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Falcon2909

Why does Quaithe speak in riddles?

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To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.

 

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The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun's son and the mummer's dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.

 

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Remember who you are, Daenerys, ... The dragons know. Do you? - Quaithe

 

What gives? Why doesn't she speak plainly ?

"Hey Dany this may sound weird but the glass candles of old valyria allow me to see the future and to give you a skype call. Please let us have a discussion. I need to help you for so and so reason. Please hear me out, this will take a while"...... where she explains Dany who she is, what she sees, why she's helping her, etc. This will help Dany understand Quaithe and her motivations and goals. Might even make Dany trust her more.

 

Seems like eating the fish of the ash river fried her brains or something smh

Edited by Falcon2909

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GRRM often uses ambiguity in the text; he seems to like words or phrases that can mean more than one thing.

I believe Quaithe's prophecies (if that's what they are) apply to more than one of the main characters. She is speaking to Dany, so most of us assume that the advice applies to Dany. I think the advice also applies (in whole or in part) to characters such as Catelyn, Tyrion, Arya, Jon, etc. The ambiguity makes it easier to apply to the different story arcs.

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Posted (edited)

That's typical prophecy as given in works of SciFi fantasy. Plain speak ruins the mystery. Q is also a foreigner. Such ways of using language may normal for her. 

Edited by Moiraine Sedai

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1) As a plot device, to be ambiguous for the readers (as mentioned above by my esteemed colleagues above).

2) Quaithe doesn't actually know what she is talking about. Same as Melisandre, Moqorro, MMD, and everyone else involved in 'magic.'

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the dangerous thing about oracles is that they don't have to tell you a real prophecy. if they can see the future to a degree (or what might be), then they may simply tell you something that will begin a chain of cause and effect to the desire of the soothsayer. As @Aejohn the Conqueroo says, unsolicited prophecy is more akin to manipulation. but maybe all that is giving quaithe too much credit. maybe the desire is just to make her mistrustful or seemingly mad, or is actually benign in motivation.

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There could be several reasons:

For one, like @Ser Leftwich said, it could be that Quaith is literally telling dany the things she see's, instead of interpreting i by herself she decides to let Dany take a go at it. Tho I don't think this is the case.

Quaith could also be a fraud, speaking vague enough that people can never accuse you of lying, for example, Jojen saw the Walders eating raw meat and enjoying it more than Bran does a prime cut, Bran thinks that is news they recibe, and it very well could be the case, or it could also be all three of them playing Monopoly, Bran winning and the Freys having more fun, it could be a whole bunch of things, which makes it more likely for you to find something that fits and believe in the 'prophet' next time they give a prediction. This is how real world prophets mostly work, and how they work in a few GRRM stories. I don't think this is the case tho, at least not fully, I think there are some elements of this in every vision, but it's not the only component.

Another reason could be tricking Dany because Quaithe is against her and has a plan of her own. Like @Aejohn the Conqueroo said.

And yet another reason could be because Qauithe isn't against Dany, but Dany, in order to save the world or break the moon or whatever the 'hero' Azor Ahai does, needs to do something unsavory, like killing someone she loves.

 

4 hours ago, Moiraine Sedai said:

That's typical prophecy as given in works of SciFi fantasy. Plain speak ruins the mystery. 

That's a lame explanation, after all, GRRM is about deconstructing and examining those tropes.

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The problem is not with Quaithe.  We humans have created a language where words and sentences have beginnings and directions. It's just how our logic works.  We're analytical problem solvers.  Words start from left to right.  Quaithe sees the whole of time like we look at a painting.  She's not hampered by left to right directionality.  She sees the whole canvas.  The only way to pass on what she sees is through images.  But the other party in the conversation is a very young human.  Dany is a very intelligent but inexperienced girl.  Dany is a good example of an analytical person.  Notice all of her sharp observations throughout the story. Trying to describe the whole canvas of time using words and spoken language is not going to work.  The shade and the paste are drugs which stops the linear mind and brings the logical mind to rest and allows the other senses to perceive the message.  It's the best Quaithe can do without videos and photos.  The qartheen warlock did better because they showed pictures but it took drinking shade to make this happen.  The children drugged Bran to make him see what the trees saw.  The warlocks drugged Dany to make her see what they saw. 

