meta discussions; the brotherhood and lordships of damocles & garrett (pt 1)
Passing the proclamation for Damocles was about finding and defining who he was as a person. As a young child he was told over and over and over again that well, he was special, he’s the heir, he has a “God-given right” to rule over everyone. and he didn’t question it, not in the slightest; because all the things they asked him to do at first he excelled at — for goodness’ sakes, he slew a chimeara BYHIMSELF for his seventeenth birthday just to get the scale for his wand. he’s fabulous with a sword, people liked him, he was genuinely affable and it’s not like girls would have had to pretend to be attracted.
except as he matured an innate state of questioning was later instilled - in a lot of ways he was 17 before he asked “why is the sky blue?” and he’s never stopped since. Damocles’ world was shaken when he saw his sister cry. His mother died at 17 - and this was the first time that anything in his life was outside the “plan”; that he should lose his mother so young and watch his father retreat into tradition and stop smiling; i mean at this point evelyn’s already married (leah’s about to be born); he only, has at court with him the knights, his father, (and rowland) — and Abira. she was legitimately the only female influence around (that he would listen too. i’m being told besides cook.) and *whistle* what an influence she -is- on top of that. Abira never broke in public, she smiled while insulting people, she went toe-to-toe with men twice her age, she was liked, hated, respected and feared fairly equally — and she never, not once, did anything but step right in and be exactly what Damocles needed. He didn’t do it consciously, but he started seeing Abira as “Mum”; she was like six years older after all.
Except then, she comes to his room when he’s 19, and she breaks. (for one of the only two times i know). She cries. She’s distressed and distraught and suddenly Damocles just wants to fix it. He wants to be the strong savior head-of-the-family he’s supposed to be, that he’s told he is — he wants to prove himself. And very importantly, he fails. John dies. John dies because he was afraid: afraid of his father’s disappointment, afraid that his sister had been seduced, afraid that he should have been wrong all these years about what he thought was fact, afraid of being hated suddenly by all his friends who believed what he thought until now —- it honestly doesn’t truly matter why he was afraid though, what matters is that he was. He was afraid, so he did not act. And because he did not act, he fails obviously, and John dies.
And much more importantly, when Rowland a year and a half later is suffering the same fate, he does act — even though he has no real idea if he can convince his father, he acts in spite of his fear — and succeeds. Rowland lives.
He resolved to himself that he wanted to act from that day on, for whatever bloody cause is in front of him at any particular moment (hell this is why when rebecca came to him i suddenly was writing him in motion to go after marcus; why when leah told him the truth he snapped at her angrily that he has to be allowed to act; why he bloody wants to be in the forest himself..) — inaction is offensive to him, and waiting a personal hell. Because he learned in this basic way that for better or for worse, he did truly have power of life and death over others.
And since he was like a child the moment that Abira broke that dam - made him realize he had been wrong - he never stopped asking “but why?” and of course he has ever since applied that to the most basic fact of his life: why do i rule? Why am I in charge? And of course the basic answer he would consider first was “God-given”, but he doesn’t believe in it, and he knows it. He’s a. said as much in the plot and b, he’s never been particularly religious and c, he’s influenced by the revolutions going on at this time in Russia, Prussia, France, America — if it was “god given” then why were all these people dying? And if it was god given wouldn’t he have heard God speak to him - wouldn’t that be a reality to him and not something he sniggered at when someone claimed?
But if it wasn’t God-given, then why was it he ruled? Most basically: because the Minister appointed my ancestor, the rule passes hereditary and my father ruled. So he buys that it’s his birthright, but that does not explain to him why it is he’s “special.” Why he should rule. So he determines that it’s because he can use this power he has for good - that because he can talk people into following him and saving lives, because he is a good person — that is why he has the right to rule.
And so of course he’s arrogant! He has to be! If he did not believe he is bloody capable of changing an entire culture with his own single action - how the hell could he ever succeed? But it’s not about glory or making himself a legend - not even about bringing Rowland back - Damocles is defining himself as a leader. Because that’s what he is. It is deeply, deeply offensive to him if you hear or are told of an injustice and become silently party to it - he is of the mind that well dammit if i can act to change something for the better, than I should.
Garrett is a second son. In a lot of ways this enabled him to be much more lighthearted; he escaped the burden placed on Cyrus’ shoulders from the moment of birth. And in just as many ways it enables his prejudice. No one followed him around telling him he was special; they didn’t name him the heir — it’s all too apparent, especially to young kids, if you’re “the spare.” (And he’s not expected to get married really either; not with the intensity that Flora would have been anyways). So on the one hand he fell to joking and sarcasm and witty comments (becauseheisblastedbrilliantandhilarious) — i’m sure, initially to push off “well what do i care right? i’m just the second son.” Which is also a cry for attention, but besides this particular point.
