when Drogo dies and his khalasar abandons her.

She had Jorah. And her soon to be bloodriders. Those guys are special

30 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

She may still be the last scion of her royal house but if anybody else had pulled off what Dany did - and was smart enough to capitalize on the fame three living dragons gave them - then they could be at exactly the same point she is now. She owes nothing to her Targaryen name nor to Targaryen royalty or (nonexisting) Targaryen wealth.

Non existing wealth?

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"And Illyrio is a friend to House Targaryen."

"All the more reason not to steal his goods."

"What use are wealthy friends if they will not put their wealth at your disposal, my queen? If Magister Illyrio would deny you, he is only Xaro Xhoan Daxos with four chins. And if he is sincere in his devotion to your cause, he will not begrudge you three shiploads of trade goods. What better use for his tiger skins than to buy you the beginnings of an army?"

The cheesemongers assistance, even without the eggs, are too great to call Dany selfmade

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38 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

She had Jorah. And her soon to be bloodriders. Those guys are special

They are all irrelevant - and wouldn't have followed her, anyway, had she not hatched the dragon eggs.

38 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

Non existing wealth?

The cheesemongers assistance, even without the eggs, are too great to call Dany selfmade

For arranging the marriage, sure. Afterwards he just sends some ships much later - something he would have never bothered doing had she ended up with the dosh khaleen or in slavery.

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2 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

 

And I never claimed that you claimed he was recognized. I mention it, because you and Lord Varys stress on the "royal bastard", as if every "royal bastard" has privileges.

I have never claimed that Gendry has privileges. There are many threads where I have done the opposite of that, pointed out how unacknowledged bastards, such as all of Robert's children, except Edric, get almost nothing.

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But an unrecognized royal bastard is just a commoner who has to start at the same level as any other commoner.

Not actually true in this case. Ned actually points this out.

"The truth now," Ned urged. "The streets are full of strong boys. The day you take on an apprentice without a fee will be the day the Wall comes down. Who paid for him?"
"A lord," the master said reluctantly. "He gave no name, and wore no sigil on his coat. He paid in gold, twice the customary sum, and said he was paying once for the boy, and once for my silence."
 
So Gendry did have a benefactor. Not that it matters to my overal point, as I don't think Gendry has risen enough in the world to be considered a self made man regardless of his royal birth.
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Do you have any evidence for this claim that a majority of common men can become apprentice armourers?

I don't think birth has anything to do with it.

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Seems to me that armorers and even their apprentices are hard to come by, and only a few get to apprentice for it and work at it, and that in a society where warring parties and knights going on tourneys depend on such skilled men.

Sure. But I'm not sure your point here? Gendry became an apprentice because someone paid for him to do so, paid more than double the usual rate.

Gendry did not get the position based on anything he did but be born to a rich and powerful man.

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If the majority can become apprentice armorers, then why aren't the majority of men apprentice armorers? After all, even if you served the enemy, this skill is so desirable to a conquering lord that he's prone to let an armorer live.

Again, how does this pertain to Gnedry or the point in general?

Apprentices learn the skills, they don't have them to begin with.

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So, yes, I consider your claim a controversial point.

How? Gendry was paid to become an apprentice. It was not based on his own skill.

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So, when Davos was Ser Davos at introduction he wasn't a self-made man then in your eyes?

eh?

Davos, commoner who was on a Great Lord's council was a self-made man. A random character being or claiming to be a Ser does not make them a self made man,other criteria have to be met in Westeros, were knighthood seems pretty easy to come by.

Do you genuinely not know what the term means?

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Yet another blanket statement: the majority of men can become apprentice armorers and everyone can become a knight. Please inform Brienne of this. She would like to know where she can sign up for that.

Yes, every man. Do you not see why Brienne does not apply in this equation?

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Bullshit. Not anyone can become a knight in their world.

Yeah, they can. All it takes is one knight to knight another.

In the words of GRRM

QUESTION: Also, can noble bastards be knighted?

GRRM: Any man can be knighted.

https://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Category/C91/P225/

The Hedge knight series is about Dunk, who claims to be a knight but there is some question mark if he was actually knighted or not.

 

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You're twisting the statement that "any knight can dub someone a knight" into "anyone can become a knight". But the first statement does not mean the last. The first phrase implies that it's not up to a lord or king alone who can be a knight.

What? You are reading something into what I wrote that is simply not there.

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A boy of 15 being a dubbed knight compares to Slynt being a captain at a KL gate in the evolution of becoming self-made.

No, it does not. Not at all. Captain of one of the seven gates is a rank and titles that puts Janos as one of the senior people in an organization of 2,000.

Janos would have went from regular watch man(seems hugely unlikely that a pleb would be fast tracked into such a role) to captain. Bywater was nobility who performed with distinction in the Greyjoy Rebellion to get a position as captain.

 

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Earlier you argued that was enough to be called a self-made man.

Except I never did. Where did I argue that becoming a Ser makes someone to be regarded as self made?

Just to be clear, the term is used for people who have risen far above their station in life, risen to a position that is rare for people of their birth/education/standing to achieve.

In Westeros being a Ser, a common knight, is not that out of the ordinary.

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Well in truth, Dunc as far as we know was never actually knighted. He lies that he was knighted, and he manages to convince the world of this through his actions and skill. But I agree that Dunc becoming LC of the KG is why he's up there.

Yes. You are now just repeating what I said.

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I agree with that. My point about Gendry in relation to the OP's dismissal of him was never that he is a self-made man at present. He's not even a "man" yet, but a boy who is about to be a man. But he could become one.

 

Yes, he's not a self made man now, but he could be considered one in the future should he rise enough. I've already said that in this thread.

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I'd say he knighted the fighters, active members of his band, that requested it. I doubt he knighted Harwin. As a northerner he wouldn't care about that. The Tyroshi Greenbeard wouldn't care about it either. Lem likely was a knight already. More than usual, but all in all a relative few compared to the population residing even beneath Hollow Hill.

Not really answering the question. Do you think Gendry was the only commoner the outlaw Beric knighted?

Beric was knighting many of his followers.

"Any knight can make a knight," said the scarecrow that was Beric Dondarrion, "and every man you see before you has felt a sword upon his shoulder. We are the forgotten fellowship."

 

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As for nobles: he may or he may not have knighted Edric Dayne. Edric was his squire and stood valiantly across his fallen body to defend it against the ambushers. Such an act would easily earn him knighthood. But Edric's also a lord already, so him being a knight or not won't alter his social status.

Being a Ser does not alter ones social status in Westeros.

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If you were to ask did Gendry ever do something as far as Beric knew to earn that knighthood, I'd say not as far as Beric knows no. Does he deserve it in the eyes of the readers?

Again, I think you are confused over what the term self-made man means.

