Friday, August 4, 2017

Daenerys - A Most Unreliable Narrator

   One of the tricks that George R. R. Martin uses to surprise his readers is the concept of the unreliable narrator.  For example, think of your first impressions of Rhaegar Targaryen.  At the very beginning of the very first book, Robert Baratheon describes the man as a rapist and a monster.  Many will take Robert's tale for granted until much later in the series when other characters like Jon Connington and Barristan Selmy reveal that Rhaegar was not, in fact, a monster.  However, by this time it is too late for the reader to pay close attention to the fact that Eddard Stark never acknowledged Robert's description of Rhaegar, and even seemed to hold a quite different opinion of the man.  All but the most attentive readers will have missed this clue to unraveling what really may have happened in the past.  First impressions are lasting impressions, and George has used this trick of unreliable first impressions to great effect.

   This brings me to Daenerys.  What many don't realize until it's too late is that Daenerys is an extremely unreliable narrator.  By the time the reader has enough clues to understand this, he has already recorded her musings into his perceived history of events.  He has forgotten that the only significant account of the flight to and from Dragonstone came from Daenerys, and it is now locked into his head as historical fact.

   How unreliable is Daenerys?  Let's put things into perspective.  Daenerys was not even born until Willem Darry supposedly fled with her and Viserys from Dragonstone.  Therefore, everything she knows up to and including this event must come from others.  Who is her primary source for this information?  Viserys.

   I shouldn't need to explain that Viserys is delusional - unable to even recognize the reality in front of his own two eyes.  On top of that, however, we can demonstrate that his memory of history is often imagined.  Consider a couple of examples:

   Viserys believes that the Usurper's hired knives were chasing them all across Essos, but Robert explains, "I should have had them both killed years ago, when it was easy to get at them, but Jon was as bad as you. More fool I, I listened to him."

   Daenerys reveals that "Viserys had told her stories of the tourneys he had witnessed in the Seven Kingdoms, but Dany had never seen a joust herself."  Yet, Viserys was not allowed to attend tournaments due to Aerys's fear of attempts on his life.  Viserys was not even allowed to attend the tourney held in honor of his own birth!

   At this point, we should be questioning all the things that Daenerys believes about her past.  All. The. Things.

"His blunt words startled her. It seemed as though all the things she had always believed were suddenly called into question."

   In truth, you wouldn't even need tinfoil to question if she is the sister of Viserys!

"Daenerys... Remember who you are."