Unlike Damocles, he was not trained to lead; he was trained to follow. His responsibility was gratefully much less; he has never (yet) had to deal with this idea that he steps outside and declares he wants another pillow and suddenly pillow sales in a nearby factory go through the roof or contrarily that because he opens his mouth and says he doesn’t like green beans, people who sell green beans have a terrible week and their children starve — these are just…silly little examples of course, but the larger point is he’s never felt responsible (and THANK GOD) for whether or not someone lived or died in another county somewhere. How was that his fault? How in the world could that be his problem?
And because he’s a knight - he was taught to follow orders, taught to listen to his knight commander. He knows it - he’s fine with it! There is neither shame, nor less value in him being a follower instead of a leader; but it does also explain why he a. does not feel comfortable with what he perceives as “lowering” himself. Honest to God, Garrett is - and he’s said this - not arrogant. He is self-aggrandizing, yes, but not for glories sake. In some regards his prejudice in this nature came from that mindset of “yeah but at least i’m better off than them.” And subsequently, when he was made Lord and granted the title - the very first thing he did was read all this law on how to ensure he never lose it. Of course, he also hates it because it wasn’t something he was born to - he wasn’t prepared the same way - he spends days reading now and is itching to go hack at something with his sword. But “because of what it meant for my family” - he can’t and won’t give it up; and he’s much more fearful than Damocles would ever be, that something out of his control could demean him/make him lose that power again.
And b, it’s not his bloody problem or responsibility to go save persecuted people, he doesn’t put that on himself. What is his responsibility is his family. Which he knows this change in law (and he’s correct) was going to put in danger. So to him, even when he’s confronted by Damocles pointing out “How in the world can you be just -okay- with the fact that this was wrong and had killed people?” — his reaction was a snap “BECAUSE LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO MY FAMILY!” And even more than that - he added, “That’s your job— you fix it!”
Which of course kills me because -even- in this state of unbelievable disagreement, Garrett still just wants Damocles to take care of it, still trusts him to do it. He also in that is lashing out and wanting to hurt Damocles because Damocles just hurt him - but thatasidebecauseow — their disagreement was truly not, just “should muggleborns be our equals”? It wasn’t. When Garrett & Damocles fought that time, they said:
"Can you accept that you might be wrong - that your father might have been? And can you accept that if so, that by your silence you enable the persecution of innocents? Because if so then you aren’t the man I thought you were."
"Then I’m not the man you think I am, because I don’t care! Anthony is dead, my family is shambles, Rick’s gone, my children’s lives are in danger — I haven’t spoken to leah since her knighting ceremony, Damocles! And before that, since she came here! Everything’s wrong. All I want is this to go away, that’s your job, fix it!”
…kalsdjflk. Ow. Ahem. Do they disagree on if muggleborns and purebloods should be equal? Yes, yes they do and of course that is part of it but much simpler and deeper… Damocles is asking “How do you sleep at night!? When innocent people might die because of your silence?” And Garrett was asking, “How could you put my family in danger like this for some bloody crusade when you’re supposed to keep us safe?”
Which. Damocles’ honest answer is because he would not like who he is, he would not think himself special, he would not be what he characterizes as “a good leader” if he saw an injustice and failed to speak his mind — because if someone else dies because of that injustice and he could have changed it, then well, he feels responsible. And it’s a weight that crushes him. And further it offends him as a leader to think he should have all he has: this wealth, this mansion, this decandant life, this respect and deference he’s always been paid — that he should keep the jeweled goblets and the huge house, if he’s not going to bloody put it to good use.
And he said it, to Mitchell, right here:
"For all the responsibility I bear Mitchell, for all the weight of my choices — I have never once made any decision to take away a single person’s will on this matter. It was not vanity that lead to my proclamation, nor was it naive hope or arrogance, or a lack of understanding the players involved. I honestly believe what I’ve said — what that paper says. And unlike my sister or many of my friends or anyone else who have had the same belief as I have before me — I am not content to remain silent. If I was being romantic about it I’d say that was because of some bullshit proverb - that the oppressed are not kept so by their attackers but rather by their silent sympathizers who make themselves willfully blind, but it wasn’t that either. The truth is simple. I would rather lose everything for the right reason, than keep everything for the wrong one. I am no coward."
It’s not that he thought he could go down in history as a savior. It’s not even just that he thinks “if you can do something about it you should.” It’s that he refuses to not do something because of fear. It’s that he never again wants to stand in someone’s presence and be faced with the fact that he did not offer someone a choice, that his inaction cost someone’s life.
It’s that he wants to stop his sister crying.