One Piece Encyclopedia


The Smiling Man, Part 5

Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

I was going to do something a little more fun than this (ok, a lot more fun), but with the most recent chapter, I felt this was more called for. Doflamingo has revealed more of his past and by doing so, his personality. From what I've seen, everyone is chomping at the bit to write him off as a spoiled rich kid brat. While the masses are entitled to that belief, I, however, am more hesitant to embrace that. The ego is at its most dangerous when it can be justified beyond one's own mind. In this case, we must decide if entitlement is fueling Doflamingo's ego, if Doflamingo's ego is fueling his sense of entitlement, or if the relationship is symbiotic. Before I address Doflamingo specifically, I feel it necessary to speak generally on the topic of upper class children and how they are raised (and before any of you out there even think of calling bullshit, remember that I'm a dual sociology and anthropology major who's read up extensively on this subject).

Donquixote Doflamingo was born into the highest of the highest social classes. As the Shichibukai himself once said, "Children who've never seen peace and children who've never seen war have different values." Let's change some of the wording there. Let's change it to "Children born poor and children born wealthy grow in different ways." Children born into the upper-classes live a very structured life compared to those born less fortunate, who have a lot more personal freedom to pursue their interests. The parents tend to be much more involved in their lives as a result, unlike the parents of poor children. One secondary effect of this kind of active parenting is that the children are less intimidated by figures of authority. That term is not just limited to the police. It can apply to doctors, teachers, and even the parents of the children raised this way. Since the parents are less intimidated by authority, so are the children. That's not to say the children try to exert themselves over the authority figure, rather they learn how to interact comfortably with authority figures. By contrast, people in lower classes tend to be intimidated by those same authority figures. Some refer to this as entitlement, but without the negative connotation. Well-off children feel empowered to pursue their own agendas from interactions with authority (Gladwell, Outliers, chapter 4, 102-105). These parents also often hold their children to high standards when they get older.

So, in the most basic sense, Doflamingo grew up feeling comfortable around authority figures. So, when Doflamingo said he despises being looked down upon, you could also take that to mean he can't stand condescension. Oda applies this, but adds a twist. The twist is that the World Nobles expect people to subordinate themselves to them. It's basically bad entitlement on the shoulders of good entitlement. A purer example of this is Doflamingo's conversation with the World Government executive after he failed to kill Moriah. He did not subordinate himself but talked to the man as if they were equals. It was only when the man started chastising him that Doflamingo pulled social rank and turned the tables, flaunting his autonomy as a shichibukai. As a world noble raised in an upper class manner, he is unable to acknowledge anyone as directly above him. It's also the reason behind his unconsciously charismatic ability to draw people in and control the conversation. Owning slaves made it even easier to subordinate people.

Before I move on, I feel a more specific example is in order. Of the two great examples in store, not only are they related, but one of them is best known for his sudden return out of nowhere. Yes, I am talking about Sabo and Stelly. Sabo rejected the structured life of rigid schedules in favor of a more liberating lifestyle, having to live on the street to do so as opposed to his big luxurious mansion. As for Stelly, take particular note of a conversation he had with Outlook III at the dinner table one night. His father asked how one of his lessons was going, and Stelly replied that he was doing well but the teacher was a total idiot. Instead of chastising his son, Outlook talked about finding a replacement for Stelly rather than telling his son to respect the teacher. The child worked with the parent, not for the parent. Being raised as nobility, it is no stretch to conclude that Doflamingo was brought up in a similar way to Sabo, albeit slightly augmented. On a side note, I'm kind of hoping Sabo joins the battle up top. He and Doflamingo would have an interesting conversation.

That being said, Doflamingo is unaccustomed to defiance within his ranks. Anger yes (I'm looking at you, Baby 5), but not pure defiance the way Law did. It is literally taking him completely out of his comfort zone. He's not used to condescension. You can take the noble out of Mariejois, but you can't take Mariejois out of the noble. So, to all of you who are calling Doflamingo a spoiled brat, I beg to differ. He was by no means spoiled, especially by tenryubito standards. I wouldn't call a rich kid forced to live among commoners spoiled. I would call him a product of his environment. He actually had a point of calling his father stupid. It was unwise for a father to take his children from the only life they'd ever known on a whim. He had to deal with people in a whole new way he wasn't even remotely used to. To top it all off, his mother died as a direct result of his father's decision. Then, to add insult to injury, he was rejected by his people when he tried to go back. I know you're calling him a spoiled rich kid, but it's more traumatic than you think. Life can be just as difficult for wealthy children but in different ways than for poor children. I'll give you a reverse example. Coincidentally, this example is another person who appeared suddenly, Koala. For most of her life, she was a slave, forced to do all kinds of hard labor. Then, Fisher Tiger goes postal topside and, literally overnight, her life changes from being that of a slave, to that of a free woman. It was such a shock to her system she didn't know how to handle it, so she just kept to cleaning whenever she was uncomfortable, not crying when Arlong threw her against the wall, like she was taught to do when receiving punishment. The idea of freedom was about as vague to her as the word "magic" is to us. The same goes for Doflamingo's perception of the word "squalor." Whether someone's life goes up or down like that, there will be trauma in one form or another.

So, from what we've covered I think we can conclude that Doflamingo was only a spoiled kid up until he turned 8, and after that he was something else. Therefore, we aren't dealing with a spoiled brat. We are dealing with a man who has been heavily, heavily disturbed since his childhood. He said that Luffy and Law's actions were the straw that broke the camel's back, but in reality that camel's back broke, or should I say snapped, thirty three years ago and hasn't been right since. Doflamingo was just under the illusion that he was fine until this point. And look, I somehow managed to link this back to Don Quixote again. Imagine that. As I've said before, I can only see Doflamingo becoming more unstable as this progresses. I only hope that Luffy and Law can, as the great Dee Baker said so eloquently, put an end to this sad tale.

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