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Old October 13 2009, 05:26 PM   #1
Nerys Ghemor
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Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

This is something I've really been wondering about lately, based on some clips I went back and watched of Dukat speaking about Ziyal and interacting with her. As you guys may already know, I write an alternate version of Dukat where he is basically the "good twin," and I was rather startled to notice that even in the brief interactions between the two that I'd written, that what I had thought was the one true constant, between the two versions of Dukat...felt different! At least, it did to me.

So here's what I started wondering about. Do you guys feel that Dukat loved Ziyal for her own sake? Or was it that he loved her as he might a pet, because she unconditionally loved and praised him? In other words, was his love pure, or was it simply because of what SHE did for HIM?
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Old October 13 2009, 06:42 PM   #2
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

You know, I never could figure this out either - concerning Ziyal or his other children, for that matter. Dukat was such an...an actor, really. (And yes, I am talking about Dukat, not Marc Alaimo. ) He was, or so it seemed to me, always playing to an audience, and often it seemed to me that the audience was himself. He saw himself as this heroic figure, that's the role he played, and he played it to the hilt.

So was his love for his children genuine? Or was it part of the act? Or was it both?

I'd guess the latter. Surely there was some real love there - I mean, he did pay a high price for acknowledging her. But with somebody as addicted to being loved and admired, to being seen as the hero, as Dukat was, I can't think it was pure love. Ziyal would be a wonderful source for his drug of choice.

And really, how many of us, myself included, are capable, day after day and year after year, of 100 percent pure love anyway? I mean, nearly everybody is capable of this at certain times, and really wonderful people (which Dukat, of course, was not) are capable of it often, but all the time? Probably not. Love is a strong instinct but so is self interest, after all.
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Old October 13 2009, 06:46 PM   #3
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

In a way, I think it was both; he was only really, at heart, interested in what she did for him, but what that "thing" was was to give him a feel at what legitimate, selfless love would be like (even if he's undercutting the ideal by using her to try and find it). Ziyal was the one thing untouched by the corruption and ugliness that had taken over and defined Dukat at least since he began presiding over the occupation. Having spent her adolescence in a Breen mine, she was cut off from knowledge of who he really was, and so longed for him that she was able to respond to her father only with love (indeed, as we know her failing was that she refused to see just what sort of a man he was). Even though she was clearly able to see he was considering killing her that first meeting, she refused to see him, only the ideal of him. I think that really touched something in Dukat, whatever last shred of selflessness there was in him, which is why he refused to go through with it and took her in. Taking Ziyal home and risking disgrace was perhaps the one thing he ever did that was truly right, assuming we're thinking "right" as purity of purpose and not a police-state-Cardassian-style "right" .

I think though, and here's the important distinction, that Dukat was too far gone to actually feel selfless, pure love. He could, however, still grasp the idea of it, and wanted a taste of it. I think Ziyal was his little fantasy he was playing. It was a reach for selfless love, for pure love, but not an actual example of it, because Dukat is simply past that now. And the tragedy or irony is that he used and manipulated Ziyal as part of his goal of creating this ideal of "pure love". With Dukat, it always turns to fantasy rather than his action or change or responsibility. He wants the Bajorans to love him. He wants Kira to respect him. He wants Ziyal and he to have a pure, perfect relationship, father-daughter. Ultimately, rather than do anything to truly earn these things, he just deludes himself into thinking he's doing things to get them, and this of course pushes those things, far, far away, and makes him all the more disgusting a man.

I think it's worth noting Dukat seemed to forget about his other 7 children and his wife, and focused on Ziyal- even after reclaiming Cardassia and vowing that "everything I lost I will regain". They were lost to him, tainted by who he is, whereas Ziyal had not been, so he could use her to play out his fantasy and reach for that ideal, which he longed for but was simply too selfish and, well, evil, a person to ever actually get.

Well, that's what I think.
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Old October 13 2009, 06:46 PM   #4
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

I think it was mostly selfish, in that he seemed to view her as an extension of himself. He always showed he had a weakness for anyone who would claim to love him and value him. However, I think one of the least selfish acts in his entire life was taking her to Cardassia with him and openly claiming her as his daughter. He lost a great deal in that act, but he refused to renounce her. Like most things with Dukat, there's no easy black and white answer but a confusing blend of gray.
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Old October 13 2009, 07:03 PM   #5
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

Those are very, very good points. I got the sense that it was acting, personally, when I saw that scene in "Favor the Bold" where he has his little conniption with Damar, fuming that he MUST have his daughter at his side to witness the GREAT VICTORY he's about to have. My question was whether there was anything genuine at all to it.
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Old October 13 2009, 07:06 PM   #6
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

^ everyone else has already discussed this question with the great articulation that I expect from Cardassian fans.
(basically you all monologue so beautifully)

I'm in agreement with DK on this, Skrain Dukat was an actor par excellence as befits a high ranking official in a Dictatorship so a lot of his emotions and feelings are at a certain level false.
(I think this is true for a lot of Cardassians, with the exception of Rugul Pa'dar of course) still on a very deep level he did care for his daughter sacrificing his position and entire family to be with her. For a Cardassian that would be pretty unimaginable let alone letting her live on a Bajorian space station.