Being a knight in Westeros is not that hard, especially an outlaw one like Gendry. Likewise, being in the Gold Cloaks is not particularly noteworthy. Rising as a knight or a gold cloak to a position of authority is impressive if that knight is common born, rising to be Lord Commander is very impressive considering all the ones who came before and after him were mostly of noble blood. Even most of the captains mentioned have been of noble blood.

 

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Some will consider him fighting during the attack of Lorch, keeping Arya's secret and trying to keep a bunch of kids safe at least puts him in a category of "under consideration", which he then long afterwards confirms by killing Biter. But does that matter, when a Gold Cloak being captain of a gate is enough for you to claim that makes Slynt a self-made man?

No. I said being the commander of the Gold Cloaks was impressive, that is what makes him stand out as a self-made man.

A self-made man is a phrase that was coined in a time when commoners rarely rose to positions of leadership, influence and power. The people that did was seen to be hugely impressive considering they were competing with the people with better educations, better upbringing and better connected.

I brought up his place as a Captain to show his rise, and that even a captain was an impressive position considering that many of the other captains we see are also nobility. However, I did not make the claim that was why Janos can be regarded as self-made man.

 

If I'm honest this conversation is incredibly difficult because you seem unwilling to learn what the phrase, in general parlance, actually means, and are just arguing with people because you have decided that the only meaning of the phrase is the one you have decided on.

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True. It's no different than being accepted as a Gold Cloak because you can wield a stick.

Do you think that is how the 7 captains of the watch are picked?

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Can't handle an acknowledgement?

Come on, it seemed another facetious comment.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=good for you

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Personal. Once in a while I come across something that may not be an angle at which I perceive or measure characters, or have little opinion about, and by engaging in it, I form or discover my opinion. It's an exercise in self-discovery.

Do you not think that hinders conversations with others who are unaware of this journey of self discovery you are having?

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Sure. And so as I said, you are perfectly in your right to point out the OPs definition is wrong.

I don't think the OP's definition is wrong. I am assuming he/she/they know the definition and just picked wrong examples.

That seems a more likely scenario given our opinions of the characters in the series are more subjective than the meaning of a pretty well known phrase.

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I hope you'd post your picks yourself.

See. I knew you were being facetious in the other replies. That's a relief at least.

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Ok, so, "disingenuous" means "not sincere, typically by pretending to know less than they do." A post earlier you thumped your chest that you understood the meaning of self-made man better than I do. Now, both cannot be true at the same time.

They actually can.

I called you disingenuous because at one point you claimed you disagreed with me because you were being faithful to OP's version of what you thought they meant was the meaning of self-made, while in your first post in this thread you were disagreeing with OP's choice of Gendry.

I can think you are insincere in your reasoning for disagreeing with me while still under the impression, from your own words no less, that you don't seem to understand what the phrase meant. They are not mutually exclusive positions to have.

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The truth of the matter is as I already said, I do not go about the world classifying people in self-made or non self-made.

Exactly. And yet here you telling other people, who do use the phrase more commonly than you do, that they are wrong.

When I gave you a few examples you refused to acknowledge them, when I quoted Frederick Douglass to you, the man who pretty much defined the idea of what being self made was, you did not seem to care. I even gave you the most famous example in fiction and when I gave it to you that was not good enough.

I have not thumped my chest about knowing a word that, in western(English speaking) society, is well known. You are from Belgium, you being unfamiliar with the phrase is not a big deal.  Threatening to change the wiki page on the subject because it does not meet your own personal definition of the word is far more arrogant than anything I or anyone else has said in this topic. That is the true chest thumping in this discussion.

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The concept has little to no personal value to me.

Right. Again, this seems a little disingenuous considering how long we have been discussing this.

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And the OP's question is very novel to me. I have heard the term used, and it has some vague connotations for me, and I'm simply exploring what those are. Using someone else's definition, whether the OPs or yours is just a helpful way to figure out for myself whether I will incorporate being self-made or not into my world view or not. I must say that my conclusion has become I find it a pretty meaningless and useless concept.

What? Genuinely puzzled what this has to do with the discussion.

You may be overanalysing the importance of this discussion. Please don't change your world view on the basis of this one thread.

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One definition is so restrictive that people on the OPs list shouldn't be there at all, while the other has little to do with actually being literally self-made. Social climber would cover the latter definition just as well, and without forcing the association to the mythical archetype.

No, not really. A social climber is someone who is overly polite to people of better birth than they because they want to fit in and belong. They want to be seen as one of them.

I agree there is some overlap, but this is not the right phrase for what OP was describing.

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So, basically you're discussing with someone who's "learning" their own mind on the subject. I "learned" what the experts definition is, and I also learned that such a broad classification holds no furhter interest to me.

Cool.

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Well, many of the people on OP's list don't fit his or her own criteria.

Yup.

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Bronn gets help beyond what was originally agreed on by Tyrion, then later Cersei, etc.

No, Bronn fits. He is low born scum who advances because of how own ability, beating trained noble knights in battle to get the approval of Tyrion. Being able to recruit for him and lead for him, being able to play the game of thrones properly to become a Lord Protector, a position few commoners rise to.

Bronn, for both OP and the general meaning of the word, fits the self-made man definition pretty well.

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Dany gets help from Illyrio, is given 3 dragon eggs, was lucky enough to have a khal for a husband who wants to please her, etc gets magical dragons, etc...

Yeah, Dany is not a great choice.

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And within the OP's criteria of "not getting help", I regard corruption a form of "getting help",

You are taking the word literally rather than figuratively.

Literally the word has no meaning as we don't live in a vacuum, we all have help, especially those in leadership positions in institutions. 

But many people who are regarded as self-made have been corrupt. Being self-made and being a bad person are not mutually exclusive ideals.

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one that is imo worse than a someone paying an apprentice fee, and is as much a disqualifier as someone using their birth name.

In regard to the term self-made?

Not at all.

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So, my issue with the OP is their interpretation of "help". And I sure hope I have the freedom on this forum to determine for myself what that is.

Do as you please. I'm just commenting on your comments.

Edited by Bernie Mac

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On 1/26/2020 at 9:46 PM, Lady Dacey said:

Is there such a thing as being “self-made”? Ever? 

Its not a very exact term. But to me it implies achieving success by own force at a legitimate trade/career/art. A criminal is just a criminal and rising in power doesnt mean you did it all on your own, even if you put hard work into it.

Anyone with parents aren’t truly self made; some parent raise children to diciplined adults, some pass on beautiful looks and some ugly, some pass on athleticism and some not. 

Courtesans of Braavos would hardly be where they are if they had Florent ears.

22 hours ago, Bowen 747 said:

To quote one of the Bloodriders, "it is right for the strong to take from the weak."  It takes one tough dude to become khal.  We don't have to agree with their culture to appreciate the strength and power of a man like Khal Drogo. 

Being born strong to strong parents, unlike some malnourished slave girl isnt truly a fair playing field.

But does the term self made require fairness to apply?

16 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Self made is not a good term to describe anyone. Its a false dichotomy.

