Game of Throne's Daenerys is Machiavelli's Perfect Princ[ess] - PopMatters - Deepstash

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Niccolò Machiavelli's Prince

Niccolò Machiavelli's Prince

Machiavelli ends his treatise The Prince invoking a "redeemer" who shall save enslaved Italy from the domination of foreign powers that have left her gravely wounded and "almost without life". If we consider The Prince through the optic of its concluding chapter, it becomes evident that the scope of Machiavelli's project regards "issues of redemption and foundation", the "love of country and of glory," more than it does the banality of evil.


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Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen

Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen

Her character development throughout the seasons unfolds within a dynamic that probes fundamental questions of politics and leadership. 

Machiavelli examined the same questions in the 16th century in his treatise, The Prince.  Daenerys may be a version of the redeemer  he talk about in his treaty.


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Machiavelli's First instruction

First instruction to maintain power and preserve order: The prince does not have free range to conduct evil, but must strive for goodness as the primary measure of actions.

Daenerys gives conquered soldiers a choice: "Bend the knee and join me. Together, we will leave the world a better place than we found it. Or refuse and die."


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Machiavelli's 2nd instruction

Second instruction to maintain power and preserve order: The prince must know how to enter into evil and to what extent evil actions are required given the circumstances at hand.

  • The even-tempered Tyrion ultimately concedes that Daenerys will at times "need to be ruthless if [she's] going to win the throne." 
  • He also calls attention to the results of abusing cruelty.


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Machiavelli's 3rd instruction

Third instruction to maintain power and preserve order: When can a ruler enter into evil -  "if necessary" and when all other options fail.

  • Pointing to his sister as a negative example, Tyrion suggests that an overreliance on fear presupposes an overuse of cruelty.  
  • Once a ruler's actions fatally blur the fine line that separates fear from hatred, as Cersei's have done, maintaining power becomes increasingly difficult because popular favor deteriorates.


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Machiavelli and need for unquestioned loyalty:

"Therefore, a wise prince must think of a way through which citizens will always, regardless of what the circumstances may be, need him and his power, and, as such, will always remain faithful to him." 

  • Daenerys inspired this spirit of fidelity among her subjects by her continued promises to "bring peace back to Westeros", 
  • to "destroy the wheel that has rolled over everyone, both rich and poor", 
  • and to offer better lives to all her subjects.


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The Prince and the Game of Thrones

Beyond the practical insight they may afford us, The Prince and Game of Thrones also reciprocally inform the respective viewing and reading of one another. 

Just as The Prince elucidates the politics of Game of Thrones, so too does Game of Thrones provide a lens through which we can approach Machiavelli.


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