Of course the question is, how far did that love extend? It is very possible that Dukat was using her as a tool to gain sympathy with the Bajorian people (far fetched I know but this is Dukat we're talking about here).

Plus he was going to originally kill her which means the Gul is not natural father material, to say the least....


(interesting topic ND,although I do feel like starting a Damar thread just to balance the huge numbers of Dukatian threads!)
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Old October 14 2009, 12:09 AM   #7
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

Hm. I'm going to have to go with the 'bit of both' idea. Ziyal's unconditional love for her father, loving him through all he'd done, being a hero to her, had to have influenced him a little. The fact that her death was the event that triggered his descent into madness says to me that he did love her in some way, especially when you consider the substantial loss of status he took upon returning to Cardassian with her. It would have been easy for him to kill her on his way back to Cardassia, claiming that those around him while in Bajoran/Federation space would not have taken well to her death in their territory by his hand, but instead, he accepted her. However, his love for her certainly wasn't as unconditional as her love for him - he pushed her away when she showed an interest in Garak and when she wouldn't return to Cardassia before he announced Cardassia's alliance to the Dominion, but at the same time, he did forgive her once Bajor signed the treaty.

Dukat is an actor, yes, playing the right notes for those around him, but I think that in some way, on some level, he did love Ziyal. I like Deranged Nasat's view on this, that he was so interested in her being there for him because she had such a pure and selfless love of him, and while he couldn't achieve that himself, he felt as if he could do it through her. I also like the point raised about how he had other children with a wife who, aside from Dukat's statement of how the Maquis will be eliminated by his son's birthday, we don't hear about. He turns all his focus on his illegitimate daughter who has the unconditional love for him rather than the family who left him.
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Old October 14 2009, 12:35 AM   #8
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

That's an interesting note about the fact that Dukat could easily have killed Ziyal on the way back from Cardassia, but didn't. I suppose that shows there was SOMETHING there--but whether it was the last gasp of whatever selfless love might be left in him, or whether it was self-serving (i.e. he didn't feel "satisfied" by his wife and other kids)...I think that's very debatable.
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Old October 14 2009, 01:38 AM   #9
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

DGCatAniSiri wrote: View Post
I also like the point raised about how he had other children with a wife who, aside from Dukat's statement of how the Maquis will be eliminated by his son's birthday, we don't hear about. He turns all his focus on his illegitimate daughter who has the unconditional love for him rather than the family who left him.
He talked with Sisko about his children, specifically about his youngest son Mekor and how he had promised to take him to an amusement park or something as it was his 11th birthday, if I remember correctly ("Defiant"). But after his wife left him, we didn't hear much about them, actually apart from the mention of Mekor in his speech in "By Inferno's Light", he never mentions them again, which is indeed strange, but it really makes it seem that Ziyal meant to him more than his other children.
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Old October 14 2009, 05:10 AM   #10
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

Genuine. Why? How? No idea, but I think Dukat's love for Ziyal was his one, true, shining example of actual love, which is why losing her sent him spiraling into madness.
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Old October 14 2009, 07:57 AM   #11
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

Definitely genuine. It drove him insane when she died, it didn't just feel like a bruise to his ego.
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Old October 14 2009, 07:59 AM   #12
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

I think, in his own twisted way, Dukat loved his daughter very much.
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Old October 14 2009, 08:01 AM   #13
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

Bad people can love, too. There's no need to deny that someone can genuinely love their child, and still do horrible things and deprive other children of their parents. Happens all the time.
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Old October 14 2009, 05:15 PM   #14
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

It's certainly possible, but with Dukat, was that what was happening? I think there may have been part of it that was genuine, but the operative word is what NX says here--I think it's been twisted. I almost think that in some ways, Dukat is actually quite emotionally immature. It's like even if something decent DOES come to the surface in him, he flat-out doesn't know how to act on it without it dovetailing right back into his narcissism. I'm not even sure he has any real idea how to recognize other people besides himself without wanting to...subordinate them to him and his own reality, to try and make them extensions of himself.
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Old October 15 2009, 08:56 PM   #15
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Re: Dukat's love for Ziyal--genuine or selfish?

I think he loved her when he had no one else, and there are strong ties to family with Cardassians (even if his other family left him for not killing her- that one of several times).

But at times he clearly only was using her to get to people like Kira, and you can't turn real love off and on like that.
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