I’d say its a paradox. Like, to be truly self made you’d have to be a God who actually created yourself.

8 hours ago, OberynBlackfyre said:

Being “self made” is usually something by your OWN actions in which your power or skill doesn’t derive from anyone else, and that your own actions have been what propelled you to become what you currently are. 

No skill and no power appears magically from thin air though. Pretty much everything is hereditary. Hard work, dicipline and such are traits your parents may have tought you, free of charge and unfairly.

7 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

She is. Yes, a few people tried to help her or helped her because she's a Stark, but also because of her attitude. For example, Jaquen was interested in Arya because she was a Stark, but it wasn't because she was a Stark that he decided to kill 3 people for her (he killed 2 and was strongarmed into releasing prisoners) or gave her the coin. Jaquen deciding to recruit her was based on her personal merit.

And yes, Ned hired Syrio, but he only did, because Ned realized that Arya would do it anyway and she'd better be taught how to handle a weapon, and she works for her skill.

I also agree that Arya is walking her path despite her birth, that she experiences it as a hindrance.

But well, Arya's case shows that self-made is pretty much an oxymoron. It always requires someone else to believe in the character, to give a boon, to teach or train them.

We don’t know Jaqens motives or true identity, though. For all we know he was also Syrio.

Arya is as much self made assassin as Sansa is a self made emboiderer or Bran a self made greenseer.

Somehow it comes down to whether anyone can truly meet the criteria or if everyone does?

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2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

They are all irrelevant - and wouldn't have followed her, anyway, had she not hatched the dragon eggs.

Jorah would have, nor is he irrelevant. Hes a master warrior and brilliant strategist. Very useful, Dany would be nothing without him, and he only came to be because Varys wanted eyes on Targ

2 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

For arranging the marriage, sure. Afterwards he just sends some ships much later - something he would have never bothered doing had she ended up with the dosh khaleen or in slavery.

Arranging the marriage, definitely. And thats also due to her heritage.

He sent ships for Selmy to take her home. Would he have if there were no dragons? Probably, when Selmy was dismissed there was no talk of dragons, whatever, i dont wanna get into what ifs. 

Either way people frolic to her, she's queen of her father's lands, as Dorne recognizes. Her existence is a standard to mount legitimate rebellion. Like, her birthright is the Sunset, how could she be selfmade? Im not trying to diminish her brilliance, nor her rags to riches story, but Jorah and Drogon gave her the unsullied while Jorah and Barri gave her Merreen. Dany used the tools at her disposal, but her tools are fantasy heroes and fucking dragons.

Speaking of dragons, so shes got powers and shit right? Not burning and stuff, knowing that the eggs will hatch and sincerely asks Jorah if he thinks shes trying to kill herself. Idk, like Clark Kents good at his job. Hes always there to report something for the Daily Planet or whatever he says he does. Is he a self made man?

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9 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

Jorah would have, nor is he irrelevant. Hes a master warrior and brilliant strategist. Very useful, Dany would be nothing without him, and he only came to be because Varys wanted eyes on Targ

Jorah isn't 'a master warrior' nor 'a brillant strategist'. Without the dragons, Dany might have become his concubine/sex slave, never returning to Westeros ... or if as a corpse brought there by Jorah collecting his reward.

9 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

Arranging the marriage, definitely. And thats also due to her heritage.

Sure, but that doesn't figure into the dragons thing. Yes, she needs the eggs, but all she has now comes from the dragons ... and hatching them was her own deed, nobody else's. Without the dragons she would be nothing, with the dragons she gets various opportunities she seizes and turns around so she can gain more and more power - at Astapor, with the sellswords outside Yunkai, etc.

Dany is, to this point, the only character who is utterly destroyed (in AGoT up to the very end) to remake herself anew.

She has a blood claim to Westeros, sure, but she has to push it with fire and blood and dragons - or never being taken seriously. If she were just somebody with no connections to Westeros but still had three dragons she could still come there as a conqueror - like her ancestors did - and subdue the continent this way. It doesn't matter who her parents were ... it only matters that she has dragons. It might be that her being a Targaryen gives her more sympathy when she finally gets there but we don't know that at this point.

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8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Jorah isn't 'a master warrior'

He killed Drogos bloodrider in single combat, that was pretty impressive. Dudes got a resume, won first place in Lannisport, knighted at Pyke. Whenever we see him fight, we pretty much know whos gonna win. I think hes one of ice and fires best warrior, imagine he still had Longclaw!

8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

nor 'a brillant strategist'.

He knew Dany needed the unusllied, like he knew the correct measures to take in Merreen, or knew that Danys plans for Yunaki was near flawless. Jorah understands the ways of war, in Essos and Westeros. Very useful.

8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

'. Without the dragons, Dany might have become his concubine/sex slave, never returning to Westeros ... or if as a corpse brought there by Jorah collecting his reward.

Or as a Mrs. Young Griff whos only claim to Aegons hand or their GC is her heritage

8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Dany is, to this point, the only character who is utterly destroyed (in AGoT up to the very end) to remake herself anew.

Arya? Ramsay? Catelyn? Tyrion? Jorah? Lots of people have lost everything and only now are gaining stuff back

8 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

She has a blood claim to Westeros, sure,but she has to push it with fire and blood and dragons - or never being taken seriously. If she were just somebody with no connections to Westeros but still had three dragons she could still come there as a conqueror - like her ancestors did - and subdue the continent this way. It doesn't matter who her parents were ... it only matters that she has dragons. It might be that her being a Targaryen gives her more sympathy when she finally gets there but we don't know that at this point.

We do know at this point. We saw Frog hop across the Narrow to promise her Dorne, no one's hopping to Euron

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13 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

This is all not that hard to understand - self-made men are people who rose from more or less nothing to a position of (unusual) prosperity and power.

Dany literally has nothing when she hatches those eggs - and hatching them was nothing anyone ever expected her to do. She is literally nobody when Drogo dies and his khalasar abandons her. She may still be the last scion of her royal house but if anybody else had pulled off what Dany did - and was smart enough to capitalize on the fame three living dragons gave them - then they could be at exactly the same point she is now. She owes nothing to her Targaryen name nor to Targaryen royalty or (nonexisting) Targaryen wealth.

And even before during her marriage - Dany's unique talents and willingness to seduce Drogo made him devoted to her.

The big stumbling block for Dany in this debate is her actual blood. Only certain people with the right blood can control dragons. or hatch dragons and according to GRRM Dany surviving a bonfire is even more unusual for Targs.

What she has, one of the main reasons she has gained supporters and armies is down to the special abilities that she was born with and 99.9% of the population were not.

On the other hand she has risen from nothing and its debatable that other Targs (plenty have been blessed with Dragons more fearsome than Dany's young brood) would have been able to do what she has so far done.

I can see the arguments for and against in the case of Dany.

