Game of Thrones

Dracula in Game of Thrones

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This post discusses Dracula and has Game of Thrones Spoilers!

I’m sure we’ve all heard of Dracula.

Every time Average Joe asks me “where are you from?”

And I respond “Romania.”

After a few moments of confusion, clarity emerges “ah…Dracula.” Why yes, kind sir, my country’s whole historical and cultural background can be reduced to a fictional, and thus non-existent character from Bram Stoker’s novel.

I’m fairly sure we’ve all heard of Game of Thrones as well, unless you’ve been living on the moon for the past couple of years. That is not to say that living on the moon wouldn’t be fantastic. At any rate, I think the two, Dracula and Westeros, would fit quite well together.

Dracula – Vlad the Impaler

Dracula, being Vlad III or Vlad the Impaler, a prince of Wallachia, was a fascinating individual… and very much alive. Yes, maybe he wasn’t a vampire, or immortal, and you didn’t have to drive a silver stake through his heart to kill him. But, in the end, he might have been far more blood thirsty than in Coppola’s film adaptation, which is a masterpiece by all means.

After Dracula claimed the throne, he instituted punitive laws aimed at merchants and nobility, but also thieves. Now, the punishment for breaking these laws is probably what made the Wallachian prince renowned – his sadistic and psychopathic method of execution or torture – impalement. I don’t think that Vlad would have agreed with today’s Geneva Convention, but at least Machiavelli would have been proud. However, impalement was also used as a method of psychological warfare in order to deter foreign invaders.

In 1462, Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, a man noted for his own psychological warfare tactics, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of 20,000 impaled corpses outside Vlad’s capital of Targoviste. (Thomas Garza)

Dracula eating amongst his victims

How would Dracula manage in Game of Thrones?

It seems that only Ramsay Bolton, still warden of the North, has Dracula’s desire for carnage. Some argue that G.R.R. Martin was also inspired by Vlad the Impaler to create the Bolton’s flayed man banner. Both Ramsay and Vlad enjoy the public display of their victims in order to dissuade other scheming individuals. Also, the two lords are well versed in the art of war and psychological warfare. The power of fear is embedded at the very core of the bedrock that their kingdoms are founded upon.

Intrinsically, however, there is a great difference between the Bolton and the Wallachian. Vlad III, in a pathological manner, attempted to rid society of blood sucking leeches that prospered on the backs of hard workers. In order to fight foreign enemies, there had to be order under his reign. By impaling the Turks, Vlad III wanted to restrain the Ottoman Empire from plundering Wallachia. A small hint points out that the diabolical, havoc spreading prince carried out harsh deeds for the good of his kingdom.

Ramsay seems to play his part in A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) depending on his self-interest, instead of the public good. Perhaps his frenzy of killing and torturing anyone that stands in his path, including his own father, is testimony enough.

Dracula’s strong sense of loyalty and duty to his kingdom and people suggests another parallel with an ASOIAF character, Ned Stark. Combining Ned’s values with Ramsay’s skills would surely create an interesting pretender to the Iron Throne. Just as the Starks, Vlad III ruled over a passive kingdom that had to fend off conquering kings, but in the end played into the hands of its enemies. Being prince over a harsh territory that must face waves of incoming hordes sounds terribly familiar (Is Winter coming already? Yes, Winter is coming!).

Yes, yes, I know I didn’t touch upon the impaler in Game of Thrones, Joffrey. It’s not because I don’t like to bring him up, but I really don’t like to bring him up. Can we really compare a frustrated child to a warlord? I think not. There is one similarity between the two – they were both assassinated. I personally think that Martin offered us a gift – one of the very few.

Much remains to be discussed. I wonder what you think. How would Dracula fare in Westeros?

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Ioana
    May 26, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    Well..regarding your last question, I m pretty sure that Dracula would fare very well in Westeros ! He has so many things in common with each character you listed in your post ! Who knows? Maybe R R Martin was inspired by dracula .. Because he is the most well known impaler in history! Can t wait for your next posts! And btw .. Do you think that also Melisandre could be drawn from Dracula ? Thank you

    • Reply
      Cristina
      May 26, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Do you think , Ioana, maybe Trump might also be inspired by the character?

      • Reply
        Ioana
        May 26, 2016 at 6:09 pm

        Trump the impaler has a nice ring to it . I m not sure that he could do such things even if he wanted to .

        • Reply
          Cristina
          May 26, 2016 at 7:10 pm

          To be accurate, Drumpf the Impaler!

    • Reply
      Mihnea
      May 26, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      I’m not sure that she has a direct relation to Dracula. However, impalement and burning at the stake don’t fall too far apart. Melisandre could have easily been added to the post regarding the use of fear and psychological warfare!

  • Reply
    Cristina
    May 26, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    The character Bolton is definitely part of the gothic tradition and built on Dracula and his kind. As for instilling fear, the strategy is ever present, only the methods have changed, because we operate in a different space where we can’t oficially hang bodies throughout the block. Do you think that the West has inherited any elements (visible nowadays) of Vlad’s model of governing? If yes, do you think the reasons are as valid and straightforward?

