Jon & Dany - Mirroring journeys leading to each other
We’ve seen a lot of visual parallels of these two through all the brilliant gifsets the gifmakers of this fandom create. @officerparker asked me to take the show apart with a scalpel in terms of these two as characters & honestly as a writer trying to learn the craft, this was a very educational exercise. This
Mother of Metas, a Jonerys thesis if you must, is entirely based on show canon.
Scratching the surface - Stark/Targaryen contrast
Looking at these two at surface level, they might seem like polar opposites. Jon lives by the Stark stoicism, a house whose motto is ‘Winter is Coming’ instead of something personal. It symbolises their disinterest in political games and laser sharp focus towards the danger that lurks north of the wall. For winter hits them first, their strength lies in protecting the realm from what lurks beyond the wall. They have never fared well politically in games of southerners, so they distance themselves from it to focus on what really matters. Joining the Night’s Watch only amplified and cemented this in Jon’s character, as focus on the threats beyond the wall & aversion from politics is the foundation of the brotherhood.
Dany is a Targaryen. ‘Fire and Blood’ both nurturing life sources when contained but devastating when unleashed. She too is kind, nurturing and protective but she doesn’t shy away from violence against wrong doers. Targaryens don’t fare well diplomatically either but with godlike power of dragons and fire magic, the Dragons unapologetically make their way to the top of the food chain. The first Targaryen conquest led to the creation of the Iron Throne, which all the other houses are fighting over with politics ever since the Targaryen dynasty ended. The second conquest could again change the game and setup a new system, which Dany very much intends to do, to break the wheel that tramples the common people. They don’t play the game, they create and dominate it with great power which drives some in the dynasty to greatness and some to madness.
Despite house values that are reactive vs proactive and avoiding the game vs dominating the game, both are more tied with mysticism and a greater purpose, rather than games of mere mortals. Underneath this outer shell of contrast, these two characters are so similar, they are almost mirrors of each other, something their arcs strongly signifies.
Birth : Jon and Dany are both orphans born in a chaotic environment. The death of their fathers put an end to Targaryen dynasty’s reign and their mothers died at childbirth.
Dany was born at Dragonstone during a storm, the night of a naval battle which destroyed the Targaryen fleet.
Jon was born as a Ned fought the guards outside the Tower of Joy in Dorne.
Dany was shipped off to Essos for her safety soon after her birth.
Ned Stark took him back to Winterfell as his bastard to protect his life and uphold his promise to his dying sister.
Upbringing : Their childhood issues parallel in terms of not belonging, toxic relationship with a parental figure and a crisis of identity.
1. A sense of belonging to a home/family: Dany grew up on the run like a fugitive, escaping cities in the nick of time from assassins. She grew up without a home or a stable family other than Viserys. She had no long term friends or formal education as a child.
Jon grew up a bastard, an unwanted outcast with front row seats to the perfect family he would never be a part of. Him getting drunk outside, as the family feasted during Robert’s visit in the pilot is a good indicator of how much worse would the exclusion must have felt when he was a child.
2. Toxic parental figure : Dany had only Viserys to call family and he was quite obviously physically, emotionally and psychologically abusive, with undertones of sexual abuse as well. He treated her like his property rather than a person. Yet she had the same kind of toxic combination of fear and love for him that children of abusive parents have at a younger age before they grow up and realise that there is more to human relationships than being abused.
Jon craved motherly love his entire life. Despite being an outcast, he had strong sibling bonds & a decent relationship with his father but he was completely ignored and despised by Catelyn and he ws unaware of who his biological mother was or why she didn’t want him either.
3. Identity crisis
Viserys raised Dany with a very distorted view of what it means to be a Targaryen based on his distorted childhood memories and who he was as a person. Good example of this would be Dany only knew Rhaegal of a one dimensional warrior and was surprised to find out that he hated fighting and loved music. Her warmth was discouraged and looked down upon as weakness and Viserys repeatedly used the word Dragon when he is hurting/dominating her. Her identity crisis comes from being exposed to only the madness side of the Targaryen coin through Viserys and stories of her father. She had to discover the greatness on her own.
