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Annalee

The Myth of the Self-made Person

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9 hours ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

Lol, I guess Janos Slynt and Bronn are self-made men. Though their rise was precipitated by how many killing, and underhanded things each was willing to commit.

That's their system at work.  All of the noble families got ahead by doing those things.  

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Jon has been raised by Ned. Has the reputation of honor of the Starks. I not the name. Is the prince promised. Some way has the backup of the Old Gods. who gave him Ghost There is no one more "gifted" than him.

A bit of the same for Daenerys. Her dragons came from her magic. Not something everyone has.

Some who did great starting from low: Davos and Mance.

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Though if we are taking corrupt or criminal acts; Davos once made his living as a smuggler. And I'd really only argue he made it at far as a landed knight as his own man. His more recent elevation has come because he is firmly Stannis' man.

I think I may be willing to accept the OP's premise that there is no such thing as a self made man. Now, if were to talk about risen by merit, I view things quite differently. It would rule the likes of Slynt entirely. Littlefinger seemed to rise by merit, but it is because his superiors appointing him were unaware of the extent of his corruption. Davos I would count, as Stannis first raised him up for a meritorious act, and he has acted with merit ever since.

 

 

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On 2/8/2020 at 4:17 PM, Centurion Piso said:

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.  

Having had to work for his money made him appreciate it all the more.  I would think.  How much help he had.  I do not know. 

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ASOIAF definitely isn't the type of world where there's a lot of room for upward mobility. The only ones I can think of who markedly improved their station are Dunk, Bronn, Davos, and Melisandre. Some other hedge knights joined the Kingsguard, and in Fire and Blood, there's a Pentoshi master of coin, Rego, was had been born into poverty. The wildlings and Ironborn also have powerful men who earned fame for their skills (i.e. as far as I know, Andrik the Unsmiling is not highborn). 

I actually have wondered if one of the reasons why so many readers like Stannis is because he appeals to our modern ideals by surrounding himself with self-made people. His two most trusted advisers are a former slave and an illiterate smuggler. 

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Posted (edited)

In my humble opinion, not having inherited a fortune but earning it qualifies for self-made.  It doesn't have to mean no help at all.  It's okay to have help.  To take GRRM as the example.  He is still a selfmade man even if he had help in landing his first job.  

Edited by Moiraine Sedai

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On 1/26/2020 at 1:14 AM, Bernie Mac said:

How is Jon self made? He was fast tracked to leadership in the Watch down to being the bastard son of the Lord of the North(not even the youngest bastard son of a Stark to be made Lord Commander) and later on his friend 'fixed' the election so he would win. Stannis supports him due Stannis needing someone with Stark blood to rule Winterfell. Jon, with his superior noble training and his pet Direwolf, was able to threaten other boys into doing what he wanted in regards to Sam.

Seems odd that Jon, the son of a great Lord, is above Bronn on your list.

Gotta agree here. Donal Noye even told him how to befriend the other boys. That's not even getting into the decisions others forced on him ( Qhorin ) or the ones who shielded him from negative consequences (Old Bear, Aemon). 

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I’m not sure about Davos.

He’s kinda passive in terms of getting ahead.

In that he’s not actively trying for it.

He completely lucked out in terms Stannis  feeling any gratitude for his selling of onions and fish to the men at Storm’s end during the siege.

He didn’t foresee himself as potentially being made a noble.

His appointment to the position of hand less to do what his actual accomplishments and more to do with cronyism. Davos is could quite possibly be looked at Stannis’ only friend, and his most devout follower. He could not read, he is no experience in law, governance, or leading armies. 
 

 

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1 hour ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I’m not sure about Davos.

He’s kinda passive in terms of getting ahead.

In that he’s not actively trying for it.

He completely lucked out in terms Stannis  feeling any gratitude for his selling of onions and fish to the men at Storm’s end during the siege.

He didn’t foresee himself as potentially being made a noble.

His appointment to the position of hand less to do what his actual accomplishments and more to do with cronyism. Davos is could quite possibly be looked at Stannis’ only friend, and his most devout follower. He could not read, he is no experience in law, governance, or leading armies. 
 

 

 

Yeah it always strikes me as bit of a strange take when Davos is brought up as an example of a meritocratic appointment, just because he's not a blue blooded noble doesn't mean it's not nepotism, the guy's the closest thing he has to a friend. 

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8 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

 

Yeah it always strikes me as bit of a strange take when Davos is brought up as an example of a meritocratic appointment, just because he's not a blue blooded noble doesn't mean it's not nepotism, the guy's the closest thing he has to a friend. 

I don't know if it can be considered nepotism when he is the best man for the job. He proved himself useful during the siege at Storm's End & continued to serve Stannis honestly & loyally. Friend or no he is worthy of the job. 

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On 3/4/2020 at 1:55 AM, The Bard of Banefort said:

ASOIAF definitely isn't the type of world where there's a lot of room for upward mobility.

Well, real Middle Ages had pretty static society, you were supposed to stay in same lane as your parents. If you father was a member of one guild, you'll inherit his position, not even talking about moving up form the class you were born into. 

Free Cities are already in Renaissance mode, which offers a little more opportunities and more ambitions. 