    • Reply
      mihnea1
      May 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm

      Bodies still hang in Iran, Syria and Yemen. It really depends on the geographical region that you want to discuss. The West has always functioned on Machiavellian values. I just think that the fear is more psychological and less visible today. I can’t be the one to dispute Machiavelli, but I don’t think that fear is what should keep us going. One of the reasons why Martin is such a genius is because all of the characters in ASOIAF are so alive, filled with real emotions (fear, greed, awe, envy – which are much more prevalent in our society than love).

  • Reply
    Cristina
    May 26, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Yeah, they hang in Mexico too, but it is mostly common villains who instill fear using these methods nowadays, not officials. I was talking about the West, indeed. Anyway, i think that many governing views nowadays are part of the same tradition. As for Game of Thrones, Dracula is major there too, indeed. Good perspective!

  • Reply
    Oscar Wilde
    May 27, 2016 at 6:52 am

    if you have blue eyes, you were considered a vampire,My boy was considered vampire, because he is a Romanian with blue-eyes.Good luck and inspiration!

    • Reply
      Mihnea
      May 27, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Thanks a lot!

  • Reply
    Cristian Moldoveanu
    May 27, 2016 at 7:18 am

    Well, I’m not going to discuss Game of Thrones, as it is for me like a half read book, and I would’t like to throw opinions around, without knowing the full story. But I would like to share an opinion about Vlad Tepes though.
    I see in the text above words like “pathology”, “sadism” or “psychopatic”.
    I think it’s hard to analize a person’s character from storytelling only, but I would like to think that your description of Vlad Tepes is only half accurate and should pe preceeded by words like “probably”, “maybe” or “possible”, as you assume to know the character’s state of mind, based only on his actions.
    I believe it is more likely that Vlad Tepes was not a psychopath, but a man that understood the world he lived in, a man with an analytical mind, that found the only solution for an unsolvable problem. I think that if he were to lack empathy, there would be innocent people on top of those stakes, a fact that history doesn’t seem to mention. What history mentions, and you as well, are laws aimed at merchants and nobility theft or treason, and also at common thieves. Impalement of these categories of people that were found guilty of a crime (so they were not innocent people) is a harsh punishment indeed, but maybe it was necessary in those times and on this land. Do I have to defend the impalement of turkish invaders? I hope not. When facing immense danger for your country and people, you must do whatever is necessary to protect them. You mention the Geneva Convention, but remember that we are talking about times as and when the Catholic Church was killing thousands of people without any palpable reason. So don’t bring modern thinking and values into Hell.
    In my opinion, Vlad Tepes was a man ahead of his time, a great mind, fearless and determined. I believe he took no pleasure in implementing this rule of terror, but he took a decision and he stood by it, accepting to deal with his demons for the rest of his life, for the good of his country.
    The results of his impalement politics were there, and no one can deny them. In his country in a short time, there was no more thieving, and his muslim enemies became frightened enough as to lay low for a while.
    I don’t know what this means to you, but for me, this is a success story of a great romanian lider.
    https://cristianmoldoveanu.wordpress.com/

    • Reply
      Mihnea
      May 27, 2016 at 7:45 am

      You are probably right with many of the elements that you pointed out. Dracula is, hands down, a hero of the Wallachian nation and a defender of its people. I think I have tried to show in the post that he took many of the decisions for the good of the people (if you read the article carefully). I was not disputing any of this.

      His methods of punishment were cruel and sadistic, one cannot describe impalement otherwise. Sometimes the stake would, on purpose, be inserted in order to miss the most important organs in order to prolong the victim’s agony. People would die of blood loss, instead of organ failure. However, the Medieval Period was full of such leaders and maybe they were even necessary.

      Anyway, Vlad III was a fascinating leader. Thank you for the comment!

      P.S. take another look at Vlad the Impaler eating among his impaled victims while an executioner hacks at people – there is a Germanic woodblock inserted in the text. He must have had quite some appetite to do that.

  • Reply
    Cristian Moldoveanu
    May 27, 2016 at 8:05 am

    I read the article, and that’s precisely whay I said in my comment that I think your description is only half accurate. You have also some points that cannot be denied.
    I also believe, that purposely prolonging a victim’s agony was not Vlad’s decision, but maybe that of some overzelous executioner.
    Just because there is a drawing made by the germans, that does not mean it is also accurate. It is well known that german stories about Vlad Tepes are highly exagerated and I would like to include them in the propaganda or fiction categories.
    Anyway, there is no way to know exactly the absolute reality of those times, but, since I am a patriot, this is how I choose to interpret it.

  • Reply
    Mihnea
    May 27, 2016 at 8:55 am

    I think it’s a great opinion to have. Yes, it would be impossible to determine exactly what happened and how it happened!

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