(please understand - i don’t mean that ‘oh no you’re wrong”; if anything, i feel so indecisive about Tyrion that I am curious what decisive point I made that you disagreed with, and i am interested in discussing it further.)
Hi! I didn’t see your messages on my phone for some reason so I couldn’t respond until getting on my laptop.
I apologize because my initial response to your post was kind of vague, but I have a lot of feelings about Tyrion and I’d be happy to discuss it with you.
What I disagreed with was this part
the stereotype of the leering, sexually predatory dwarf is all over his storyline
Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying here. I mean, it’s present in the sense that other people in the story see Tyrion this way, but I don’t think the reader is meant to see him this way. (Although I do agree with you that the stereotype is played straight in the House of the Undying scene and that’s problematic.) This is part of why I hate it when fans say things about Tyrion’s ADWD storyline like “he became the monster everyone thought he was”. That in and of itself is a stereotype meant to otherize oppressed people. I don’t know where GRRM is ultimately taking Tyrion but I very much hope it’s not that.
I also disagreed with this
We see Tyrion commit a rape without a lot of feeling, becoming what, because of his father’s sexual violence against him and Tysha, he always feared himself to be.
I’m assuming you’re referring to the scene with the sex slave in Selhorys, and I want to be very careful when I talk about this because it is rape and I don’t want to downplay what happens or excuse it in any way, but that scene doesn’t happen “without a lot of feeling”. I think he sort of tries to brush it off without a lot of feeling at the beginning because it’s Tyrion wanting to embrace the “monster” role, but what’s interesting about the scene to me is that it’s not something he enjoys, he feels awful afterward, and rather quickly spirals back into the suicidal depression he was in at the beginning of the book. What I think is significant about the scene is that it’s the total opposite of what Tyrion engages in with prostitutes, which is the illusion of intimacy. And although he still commits the rape he’s not embracing it, I guess is what I’m saying? It’s not like he’s suddenly done a 180 and decided he enjoys raping women. That chapter is hard to read but it’s not something he ends up taking pleasure in.
I also don’t think it’s fair to say that Tyrion makes the decision to marry Sansa “of his own free will”, considering that Tyrion never actually agrees to the marriage, and Tywin tells him that he will marry Sansa. I don’t think the things Tyrion thinks about how he wants Sansa to love him count as agreement to a marriage his father is forcing him into.
I agreed with a lot of what you said, though and I thought your post was excellent, I just disagreed with those few things.
I wanted to make a Tyrion and Bronn genderbent because why not :’D
Major trigger warning for rape and abuse; one mention of miscarriage.
okay all humor aside, i am really freaked out by Littlefinger apologism because with posts like that and others, what i read is, “Littlefinger’s abuse is okay/not abuse/actually positive character interaction because he’s slight and unassuming and doesn’t ‘hurt’ Sansa - everyone else is 100% a terrible oppressive abuser who cannot ever be trusted.”
This all hits me really hard, for a number of reasons.
(Under a cut, because it got ridiculously lengthy; mostly i compare the interactions of Tyrion and Sandor with Sansa to Petyr’s in order to disprove the above thesis.)
I disagree with you partly about Tyrion and where his arc is ultimately going. Like you, I was also leery at the end of A Storm of Swords and after hearing what people said about his storyline in a Dance with Dragons but after reading ADWD I don’t think that’s where Martin is taking Tyrion. But I do agree with a lot of your points and I absolutely hate the “nice guy” interpretation of Tyrion and I also agree with the basic premise of this post and this is why Littlefinger creeps me the fuck out.
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Ooh, this gives me an in to talk about some cool stuff. I think people romanticize the affect of Joanna on Tywin - or, rather, they hold onto it in such a way that they shut their eyes to the less idealistic things about it. It took me a really long time to get that Tywin was himself clearly frequenting sex workers, because I took a lot of Tywin’s reputation and things he says about himself at face value. Like Tyrion, I could not understand why Shae was in his room; it just didn’t compute. Now it is so obvious. It is hinted at and supported thematically by the story long before that exact moment - that innocuous-seeming comment from Varys, the comparison with his son. Even if I could immediately work “well i guess he’d see prostitutes sometimes” into my understanding of him, Shae was his own despised son’s mistress, and she had just testified to the entire Red Keep to that affect. There is no reason for her to be there but lust, a rather perverse and despicable lust, really. But Tywin is all facade, all “gold”, and you don’t see the shit until you’re looking for it.
Joanna was obviously hugely, hugely significant for Tywin, and there is every reason to believe her death is the main reason he so loathes Tyrion, but it seems that there is a tendency to idealize their relationship as some big romantic thing (supported, I suppose, by the fact that she’s dead; once again, the number of idealized dead noblewomen in the story is super fucked up, gods bless Lady Stoneheart).