In The Arrival, aliens taught humans their language.  The language gave the humans the power to see the future.  It's the reverse for Quaithe.  Seeing the entire canvas of time taught her a different language.

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When you speak in riddles, you can claim you were right about things even if you're not. But Quaithe is manipulating Dany. Quaithe tells Dany about the people coming to Meereen seeking her out (gets a couple of them wrong) but doesn't tell her a single thing about the people waging war against her inside the city. That's after 9 people were killed, after Dany has locked up her dragons. But she warns her about people who aren't going to be in Meereen for months.

Sounds about right.

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Dany's chapters are full of references to being shown the way or the path.  For example:

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A Dance with Dragons - Daenerys V

"Or five. And if I give you the Unsullied, I will have no one but the Brazen Beasts to hold Meereen." When Ser Barristan did not dispute her, Dany closed her eyes. Gods, she prayed, you took Khal Drogo, who was my sun-and-stars. You took our valiant son before he drew a breath. You have had your blood of me. Help me now, I pray you. Give me the wisdom to see the path ahead and the strength to do what I must to keep my children safe.

 

Quaithe is telling her what path she has to follow without telling her the destination or what she has to do when she reaches it.

The only hint is that she must pass beneath the shadow and touch the light.  I think this refers to her return to Vaes Dothrak and passing beneath the shadow of the Mother of Mountains.  Whatever she has to do at Vaes Dothrak will determine her next path.

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"The jewels and the silks, Dragonstone and King's Landing, the Iron Throne and the Seven Kingdoms, all they have taken from us, we will have it back." Viserys lived for that day. All that Daenerys wanted back was the big house with the red door, the lemon tree outside her window, the childhood she had never known. (AGoT, Daenerys I)

Quaithe, with her red laquered mask, embodies the red door that represents Dany's deepest longing. She appears to Dany like a dream or a memory just as the red door is a vague memory from Dany's distant childhood.

But many characters in ASOIAF are searching for a way home so the advice of "the red door" applies to numerous characters. 

Many characters are surrounded by symbolic figures that manifest parts of their psyches or convey something else about the character: Jon Snow has Grenn, Toad, Satin and Leathers. Margaery has her ladies. Renly has his rainbow guard. Quentyn has his traveling companions. Quaithe is among these characters in Dany's arc, along with Missandei, the handmaids, the bloodriders, Ser Jorah, Ser Barristan, etc. 

GRRM incorporates a number of allusions to The Wizard of Oz in Dany's arc. When Dany finally climbs on the back of Drogon and flies away from the fighting pit, she is flying "over the rainbow" in the sense that GRRM expended effort to describe the rainbow-colored clothing of people seated by section to watch the resumption of fighting. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Dany is searching for home and this "over the rainbow" flight is a step toward her goal. (She ends up at the rock she calls Dragon Stone in the Dothraki Sea, however. So it is a still a symbolic homecoming and not quite the red door homecoming she craves.) 

If Drogon is the badass equivalent of Dorothy's Toto, and Hizdahr zo Loraq is the Wizard of Oz, Quaithe may be the ruby slippers (combined with Glinda, the Good Witch). 

 

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I think she's trying to trap Dany in fear. Give her these "prophecies" with enough nuggets of truth attached to them to have her second guessing every choice she makes. 

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On 8/21/2021 at 11:59 AM, Son of Man said:

Quaithe is the hand which guides the young protagonist towards her great destiny.  She is to Empress Daenerys what Merlin was to King Arthur.  Marwyn will play a similar role as well. 

That's too bland a story for George. He certainly is not making Dany the only protagonist, or even the main villian (that's Euron).  The thing is that Quaithe is basically an exposition dump in human form. She's there to say things that sound like riddles to Dany, but can be made more clear to us readers. Like telling her to go back to Vaes Dothrak gets turned into this huge, arcane riddle that Dany stresses over, when all Quaithe had to do was say, "go back to Vaes Dothrak, dolt." 

Quaithe's warnings to Dany about Quentin, Tyrion and Victarion are very similar. Again, Quaithe says things in riddles that would actually be helpful if she just spoke tge common tongue plainly. If Dany ever does go mad, it'll be because she traid to wrap her head around the things Quaithe says. Marwyn will be a much better advisor for Dany than Quaithe.