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57 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

The big stumbling block for Dany in this debate is her actual blood. Only certain people with the right blood can control dragons. or hatch dragons and according to GRRM Dany surviving a bonfire is even more unusual for Targs.

We can all agree that some great-grandchild of a Targaryen bastard could have had the same amount of 'magical blood' as Daenerys. In that sense her being an exiled princess has literally nothing to do with her hatching the dragon eggs.

And we don't really know whether she was born 'special' or whether her life up to the point where she hatched the eggs made her special. The way I interpret the entire Dany story, especially her whole attempt to rest at Meereen, etc., is that you definitely can take your back on destiny and change it, if you refuse to follow the path that's laid out for you. It is the same with Cersei - if she had refused to marry King Robert Maggy's prophecy would also not have come true, etc.

Dany 'became' or 'made herself' into the promised princess by choice. It is not something she was back at the beginning of AGoT - there she was just a meek little girl.

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7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

I have never claimed that Gendry has privileges. There are many threads where I have done the opposite of that, pointed out how unacknowledged bastards, such as all of Robert's children, except Edric, get almost nothing.

Then I'm sorry that I thought you were stressing Gendry's relation to royalty and ignored that he was not a recognized bastard. But it wasn't just you using the "royal bastard" argument in this thread. And my pointing out that Gendry is indeed unrecognized was not just for your sole benefit, but someone else's.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

[snip] So Gendry did have a benefactor. Not that it matters to my overal point, as I don't think Gendry has risen enough in the world to be considered a self made man regardless of his royal birth.

Exactly! The majority of common man cannot be an apprentice armorer - it requires buying into an apprenticeship, and then over time retaining the apprenticeship by showing skill. And yes, Gendry did have a benefactor who paid that for him. And that does indeed give him a head start before any other kid who doesn't have someone paying that entrance fee into being taught.

I don't dispute that fact.

Still, in general an unrecognized royal bastard is not always that lucky. Barra isn't that lucky. She gets a sword inside her baby body for being an unrecognized royal bastard. Gendry's other half sister at the Peach wasn't that lucky. And there are plenty of more unrecognized royal bastards of whom we know nothing about who'd have similar circumstances as the royal bastard at the Peach. And in the case of Gendry, his royal parentage also became a threat to his life.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:
I don't think birth has anything to do with it.
 
Sure. But I'm not sure your point here? Gendry became an apprentice because someone paid for him to do so, paid more than double the usual rate.

Gendry did not get the position based on anything he did but be born to a rich and powerful man.

Again, how does this pertain to Gnedry or the point in general?

Apprentices learn the skills, they don't have them to begin with.

Who's facetious now? You made an explicit claim that "the majority of common men can be apprentice armorers". I ask you whether you can back that claim up, you sidestep the question and just answer with "don't think birth has anythign to do with it". Well, if birth has nothing to do with it, then why do you say "the majority of common men"?

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

How? Gendry was paid to become an apprentice. It was not based on his own skill.

When I said I think your point [that the majority of common men can be apprentice armorers] is controversial it refers to that particular claim by itself.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

eh?

Davos, commoner who was on a Great Lord's council was a self-made man. A random character being or claiming to be a Ser is does not make them a self made man.

Do you genuinly not know what the term means?

I didn't ask about a random character being or claiming to be Ser. I particularly asked whether you recognize Davos, who's sole title is "Ser" when he's introduced to us, to be a self-made man?

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Yes, every man. Do you not see why Brienne does not apply in this equation?

In relation to "knighthood" you wrote "Everyone can be a knight". You did not write "Every man can be a knight", but "everyone". Everyone includes men and women. We know that women cannot be knighted, which is why I referenced Brienne, and therefore your blanket statement "Everyone can be a knight" was a false claim.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Yeah, they can. All it takes is one knight to knight another.

 

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

In the words of GRRM

QUESTION: Also, can noble bastards be knighted?

GRRM: Any man can be knighted.

https://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Category/C91/P225/

The Hedge knight series is about Dunk, who claims to be a knight but there is some question mark if he was actually knighted or not.

Also different from your claim "Everyone can be a knight".

2 differences: one glaring, one subtle.

  • glaring: Everyone =/= every man.
  • "can be a knight" =/= "can be knighted".

It requires at least a knight willing to knight someone else. A statement such as, "Everyone can be a knight" implies that there are no prerequisites or requirements. It implies that one morning a man may wake up, walk out of the door and say, "From today onward I'm a knight". We know it doesn't work that way. Somebody else, at least a knight, must allow it. And yes, that allowance is a step up on the social ladder. Hedge knights might still sleep in hedges, but they now have the right to partipate in tourneys (for money) or find a landed knight or lord to fight for.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

What? You are reading something into what I wrote that is simply not there.

You claim that being a knight is not a mark of becoming or being a self-made man, because "anyone can be a knight". I answered with the phrase used in the books and explained that it has a different implication than "anyone can be a knight". Not anyone can be a knight. It requires at least another knight who has the power of decision to raise someone from being a peasant or smallfolk to a knight for reasons that knight/lord deems worthy.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

No, it does not. Not at all. Captain of one of the seven gates is a rank and titles that puts Janos as one of the senior people in an organization of 2,000.

Janos would have went from regular watch man(seems hugely unlikely that a pleb would be fast tracked into such a role) to captain. Bywater was nobility who performed with distinction in the Greyjoy Rebellion to get a position as captain.

I concede that I simplified it enormously. The point is that you have a regular watch man who at some point becomes a senior person with responsibilities over other regular watchmen, over a section of those 2000 men.

But that is in fact not so differnt from Gendry's position, albeit he has a junior position at the Orphan's Inn. How large is the BwB? We don't know yet, but might be hundreds at least. What are the BwB doing? Guarding and policing the RL. What is the Oprhan's Inn? A gateway into the BwB network. Who's one of the two heads of the Inn? Gendry. Lem is the senior at that location (normally watching from behind the bushes), but he's absent at a crucial time, leaving it to Gendry to be responsible of the safety of the orphans.

That position may not be recognized in KL, but it is with the BwB and other commoners.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Except I never did. Where did I argue that becoming a Ser makes someone to be regarded as self made?

I meant that you argued that Slynt being a captain of the gate makes him self-made.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Just to be clear, the term is used for people who have risen far above their station in life, risen to a position that is rare for people of their birth/education/standing to achieve. In Westeros being a Ser, a common knight, is not that out of the ordinary.

We disagree on that. While in theory a knight can make anyone a knight, including a common man, it is still an uncommon event - out of the ordinary - which only happens in certain circumstances. It happens after a battle (blackwater) or with the rare outlaw organisation such as Beric's. It's not as if of the smallfolk yearly 10% are knighted.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Yes. You are now just repeating what I said.

I was, this to show that I agreed with the conclusion. Perhaps instead of breaking up a post into sentences, read the entire reply to a quote. I tend to write in paragraphs to make my meaning clear.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Yes, he's not a self made man now, but he could be considered one in the future should he rise enough. I've already said that in this thread.

