The Tragedy of Daenerys Targaryen

In April 2021 I posted here, The trajectory and fate of Daenerys Targaryen are one of the most controversial in TV history. Between April 2011 and May 2019, the character of Game of Thrones became iconic on-screen as she was on the pages of the book, making an unknown young Emilia Clarke a global star. Even four years later, the Queen, our Khaleesi, still has a passionate fan base. It is her shadow that will be over all of the Targaryens in House of the Dragon.

Daenerys Stormborn was born in a storm, pursued and burdened with avenging her family, Targaryen, who was deposed from the Iron Throne when her father was betrayed and killed.

With the death of her father, mother (in childbirth), and older brother Rhaegar, Daenerys grew up in exile, accompanied by her brother Viserys. Impoverished, threatened, and isolated, the two grew up depending on the favors and help of a few supporters. Their father’s reign was marked by violence and the monarch’s imbalance, so few felt the lack. However, from an early age, those who watched the brothers closely, realized that the shy Daenerys would be better than Viserys in everything, effortlessly, as he was so unprepared and unstable.

The young princess, therefore, was the ideal heroine. Survivor, strong, beautiful, and well-intentioned. Sold and raped, she reversed her situation to dominate her husband and “owner”. Tragedy overtook her as she inadvertently tried to save Khal Drogo, and also lost their son. She amassed powerful enemies but went on to lead thousands of innocents. She became a true Khaleesi who shared an obsession with Viserys: recovering the Iron Throne.

The worst warning ignored by fans has always been George R.R. Martin‘s premise, “the villain is the hero on the other side”. Those who read his books know that he already “played” with the different narratives in his books. Therefore, just as Jamie Lannister was “right” in killing the Mad King. Still, for Daenerys, he was only and always a traitorous assassin. And Cersei Lannister, who we hated to the end, not only managed to be a good queen (even if she left a trail of blood and deaths to reach the throne) but also proved that Targaryen’s madness was a fact and danger to Westeros.

A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing. Daenerys’ uncle said it from a distance. They never met, and still, all his remarks were prophetic. Daenerys, isolated, lost the fine thread that made her a good queen. Insecurity, jealousy, resentment, and even cruelty blinded the young heroine just as she was close to winning.

Tyrion Lannister was, indirectly, responsible for Daenerys’ downfall. Her inexperience as a military strategist proved fatal for her. Diplomat and pacifist, his maneuvers contributed to Danny delaying the attack on King’s Landing, thus losing allies who were massacred. To make matters worse, he became involved in a war against the dead, which brought significant casualties and provided time for Cersei to organize herself in defense. By the time she “went mad,” Daenerys had long since passed her limit.

The final straw in her downfall was Missandei’s death, a cruel display of power by Cersei, but what disturbed her, even more, was discovering that the basis of her existence – the last Targaryen – was a legend. There was another, more popular, more correct, and that – as a man and the son of Daenerys’ older brother – he had priority in the order of succession. Jon Snow, with whom she was in love, didn’t have the same ambitions as her, which would be convenient, but they also made her seem greedy and usurping.

I’m not one of those fans who disliked Daenerys’ downfall. I’d be happy with a “Disney” ending that would make her Queen and live incestuously with her nephew, but accepted what we had. It didn’t make sense, however, the fact that she went about destroying the city instead of going straight to attack Cersei, after 7 seasons of saying she wouldn’t kill innocents (and she didn’t). Arrogance and hypocrisy were always present, but not cruelty. Feminists also didn’t like that women went mad for power (Cersei too), but being the commanders was inevitable. I think Daenerys’ tragedy was being “alone” and not having good advisers to achieve her goal.

In House of the Dragon, fans are betting that her ancestor, Rhaeenerys, will have the same appeal. The princess will have to fight for the Iron Throne with her half-brother and it will be violent. In truth, Daenerys was more like Aegon I, a conqueror, and has no parallel in her family, though histories among the Targaryens are indirectly repeated. Her ambition for revenge and retaking the throne were political consequences rather than a personal dream. The sad and tragic thing is that Daenerys never belonged anywhere, never had a sense of love or disinterested friendship. Her loneliness, after so much suffering, is one of the biggest appeals to passionate fans. A great character who is iconic and the most beloved of the franchise. The first, and last, of her name.

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