I think one of the main important things about the idealized!Joanna/secret sex workers thing is that it is part of the direct comparison to be made with Tyrion. ”Tyrion is Tywin’s son.” This huge recurring theme that is at the core of Tyrion’s narrative arc. You see how much empathy and compassion Tyrion has - in the midst of a lot of sexism, to be sure, much of which is rooted in chivalry but not all - for the sex workers he looks to for comfort… up until he learns Tysha wasn’t one, and then he has a horrible 180. Tywin idealized Joanna for a certainty. But he apparently also fucked a lot of women - sex workers, specifically - on the down low. I think some people interpret this as romantic because never taking a mistress or marrying again preserves Joanna’s memory and importance. Uh, I think it’s fucking disturbing. What made him so mad about Tytos’ mistress was her wearing his mother’s things, and then he horrifically punished her for nothing more than accepting the things that had apparently been given to her by a man who may very well have loved her. But all this is to Tywin is, how dare she take my mother’s place? It’s classism - it’s sexism - it’s all of these things at their finest. Why should we take at face value that she was some kind of horrible gold digger? Why shouldn’t a man in Westeros take a mistress, even if because of class, he can’t marry her, or won’t? Does that mean they can’t have a loving relationship? (We see this question play out, with non-definitive answers, with Tyrion and Shae, btw. The idea that she just felt absolutely nothing is a little too reductive.) The idealization of one woman such that other women will never have value and will always be objects is really, really fucked up and damaging; we see Tywin take this attitude first with his mother and then with his wife, and it’s not romantic in the slightest. And we should know, because we see Tyrion come to the same mindset, because of Tywin’s abuse, from inside of Tyrion’s own head. No woman loved him but Tysha; every other woman is just a “whore”, undeserving of human decency. What Tywin did to Tysha - what he forced Tyrion to participate in - wasn’t wrong because it was wrong, it was wrong because Tysha was “innocent”, undeserving. (And yeah, fandom talks like this too, even the supposedly wonderful big name fans who are very critical of sexism. ”Yeah, it’s not like it would have been okay if Tysha had been a prostitute, but it’s worse knowing she wasn’t-” You are dead to me.)
Also, I wouldn’t go so far as to leave “Tywin is very good at what he does” standing. The Red Wedding fucked up the entire values system of Westeros, it just doesn’t matter to Tywin because the brunt of that fell on Walder Frey (and some on Roose Bolton as well, although I’d argue it affects him somewhat less since it’s not that big a leap since he was one of Robb’s bannermen, and the Boltons had historically been at the Starks’ throats for a long time in the past). People make a big deal out of Tywin being a brilliant military strategist. Tywin is ruthless. His battle plans may be good, he may be a great military leader, but it’s ruthlessness that wins out for him - often, he doesn’t try a softer approach first. When in doubt, massacre. That’s the point of the Rains of Castamere, beyond some memetic joke about how scary the Lannisters are.
And it doesn’t work out for him, or for anybody, in the end! He’s NOT a genius, though he is very cunning. This is actually a trait Tyrion doesn’t have - at least not until his mental breakdown. Tyrion agonizes over whether or not to be ruthless, but isn’t always forced to make the choice (his threat to do to Tommen whatever is done to Alayaya, for instance), but the only ruthless Lannister sibling is actually Cersei - and see how well that works out for her. Tywin isn’t undone by his ruthlessness to the same extent Cersei is - or will be - I think it’s safe to say that Cersei is clearly suffering from some mental strain which I would imagine collected and composed Tywin does not share. Even before we see her pov, Cersei’s composure cracks multiple times in front of other people.
But overall, Tywin’s most ruthless actions eventually come back to bite him or his legacy or his children in the ass. The murder of Elia Martell and her children? (For which, btw, you cannot convince me he isn’t responsible for. Once again, Red Wedding - putting the blame on somebody else and shrugging it off as a necessary action is Tywin’s MO, but we know Tywin is a vengeful son of a bitch and had a reason to pettily have it in for Elia, and lord knows a lot of his actions during that war were motivated by the bad blood between him and the Targaryens. There is never any reason to take Tywin’s statements of his own motivations at face value.) We learn Dorne was literally plotting behind everyone’s backs from that moment on - that would have blown up in his face no matter what happened.
All of Tywin’s actions during Robert’s Rebellion, in fact, contributed to Ned Stark’s mistrust of him, which, though there are of course other factors, have been an enormous part of the War of the Five Kings.
And nowhere has Tywin been more ruthless than in the rearing of his children. We see echoes of that in Jaime, more than echoes in Cersei, and finally, with Tyrion, who bears the brunt of it, we see Tywin’s very demise. So…. let’s not call Tywin a genius. Tywin is one of the most intelligent politicians in the story, but that ruthlessness is pretty much his one and only strategy, and not only did it eventually undo him, but it is working its way towards unraveling their entire society.
Fashion of Westeros
Joanna Lannister carrying Tyrion. Wearing a long plain red dress with a long overcoat, decorated and embroidered with lannister colours.
At the sound of her voice, Weasel came creeping out from the bushes. Lommy had named her that. He said she looked like a weasel, which wasn’t true, but they couldn’t keep on calling her the crying girl after she finally stopped crying. Her mouth was filthy. Arya hoped she hadn’t been eating mud again.
"Did you see people?" asked Gendry.
"Mostly just roofs," Arya admitted, "but some chimneys were smoking, and I heard a horse." The Weasel put her arms around her leg, clutching tight. Sometimes she did that now.
"I don’t know about fish." Arya tugged at the Weasel’s matted hair, thinking it might be best to hack it off. "There’s crows down by the water. Something’s dead there."
"She ran off when she heard you coming," Lommy said. "You made a lot of noise." And Arya thought, Run, Weasel, run as far as you can, run and hide and never come back.