Well, then we agree.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Do you think Gendry was the only commoner the outlaw Beric knighted? Beric was knighting many of his followers.

No and yes. But it is not as if this is a common act, as if any lord knights hundreds of common man yearly.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Being a Ser does not alter ones social status in Westeros.

You keep claiming this, but you fail to support this claim with evidence. You only support it with blanket statements how "everyone can be a knight", that are a twisted interpretation of the book's "Any knight can make a knight" or "Any man can be knighted".

Gendry's desire to be knighted indicates it does alter the social status. He has a big issue with the fact that he's a commoner and that a) Arya is a lady of high birth and b) Edric Dayne a lord. One of the reasons that Gendry shows such a frustration is because over time he gets closer to Arya and develops feelings of attachment for her of a romantic nature. He knows that as an armorer apprentice he may enjoy the privilege of remaining alive and live inside castle walls and have prestige in comparison to stable boys, but it is out of the question that an armorer apprentice could ever marry the sister or daughter of a king or lord. While it would be still a rarity for a knight to wed a lady as highborn as Arya (a fairytale rarity), it does open that door to him theoretically. Being a knight is one step closer to potentially becoming a landed knight, etc. And we know of landed knights who got to wed a highborn lady - Eustace wed Rohanne Webber.

Now, I'm not saying this is Gendry's fate, but Gendry opted being an outlaw knight over becoming an armorer, not just in support of Beric's ideals, but because he wanted to alter his social status in the long run, including for better marriage prospects.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

A self-made man is a phrase that was coined in a time when commoners rarely rose to positions of leadership, influence and power. The people that did was seen to be hugely impressive considering they were competing with the people with better educations, better upbringing and better connected.

I get what circumstances that phrase originated from, yes.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

I brought up his place as a Captain to show his rise, and that even a captain was an impressive position considering that many of the other captains we see are also nobility. However, I did not make the claim that was why Janos can be regarded as self-made man.

Actually, IIRC I was the one who first brought up he was a captain of a gate, when we discussed his appointment to LC by Jon Arryn in relation to LF's appointment to the small council. You then seized on him being a captain to ask me whether I concede that he made it that high already by himself. I infer from the latter that you do not just think it impressive, but self-made, especially since you listed plenty of other captains who tend to be nobles.

Let me ask you this: if Slynt had never been appointed LC of the GC, but made it as high as captain of one of the gates, would you consider him a self-made man?

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

If I'm honest this conversation is incredibly difficult because you seem unwillin to learn what the phrase, in general parlance, actually means, and are just arguing with people because you have decided that the only meaning of the phrase is the one you have decided on.

You find it difficult to interact with arguments?

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Do you think that is how the 7 captains of the watch are picked?

We don't know how captains are picked. I do believe that a gold cloak who can wield a stick harsher than his colleagues has a better chance of getting noticed. I also believe that having colleagues and captains and important business men making a recommendation is also quite helpful. And I believe such recommendations can be bought.

Now, I have conceded to the arguments you and others presented about the defintion of self-made man and agree that Slynt's corrupt ways do not negate him from being self-made. But that is not the sole issue you had with my initial arguments. You vehemently denied that Slynt could have climbed his way up to captain and LC via corruption. It seems to annoy you that I do not consider Slynt to fit the mythical archetype, and it seems important to you that Slynt only became corrupt after he already made it as high as LC. Perhaps that is an observation you can learn something out of for yourself: if it doesn't matter that a man achieves his elevated social status through villainy and corruption, and you recognize that Slynt is a villain, then why is it so important to you that Slynt achieved it the "honest" way? (and no you don't need to reply to me).

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Come on, it seemed another facetious comment.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=good for you

Come on: I give you an acknowledgement and it's stil not enough. Talk about beating a dead horse.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Do you not think that hinders conversations with others who are unaware of this journey of self discovery you are having?

No

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

See. I knew you were being facetious in the other replies. That's a relief at least.

It was an effing joke on what I assume is a typo in a sentence while I didn't have a clue what you actually meant to say when you wrote

"I sincerely doubt you'd be posting my picks on the basis that 'Op gets to decide what the phrase means'."

I still am completely befuddled what that sentence is supposed to mean.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

I called you disingenuous because at one point you claimed you disagreed with me because you were being faithful to OP's version of what you thought they meant was the meaning of self-made, while in your first post in this thread you were disagreeing with OP's choice of Gendry.

Nothing disingenuous about it. In general disagreeig about a proposal of a candidate is not the same as disagreeing with the arguments for the dismissal of a candidate.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

I can think you are insincere in your reasoning for disagreeing with me while still under the impression, from your own words no less, that you don't seem to understand what the phrase meant. They are not mutually exclusive positions to have.

That's the problem with debate and discussions these days - people assuming ad hominem malice in the person they're having a discussion with, rather than actually dealing with the arguments and on top of that not even recognizing or accepting it when the other concedes to some of the content related arguments made. No wonder you find it so difficult to discuss.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

And yet here you telling other people, who do use the phrase more commonly than you do, that they are wrong.

I am not debating the definition anymore, am I?

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

When I gave you a few examples you refused to acknowledge them, when I quoted Frederick Douglass to you, the man who pretty much defined the idea of what being self made was, you did not seem to care. I even gave you the most famous example in fiction and when I gave it to you that was not good enough.

I have not thumped my chest about knowing a word that, in western(English speaking) society, is well known. You are from Belgium, you being unfamiliar with the phrase is not a big deal.  Threatening to change the wiki page on the subject because it does not meet your own personal definition of the word is far more arrogant than anything I or anyone else has said in this topic. That is the true chest thumping in this discussion.

You reiterated several times you have a better understanding of the phrase than I do (thumping your chest). I conceded to this definition, several times now. Now, you're not jsut thumping your chest, but beating a dead horse (again).

Also, I did not threaten to change the wiki page on the subject. I wrote I would leave a note on the wiki page to question the example. The latter means going to the discussion page of a subject and leave a note to discuss/question subject content, without necessarily altering it yourself. Having been educated by posters here who seemed to get that I'm willing to be educated and do not assume I post out of malice, I will not of course.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

Right. Again, this seems a little disingenuous considering how long we have been discussing this.

I guess this has less to do with disingenenuity, but me trying to make clear that I conceded to the definition you use, and you not able to accept my concession, but instead keep on harping that I disagreed with the defintion you used.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

You may be overanalysing the importance of this discussion. Please don't change your world view on the basis of this one thread.

I would rather hope that I never lose the ability to engage in a self-chosen challenge to see whether a discussion on a topic can enrich my world view or not.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

No, not really. A social climber is someone who is overly polite to people of better birth than they because they want to fit in and belong. They want to be seen as one of them. I agree there is some overlap, but this is not the right phrase for what OP was describing.

 

The dictionary says it's a phrase used to indicate a person wanting to change their social status. But the dictionary's sources sometimes add "by trying to make friends with people of the higher class".