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16 minutes ago, Agnessa Schizoid said:

Well, real Middle Ages had pretty static society, you were supposed to stay in same lane as your parents. If you father was a member of one guild, you'll inherit his position, not even talking about moving up form the class you were born into. 

Free Cities are already in Renaissance mode, which offers a little more opportunities and more ambitions. 

Which makes you wonder how far a handsome sell sword and eunuch can get ahead in the west. Rising to become a prominent businessman is admirable. Varys becoming a trusted adviser to a Targaryen king is great accomplishment.  They were crooked in their way up. Extortionists.  A humble born will have to climb their way to the top and do it outside the normal channels. Stealing secrets and threatening exposure can’t be legal. I guess smuggling was the way for Daavos.  Outside the law. 

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14 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

 

Yeah it always strikes me as bit of a strange take when Davos is brought up as an example of a meritocratic appointment, just because he's not a blue blooded noble doesn't mean it's not nepotism, the guy's the closest thing he has to a friend. 

Becoming Hand is nepotism on Stannis' part, not on Davos'. An appointment can be both, from different perspectives.

Davos became a knight to Stannis based on his own ability, bravery and intelligence in spotting a gap in the market.

From Stannis' perspective he made him Hand because he's the only other guy he actually likes and trust, pure nepotism (nepotism was not a negative thing in the Middle Ages), but from Davos' perspective he was one of dozens, perhaps hundreds of knights sworn to Stannis. Over his 15 years of service he did enough to stand out from them, all men born with greater advantages in life, none had the qualities that Davos had to get himself promoted.

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6 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I don't know if it can be considered nepotism when he is the best man for the job. He proved himself useful during the siege at Storm's End & continued to serve Stannis honestly & loyally. Friend or no he is worthy of the job. 

I don't think a promotion, or substantial reward is not out of line in it of itself.

But this one doesn't fit him. Again, he's no general, has brilliant legal mind, or skill for any governance of land. 

I think even Stannis realizes Davos’ can't be expected to do much as hand given he doesn't give Davos different tasks than the ones he gave before the promotion. A messenger. A lowly ambassador beseeching other’s for aid.

And most  importantly Davos does not have respect from other most nobles.

He has base of support should things go bad, nor does he try to garner any for himself in the royal court. 

 He is generally seen as an inferior and he does not challenge them on their blatant insults. By challenge I don't mean duel of course. But at the very least say something in his defense.

When Davos was merely Stannis messenger other nobles seeing the former-smuggler as an inferior was not as big a problem.

But Davos’ demure/humble nature does reflect badly on Stannis, and guarantees should Stannis not be present the nobles will ignore/mock the smuggler at best, murder him for being uppity at worst.

If Davos had been granted the title lord of ships, it’d be far more suited to Davos’ accomplishments(both as a smuggler, and person who’d been able to get a pirate fleet for Stannis.) 

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15 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

 

Yeah it always strikes me as bit of a strange take when Davos is brought up as an example of a meritocratic appointment, just because he's not a blue blooded noble doesn't mean it's not nepotism, the guy's the closest thing he has to a friend. 

I mean he's a very nice guy. 

He's likable.

Just not particularly suited for the job of Hand.

I could concede he earned his knighthood, and lands for his smuggling to Stannis even if he didn't even suspect he’d get those things.

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20 minutes ago, Varysblackfyre321 said:

I don't think a promotion, or substantial reward is not out of line in it of itself.

But this one doesn't fit him. Again, he's no general, has brilliant legal mind, or skill for any governance of land. 

I think even Stannis realizes Davos’ can't be expected to do much as hand given he doesn't give Davos different tasks than the ones he gave before the promotion. A messenger. A lowly ambassador beseeching other’s for aid.

And most  importantly Davos does not have respect from other most nobles.

He has base of support should things go bad, nor does he try to garner any for himself in the royal court. 

 He is generally seen as an inferior and he does not challenge them on their blatant insults. By challenge I don't mean duel of course. But at the very least say something in his defense.

When Davos was merely Stannis messenger other nobles seeing the former-smuggler as an inferior was not as big a problem.

But Davos’ demure/humble nature does reflect badly on Stannis, and guarantees should Stannis not be present the nobles will ignore/mock the smuggler at best, murder him for being uppity at worst.

If Davos had been granted the title lord of ships, it’d be far more suited to Davos’ accomplishments(both as a smuggler, and person who’d been able to get a pirate fleet for Stannis.) 

So, who, in your opinion, would be better suited for the job? 

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2 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

So, who, in your opinion, would be better suited for the job? 

I would say a lot  of the noblemen who’ve shown themselves to be devout followers of Stannis, or any actual experience with the things I just listed. 

Stannis doesn't need Davos for a hand, nor could he be expected to do what a Hand would expected to do.

What do you see Davos’ doing now, that he couldn't have done without the title of hand?

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On 2/22/2020 at 12:54 PM, Buried Treasure said:

Now, if were to talk about risen by merit, I view things quite differently. It would rule the likes of Slynt entirely.

Why? The man is corrupt, and arrogant but if he was completely incompetent in his job, he would/could not have risen as far as he did before being exiled to the wall.

He is after all just a son of a butcher.

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