Jon’s greatest mystery is not knowing a key piece of himself, his mother, who was the reason for
denial of maternal love and his exclusion from the Stark family. Ironically as we now know his mother was Lyanna Stark & he would have found a place in the Stark family if his fraternal Targaryen roots didn’t threaten his life. Jon once said he wanted nothing more but to be a Stark his entire childhood. Tyrion’s advise on embracing his identity and wearing it like a badge of honour instead of being ashamed of it played a huge role in Jon coming into his own. He no longer wishes to be a Stark, he is Jon Snow. There is a key piece of his identity and heritage he needs to discover and allow the Targaryen in him to grow. But he has accepted himself as Jon Snow enough to not start calling himself a Targaryen either.
Inciting incident for the story
The plot begins with death of Jon Arryn, Hand of the King & Lord of Vale. He was Ned and Robert’s father figure. His wife Lysa poisoned him
on her childhood crush, little finger’s request. Lysa sent Catlyn Stark a letter stating that she fled to Vale and the Lannisters poison her husband, to create the rift between Starks and Lannisters. This was something Little finger had been plotting his entire life and as he finally sets his plan to destabilise the kingdom in motion, the plot begins with Robert travelling north to ask Ned to be his Hand.
Jon and Dany are introduced as meek and reactive minor characters in a world where House Targaryen, Dragons and magic has disappeared. Both of them are being pushed further away from the central plot with Jon joining the Night’s watch and Dany betrothed to Khal drogo.
Introduction of Character Goals: Magic is so nonexistent that the sighting of white walkers was brushed off by Ned, which would end up being the central motivation for Jon Snow’s character.
It starts with Jon being shunned by Catelyn Stark from a ceremony - Robert’s feast - He gets the advice to embrace the fact that he is a bastard from Tyrion and also meets his uncle Benjin, a brother of the Night’s watch.
Jon was in some control of his destiny, as he proactively chose to embark on his hero’s journey by pleading his uncle Benjin’s to make him a member of the Night’s watch.
He had no better options as a bastard, but he embraced his character goal, to guard the realm from what lies beyond the wall because winter was coming.
This small and innocent desire was the seed to his mission against white walkers once he witnessed magic.
In an attempt to put a Targaryen on the throne once again, Varys’ friend and spy network partner Illyrio Mopatis, the merchant housing the Targaryen siblings’s arranges Dany’s marriage to Khal Drogo to help the Viserys acquire an army.
Dany is launched off into her storyline by being forced into a ceremony she didn’t want to be part of - her marriage to Khal Drogo for the fulfilment of her brother’s goals of getting an army.
She had such little control over her life, she is introduced as a character being stripped naked by her brother in her very first scene and it takes all of season 1 for her to find free will.
Her little plea to her brother “I want to go home” is dismissed with their need for an army & ships to return to Westeros and take the Iron Throne by force.
Her naive desire to go back home ends up being the seed for her character goals to provocatively embark upon her journey to become a Queen who fights for free will.
Meeting their animal symbolism
Varys’ friend Illyrio Mopatis, gifts Dany three dragon eggs at her wedding.
Jon talks Ned into sparing the loves of the Direwolf pups they found next to a dead direwolf mother. As he walks away, he finds an albino pup who Theon calls ‘Runt of the litter’. Jon adopts Ghost.
Key difference here as well is how reactive vs proactive these adoptions were and the fact that Dany’s Dragons weren’t born but given to her as eggs to be hatched when she comes into her own as a Dragon as well.
Personally I loved the fact that Dany first picks up the green egg, the one Rhaegal hatched from, her dragon named after Jon’s father and the one I assume Jon would ride one day. Also Jon got the silver haired pup, just like Dany’s hair in the books.