The urban dictionary explains it as an insulting slang phrase for an "attention whore".

Weird how there are two phrases to indicate the same intent - changing social status. The first (self-made) is often used to express praise, respect and awe about the accomplishments, and yet the term as you pointed out, has little to do with accomplishing it in a manner that is not praiseworthy. The second has a negative connotation and is used to insult a person. I also observe the first is used most often in relation to men (self-made man), the second for a woman. Might be interesting to see who can be considered both, who can be considered just one of the two, and who is neither.

7 minutes ago, Bernie Mac said:

You are taking the word literally rather than figuratively.

Literally the word has no meaning as we don't live in a vacuum, we all have help, especially those in leadership positions in institutions. 

But many people who are regarded as self-made have been corrupt. Being self-made and being a bad person are not mutually exclusive ideals.

I see that. I recognize that. I agree.

 

 

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14 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Then I'm sorry that I thought you were stressing Gendry's relation to royalty and ignored that he was not a recognized bastard. But it wasn't just you using the "royal bastard" argument in this thread. And my pointing out that Gendry is indeed unrecognized was not just for your sole benefit, but someone else's.

But you had already replied to Lord Varys saying that. Why would you need to insert your discussion of Gendry with him into our one?

All it does is sully the waters of communication between the two of us as I'm expected to argue for or against points I've never stated.

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Exactly! The majority of common man cannot be an apprentice armorer - it requires buying into an apprenticeship,

How exactly? I'm not sure your point here?

Gendry, thanks to his blood, was given a position that he would not have achieved by himself. You argued in post 62 in this thread that under my definition of the expression that Gendry is a self made man. That is simply not true. He's not, not yet at least.

Him becoming an apprentice to the best armourer in the city was down to his blood and others paying for him to have that privilege. He got something that he would not have got had he not been born to nobility.

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and then over time retaining the apprenticeship by showing skill.

No, that is never said in the books. He does show skill, but that is not why he was retained, he retained it because Mott was paid a very large amount of money by a powerful man to keep him. He can't exactly send him to the streets after that.

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And yes, Gendry did have a benefactor who paid that for him. And that does indeed give him a head start before any other kid who doesn't have someone paying that entrance fee into being taught.

Bingo!

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I don't dispute that fact.

No, but you brought up his apprenticeship as some kind of evidence that he fit the definition of self made.

 

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Still, in general an unrecognized royal bastard is not always that lucky.

True. I said as much. Do we really need to go over things we have both already agreed to in this thread?

I'm pretty sure most people, including @Lord Varys agrees with that position.

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 And in the case of Gendry, his royal parentage also became a threat to his life.

True. I'm not sure what that has to do with the topic though

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Who's facetious now?

Sometimes I can be, but nothing in that quoted post was. It was said in sincerity.

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You made an explicit claim that "the majority of common men can be apprentice armorers".

Which is true. They can be.

Pretty much all apprentice armourers are commoners.

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I ask you whether you can back that claim up,

I thought I did? Truly, do you think nobility are having their children learning commonor trades?

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you sidestep the question

Woah!? I did no such thing.

I have answered all of your points. It may be that you have not liked some of them or that I misunderstood what you were asking or you misunderstood what I have said, but I have not sidestepped anything you have said.

If anything I have repeated myself multiple times in this exchange because you seem unwilling to accept things I have said.

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and just answer with "don't think birth has anythign to do with it". Well, if birth has nothing to do with it, then why do you say "the majority of common men"?

I mean that at least 99.9% of blacksmiths and their apprentices will be commoners. There is nothing notable about a commoner becoming an apprentice. No one, using the commonly known expression, would point to apprentice of a Blacksmith and marvel how that person is a self made man.

The term self made man is someone who stands out, who has risen to a position that is highly unusual for their birth or education.  A commoner rising to Lord Commander of the Gold Cloaks in the rigid strict status driven world of the feudal age is an excellent example. An apprentice to a Blacksmith is not.

I'm struggling with how you are not getting this.

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When I said I think your point [that the majority of common men can be apprentice armorers] is controversial it refers to that particular claim by itself.

They can be.

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I didn't ask about a random character being or claiming to be Ser. I particularly asked whether you recognize Davos, who's sole title is "Ser" when he's introduced to us, to be a self-made man?

No, not just on the basis of him being a Ser. But on the basis of him being a landowner and a key advisor to one of the most powerful Lords in the realm.

I beleive I have already answered this question to you multiple times, I hope this one is a bit clearer for you.

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In relation to "knighthood" you wrote "Everyone can be a knight". You did not write "Every man can be a knight", but "everyone". Everyone includes men and women.

I also wrote in the same post about 'common born males'. My bad for presuming that you got that.

Yes, obviously you have to be a man to be a 'Ser'. This seems like you simply trying to argue against everything I say for the sake of it.

If I said anyone can be a father, I'd, rightly or wrongly, credit the people I was speaking to with the intelligence to know that I was speaking about men. That fault is on me.

Obviously I meant men. But well done, you've successfully pointed out an error.

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We know that women cannot be knighted, which is why I referenced Brienne, and therefore your blanket statement "Everyone can be a knight" was a false claim.

Yes. Well done. You got me.

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Also different from your claim "Everyone can be a knight".

2 differences: one glaring, one subtle.

  • glaring: Everyone =/= every man.
  • "can be a knight" =/= "can be knighted".

Very true.

 

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It requires at least a knight willing to knight someone else. A statement such as, "Everyone can be a knight" implies that there are no prerequisites or requirements.

Any common man can become a Knight.

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It implies that one morning a man may wake up, walk out of the door and say, "

No it does not. I think you know what I meant and are just desperate for some kind of win.

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You claim that being a knight is not a mark of becoming or being a self-made man,

It is not.

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because "anyone can be a knight". I answered with the phrase used in the books and explained that it has a different implication than "anyone can be a knight". Not anyone can be a knight. It requires at least another knight who has the power of decision to raise someone from being a peasant or smallfolk to a knight for reasons that knight/lord deems worthy.

Yes. Any man cane be a knight.

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I concede that I simplified it enormously. The point is that you have a regular watch man who at some point becomes a senior person with responsibilities over other regular watchmen, over a section of those 2000 men.

And then rose to Lord Commander. A position not regularly held by common men OR WOMEN (just in case you will start arguing that point).

 

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But that is in fact not so differnt from Gendry's position,

Hugely different. As I've explained multiple times to you.

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albeit he has a junior position at the Orphan's Inn. How large is the BwB? We don't know yet, but might be hundreds at least. What are the BwB doing? Guarding and policing the RL. What is the Oprhan's Inn? A gateway into the BwB network. Who's one of the two heads of the Inn? Gendry. Lem is the senior at that location (normally watching from behind the bushes), but he's absent at a crucial time, leaving it to Gendry to be responsible of the safety of the orphans.