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She was Elissa Farman in a past life. The places she's been and seen is bound to make her weird.  I'll add a what if?  What if Quaithe has been to the other side.  The Nightlands, the spirit realm.  She was brought back through necromancy.  The new Quaithe is a changed person.  That would include her ways of speaking.  Elissa has had a long time to think about what she did.  Guilt and curiosity motivated her to check on Dany and her dragons.  She's a guardian angel to them.  

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It's a good question and even better is that there's an actual real reason and not just because it serves the mystery in the story. It is one of my favourite points of the series, that this actually makes sense.

If Quaithe just said it to Dany bluntly what she's trying to make Dany realise Dany wouldn't believe her and dismiss her, consider her crazy and probably an enemy. Quaithe is trying to coax Dany gently into the natural realisation that she is literally more dragon than human, that she is going to have to die and take a second life as a dragon.

It is the same as with Bloodraven and Bran. If Bloodraven just came out from the start, "yo we going to have to kill your friends so you can drink their blood to save the world" then that's not going to go well. So we get shit like you're going to fly.

And some of it, as when she refers to other actors, is because she gets her current/future information from glass candle visions and they're the symbols she sees in the visions. A lot of the time she's going by symbols on banners and clothes and what not.

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On 8/22/2021 at 4:16 PM, Rondo said:

She was Elissa Farman in a past life. The places she's been and seen is bound to make her weird.  I'll add a what if?  What if Quaithe has been to the other side.  The Nightlands, the spirit realm.  She was brought back through necromancy.  The new Quaithe is a changed person.  That would include her ways of speaking.  Elissa has had a long time to think about what she did.  Guilt and curiosity motivated her to check on Dany and her dragons.  She's a guardian angel to them.  

 

The Merlin analogy is good.  Merlin guided Arthur.  He was the teacher.  The best teacher guides the student to the right answer.  Quaithe is doing something similar with Dany.  Quaithe's theme has always been this, the straight line is not always the best way.  She says the quick way, or the shortest route, is not always the best road to take.  Her advice and manners enforce these concepts.  And so it does with the way she delivers her advice to Dany. That circles her back to when she was Lady Ellisa Farman.  The latter went west and circled to the other side of the world. It took years but surely she learned a lot from the voyage.  Elisa took west to go east.  She started where the sun sets and ends where it rises.  It is a long way of saying take your time and learn before going home.  It's the kind of advice you would give to a 16 year old who wants to accomplish much in a short time. 

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We've been warned repeatedly that prophecies are unreliable, "a sword without a hilt." Melisandre is one of the most skilled at reading the flames, but her track record is far from perfect, e.g. the Blackwater. Jojen Reed says his green dreams always come true; but the content of those dreams is often cryptic and hard for even him to understand, such as the sea coming to Winterfell.

In such a world, a good prophet is one who doesn't try to interpret the prophecy, but simply passes along what they perceive. Melisandre looks into the fire and sees visions. Maybe Quaithe listens to the fire (or the wind, or something) and hears words.  

And just for fun, suppose Quaithe had in fact spoken very plainly to Daenerys: "you must go back to Vaes Dothrak, and then to Asshai," or some such.  Would the outcome have been better for anyone? Melisandre spoke plainly to Stannis in some cases e.g. "give me your nephew so I can kill him and make a stone dragon come to life" (not in those exact words, of course). It didn't seem to help. 

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Posted (edited)

Obviously we can only speculate, perhaps Qaithe is trying to deceive Dany, or perhaps telling prophesies and visions as she sees them is actually more honest than trying to add her interpretation. It’s very hard to judge intent or motive when we don’t even know who she is, not that it stops us from speculating.

But, perhaps there is a message for the reader in these words as well.

"To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow."

The Song of Ice and Fire gets it’s name from the Frost poem, Fire and Ice, which in turn is a reference to Dante.

The references to Dante undeniably abound in the series, right from it’s very start, in a dark wood where the easy way was lost.

At the start of the Divine Comedy, Dante emerges from the valley of sleep and sees dawn breaking over a mountain peak, full of metaphor.

Dante travels, always up and to the right, just like Dany in the House of the Undying. However, the way is blocked by fearsome beasts, in particular a lion and a wolf.

Virgil, his guide, instructs him that to reach the light he must take a different path. To climb the mountain he must first descend.

To reach heaven he must pass through hell, and in the words of the boatman:

“I have come to lead you to the other shore, into eternal darkness, into fire and into ice.”

Edited by Mourning Star

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