Key differences in Characterisation: These two have parallels but by no means am I stating that they are same on every level. Both of them are beautifully unique, with similarities and differences. They have character contrasts in their story parallels and character parallels in their contrasting storylines. One of the reasons why Dany’s monologue, when these two meet is so powerful, because their stories began at very different places and it had a huge impact on how they grew.
Dany had an unstable and abusive childhood, Jon was an outcast in the perfect family as a bastard.
She was more privileged and was a Queen in some capacity since the beginning but was treated like a trophy. He had a lower stature in his family and the Night’s Watch at first but he had free will, except S03.
Dany starts out in a powerless, battered, controlled and reactive damsel in distress mould. Jon starts out as every hopeful and naive proactive fantasy genre hero, though the story does a great job at keeping it subtle and presenting him as a minor character.
It would take a season for Dany to find free will and to take charge of her story. Jon had that freedom and was driving his story from the start.
Dany had absolutely no support system. Jon had Ned, Robb, Arya and Bran who loved him dearly.
The episode ends with Jon finding an honourable purpose in life and Dany getting raped and pushed to the very extreme of her life as a victim.
All these differences are a big factor in why these two grew so differently at a surface level. Jon is a hesitant leader because he started hopeful, naive and a little arrogant, which changed after all the horrible things he went through. Dany is an ambitious and dominating leader because she knows what being powerless is and she would never revisit that place or let anyone else live in shackles if she can make a difference. Comparing them at surface level is futile and destroys the entire point of the story, so lets dive in deep!
Season 1 : Struggling to find a place in their new world - Watcher on the walls & Khalessi
INFP- Why are you so loud? It’s hard to find the perfect
picture for this Yuri on Ice aesthetic board with you yelling about aliens all
INFJ- Why haven’t you called the doctor yet? You were
supposed to call three weeks ago! You are a very special friend to me, so your
health is of the utmost importance…
INTP- Which should I read first: the Satanic Bible or
INTJ- Do you ever shut the fuck up? That was rhetorical, you
have proven time and time again that you do not.
ISFP- Have you fed your fish today? If you kill another
fish, I will never forgive you.
ISFJ- Will you please start writing your paper? It really
stresses me out to watch you struggle to write 13 pages in 5 hours…
ISTP- Wanna get high?
ISTJ- How are you even alive right now? I watched you
consume 16 shots of tequila and 6 Doritos Locos Tacos last night. That’s more
tacos and shots than I’ve had in my entire life.
ENFP- Do you want to go to the reptile store with me to pick
out a new pet? I’m not sure what I’m going to get, but I have a five gallon
tank full of sand and I’m particular to the name Phillis.
ENFJ- Did you use a condom last night? I can’t believe you
hooked up with that guy, he could have been a murderer…
ENTP- How are you so perfect, you beautiful bastard?
ENTJ- Why the fuck are your dishes in the sink again? I know
you don’t mind living in filth, but you don’t have to subject the rest of us to
ESFP- Want to try to go to that edm concert tonight? It’s
been sold out for weeks, but I know the bouncer and I think we could flirt our
ESFJ- Are you being sarcastic? I mean I don’t think you
think I’m a “stupid fucking bitch” for making you cookies, but I just want to
ESTP- Dude, you wanna jump in the pool from the roof? I was
about to do it, but I feel like if you do it too, it will be less dangerous.
ESTJ- Can you please try to be on time for our lunch
tomorrow? I have a job interview at 12:30 which will probably last 30 minutes
and I’ve scheduled a study session for myself at 1:30, so we have exactly 30
minutes to complete our socialization and food. I also picked out an outfit for
you and laid it on your bed, so you have no excuse!
You know when you make a batch of cookies and you have like your cookie cutter and you’re like- BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, then you have this weird little bit left that you’re like- “I know what I’ll do. I’ll make a custom cookie.” and then you use a knife and kind of make this thing that looks like a turtle or something; comes out the oven and it’s all fucking crispy and weird-looking and you don’t want it,