The BWB are criminals in the series. Outlaws. There is no barrier of entry by birth or education stopping someone rising in a criminal organization.

We also have no idea how many people are in the BWB, how many knights are there, how many people Gendry is in command of, if he is in command of any at all.

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That position may not be recognized in KL, but it is with the BwB and other commoners.

Indeed. Which means the comparison is meaningless in regards to the common use of the phrase, Self made man.

The BWB is not some recognized institution with a history of only nobility getting to the positon that Gendry currently has.

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I meant that you argued that Slynt being a captain of the gate makes him self-made.

Nope. Being Lord Commander, a rare position for a commoner, made him self-made.

I know what I meant, please don't talk on my behalf.

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We disagree on that.

Nope. You are inventing straw man arguments now.

 

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While in theory a knight can make anyone a knight, including a common man, it is still an uncommon event -

Not in the BWB.

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out of the ordinary - which only happens in certain circumstances.

Like an outlaw making anyone he wants a knight? Yes.

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It happens after a battle (blackwater) or with the rare outlaw organisation such as Beric's. It's not as if of the smallfolk yearly 10% are knighted.

Never claimed it was.

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I was, this to show that I agreed with the conclusion. Perhaps instead of breaking up a post into sentences, read the entire reply to a quote. I tend to write in paragraphs to make my meaning clear.

I read them. Your argument seems to entail refusing to believe anything, threatening to try to change wikipedia if it does not suit your own head cannon on a phrase you rarely use.

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Well, then we agree.

We do. We agreed 2 pages ago on this. But for some reason you keep on bringing it back up.

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No and yes. But it is not as if this is a common act, as if any lord knights hundreds of common man yearly.

Never claimed it was. But the fact that knight can knight anyone (and I obviously mean male before you feel the need to quibble this) devalues the title.

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You keep claiming this, but you fail to support this claim with evidence.

What evidence have you brought to this conversation?

But is Gnedry not evidence of this? He has been made a Ser. Has his social status dramtically changed?

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You only support it with blanket statements how "everyone can be a knight", that are a twisted interpretation of the book's "Any knight can make a knight" or "Any man can be knighted".

Yes. All true.

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Gendry's desire to be knighted indicates it does alter the social status.

How so?

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He has a big issue with the fact that he's a commoner and that a) Arya is a lady of high birth and b) Edric Dayne a lord.

True. How is Gnedry now changed in the social hierarchy of Westeros? Can you quote any characters treating him differently?

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One of the reasons that Gendry shows such a frustration is because over time he gets closer to Arya and develops feelings of attachment for her of a romantic nature. He knows that as an armorer apprentice he may enjoy the privilege of remaining alive and live inside castle walls and have prestige in comparison to stable boys, but it is out of the question that an armorer apprentice could ever marry the sister or daughter of a king or lord. While it would be still a rarity for a knight to wed a lady as highborn as Arya (a fairytale rarity), it does open that door to him theoretically.

Who in the series thinks Gendry's social status has changed? Who treats him with more respect?

And more importantly, what does this have to do with the phrase?

Do you see what is happening here? I am arguing from the viewpoint of how most people use the phrase, 'self made man' and you are not.

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Being a knight is one step closer to potentially becoming a landed knight, etc. And we know of landed knights who got to wed a highborn lady - Eustace wed Rohanne Webber.

And when he gets there, I might agree with you. He is not there yet, thus calling him a self made man, in the common understanding of the phrase right now, would be ridiculous.

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Now, I'm not saying this is Gendry's fate, but Gendry opted being an outlaw knight over becoming an armorer, not just in support of Beric's ideals, but because he wanted to alter his social status in the long run, including for better marriage prospects.

And yet he has not yet altered his status. Or can you point to examples of people treating him that much differently that he was treated before?

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I get what circumstances that phrase originated from, yes.

So why are you not using the commonly known phrase?

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Actually, IIRC I was the one who first brought up he was a captain of a gate, when we discussed his appointment to LC by Jon Arryn in relation to LF's appointment to the small council. You then seized on him being a captain to ask me whether I concede that he made it that high already by himself. I infer

Well maybe don't infer, maybe just ask.

Do you not see the hypocrisy from your argumentative style? You call out me for saying everyone instead of every man yet you are jumping to inferences over things never claimed.

We have spent three days now arguing this. Next time don't infer, just ask for me to clarify what I meant rather than wrongly assume.

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from the latter that you do not just think it impressive, but self-made, especially since you listed plenty of other captains who tend to be nobles.

It is impressive. But the self-made man phrase is usually singled out for people who have risen even further than that.

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Let me ask you this: if Slynt had never been appointed LC of the GC, but made it as high as captain of one of the gates, would you consider him a self-made man?

No.

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You find it difficult to interact with arguments?

When someone is being facetious and denies it, then is caught being flippant then I do. It is hard to grasp when you are being sincere and when you are being disingenuous.

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We don't know how captains are picked.

We know how captains were picked in our own Middle Ages and we know is it not a case of simply being able to swing a stick like you claimed on more than one occasion.

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I do believe that a gold cloak who can wield a stick harsher than his colleagues has a better chance of getting noticed.

Is there any evidence that Janos can do that?

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I also believe that having colleagues and captains and important business men making a recommendation is also quite helpful. And I believe such recommendations can be bought.

Yes. In a world where most of the nobility fighting for those same positions are going to be wealthier then Janos then this argument makes little sense.

It is also lacking in any actual evidence from the books.

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Now, I have conceded to the arguments you and others presented about the defintion of self-made man and agree that Slynt's corrupt ways do not negate him from being self-made.

You do? Finally.

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But that is not the sole issue you had with my initial arguments. You vehemently denied that Slynt could have climbed his way up to captain and LC via corruption.

I said there is zero evidence for it and that it seemed unlikely given a butcher's son is going to have less to bribe than other nobles trying to get the same position.

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It seems to annoy you that I do not consider Slynt to fit the mythical archetype,

That is not what annoys me about this discussion.

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and it seems important to you that Slynt only became corrupt after he already made it as high as LC.

Nope.

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Perhaps that is an observation you can learn something out of for yourself:

lol what? You are assuming positions that I don't hold.

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if it doesn't matter that a man achieves his elevated social status through villainy and corruption,

It does not in terms of the phrase.

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and you recognize that Slynt is a villain, then why is it so important to you that Slynt achieved it the "honest" way? (and no you don't need to reply to me).

It is not important to me. It just does not seem likely.

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Come on: I give you an acknowledgement and it's stil not enough. Talk about beating a dead horse.

Your comment sounded facetious, you asked why and I quoted how that phrase you used is mostly used in sarcastic agreement.

You asked a question, I answered it and now you are blaming me for it.

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No

Well in my experience with you in this debate,  it has. Reading your back and forth with the other person you are arguing with in this topic I'd think that was also a sign that your style of self discovery does not lead to east to understand discussions regarding your POV on this subject. 

