Do we hate Tyrion?
Is that a true story?
Oh god. What a question. I have so many divisive Tyrion feelings they’re hard to describe. And I’m putting this as its own post instead of a reblog because I’ve been meaning to make a post on this for some time now — most recently triggered by that GOT confession of a couple days back that said Tyrion’s murders of Shae and Tywin ruined him, because that’s where my mental conflict comes in.
First of all, let’s lay down a couple of points:
- Tyrion is in my top 5 ASOIAF characters. As a character, he’s fantastic. I don’t talk about him that much on this blog, especially compared to other characters, but he’s way up there for me.
- While he doesn’t appeal to me physically, I don’t think that affects my judgments of his personality. Peter Dinklage playing him helped a lot in that (I’ve been a fan of him for years, and desperately want him to play Miles Vorkosigan, talk about amazing characters), though it didn’t really matter that much. I mean, I am a Hound fan and all.
- Speaking of, my Sansan shipping does not affect what I think of Tyrion— fics that demonize him or do vicious things to him just make me feel really really sad. (Though it’s ok if Sandor hates him, ‘cos he does, but it’s when an author bias comes through that I get depressed and generally stop reading.)
- After ADWD, and in retrospect, the end of ASOS… I really don’t like Tyrion as a person very much.
Now, let’s go into detail. Tyrion is a POV character, and POV characters are hard to dislike in general because you can see their rationalizations for things. I mean, look at Jaime — how many people hated him until he got his own chapters? As a POV character, you live and breathe along with Tyrion’s feelings, his thoughts, his fears, his hopes, his crushing defeats. And he’s smart, and witty, and he feels, and… well, we all know why he’s a general fandom favorite and why Dinklage got the Emmy, and everything.
So, yeah, throughout AGOT and ACOK and ASOS, I was loving Tyrion. Loving him. That speech he makes about how it’s the monster that everyone hates that’s going to save the city? Oh man. The Battle of the Blackwater, and how it ended? The whole damned wedding and his relationship with poor Sansa? His trial, his betrayals? And then everything from the moment Jaime frees him? My heart in my throat the whole time, I felt his agony when Jaime told him the truth about Tysha, and again with Shae’s second betrayal (TYRION POV HERE - NOT WHAT I ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT SHAE - WILL DETAIL THAT LATER DOWN) and then with his father? Oh god.
And then… there was the huge gap between ASOS and ADWD. (Not that huge for me, I first read the books shortly after AFFC came out, so I didn’t have to wait 10 years, maybe just 4 or 5.) And in preparation for ADWD I re-read the books, not just as a story to zoom through eagerly, but critically, examining everything. Whereas the first time I read ASOS it only took me two sleepless days, it took me more than a month to get through it on my re-read — and it was interrupted by the fact that I should have started much earlier, because ADWD came out while I was only halfway through, so I read that and then caught up with ASOS and AFFC after.
And that was the problem, because with ADWD everything changed. In that book, Tyrion’s chapters open with him being incredibly post-traumatic over what he did to Shae and his father, and the knowledge of Tysha, and everything (seriously, he’s like a walking example of PTSD), and it hurt. It hurt bad. But then he gets to Illyrio’s and starts treating all the women like shit. Thinking of them that way too. Let me give a few quotes, just from his first chapter:
- “He wondered what they would do if he took them by the hand and dragged them to his bedchamber.” He’s thinking of raping two servants here, cooks, not bedslaves or anything, just because they’re women, and goes on to think that because they’re fat he could die from their weight and it’s just so godawful.
- ““No. I am done with women.” Whores.”
- ““It might please m’lord to strangle you. That’s how I served my last whore. Do you think your master would object? Surely not. He has a hundred more like you, but no one else like me.” This time, when he grinned, he got the fear he wanted.”
And it just gets worse. His thoughts of Lemore — what he does to the whore in Selhorys — when he speaks of raping Cersei — that’s when I realized Tyrion had turned his self-hatred external, onto women. Before, he had just had general Westeros cultural misogyny, and a general virgin-whore complex (that had mostly been expressed by “only the kind of women I pay to sleep with me would ever sleep with me”). But in ADWD there’s hardly any women he looks at and doesn’t think of as just a piece of meat, and it’s just so hard to read, and feel, when I used to love him so much.
So, yeah, I read ADWD, and Tyrion gets slightly better as his chapters go on, but his personality has just become so self-pitying and bitter and… well, then I went back to ASOS. And I was just about his chapters before Joffrey’s wedding, and I could see his misogyny towards Shae and Sansa, and the self-pity was just so much more explicit now… and Sansa’s right, you know, pity is the death of love. I still felt for Tyrion on the re-read, but I didn’t love him anymore. It was actually hard to not hate him, especially once he killed Shae.
Before, on my first read, I was like, dammit, Tyrion, what the hell do you think you’re doing, falling in love with a prostitute, how could you be so blind? Now, I could empathize so much more with Shae and the trapped position she found herself in… And when Jaime spoke of Tysha, I could see, there, there’s the moment where Tyrion’s personality breaks, there and with his strangling of Shae for her “betrayal”, for daring to save her own skin (because you know if she hadn’t testified against him, spoken the lies that were fed to her, she would be dead), for daring to sleep with his father…
And, yes, those murders ruined him. It’s his father he’s most actively post-traumatic about (“the thrum of the crossbow”, it’s repeated almost as often as “where do whores go”), but it’s with Shae that his thoughts about women become explicit, that almost all women are whores, and all his women will betray him, and they’re not people, they just exist to be fucked and die.
So, yeah, when people say Tyrion shouldn’t be the romantic partner of any female character? It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it, almost everyone deserves love. It’s that people are actively afraid of what he’d do to them, how he’d react. Because, let’s take for example Sansa, the virgin in his previous mental complex — she’s betrayed him now too. She’s not safe anymore. And Penny, oh my god, sweet innocent Penny — you think she’s his redemption? Oh no. I am absolutely certain she’s going to be his doom.
Tyrion’s still a hero in his own head. But if you look at him now, really look at him, his actions, his beliefs — he has become the monster the people believed he was. He’s not going to be the hero of the books — though he may be a head of the dragon, he may be a dragon-rider, I don’t doubt that — he’s the villain. He might — might — pull off a redemption arc, it’s possible, there’s two books to go, but I’m much more certain he’ll descend into madness first. And I’m incredibly sure, he is not getting a happy ending, not with Tysha or Sansa or Penny or Dany or anyone.
So, no, I don’t hate Tyrion, not as a character. He’s still fascinating and I await his further adventures with bated breath. I just… don’t like him very much. Sorry if it makes his fans unhappy, judge me all you like, but that’s just the way it is.