“She surveyed him for a long moment, her brows knitting together. “Murder?” His grin grew. “Thank you, but no. I started a riot on the yard.” He adjusted his collar, before adding, “We were protesting the soap.” Her confusion grew, and Thorne noticed that she was still in her defensive stance. “The soap,” he said again, wondering if she’d heard him. “It’s too drying.” She said nothing. “I have sensitive skin.”
Dany's character arc in the show - would like to hear more of what you don't like about it. So far it seems like a decent approximation. In both show and books, she wants to save people without understanding them. She is a walking/talking contradiction in both. "Dothraki follow only strength" appears to be the only lesson she's learned. The one thing I think the show misses is how she dreams of a quiet anonymous life, but makes choices that push her further away from that.
I mean, that’s a good point. And I think a lot of her problems in Westeros have/will spring from the fact that the lessons she learned in statecraft while in Essos simply do not carry over into a Westerosi setting; the culture is different, the values are different, the attitude to all kinds of important issues like the rules of warfare and oaths of loyalty and so on are different, etc. And ‘she wants to save people without understanding them’ is a good summary of both her virtues and flaws as a character.
But I feel that the show simply took what it thought was Dany’s basic outline, and then erased all of the vital nuances that make her actually realistic and tragic and interesting instead of just a one-note messiah/magic conqueror figure. This means that show!Dany is confusingly both more and less sympathetic than book!Dany at the same time. Her actions are the same, but the emotional and interpersonal context is lost - and for Dany in particular, context is everything.
One thing that you’ll notice if you’ve spent some time browsing Dany metas on tumblr is that the metas written in her defense (the good ones, anyway) always deal with her hopes and dreams and feelings and, of course, her intentions, whereas the ones that are critical of her always deal with the actual effects of her actions. Here’s a good example of a solid, well-written defense of Dany that relies entirely on a reading of her internal monologue; I find it interesting because while I disagree with the conclusion, I don’t actually disagree with any of the specific points it makes about her as a person. On the other hand, here is a very good criticism of Dany; notice how this piece pays absolutely no mind to what Dany wants or how she feels about her goals. Instead, it focuses on what she actually does and how her mindset contributes to a series of increasingly unethical policy choices.
In my view, this dichotomy was deliberate on the part of GRRM, and so this split in opinion happens because Dany was deliberately written to be a character with both extremely sympathetic intentions and extremely problematic consequences to those intentions. The tension between the good person she consciously strives to be and the ways in which she continues to fail to reach what she strives for is pretty much the essence of her character. The same things that drive her to do good - her sensitive and compassionate nature, her zeal for justice, her deep concern for the lives of her people - are the same things that keep leading her into darker and darker actions. That’s both her tragedy and her point.
The problem with the show is that we don’t get this. On the one hand, Dany’s genuinely compassionate thoughts and smaller, character-building kindnesses are glossed over (both because there isn’t screentime and because, let’s face it, Emilia Clarke is a sweetheart and very pretty but just…doesn’t emote) in favor of her dramatic action sequences - and without those softening moments, her actions come across as more brutal and senseless than I think the books intended. On the other hand, we also miss out on the parts of Dany’s thought process that are supposed to be troubling - her deepseated denial, her ability to gloss over genuinely disturbing actions because ‘if I look back I am lost,’ the way her temper and passion can lead her into things like ordering the torture of innocent girls, etc. All of these hints that are supposed to be there to clue us in to the fact that she’s not the pure angel she wants to be are skipped over or ignored by the show.
So I think that’s partly why fan reaction to show!Dany has been so mixed - because the narrative just hasn’t been setting us up adequately to deal with the complexity of her character. (This has happened to plenty of other characters as well, of course, but I think the show’s treatment is particulary poor - and particularly gendered - with Dany.) Fans who react mainly to the emotional beats of the show and are less interested in thinking through longterm consequences get so caught up in Dany’s deliberate framing as the Ultimate Triumphant Hero that they completely miss the part where she’s also, as you say, a walking contradiction. And fans with less interest in character driven deconstructions lose patience with her actions and start to root against her completely because the show has failed to capture the really piercing tragedy of a woman who wants desperately to be good trapping herself in the role of ‘villain’ through her own actions - something which, in the books, we are meant to sympathize with, but which is increasingly hard to do in the show.
So, that’s why I think the show is unfair to Dany. And yeah, it’s also abandoned her whole ‘searching for home’ schtick, which is another important part of her character and of her tragedy. But mainly my issue is how it’s just ignoring her nuances in favor of spectacle and shock value (and not-so-coincidentally making the fan-favorite male characters around her look better in contrast).
1. marvel or dc?? why? 2. favorite male character? 3. favorite female character? 4. would you rather be an xmen or avenger? 5. what would your mutant superpower be? 6. would you want to live in a universe where superheros/villains existed? 7. who do you think has the coolest superpower? 8. favorite story arc? 9. what would you do if you had a superpower? would you keep it to yourself? 10. who would win in a 1v1 fight: iron man or captain america? 11. which character do you wish didn’t exist? 12. favorite villain? 13. favorite extraterrestrial character? (ie. superman, thor) 14. lamest superpower? 15. which character do you think should get a movie? (besides hawkeye and wonder woman bc literally everyone wants that) 16. worst outfit ever? 17. favorite comic book artist? 18. favorite writer? 19. what would you say to stan lee if you met him?
A few years ago, I read Captain Wentworth's Persuasion, a persuasion re-telling that includes bother prequel and sequel. I thought it was amazing. I went back and reread it this year and the writing is ... well, I'll let any brave new readers judge for themselves. But I still love reading my favorite book from my favorite male character's perspective.
Aw, it’s always a bit of a bittersweet moment to go back and realize books we used to love are a bit…less than we remembered them. But we can still love them for what they once meant to us, and whatever good remains. :)