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It was an effing joke on what I assume is a typo in a sentence while I didn't have a clue what you actually meant to say when you wrote

It is hard to tell when you are joking and when you are not

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"I sincerely doubt you'd be posting my picks on the basis that 'Op gets to decide what the phrase means'."

I still am completely befuddled what that sentence is supposed to mean.

It was in response to your reply about pickets.

If I made a thread about the most honourable men of Westeros, but misdescribed what that phrase meant and the listed the likes of Bronn, Walder and Twyin as my examples people would be correct to point out how I was wrong.

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Nothing disingenuous about it. In general disagreeig about a proposal of a candidate is not the same as disagreeing with the arguments for the dismissal of a candidate.

To you. To me it comes across as a little disingenuous.

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That's the problem with debate and discussions these days - people assuming ad hominem malice in the person they're having a discussion with, rather than actually dealing with the arguments and on top of that not even recognizing or accepting it when the other concedes to some of the content related arguments made. No wonder you find it so difficult to discuss.

Sure. I am happy to take my share of the blame in the difficulty between the two of us. I wrongly said everyone instead of every man. That was on me.

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I am not debating the definition anymore, am I?

You still seem to be using it in a way that most people would not.

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You reiterated several times you have a better understanding of the phrase than I do (thumping your chest).

How? You repeatedly argued another definition of the word. How else am I supposed to convey that you are using it in a different way that it is commonly used?

It is a common saying in the UK. You are from Belgium, there is nothing wrong with you misusing the phrase. I take no pride in pointing this out to you, I don't think there is anything notable about knowing what that phrase means.

You are reading a position I don't have.

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I conceded to this definition, several times now.

Have you? Which posts?

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Now, you're not jsut thumping your chest, but beating a dead horse (again).

How can you accuse others of ad hom attacks?

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Also, I did not threaten to change the wiki page on the subject. I wrote I would leave a note on the wiki page to question the example.

It read like a threat.

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The latter means going to the discussion page of a subject and leave a note to discuss/question subject content, without necessarily altering it yourself. Having been educated by posters here who seemed to get that I'm willing to be educated and do not assume I post out of malice, I will not of course.

It seemed a weird flex. That is all I was saying. Rather than read up on the word, you decided that you'd question everyone elses understanding of the word.

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I guess this has less to do with disingenenuity, but me trying to make clear that I conceded to the definition you use, and you not able to accept my concession, but instead keep on harping that I disagreed with the defintion you used.

You have done multiple times and still seem to be doing so.

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I would rather hope that I never lose the ability to engage in a self-chosen challenge to see whether a discussion on a topic can enrich my world view or not.

Another ad hom attack.

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The dictionary says it's a phrase used to indicate a person wanting to change their social status. But the dictionary's sources sometimes add "by trying to make friends with people of the higher class".

A social climber is someone who is ashamed of where they are from, wants to better themselves and how they are seen. While there can be a little overlap between selfmade men and social climbers they do not mean the same thing. Many self made men are proud of their routes, proud of their status as working class people who have reached heights they were never expected to.

They are not the same.

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The urban dictionary explains it as an insulting slang phrase for an "attention whore".

It can be used in that way. Not sure what that has to do with this discussion.

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Weird how there are two phrases to indicate the same intent - changing social status.

Not really.

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The first (self-made) is often used to express praise, respect and awe about the accomplishments, and yet the term as you pointed out, has little to do with accomplishing it in a manner that is not praiseworthy.

The second is about being over eager to be accepted by people you see to be better than you.

Again, many self made people stay true to their roots. Their accomplishements are in their careers, not with who they are socializing with.

 

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You could say a "self-made" person is a myth even in real life. Everyone who got to where they are got there at least in part because of circumstances they couldn't control. 

Edited by John Doe

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Is George R. R. Martin a selfmade man?  He grew up in the projects and his family was poor.  Wiki lists his net worth at over $50 million.  His story surely qualifies as a success story.  Was it all done without significant help from another?  He is talented but was that enough?  His story seem to say empathy for the commons come about from having spent time with them and experienced what they have.  Having experienced starvation, fear of security can make for a more compassionate monarch.  

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On 1/25/2020 at 1:25 AM, Annalee said:

The idea of successful people in the story being self-made is a myth.  Rulers, lords, and leaders pretty much arrived at their lofty stations by virtue of birth.  Kings and lords are obvious but even seemingly elected people are greatly helped by the privileges of noble birth or the the patronage of a noble person.  Gendry would have rotted in Flea Bottom if not for the timely aid of a nobleman.  Luck and birth gave him the step towards his apprenticeship.  The Beggar King would have starved long ago if it were not for the respect carried by his storied family name.  Jon Snow would not have gotten the preferential treatment at the wall if he had not been the bastard son of a lord.  Are there people who have truly risen due to their own hard work and skills?  Some of you might list Mance Rayder.  I would argue because he had the fortune to have been raised at the wall around people who gave him training.  This knowledge gave him an advantage with the unsophisticated simpletons that are the wildlings.  Dunk got lucky because Ser Arlen needed a squire at the right time.  Dunk was in the right place at the right time.  Littlefinger comes from an impoverished noble family but that still puts him above most commoners.  It may be more important to look at what the success stories did with the opportunities that came their way.  That little bit of daylight was enough to give them the break they needed to rise.  To me, the people who made the best of their opportunities are:

  1. Dunk
  2. Daenerys
  3. Missandei
  4. Jon
  5. Bron

Dunk was rescued from the streets by the hedge knight and he saw an opening and took it.  I do not necessarily approve of what he did but that is another matter for discussion at another time.  Being tall helped. Daenerys found a way out of an awful marriage and deserves her dragons.  She was blessed with the useful qualities of keen intelligence and courage.  Missandei, the passive little girl taken by slavers, learns languages and increased her marketability.  She became valuable to Kraznys.  Jon won the friendships of the other boys at the wall.  Bron is the opportunists who attached himself to the rich.

There are others who have squandered away opportunities.  Here they are:

  1. Tyrion
  2. Theon
  3. Robert
  4. Renly
  5. Jorah

Tyrion is the classic underachiever.  

The only self-made success story is Varys.  But maybe we did not get the real story.  Who knows with him.  

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  1. Dunk
  2. Daenerys
  3. Missandei
  4. Jon
  5. Bron

Greyworm, Mance, and Drogo are the true hard workers.  They have been at it before they got to where they are or were.  And Greyworm!  This is a little kid who got everything taken away.  Even the name he was born with got taken.  Having to learn new names given at random each day will break the weak and the stupid.  This boy is special to have the mind to endure the training for years.  He now leads an army of 8000 strong warriors. 

Missandei, Jon, and Daenerys are born with special abilities.  Bron has the talent for swords.  None can compare to what Greyworm had to go through.  An emotionally weak dude like Theon would have died early in the training of an unsullied.  All of the unsullied are strong boys with mental toughness. 

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